SIGGRAPH 2019 felt like an in-between year as relates hardware, with most big developments happening in the software arena.  This is our roundup of highlights from the event this year, many of which are very helpful to media professionals especially VFX and CG pros.

GPU rendering continues to make big strides into VFX and CG workflows in particular, and the following events stood out this year:

NVIDIA announced they will make 30-bit OpenGL support on their GeForce and Titan graphics cards.   Calling it Studio Driver: SIGGRAPH Edition, this update will enable 30-bit capabilities on Pascal cards or later.

NVIDIA 30-bit color SIGGRAPH

MAXON has announced Cinema 4D Release 21 (R21), the next generation of its professional 3D modeling, animation, and rendering software solution. New in R21:

  • Powerful new capabilities including a completely new Caps and Bevel system
  • New Field Force dynamics, interface speed enhancements and broader integration with other hardware and software technologies
  • Mixamo Control Rig – Offering a quick and customizable way to implement character animation
  • Rendering improvements including Intel Open Image Denoise and
  • Introduction with R21 of Maxon’s “3D for the Whole World” initiative, which aims to make it’s software accessible and affordable, and includes availability of a singular version of Cinema 4D, more efficient installation and licensing, and new low-entry subscription pricing.
  • Material Nodes – Numerous additional nodes and UI improvements to accelerate workflow
  • New processor optimizations from Intel and AMD
  • R21 Cinema 4D users can now also directly import files to the Unreal Engine and Unity game engines for building stunning cinematic games, simulations, and visualizations.

Cinema 4D R21 ship September 3, 2019.

Cinema 4D R21

Though not a SIGGRAPH announcement, it’s worth mentioning that MAXON announced on April 8 the acquisition of Redshift Rendering Technologies, Inc., developers of the Redshift rendering engine. This is a great acquisition for the company – it is easy to use, and may be the very best render engine for Cinema 4D, and perhaps also the fastest render engine for Cinema 4D (Octane may be faster in some scenarios).  This is very good news for those ready to make the leap from physical rendering in Cinema 4D to GPU Rendering.

Autodesk announced Bifrost for Maya, available with Maya 2019.2. Bifrost makes it possible for 3D artists and technical directors to create serious effects in Maya quickly and easily using a new visual programming environment.

The Foundry announced Flix 6.1 integration with Avid Media Composer, which enables automated round-tripping between editorial and story, so that artists can seamlessly publish to and from AMC.

The Foundry Flix 6.1 SIGGRAPH

Also OTOY and Epic Games are proud to announce the official release of OctaneRender for Unreal Engine 4, bringing cinematic GPU path-tracing to millions of Unreal Engine users.  Features Include:

  • OctaneRender fully integrated into Unreal Engine 4’s node editor with intuitive scene navigation and easily accessible render passes within UE4
  • Rapid automatic conversion of Unreal Engine 4 scenes and materials into Octane and full integration of OctaneRender 2019 features including: Layered Materials, OSL Vector Displacement, OSL Volume Shaders, Universal Camera with OSL Distortion Maps, all-new Light and Geometric Primitives, Fast Spectral Random Walk Subsurface Scattering
  • AI Light, AI Scene, AI Spectral and Volumetric Denoising, and Out-of-Core Geometry, UDIM Support and Light Linking for production-ready final rendering
  • Octane Vectron and Spectron – fully procedural node-based Volumetric Geometry and Lighting for infinite detail and granular lighting control
  • Using OTOY’s ORBX scene format, the current integration supports 20+ of the industry’s leading DCC tools – including Cinema4D, Autodesk Maya, and 3ds Max – enabling artists to easily drag and drop scenes from their favorite authoring tools and mix and match them with Unreal Engine content in a fully responsive Live Viewport.

Octane and UE4

In addition, through the Octane for Unreal Engine integration, users will also be able to access OTOY’s RNDR Blockchain Network, the industry’s first decentralized GPU cloud compute marketplace.

“The release of OctaneRender for Unreal Engine, the world’s leading AAA-game engine, comes at a very exciting time for the industry with the emergence of ray-tracing hardware this year. We now have a pathway to finally bring cinematic and real-time pipelines together for millions of artists,” said CEO and Co-Founder of OTOY Jules Urbach. “In the next few years, we see this integration paving the way for next-generation media production pipelines, where real-time game engines, cinematic path-traced rendering, light field displays, and cloud computing come together to make producing stunning immersive holographic possible for the first time. OTOY and Epic Games have a shared mission to make high-end, Hollywood-grade 3D tools accessible for artists around the world, and we’re excited to see what they can create in Octane for UE4.”

Another terrific year at SIGGRAPH 2019 – if we didn’t see you there we look forward to seeing you there next year!

Next up – we start a three part series covering Houdini software system requirements and optimized hardware configurations for this powerful, non-destructive node-based 3D and effects content creation application.

Christopher Johnson

Christopher Johnson was born out of a career as a successful producer and business development professional, in 2010 he founded Mediaworkstations.net. He saw a challenge then facing content-creators and technical professionals: Where can you find in-depth, current hardware and software expertise which maximizes productivity and digital processing power cost effectively?

He found that many of those he worked with were hard-pressed to find reps with major manufacturers such as Dell, HP or Apple with in-depth professional optimization awareness – or knowledge of how to best configure hardware for exact computing needs. In addition, many such companies’ infrastructures and products present obstacles to communication, optimized configurations, procurement and implementation.

Christopher’s company Mediaworkstations.net builds custom hardware optimized for the work you do. Mediaworkstations.net is a performance computing company. This is reflected in each part selected for each workstation and server. Whether you use Autodesk Maya, Octane Render and ZBrush, Cinema 4D, Redshift and After Effects, Davinci Resolve, Premiere Pro and Photoshop, Houdini, V-Ray, and Unreal Engine, or have apps like AutoCAD or MATLAB at the core of your workflow, Christopher’s state-of-the-art hardware and software knowledge provides performance and reliability-based solutions to your computing needs.