Details - Tech Tour


Hybrid Engine (Biased+Unbiased)

At the beginning there were only the approximate renderers where the global illumination is solved by means of inversion and interpolation. With machines becoming more powerful, unbiased renderers finally emerged in the commercial world. Unbiased rendering takes typically longer to finish since it really has to compute all amounts of lighting transfer with the benefit of more accurate results. Unbiased rendering has typically only a few parameters to tune making setup easier, but biased renderers have still the upper hand when it comes to animations. Thea Render is the first commercial solution that contains both state-of-the-art biased and unbiased engines. This means that the advantages of both kinds are present in a unified framework. All render engines use the same materials and lights without any hidden obstacle between using one or the other. No need anymore to convert materials or parameters from an unbiased renderer to a biased one (and vice versa) because there is a job that one kind can do better. Render quick high quality biased animations and astonishing unbiased stills. Or render astonishingly realistic unbiased animations and quick high quality stills. Let the full unbiased solution rendered or take more control over the lighting using the biased engine. The choice is yours and just one switch away.

Breakthrough Material System

There is sometimes a confusion that a sufficiently accurate renderer can produce realistic renders. But this is not true; the material models used is the key to producing realistic and convincing renders. This is why we often say that the material system is the heart of the renderer. In Thea Render, we have created a compact number of highly realistic materials using the most accurate physically-based models. These materials are used as building blocks in a layering system that has been designed to produce highly energy-conservative material combinations. The new layering system is an innovation of Thea Render by taking advantage and improving state of the art techniques in material modeling. Even more, the material system is easy to use with the integrated material editor, designed to exactly match the material system and maximize workflow. The layering system is used transparently by the end user; adding coatings, stacking or mixing substrates are easily done.

Accurate Light Simulation

Light simulation refers to the means of solving the global illumination problem governed by the rendering equation (or volumetric rendering equation when participating media are present). What is so special about this equation, is that its expansion results into an infinite series; practically, this means that we have to deal with very high dimensions. This can cause various numerical stability problems. Dealing with the global illumination problem was traditionally being done with discretization methods, such as variants of finite elements. But these techniques are too coarse for the delicate needs of the human eye; even more, they are quite resource demanding. Stochastic methods on the other hand can lead to the actual solution, i.e. without inserting any bias. By applying progressively the stochastic methods, we can see the image refined over time. In Thea Render we have developed a mathematical framework by selecting and improving the most robust numerical techniques. Even more, Thea Render can perform accurate volumetric light simulation, something that cannot be found in other high-end commercial render solutions. Calculating in full visible spectral space, we made sure that there is no lighting detail you are going to miss.

Physically-based Rendering

Physically-based rendering means that the used models are not just arbitrary formulas that have a phenomenal match with reality but they are based on a valid physical interpretation and do not break any physical laws. The advantage of such approach is that all those delicate visual cues become apparent; some of them are usually not possible to get with a phenomenal (or physically-plausible) modeling approach. These visual cues make your renders appearing much more realistic. Thea Render comes with physically-based models on all levels; materials, physical sun-sky, participating media. And we made sure that these models do not pose any penalty for the render performance. Enjoy highly energy conservative material combinations, unbiased sun-pool caustics, accurate sub-surface scattering and many more. No need for using meaningless quantities that do not have a physical representation and are difficult to comprehend.

Superb Performance

Accuracy and realism are those features that make Thea Render standing apart. But this would not be enough if the speed of the render engines is not enough to deliver within time. With Thea Render we are making use of techniques of superior algorithmic design where renders can be delivered fast and performance is scalable with scene complexity. Many render packages rely on brute force optimizations that are basically a re-write of the same code taking advantage of new processor capabilities. While this is an optimization always considered, in Thea Render we introduced innovative techniques taking advantage of algorithmic optimizations; this is the key to achieving superior performance boosts and scalable with scene complexity. This is the particular reason why Thea Render can deliver superb renders really fast, even by early beta phase, while there is still room for brute-force optimizations that will give additional boost in the future.

Standalone Studio

Right from the beginning we dedicated a lot of time into an advanced standalone studio that is tightly integrated around the render engines. But we were not satisfied with a simple Open/Render interface and we went much much further. The Studio that comes with Thea Render is a vital part of the product; right from the beginning, we paid great attention into a non-modal and ergonomic design that is at the same time aesthetically superior. With Thea Studio you get a full stager for your scene by means of OpenGL support with various advanced tools like the instancing brush, animation editor and interactive render. Check out our innovative material editor, a tight integration around Thea material system and the equally innovative texture and color editors. The importance of the studio is that you can edit and modify a scene with full setup of the render engines. In Thea Render Studio everything is in place guaranteeing an easy learning curve. With theme support and an internationalized interface, you know that our standalone studio is simply the best around.

Product Visualization

Rendering has always been a key process for graphists, illustrators, animators and architects. Nevertheless, it can prove very important for product designers as well. Using the superior material system, great looking, accurate and convincing materials can be created, helping you not only to impress your clients but also visualize your product at an early phase making zero-cost design changes. Create superior materials or take advantage of our increasing pre-built material libraries. Use the integrated material editor and see how changing a texture, changes the overall mood and impression for your product. Use accurate sampled data that can be used out of the box to render complex phenomena like dispersion. Applications can range from furniture and cloth to music and jewelry industry. Take a moment and evaluate Thea Render for your product design and visualization.

Instant Unbiased Relight

Even though, the global illumination is a hard-to-solve problem, there is something very nice about it. The solution of the problem is the same whether we use all lights together in the equation and solve it once, or deal with each light separately and combine the results. This is possible due to the equation being linear in terms of the lighting sources. The above observation is what Thea Render takes advantage, in order to render just once, yet be able to merge the solutions with different weights and essentially change the lighting in a post-process. The whole process, called Thea Relight, can be used to create beautiful lighting animations. Relight is easy to use and Thea Render comes with an integrated frame editor to create animations within the studio application. Lights can change intensity and color from frame to frame, become enabled or disabled. Light groups can be created in the studio for control over many lights at the same time.

Image-based Lighting

Although the materials are the key to making highly realistic renders, the lighting used is the key to actually reveal all attributes of these materials in the renders. A rich and complex lighting usually corresponds to the frequency content and intensity variance. Such complex lighting can be created by capturing environment illumination (with a camera) and creating a high dynamic range image. This image can then be used as a lighting source in our virtual environment. Thea Render supports image-based lighting for any kind of mesh acting as varying color and power texture. Even more, images can be used replicating the surrounding (environmental) lighting. Additionally, special extra images can be used for reflection, refraction and background mapping to boost further the appearance of your scene. Well known high dynamic range formats HDR and OpenEXR are supported as input for image-based lighting. They are also supported as saving formats for renders that can be subsequently used as lighting sources.

Displacement Mapping

Sometimes geometric complexity can be a limiting factor for the realism in our renders. Hard edges and low-poly objects can contribute to the sense of an unrealistic render. The usual way to increasing geometric details is by means of modeling and object subdivision. But this can be a tedious process, also making the scene quite heavy to manage. Displacement mapping is an effective way for leveraging geometric complexity with low impact on system memory resources. Thea Render supports micro-displacement mapping as part of the material description. The necessary computations involved take place during rendering (on the fly) keeping the scene light, i.e. memory demands are minimal. It is tunable, well integrated into the material editor and of course joy to play with!

Motion Blur

It is typical that cameras (and the human eye as well) can not take an instant photo of the environment. Between the time that the diaphragm opens until it closes again, the lighting enters through camera lens and hits the film (or CCD array in digital cameras). During this time, known as shutter time, objects are still moving in the scene and this movement can be captured on film - an effect called motion blur. The faster the motion compared to shutter time, the more obvious will be the effect. Thea Render supports accurate motion blur by treating time as a parameter of the global illumination problem. This means that no matter how small or big is the motion of the object, the blur will appear correctly just like in using a real camera. Even more, the studio application supports editing of rigid object animation using key frames, making the effect easy to appear. Shutter time and other parameters of the cameras can be setup easily in the user interface as well.

Depth of Field

Real world cameras can not take photos keeping every object in the scene sharply defined. Due to the thin lens used for capturing and focusing the light on the film (or CCD for digital cameras), a tiny point-like object in the real world projects on an approximate circle on the image plane (known as circle of confusion in photography). This circle has a varying size depending on the camera and relative object position. Objects that are on the right distance (the focused distance) and between some limits (which are called near and far plane) are projected with a minimal circle of confusion and stay sharp and well defined on the image. Objects that are closer or further than this distance become blurry on the image; the more the distance, the blurrier these objects will be. Thea Render supports thin lens cameras with similar settings (f-number and diaphragm) to a real world camera. Even more, auto-focus and visual setup of near and far planes can be done through the user interface. This means fast depth of field setup and better looking images. Depth of field is computed right out of the box for all render engines; it is not computed as post-process but integrated directly in the render engines resulting in truly accurate depth of field. Depth of field can be used to effectively guide viewer attention to certain parts of the image. By making sharp some parts and blurry some other parts of the image, you can indirectly define those that are most important to notice.

Sub-Surface Scattering

Sub-surface scattering (SSS) refers to objects where light may enter from one point, have one or more scattering events and exit at another point on the surface. It can be considered as a special case of volumetric scattering. Thea Render comes with a special model that contains all the used surface and media parameters together. Strictly using the most accurate model, you can create astonishingly realistic materials, ranging from milk and marble to plastics, that are only approximate in other high-end unbiased renderers. Since Thea Render supports volumetric scattering, sub-surface scattering is supported out of the box (in unbiased mode). An approximate solution is available with the biased engine of Thea Render to yield fast results.

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Thea Render is a state-of-the-art biased/unbiased renderer with a rich set of innovative features, a powerful material system and its own advanced studio, all-in-one.

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