As many have pointed out in recent months, expectations for speed in the 3D community have reached a breaking point. However, some companies are stepping up and pushing the envelope even further. One such outfit is StudioGPU and its real-time 3D compositing and rendering system MachStudio Pro. I have to say that I was extremely impressed with just how much you can throw at MachStudio Pro and still maintain a ‘real-time’ output. This, of course, is dependent on how much
horsepower spins around your video-card, but still, the performance was outstanding. Now, I put ‘real-time’ in quotes because you could be talking about 10 frames per second, or 60 frames per second. Yet, the speed is substantially faster than our normal render engines. And these times include exporting out render passes for third party compositing, as well as the composite color pass.
MachStudio Pro is a raster-based render system which can incorporate shadow maps, ambient occlusion, sophisticated lighting and atmospheres as well as some successful hacks for things like depth of field. Featuring an ATI FirePro V8750 3D Workstation Graphics Accelerator, the system works well with other CG software programs such as Autodesk Maya and 3ds Max.
The results, as noted before, are quite impressive. It could very well change previz for films, as well as animation for CG features. We could be seeing a dramatic change in quality of animation for television, and probably more content, because it can be developed faster and cheaper. I would place the real time quality output to that of maybe Nickelodeon’s Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius series or the movie Happily N’Ever After, but the difference is that you can almost watch the film play out as you animate it.
This, however, should not be mistaken for a replacement for photorealistic renders like PRMan, mental ray, VRay, et al. What MachStudio Pro cannot do (yet) is full raytracing for effects like reflections, refractions, GI, caustics, and subsurface scattering, or full motion blur’all of which have become integral in the language of seamless visual effects in film work. And you shouldn’t fault MachStudio Pro for not having it. I know that they are working on methods for getting around these intense calculations. Until then, MachStudio Pro is completely set up for exporting scenes from the major 3D production packages natively as well as through the FBX format. I see this as an invaluable tool for delivering full CG animation production and creating previzualization in the film world.