The New Rendering Frontier: an Interview with Chema Guerra, Co-Director of Fryrender
May 30, 20076 min read
Jose María Guerra García is co-founder and co-director, with Pedro Osma, of Feversoft, the Spanish company that is developing Fryrender. Fryrender is a new rendering engine strictly based on light simulation (it comes as a standalone product with plug-ins for 3ds Max, Maya, Rhino, LightWave, and Cinema 4D). Jose Maria's new software product is emerging from a long phase of beta testing as one of the most promising of the new generation rendering engines. According to legend, Jose and Pedro chose the name for the new product from the acronym Feversoft RaYtracer. Now that Fryrender is getting close to being released, it's a good time to ask Jose María — or simply "Chema" — for more information about his company and his new product. Here is the interview.
Jose María — Chema — can you tell us a bit about yourself and your company?
I am the Technical Director and the programmer behind the core of Fryrender
My name is Chema Guerra. I am the Technical Director at Feversoft, and the programmer behind the cores of Fryrender and RC4. I studied Computer Engineering and co-founded Feversoft with my business partner Pedro Osma as soon as we both got our degrees (we studied together). Since 2001 we've devoted all our efforts to the Research and Development of new visualization technologies, mostly in the real-time field. We have created a fully-featured Virtual Reality engine called Random Control 4 and several tools around it which we have used for custom projects for customers. During the last year and a half we have focused on the release of all that technology in the form of two products:
Fryrender – physically-based render engine: a next-generation render engine which also features real-time data generation capabilities.
RC4 – virtual reality engine: a real-time engine for simulation, virtual walkthroughs, and advanced GPGPU rendering.
What do you believe is the most important feature in a rendering system?
Fryrender is aiming at the right balance between cutting-edge technology and the best usability and reliability
From a merely technical point of view one tends to be permanently obsessed with making the engine faster, capable of reproducing reality with the finest quality, more complete. From a customer's point of view those aspects are a must as well. But there are also some other things that become obvious when you are exposed to a rather large customers base: usability, stability, reliability, control over the final output, a consistent, and friendly support. So, all in all, I think that fryrender is aiming at CG professionals who are demanding the right balance between the most cutting-edge technology and the best usability and reliability.
Traditional rendering is a mature technology that most of the time comes embedded with the 3D modeling system. Why should a user invest in Fryrender or a similar product?
It is very difficult for a company to master different fields at the same time. Modeling and rendering technologies are two very different and complicated worlds. It's true that all the serious 3D modeling applications come with their own render system, but in most cases the render solution they provide is far from being their strongest feature. For example, so far, no modeling package includes a physically-based rendering solution. So if you want the highest rendering quality and a powerful modeling package, you need to invest in two different products.
Fryrender is entering the rendering market with a strategy that was first pioneered by Robert McNeel: give away the beta version as early as possible, build a solid users' community, and involve the community in the evolution of the product. What’s the next step?
involving our customers in the development process has proven to be very very beautiful
In our experience, involving our customers in the development process has proven to be not only beneficial, but very very beautiful also. Not only from a technical perspective but also from a human one. On the one hand, Fryrender is a product for our users. It needs to meet their requirements and make their job easier, so their feedback is FUNDAMENTAL. In fact, their requests and suggestions have a strong impact in the way the development tasks are scheduled. On the other hand, this connection between our customers and the team offers to them a high degree of reliability that is of great value. In some way you could say that by helping and listening to our customers they are helping us give the product the right shape in return. So it is our idea to let things be this way, no matter whether we're in beta or release.
Speed is the biggest challenge of in the Fryrender innovative approach. While Moore’s Law will provide the most significant help to address this problem, what else can users do to speed up the rendering?
The new generations of computers, with better architectures and more multiplicity in their units will definitely turn what are hours today into minutes tomorrow. But that's the future and users need to cope with the computers they own in the present. In fact, Moore's Law is not always taken into account in terms of programming or software technology development (not in our case at least). If you optimize your code for today's computers, it will be even faster on tomorrow's CPUs. No matter how fast the code you write is, it's never fast enough. In the particular case of fry there's still a lot of room for optimization, and also for technology leaps that we have planned for the mid-term future of the product. In a shorter-term, we are planning to add many tutorials / video-tutorials on our website to train our users in how to fine-tune their scenes to achieve the best performance.
Is there any specific reason Spain is becoming a reference point for these new rendering technologies?
I've been asked this question many times, and I have even asked this question to myself, he he. But the only answer is that this is all a matter of coincidence. Arnold Renderer, Maxwell Render and Fryrender are Spanish products. Considering that there are not too many high-end engines in the industry, Spain adds up to a remarkable percent of all the rendering technology in the market. Which is an amazing coincidence since there's no connection at all between the three engines. All that I can say is that I feel very proud of being part of this because it's probably very good for our country.
Many European companies experience difficulties entering the US market. European users and American users are different and have different expectations. How do you plan to address the two different markets?
our approach is very simple: honesty
May this sound naive, our approach is very simple: honesty. Most of the people involved in the CG industry is people who know what they need from a CG tool. If a tool offers the functionality they need, and generates images with the quality they wish to achieve, they will be attracted by the product eventually. This idea should work internationally. So far, a remarkable percentage of our customers are from the US, so the fact that the Internet breaks frontiers and that CG users are rather technical people seems to make target-oriented marketing not so urgent. Anyway, it is our idea to build a strong reseller network overseas to reach deeper. We have been waiting for the right level of maturity in Fryrender to start taking these steps. After vBeta1.7 and with the upcoming release of Fryrender DEMO we feel that the right time has come. We are in fact contacting potential resellers world-wide already.
When do you expect Fryrender will be officially released, and how will it be packaged?
The official date for Fryrender's release is 'when it's done'. We're working full blast in that direction so it won't take too long, but it's been our strict policy since the beginning to keep our schedule in full secrecy. The release date is given by the end of the core engine's task-list. The plug-ins development runs in parallel, so the final release will come with the plug-ins that we already have (3ds Max, Cinema 4D, LightWave, Rhino, Maya) plus the plug-ins that we manage to finish before the core is ready. Anyway additional plug-ins will be given to our customers with no extra cost, as soon as they are available. The licensing policy will not change. The price will be 795€ [about $1068] and for that price you will get a network dongle that will unlock up to 10 simultaneous IPs, without any CPU or core limitations.
I would like to thank Jose María Guerra García for taking the time to speak with me today. Novedge is currently considering to become a US reseller of fryrender. If you have any questions for Chema or for Novedge, please leave a comment below and we will be glad to answer.