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Arion Standalone: The stand-alone hybrid-accelerated and physically-based render
Arion 2.7 is a hybrid-accelerated and physically-based production render engine for high performance and capable of producing hyper-real images and
Arion 2.7's unique approach
Arion 2.7 uses all the GPUs -and- all the CPUs in the system simultaneously, not wasting a single flop available.
Additionally, Arion can use all the GPUs and all the CPUs in all the other computers in the network forming a cluster for massive distribution of
Arion 2.7 is able to handle very large data-sets and still deliver a very good performance. By means of using instancing, render-time displacement
and render-time subdivision surfaces, it is possible to render virtually anything on a modern hardware-accelerated computer using Arion.
Arion 2.7 can handle most of the rendering effects which are considered standard these days such as displacements, instancing, motion blur, ... and
more. And beyond the current feature list of Arion, we keep researching and developing to bring even more features in the near future.
Stable and rock-solid
Arion 2.7 technology has been crafted with the highest coding quality standards in mind. As a result, its rendering core is nearly unbreakable and
will relentlessly render for hours or days without ever crashing.
Finite sampling per component
Arion 2.7 rendering core features a brand new set of controls to constrain path-tracing depth on a per-feature basis. ow you can control
the maximum number of specular/glossy/diffuse/refraction/scattering GI bounces independently. Cropping the maximum number of GI bounces in a
scene allows for a significant speed increase in exchange for a controlled darkening of the GI in hard-to-reach areas.
Each render component features an Exit color, which can be used to compensate the darkening coming from a too low path recursion
depth. Some very important speed increases can be achieved on dielectrics and Sub-Surface Scattering materials if exit colors are used properly.
IBL importance sampling
Arion 2.7 features a brand new Importance Sampling system for Image-Based Lighting that immensely improves render speed in HDR-illuminated
scenes. The speed improvement becomes really massive as soon as the HDR environment starts to be heterogeneous enough (i.e., contains some
particularly bright spots such as the sun, etc.. IBL-IS (Image-Based Lighting Importance Sampling) analyzes the HDR environment map, splitting
its surface in areas classified by brightness. From then on, the brighter areas are sampled more often than the darker areas, so variance (noise)
is reduced much faster. The speed improvement ranges from faster to extremely faster. The most typically extreme case for IBL-IS is an
HDR photograph of the sky, because most pixels are even in brightness and color, except for the sun ball. With
regular stochastic sampling, the sampler would need to hit the sun ball by chance. But thanks to IBL-IS, light paths are automatically driven
towards the sun area more often than they are to the rest of the sky. In other words, it is now possible to render efficiently any HDR
environment with fast and nearly-immediate hard shadows, even if the map features tiny bright spots, a sun ball, studio light gear, or anything
that you can think of.
Metropolis Sampling (MLT)
Arion 2.7 comes with a new optional sampler for those cases that just won't make it with path tracing alone.For the first time on a full-
featured renderer, Metropolis Light Transport can run on the GPU. This is not a MLT look-alike amputated from its glory to run on a GPU. This is
the true, full-featured Metropolis Light Transport algorithm. And as always with Arion, it's hybrid and can run on your GPUs, your CPUs or all at
once. Metropolis sampling can help get out of previously impossible or very hard rendering situations and converge successfully to the final
image. The render above has been completed in a few hours on 2 Geforce GTX 580 cards, missing no light component at all. The blue beam that is
seen in the total internal reflection of the most left prism for example, is a very hard case for most renderers. Arion does it just right and
noise-free. Although MLT can be used on any kind of render, it has a great use in optical and lighting simulations. If you're a professional
working in optics or lighting, Arion is the ideal tool for you, providing unprecedented speed and image quality, cutting no corners for a fully
accurate physically-correct simulation of light, all accelerated by the GPU.
Improved physical sky
A deep technical work has been done on Arion's physical sky/sun. The match between sun integrators in the engine is perfect now,
which kills some powder or fireflies that were happening before, and cleans noise faster in general as well, as long as the sun is used. A new
feature has also been added so the sun diameter can be configured. Some users had requested the ability to achieve 'less sharp' sun shadows, for
example. Both improvements have their own importance by themselves. But when used together, it is possible to efficiently render proper sun
caustics, even through dielectrics (like swimming pools or even windows with real glass). The use of MLT sampling shines in all its glory here by
allowing to render this sort of images that used to be impractical before.
Stable noise pattern
The random number generation system has been improved a lot for Arion 2.7. Now when you select a fixed number of passes, it is guaranteed
that all devices in all stations will compute the exact same sequence of QRN seeds, and in the same order. Furthermore, the rendering loop makes
sure now that if you set a fixed number of P passes, the accumulation buffer will keep the first [0..P] samples for each pixel and rule out any
other seeds that might arise early due to the difference in speed between devices.
LightMixer light layers are back. It's now possible to output all the LightMixer layers in a multi-layer EXR file and tune it in your
favorite editing software such as Photoshop, After Effect, Nuke, etc. Just like AOVs, LightMixer layers are computed on the fly during the
standard calculation of the full unbiased render or AOVs. With this method, it's now possible to re-light in full 32-bit floating point a
complete animation sequence with any software that supports EXR and multi-layer EXR without the need for extra plugins or limitations due to
proprietary formats. Arion 2.7 offers up to 8 LightMixer channels, plus the environment and sunlight channels, adding up to a total of 10 exploitable
light channels. RandomControl has been working with FnordWare to provide you the best multi-layer EXR output possible. We strongly recommend
their plugin ProEXR to read multi-layer EXR files in Photoshop and After Effect. Other softwares such as Nuke handle this natively just fine.
Faster, stronger, better
Arion 2.7 raw raytracing speed is up to two times faster. But is it? Well, it's even faster than that. Beside a deep optimization of the
core that affects raw speed, we've completely reworked the sampling strategy, leading to a better image convergence in the same time.
So not only Arion 2.7 is faster, more responsive and smoother to use, but it also renders with less noise, resulting in an approximated 3x speed boost
over Arion 2.7. And since a good news never comes alone, this speed boost also applies to the Metropolis sampler.