A recap of RNDR development + highlights from SIGGRAPH 2019

Sep 26 · 8 min read

This blog post will cover recent RNDR development updates as well as a recap of Octane announcements at SIGGRAPH, which set the roadmap for late 2019 and early 2020. It’s also been an action packed summer in the graphics industry with emerging uses of CGI that are pushing the boundaries of visual storytelling. As a result, we added a new section “Best of the Metaverse” capturing some interesting emerging technologies released this summer to bring you up to speed about these important trends in the graphics industry.

Development Milestones

After the Genesis Mainnet release at the end of Q2, RNDR has collected a lot of feedback from live use of the network by the community of RNDR Artists and Miners. This has helped the development team create optimizations that are essential for expanded peer-to-peer usage.

RNDR Client Updates

The RNDR development team has been working on the Miner-side client to improve hardware efficiency and job allocation with a distributed group of nodes on the network. Based on data from the Genesis Mainnet period, the network has implemented node scoring, improved job allocation as well as overall success rate. As a result, nearly all scene types are connected to compatible node types. Some of the key development highlights are:

  • Reputation Score: Improved Node Scoring via Reputation System that factors overall success rate, node benchmarks and recent success history. The reputation score helps increase efficiency in job allocation and tiering (below). Additional information regarding the reputation system will be released as the network expands p2p use.
  • Node Tier System: Multiple node tiers, based on Node Scores and queue priority, have been made available for users in testing. You can find more information regarding Node Tiers and Multi-Tier Pricing here, and updates will be released as multi-tier pricing goes into p2p use.
  • Network Optimization: Based on data from decentralized nodes, we have also improved communications between the RNDR server and clients to prevent job unassignment during output uploads, reducing job failures for miners. The network has also released encrypted thumbnails and previews, increasing overall security.

Artist Update

The Genesis Mainnet period has been helpful for generating artist feedback needed to increase usability in production workflows. P2P testing has also brought a wider range of scenes on RNDR, helping to increase network robustness for all types of work. Key highlights include:

  • Improved Job Preview: Play button has now been added to job cards, allowing artists to watch and review outputs as video sequences. Frame previews now dynamically size for different aspect ratios, which will help artists looking to scale to the cloud for large scale rendering work like stereo 360, panoramic or custom projections and LED walls. With these adjustments, overall artist side navigation was also improved.
  • Job Optimization reduced timeouts during download make the system more user friendly for artists. Additionally based on testing data, the network has fully separated upload time from rendering time in artist side accounting, enabling artists only to pay for rendering work.
  • FAQ section has been added to the Artist side web portal.

In the coming weeks, the network will be scaling to process more scenes from a wider range of users. Based on feedback, the team will be releasing additional tutorials on subjects like Exporting ORBX animations to RNDR, making using the network easier for artists.

SIGGRAPH 2019 Recap

OTOY showcased a new technology architecture this year at SIGGRAPH, the largest computer graphics event in the world, rebuilding OctaneRender on a new multi-platform compute backend designed to support all major hardware platforms and 3D pipelines. These releases help expand the RNDR network’s scale by making the Octane pipeline platform-agnostic, compatible across 3D workflows. Previews on display at SIGGRAPH included the first OctaneRender support for the Apple hardware ecosystem, integration into Unreal Engine by Epic Games, and an early preview of a new Vulkan multi-backend low level compute framework designed for NVIDIA RTX ray-tracing hardware acceleration and the first GPU path-tracing for AMD and Intel Integrated Graphics cards. The developments enable RNDR to support more content creation pipelines as well as expand the network’s scale for large-scale p2p holographic computing.

Below is a more in-depth breakdown of the major releases:

Octane X

First announced at the WWDC 2019 Mac Pro launch, a demo of Octane X was on display at OTOY’s SIGGRAPH booth running on 3 next generation AMD Radeon GPUs. Leveraging the GPU power of the new Mac Pro, Octane X is an all new version of OctaneRender built from the ground up to run on MacOS and iOS using Metal. With Octane X on all major Apple devices from the Mac Pro to the iPad Pro and the iPhone 11, a much wider range of creative professionals within the Apple ecosystem can now harness the power of Octane’s spectrally-correct GPU accelerated path-tracing.

OctaneRender for Unreal Engine

At SIGGRAPH, OTOY released the first integration of OctaneRender into Unreal Engine 4, the industry’s leading AAA-game engine. The integration merges cinematic rendering and real-time workflows, enabling UE artists to produce ultra-realistic interactive 3D gaming experiences for the first time. At OTOY’s SIGGRAPH booth, there was a workstation with a demo running for users to test out the plugin. Users could also download the integration for free, bringing Octane to more users across gaming and 3D. Key highlights for the RNDR ecosystem are the ability to mix and match assets from over two-dozen Octane DCC integrations using the ORBX interchange format, as well as the rapid automatic conversion of Unreal Engine 4 scenes and materials into Octane with full integration of Octane 2019 features.

NVIDIA RTX Acceleration and RTX Studio Release

OTOY was a featured partner for NVIDIA’s next generation RTX GPU release at SIGGRAPH. Founder and CEO Jules Urbach give a keynote talk ‘The Future of GPU Rendering: Real-Time Raytracing, Holographic Displays and Light Field Media’ discussing the roadmap for leveraging RTX acceleration into next generation holographic and light field displays.

OctaneRender RTX acceleration was also demo’ed on the show floor at the NVIDIA booth, showcasing over 2x RTX laptop rendering speeds. You can watch a demo here and you can also learn more about next generation RTX Studio laptop GPUs, which Octane will be launching with pre-installed RTX Creator Ready Studio Drivers.

OctaneRender for Blender

At SIGGRAPH, OTOY released a fully featured free version of OctaneRender for Blender bridging unbiased GPU rendering to one of the fastest growing 3D and game development pipelines. With the Octane Studio for Blender, Octane is now available for free in UE 4, Unity, and Blender — providing channels for anyone to try Octane in 3D, gaming, and indie VFX pipelines.

Birds of a Feather Sessions with IDEA and The Khronos Group

At SIGGRAPH “Birds of a Feather” (BOF) events, OTOY also played a prominent role presenting visions for the future of open holographic production and distribution.

OTOY’s CEO Jules Urbach took part in an Across the Metaverse panel, hosted by IDEA (Immersive Digital Experiences Alliance). The panel explored the creation of an open, royalty-free interchange and distribution media specification for next-generation displays called Immersive Technology Media Format (ITMF). The ITMF mezzanine spec will be based on OTOY’s ORBX scene graph format, a well-established data structure widely used in advanced computer animation and computer games. IDEA will provide extensions to expand the capabilities of ORBX for light field photographic camera arrays, live event streaming, 6DoF, VR, AR, and other applications on top of commercial networks.

RNDR is built on ORBX, so this is a big step for making RNDR more compatible with emerging holographic and light field workflows using a variety of existing, mature formats, such as: OpenVDB for volumes; OSL open shader format for defining how surfaces and volumes scatter light; Alembic for animated geometry; EXR for textures; UDIM for texture tiles; and XML as well as emerging formats like Pixar’s USD Hydra.

Building the pieces for the open Metaverse is philosophically important for OTOY and IDEA is designed to help build this next generation ecosystem.

Jules also gave a BoF talk organized by the Khronos Group, creators of WebGL, that focused on OTOY’s work rebuilding OctaneRender on the Vulkan cross-platform 3D graphics and computing API, using low-level access to support all major hardware platforms and 3D frameworks. Today, the RNDR network and Octane is CUDA only, but Vulkan versions enable Octane to leverage many more devices, which expand the network’s hardware base. For Vulkan, OTOY is rewriting the front end from OSL to OpenGL Shading Language (GLSL). Everything will be cross-compiled along with the rest of the code-base to Vulkan. In addition to Vulkan, the RNDR SDK GPU cross-compiler has back ends for CUDA, x86, and Metal. During his talk, Jules announced that most of Octane can now run on the Vulkan pipeline for NVIDIA, AMD, Metal, and Intel integrated graphics.

OTOY at Intel Create

OTOY was featured as a partner on Intel’s new Exascale computing initiative release at Intel’s inaugural SIGGRAPH Create event, showcasing a new Vulkan cross-platform framework bringing Octane unbiased cinematic path-tracing to Intel Integrated Graphics.

Finally, OTOY had a 12K display wall with work from the Octane community, highlighted by a mashup of Host of the Heavens by Big Lazy Robot (BLR) — created entirely in Octane 2019 — and a compilation of Beeple #Everydays done in Octane. The screen also featured Title sequences by Elastic and processed using the Octane AI Upsampler to convert the HD footage to 12K.

Beeple #Everydays on display at OTOY’s SIGGRAPH 2019 Booth

Best of the Metaverse

Looking back, this summer has been a remarkable one in the graphics industry — with an array of new technologies coming to market and innovative uses of advanced rendering. As a result, we wanted to curate some interesting posts from the world of CG, showcasing cool new CGI use cases and emerging technologies are transforming the industry.

Highlights from the Octane Community

Join us in the Rendering Revolution

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