Nvidia has announced a series of Iray+ physically based interactive rendering plugins for Maya, 3ds Max and Cinema 4D at its GTC conference in San Jose, California. The plug-ins are used alongside Iray Server and were launched at the same time as the Quadro M6000 and Quadro K1200 graphics cards. Read our review of the Quadro M6000 here.
The Iray+ interactive rendering plug-ins, which also support CAD applications like Revit and Rhinoceros, allow the application to use the Iray rendering engine to preview scenes in-viewport at a much higher quality than you'd usually get. The rendering engine responds quickly to changes you make to your scene in other viewport windows - so you'll get a much closer understanding of how your output will come out than standard previews (assuming you're using Iray for your final render too)
Of course, you'll need to use Iray materials in your scenes to use the plugins, and Nvidia says its working on a way to share materials between the different applications using a combined Material Design Language, which it will release later this year.
Both the Iray plug-ins and Iray Server to run on workstations and servers that have either GeForce or Quadro cards - though the performance needs means you'll likely need a powerful board to make Iray useful.
Nvidia says that the Iray plugins and Iray Server will ship later this year.
Cinema 4D (shown here) might seem a slightly surprising choice for such a high-end rendering system - as it's used more for motion graphics than film, TV or commercial animation - but based on the quality of the renders produced by Nvidia and my initial testing of the 3ds Max plug-in, users with a powerful enough card should see benefits both while working and in the quality of the scenes that are produced.
We should learn whether Iray Server will work with scenes created as part of an After Effects project and be able to render scenes as part of the CineWare plug-in nearer to its release.
Iray Server offers some intriguing possibilities to increase performance in your 3D suites. It can act as desktop rendering software, or as a server-based (or servers-based) batch rendering engine. However, servers with Quadro cards can also accelerate interactive rendering performance - so it would be possible, for example, for artists to work on workstations with relatively low-powered graphics hardware - even a laptop - and draw on servers with M6000s to boost interactive rendering when need be.
If this worked as it Nvidia descibes, this would enable agencies or studios to save money and improve performance by putting most of the graphics power in a central respoitory for artists to access when necessary.
Nvidia also announced the Quadro M6000 at its GTC conference. Read our Quadro M6000 review here.