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The basic premise of what we set out to do has not changed. We strive to empower creativity and to accelerate creation.

U-RENDER is our main focus to achieve this, by accelerating rendering to a level never seen before.

We don’t accept waiting times for rendering when using design tools like Photoshop or Affinity Designer. We are convinced that this should not be accepted, even when working within the field of CGI. Looking at what technologies are being employed in high end productions, we feel confirmed, that envisioning our customers needs have been right, all along.

With U-RENDER we have a solid foundation to go forward and to incorporate new technologies like real-time ray-tracing. In order to leverage all the performance available in workstations we are currently improving our core architecture. Utilizing Multi-core CPUs and multi-GPU systems is a major focus of our research. OpenGL sees its end of life, so we are moving to new APIs. This will allow us to increase the performance of U-RENDER even more and opens up the ability to support new platforms as well.

Our Development Platforms

We have structured our development into two areas, codenamed Tachyon and Helios.

Tachyon hosts our product development efforts for U-RENDER. We will continue to deliver new features throughout the year. Some of these are on its way already - others will be evaluated, based on feedback from our customers and the community. We invite you to let us know what features you need so we can prioritize them accordingly.

Helios is our platform for new technologies that will end up in U-RENDER in the future. We are researching how we can leverage new multi-core CPU architectures with loads of cores and how we can incorporate new technologies like real-time ray-tracing, which have been made available though modern APIs like Vulkan, DirectX and Metal. These new APIs also support multi-GPU development at a unprecedented level.

We expect OpenGL to be supported and healthy for many years to come on Windows and Linux but with waning support for new technologies like real-time ray-tracing. At the time being, there is still no OpenGL extension for it. Khronos is moving ahead with Vulkan as their prime API and NVIDIA supports real-time ray-tracing on DirectX, Vulkan and their propriety CUDA platform. OpenGL is prominently missing from the list.

Helios is an ongoing research effort which we expect to yield first results by the end of the year.

The Next Features

In the next months we are planning to release new features like some fundamental real-time color grading post effects and a first implementation of subsurface scattering.

For subsurface scattering we are looking into several methods that promise good looking results. To achieve plausible results we need to account for two effects.

First, light that hits the object from the front is scattered within the material. This diffusion softens the lighting and bleeds color into darker areas. We are working on a solution that will allow good control over the effect and avoids the requirement for preset diffusion profiles.

The second effect that, in some situations, can be much more noticable is the scattering of light that hits the object from the back. We will implement this kind of translucency by using approximations that deliver plausible results to further increase the realism of the subsurface scattering effect.

The first release of our real-time color grading post effect will have fundamental controls for saturation, brightness, contrast, exposure and gamma. We plan to add more features like curves, color temperature, histogram and clipping display. In the future we might even support color grading LUTs (look up tables).

Our goal is to deliver first implementations of these two features in April and May, respectively.

Tighter Cinema 4D Integration

One of our next steps is to investigating how we can integrate the standalone render into Cinema 4D as it’s own render view. The challenge with this is twofold.

Firstly, Cinema 4D does not have a supported way to integrate custom viewports and running our own render-loop needs to be done in parallel to what Cinema 4D is already doing. This is entirely different to other renderers that sit and wait for a render command and then have seconds or minutes to deliver the result. We deliver many frames per second at full quality. This requires a responsive realtime viewport.

The second challenge is that, due to progress in GPU technology and Apple’s discontinuation of OpenGL support, the days of existing OpenGL based viewports are numbered. Cinema 4D’s viewport certainly will need to change from OpenGL to something else in the short run to stay compatible with macOS. So a full integration into Cinema 4D is bound to encounter this challenge as well.

We are confident to find a solution and expect to have more information on this matter in June.

Particle Rendering

One other area we will look at more closely is particle rendering. This is a feature that currently sits between Helios and Tachyon. Our new platform promises huge performance gains for particles as we are paying close attention to data-oriented-design. We don’t want to delay particle rendering support until our new core architecture is production-ready. Therefore we are contemplating an early implementation based on the current architecture to support rendering Cinema 4D particles as well as early X-Particles support. The first step would be to support geometry particles and simple rendering modes.

A Preview of particle rendering is planned to be available in July/August. This early implementation should then provide a solid foundation to further improve the feature once the new architecture is ready for production use.

Maya Support

In late 2020 we are planning to support other host applications, starting with Autodesk Maya. We are going to start development of a Maya plugin prototype in the coming months and expect to have an early alpha ready by October and a beta launching by the end of the year.

Even More Plug-ins

Of course we are planning to support other host applications as well. In the first step we are looking at more applications from the media & entertaiment industry. We are seeing great feedback and requests from industries in the AEC market as well. So we are looking how we can integrate real-time rendering into architecture, engineering and construction applications as well. Stay tuned for more news on that.

Feedback

We will also continue to make improvements to existing features, workflows, performance and correctness of U-RENDER. So please do not hesitate to give us feedback. That way, we will know what you are looking for the most.

Our Community Forum is a good place to do that and allows us to adress your concerns.

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