Posted In:Rendering | Greyscalegorilla
With the latest release, Autodesk’s Arnold renderer becomes the most versatile C4D render engine that works on both CPU and GPU.
One of the most asked questions Greyscalegorilla receives is which render engine to use. It’s still not a simple answer, but for the first time, we can definitely recommend one based on versatility + features.
Autodesk Arnold is one of the leading Cinema 4D render engines that can be used by both Mac and PC artists, and now that the NVIDIA GPU version is fully released it’s incredibly powerful.
Arnold 6 is not the most feature-rich new release, but it doesn’t really have to be.
The removal of the word BETA from it’s GPU offering could be called premature (and I wouldn’t necessarily argue with them), but there is no denying the power of being able to flip from CPU to GPU. The new licensing methods are also a welcome change to the old, overly complicated system that required a degree in IT to get up and running (though still has tons of room for improvement).
Let’s dive into the latest release, and really take a look at things.
Overall Benefits to Arnold 6:
- Easy to Use
- Most versatile renderer for both Mac and PC (CPU + GPU), though GPU is not supported on Mac
- Works across all major DCC’s including Cinema, Houdini, Maya, and Max
- Most feature-rich renderer (including a full Toon System)
- Supports more native C4D features than most current renderers (Noises, Background Object, Floor Object, etc)
- Extremely stable
- Memory Efficient
- Affordable Single Seat Licenses
- Monthly subscriptions available
- No watermark restrictions – You can work on the watermarked version with no feature limitations
- Extremely responsive IPR in both CPU/GPU
- Supports industry standards like OCIO+ACES, OSL
5 Must-Know Things About Arnold 6
- Arnold GPU:
- Out of Beta
- More Stable
- Supporting nearly every feature of CPU (including light filters, LPE’s, and nearly all AOVs)
- No Mac Support
- Lower Pricing Structure
- New Arnold license process – Somewhat easier to get up and running, and cheaper options.
- A ton of bug fixes. Stability matters in production.
- Quality of life updates (node alignment tools, material exports, etc)
Thoughts on Arnold GPU
Arnold GPU was no small feat. Taking a production-proven CPU renderer and pushing it to deliver 1:1 results on the GPU is very difficult. Renderman is currently working on XPU which promises to harness the power of your CPU and GPU simultaneously, but it’s proved challenging to bring to market. We believe the future is about leveraging ALL your hardware. Power and flexibility will always win out. Arnold being able to give 1:1 results on both CPU and GPU is incredibly compelling.
If I were starting a small studio right now, I would be using Arnold GPU on my artists’ workstations to do look dev/lighting and then switching to CPU mode to throw to an inexpensive cloud render farm solution such as Pixel Plow. I’d outfit every 3D workstation with dual 2080ti’s and a Threadripper to give every artist the flexibility to use whichever mode better suits their work. What a time to be alive!
Now I’ve been on the beta for Arnold GPU since it opened over a year ago. I’ve watched it slowly go from a buggy, noisy mess into something I actually use on a daily basis.
The first question anyone ever asks me is whether or not it’s faster than it’s competitor Redshift. My answer is always the same, mostly no. In my testing, Arnold GPU is 10-20% slower than Redshift on most tasks. However, in some cases, it can close that gap very nicely (usually on scenes with tons of GI bounces).
Even with Redshift besting it in terms of sheer speed (as one would expect from a biased GPU renderer), it cannot touch Arnold in terms of features and user experience. Arnold outshines its competitors with production proven features and a Cinema 4D plugin that is easily best in class.
I’m also a bit spoiled as I use Arnold with a 64-core AMD Threadripper. So Arnold CPU for me is certainly no slouch. In fact, only now with Arnold 6 can I say that their GPU offering is giving my beast of a CPU a run for it’s money.
Should I switch to Arnold GPU?
Well, there are a few things to consider
- Arnold GPU is Windows only, sorry no Mac support at this time
- Arnold GPU is Nvidia ONLY and more cards the better. I HIGHLY recommend RTX cards as Arnold GPU is optimized for that platform. I’ve got two 2080ti’s and I wish I had more!
- Arnold GPU takes advantage of NVLink (an $80 device that links multiple RTX cards together) and in my opinion, is a MUST HAVE if you want to maximize speed in Arnold GPU.
- You also have to be “OK” with Arnold GPU taking a bit longer to render than it’s competition, but in exchange you get superior features and first-in-class plugin experience. Plus, you can always design in GPU and send to a CPU farm. Versatility!
What are the Key New Features of Arnold 6?
- Faster creased subdivs: Hard creases are now fully supported in adaptive and multithreaded mode. This means creased surfaces will use all procs during subdivision.
- Dielectric microfacet multiple scattering: Rough dielectrics are now energy-preserving by accounting for multiple scattering between microfacets for both reflection and refraction, avoiding the energy loss of the previous implementation. Disabling the global option enable_microfacet_multiscatter will restore the previous look.
- Physical Sky shader improvements: The physical sky shader will now extend the color at the horizon all the way down to the bottom pole.
- Improved roughness mapping of the Oren-Nayar diffuse BRDF: The Oren-Nayar roughness parameter has been remapped so that values close to 1 no longer result in excessive darkening. This change also improves the Standard Surface and Car Paint shaders.
- Improved rough thin-wall transmission in Standard Surface shader: Refractions in thin-walled mode now appear blurry with non-zero roughness.
- OCIO roles: Roles can now be listed with the color manager API by querying color spaces available in the Role (OCIO) family. This makes it possible to build UIs that list all known roles.
- Skip RGBA denoising: Noise now accepts -ignore_rgba or -irgba to skip denoising of RGBA even if it’s present.
- OpenImageIO 2.1.4: OIIO support is now upgraded to 2.1.4.
- More accurate albedo AOVs: Albedo AOVs now correspond more closely to the true albedos of the material’s BSDFs.
- New AOV Write Vector shader: This enables the writing of vector values into a typed AOV, for example for recording positional values. These would previously have been clamped when using typed AOVs
C4DtoA Plugin Enhancements
- Material export/import: Materials can be exported to ASS files and MaterialX files (.mtlx) via the C4DtoA > Utilities > Material > Export to ASS… menu item or via the Alt~W+X shortcut in the Material Manager. Materials can be imported via the C4DtoA > Utilities > Material > Import from ASS… menu item or Alt~W+I shortcut. Selected shaders from a material can also be exported from the network editor.
- Align nodes in the network editor: New Edit > Align nodes menu item and Alt~W+L shortcut is added to the network editor to align graph nodes in the layout.
- Notification when no license found or license will expire: Now a message is displayed in the render settings when no Arnold license found or two weeks before the license expires.
- New Licensing menu: Licensing menu moved to C4DtoA > Licensing with menu items to open the new Arnold License Manager, help and purchase pages. Note that single-user licensing is not available for testing.
- Add Details and Project tabs to Arnold Sky: ****Light filters, user options and light linking settings are moved to these new tabs to be consistent with other lights.
- Flush Caches menu moved under Utilities
Want to learn more?
Cinema 4D Noises and Nodes are now available in Redshift, or are they? A look into the confusing world of experimental updates.
This week I found the latest Maxon Press Release, Redshift update integrates Cinema 4D Noises and Nodes for improved rendering workflow, in my inbox. It was some exciting news that I was quick to open and read.
Per the release, Redshift 3.0.12,
provides content creators deeper integration of Redshift within Cinema 4D. Redshift materials can now be defined using Cinema 4D’s nodal material framework, introduced in Release 20. As well, Redshift materials can use the Node Space system introduced in Release 21, which combines the native nodes of multiple render engines into a single material. Redshift is the first to take advantage of the new API in Cinema 4D to implement their own Node Spaces. Users can now also use any Cinema 4D view panel as a Redshift IPR (interactive preview render) window, making it easier to work within compact layouts and interact with a scene while developing materials and lighting. – Maxon
It was some pretty exciting news that garnered quite a bit of attention online.
Now there was something blatantly missing from this press release. Maxon never clarified that the latest Redshift release was in fact a beta.
Then I looked at the version number again. “3.0.12”
Redshift 3.0 has not yet been released, so this new announcement just fed further confusion.
If you were to head to the Redshift download area, you’ll notice that only v2.6.50 is currently listed. That is the recommended production-ready build of Redshift.
If you actually want to experiment with the C4D Noises and Nodes, you’ll need to find the Redshift experimental builds in the forums.
Experimental builds is the term used by Redshift for their beta builds. You get what you get. Know that there will be many bugs and likely crashes involved.
Typically Redshift experimental builds are just rolled out to users without much fanfare. But in this case, I was led to believe that C4D Noises and Nodes were production ready.
It seems like there may be some miscommunication between Maxon and Redshift regarding “updates” versus “experimental builds” but despite the confusion, we still wanted to investigate the newest feature additions to Redshift.
After a quick install, it was quickly apparent that this release IS NOT production ready.
Now to further investigate, I turned to our resident render expert Chad Ashley to take a deeper dive into the latest Redshift release. He too found a series of issues with this release. I asked for him to catalog his experience, and here are his findings.
This is a good first stab at supporting both C4D noises and nodes, but this still feels very beta overall. I’d say that the noises seem farther along than the node experience.
I should note that the noises are missing some key features, like looping and movement, but they are at least functional. However, until the node system gets a bit more mature, I’ll be sticking with the Xpresso editor.
Redshift Node Implementation
I’ve never particularly enjoyed using the Xpresso nodes in Redshift or Arnold. Connecting those minuscule lines make my eyes water, so when Maxon released its own node-based material editor, I was very excited.
I even did some C4D node training (using physical) and got to know it a bit better. Overall their node system has a clean, functional, UI that doesn’t cause blindness but is not without its flaws.
A majority of the issues I found were with the node editor itself, not necessarily the Redshift implementation. Though there were a few things that bugged me.
- Ability to Mute wire’s is nice
- Ability to right click to replace nodes is useful
- Grouping is useful but would be better if groups could be opened/closed quickly
- Overall Node issue: Undo doesn’t work when connecting/disconnecting nodes.
- Overall Node issue: UI desperately needs a CTRL+A select all hotkey.
- Redshift Node issue: Some RS previews show black or are the wrong color for no apparent reason.
- Redshift Node issue: Frequently, nodes require a manual renderview refresh to see any changes.
- Overall Node issue: New nodes start in the center of the UI and not under your mouse as one would expect.
- Overall Node issue: Cant save node materials to the content browser (big one for me)
- Overall Node issue: No preferences to set initial view state for nodes (no previews, etc)
- Overall Node issue: Doesn’t support custom material previews
- Redshift Node issue: RS Texture nodes are shown on sphere material preview for some reason (see below image)
- Redshift Node issue: Referenced materials are not yet supported
- Redshift Node issue: Soloing upstream textures in a material with displacement shows the material with no displacement. Displacement seems to be omitted from upstream solos.
Redshift Noise Implementation
Redshift’s implementation of Maxon’s noises is a welcome and long-awaited addition. It is fairly feature-complete with only a handful of omissions. I’m especially delighted that they included UV/vertex, Object and World source (spaces).
- Missing looping animation features.
- Missing movement + speed features.
- Would be nice to drive noise types with user data.
- Would be nice to drive noise seeds with user data.
- Maxon Noise material preview is on a sphere despite being a texture?
It looks like Redshift 3.0 is on it’s way to incorporating some nice new features, but it’s apparent that the build just isn’t quite there yet. Which brings us to wonder when the public will finally see a Redshift 3 full release.
We saw issues with Arnold’s first GPU release beta which has made major strides since it’s first release earlier this year. With Maxon backing Redshift, let’s hope that Redshift is also quick to innovate and release big updates soon. It’s really starting to look like the GPU rendering competition is about to heat up.
Overall, it looks like there was a lot of “noise” made for features that aren’t ready for the public, but if you are tempted to play with the new experimental build, Redshift customers can find a download in the Redshift forums.
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Paul Clements on how he used Cinema 4D, After Effects and Arnold to create a style-conscious watch promo.
Like many directors, Paul Clements runs his own business, London-based RocknRoller Studios. While he often handles projects on his own, he frequently builds teams of freelance artists and designers from all over the world, allowing him to keep work moving forward nearly 24 hours a day.
Known for his motion design and directorial work for Adidas, Cadillac, Sky and other brands, Clements was recently asked to design and animate a promo piece for Wolkov, a new watch company looking for a distinctive way to showcase their product’s fresh, youthful features.
Because they had already seen and liked some of his previous work, Wolkov trusted Clements with a very open brief. And he spent two intense weeks using Cinema 4D, After Effects, and Arnold to create a launch promo that dynamically highlights the watch’s versatility.