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Sneak peek: V-Ray 6

 
Chaos has released V-Ray 6 for 3ds Max, the next major version of the production renderer – and the first of the next generation of updates to the entire V-Ray product family – as a free public beta.

New features include Chaos Scatter, a fully featured standalone object scattering tool, and VRayEnmesh, an interesting new system for repeating geometry across the surface of an object without instancing.

The update also adds support for procedural clouds in VRaySky, a new Finite Dome mode for the Dome Light, an integrated Thin Film layer in VRayMtl, and updates the VFB and V-Ray GPU render engine.

The first of a new generation of updates to the V-Ray product family
Chaos typically introduces new features in the 3ds Max and standalone editions of V-Ray before rolling them out the other versions, starting with V-Ray for Maya.

As a result, the V-Ray 6 beta provides a glimpse not just of the new features for 3ds Max users, but of the next generation of releases for the product family as a whole.

New standalone Chaos Scatter tool provides an alternative to third-party plugins
Major new features in V-Ray 6 for 3ds Max include Chaos Scatter, Chaos’s new standalone object scattering tool, first rolled out with Corona 8 earlier this year.

It provides an alternative to traditionally fuller-featured third-party scattering plugins like iToo Software’s Forest Pack: you can see a partial feature comparison in this forum thread.

 

 
New Enmesh modifier generates repeating surface geometry without instancing
Another interesting new feature is the VRayEnmesh modifier, which covers the surface of an object with repeating geometry, in a way analogous to tiling a texture.

Unlike instancing, no extra memory is used by the repeating geometry – only the source mesh is loaded – making it possible to have “billions of polygons [in a scene] without any impact on the memory consumption”.

Suggested use cases range in scale from fences to chainmail and rattan to the micro-structure of fabrics.

The system is a work in progress, and does not currently support V-Ray GPU, the software’s GPU-enabled render engine. Other current limitations are listed in this forum thread.

Materials and textures: updates to VRayMtl and VRayDecal
VRayMtl, the standard V-Ray Material, gets some significant updates in V-Ray 6.

Changes include an integrated Thin Film layer, for creating iridescent materials like soap bubbles and oil spills: effects currently only achievable via an OSL shader.

There is also a new implementation for SSS mode, which should speed up rendering of translucent materials.

In addition, energy compensation has been implemented in the GTR BRDF, which should fix a long-standing issue in which reflections appear unrealistically dark at very low glossiness values.

VRayDecal, the texture projection system introduced in V-Ray 5 for 3ds Max Update 2, now supports displacement maps.

 

 
Lighting: new procedural cloud system in VRaySky, updates to the Dome Light
VRaySky, V-Ray’s physically accurate sky system, get support for procedural clouds.

It isn’t currently possible to render from above or inside the cloud layer, but judging by test renders in this forum thread, the results hold up pretty well in close-ups.

The clouds also cast shadows on environment fog.

Other lighting changes include the new Finite Dome mode for the V-Ray Dome Light, for fine tuning light projection onto ground surfaces via three new settings: Radius, Projection height and Ground blend settings.

Rendering: updates to V-Ray GPU, Cryptomatte and the VFB
V-Ray GPU, V-Ray’s GPU-enabled render engine, continues to move closer to feature parity with the main CPU render engine, with V-Ray 6 adding support for the VRaySphere geometry type.

You can see a current feature comparison for the two render engines here.

Other V-Ray GPU features planned for V-Ray 6, but not available in the current beta, include a new device manager, making it possible to run the base render and the AI denoiser on separate GPUs.

VRayCryptomatte, the Cryptomatte ID matte render element available in both V-Ray GPU and the CPU render engine, gets support for deep output.

The V-Ray Frame Buffer (VFB) also gets a number of new features, including a panorama viewer, a new Proportion Guides Layer to help with scene composition, and a Flip button to flip the image.

Users can also send renders to Chaos Cloud directly from the VFB to solicit feedback from clients or collaborators, with viewers able to add annotations and comments.

More features to come in future beta builds
Workflow improvements include a new hierarchy view in VRayProxy, making it easier to toggle the visibility of individual objects or material overrides.

You can see a complete list of new features via the links at the foot of this story: Chaos says that the final release is still months away, and that more new features will be added before them.

Pricing, system requirements and release date
V-Ray 6 for 3ds Max is available in free public beta for 3ds Max 2018+, running on Windows 8.1+. Chaos hasn’t announced a final release date, or any pricing changes.

The current stable release, V-Ray 5 for 3ds Max, is available for 3ds Max 2016+, running on Windows 8.1+. A perpetual workstation licence and one render node costs $1,180. Rental costs $80/month or $470/year.

 
Read an overview of the new features in V-Ray 6 for 3ds Max on Chaos Group’s website

Read a full list of new features in V-Ray 6 for 3ds Max in the online release notes

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