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V-Ray 3.0 for Maya Beta Review

By Jahirul Amin

Web: www.jahirulamin.com (will open in new window)

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Date Added: 8th May 2014

With the release of V-Ray 3.0 for Maya around the corner, Jahirul Amin puts the Beta version to the test to uncover what treats are in store for Maya users...



Founded in 1997 by Vladimir Koylazov and Peter Mitev of Chaos Group, V-Ray has continuously grown and evolved to become the renderer of choice for many artists. Without a doubt, V-Ray is a known powerhouse in the world of architectural visualization, and with recent iterations, it has shown muscle and versatility enough to be used in television, feature films, game cinematic and more. With the full release of version 3.0 for Maya imminent, we take the Beta version out for a test drive.

Now, I'll just come straight out and say it: I've never used V-Ray beforehand. Therefore, you won't find this review a comparison between current and past versions of V-Ray. Instead, I'll give you an honest account of how I found V-Ray as a newbie.

An initial test render, with and without Global Illumination

With this in mind, there are a few themes that I want to explore throughout my hands-on test. These themes can be summed up as:

• workflow
• speed of renders
• quality of the lighting
• quality of the shaders

So let's kick off with workflow – and I think it is safe to say that V-Ray excels hugely in this area. With the fantastic implementation of V-Ray RT (Real-Time), you can start to take advantage of V-Ray very early on in your production pipeline. Having this viewport feature enabled allows you to use lighting and rendering for a lot more purposes then simply creating the final renders.

"The overall implementation of V-Ray into Maya is very strong, with the GUI so well integrated that you can easily forgot that it is a plug-in"

You can, for example, get a very clear idea of the quality of your models as you go through the modeling phase or get a clearer idea of how the final animation will look before you send it out for rendering. You can also take advantage of the GPU to give the V-Ray RT more bang and make things a little snappier. Check out the making of Kevin Margo's CONSTRUCT to get a clearer idea of how powerful the V-Ray-RT engine is:

Still on workflow, the overall implementation of V-Ray into Maya is very strong, with the GUI so well integrated that you can easily forget that it's a plug-in. Setting up a linear workflow is a breeze, and gamma-correcting input images can be done in a variety of ways, such as the traditional method of using a gammaCorrect node, or by adding a V-Ray attribute directly onto the image to handle the correction.

The V-Ray attributes are great for speeding up your work and making you more efficient. They can be used for a multitude of tasks, from the previously mentioned gamma correcting images, to adding subdivision levels to your models.

The comparison between V-Ray RT actively running in the Maya viewport and the final render

Moving on to the V-Ray Frame Buffer (VFB), which I will admit, I adore. It gives a far greater level of control than I have been used to previously and simply makes the rendering process a lot more enjoyable. For example, the Color Correction tools allow me to stay in V-Ray and make simple changes to the renders that I would normally handle in NUKE or After Effects. Changes such as playing with the exposure, contrast, tweaking the colour curves, the levels and so on, allow you to work faster and smarter.

If you're not a fan of taking your images into another package for post-work, you can also make a few extra changes, such as Bloom and Glare using the Lens Effects tools. As well as being able to render regions, another nice feature is being able to specify which buckets should be rendered first by dragging the mouse to a particular position on the render frame.

Kicking off a few initial renders in V-Ray, you'll quickly notice that it has some oomph to it. I started by adding 2 V-Ray Sphere Lights into a scene and was pretty astounded by the quality of the render in such a short time. Yes, there was some noise to the image, but all in all, it was a darn good start.

My initial attempts to create a clay-based shader and a skin shader

Adding a V-Ray Dome Light came next, mapped with an HDRI and turning on Global Illumination. Again, I was very impressed by how quick I could light a shot, make changes, and re-render. Or better still, I could use V-Ray RT to block everything out in the viewport before hitting the main render button.

What I did find, however, was that as I increased the quality settings to get a crisper image, render times did increase pretty dramatically – no more dramatically than in other packages that I have used, though. What I found more important was the speed at which I could set up the lighting for a shot, and the speed at which I could make tweaks to the lighting. In both these cases I got results very fast, and this is where V-Ray really stood out.

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