Imagination announces Caustic Visualizer interactive ray traced viewport plug-in for Autodesk Maya

New visualization software and true full-frame interactive viewport hardware acceleration technologies showcased at SIGGRAPH 2012

SIGGRAPH, Los Angeles, Calif., 6 August, 2012: Imagination Technologies, a leading multimedia technologies company, today announces its ground-breaking Caustic Visualizer™ viewport plug-in for Autodesk® Maya® 2013*. Imagination will be demonstrating Caustic Visualizer’s highly interactive full-frame performance on the new PowerVR low-power ray tracing hardware reference platform.

Imagination’s Caustic Visualizer family revolutionizes the performance and functionality of the interactive visual look development process by making ray-traced photorealistic rendering, from the start, an integral part of the content creation work flow.

Caustic Visualizer is built entirely on the Imagination PowerVR OpenRL platform. Through OpenRL’s highly optimized CPU implementation, Caustic Visualizer can deliver an interactive photorealistic viewport experience on a CPU-only desktop that was previously only possible in competitive solutions based on expensive quad-GPU hardware configurations.

Furthermore, when coupled with OpenRL running on the new PowerVR ray-tracing hardware reference platform, Caustic’s Visualizer software can deliver true full-frame (1024x1024) resolution imagery up to 15 photorealistic frames per second, without the need to de-res the image or add significant noise during interaction.

Says Tony King-Smith, VP marketing, Imagination: “Visualizer™ delivers great performance on a CPU, but with OpenRL capable hardware acceleration, shown at SIGGRAPH as a licensable reference design, it is nothing less than ground-breaking.”

Chip Stearns, GM, Caustic Professional says: “Imagination is creating an expanding portfolio of hardware and software solutions bringing ray tracing capabilities to a broader range of markets, from the desktop to, ultimately, mobile and embedded. We are delighted both with the release of Caustic Visualizer for Maya, our first product for artists and designers on Autodesk platforms, and with the development of our hardware solutions. Working in collaboration with our partners, we look forward to introducing further products based on PowerVR ray tracing technology, OpenRL, and the Brazil SDK, that will set new standards for visual design productivity.”

Inside Caustic Visualizer

Caustic Visualizer gives artists a new way to interact with content created in Maya, using an interactive, fully ray traced viewport, complete with accurate global illumination, shadows and reflections. By providing users with high-quality real time visual feedback from the earliest stages of modelling, potential issues with the look of a scene can be identified and resolved much earlier in production, minimizing the need for time-consuming preview renders.

Gavin Greenwalt, senior artist at Straightface Studios, says: “Interactive ray-tracing will do for rendering, what ZBrush did for modelling. I've tested and tried just about every preview tool that's been released; Caustic Visualizer for Maya is the first solution that I can actually use in production. It is so rapid I can leave the ray-traced view open all the time now, which has revolutionized my workflow. I can't imagine going back to trial and error now.”

Developed using Imagination’s PowerVR™ Brazil SDK and fully utilizing Imagination’s PowerVR OpenRL™ ray-tracing API, Caustic Visualizer plug-ins are designed to offer complete platform independence - so no matter what operating system or hardware configuration an artist uses, these plug-ins will provide a consistent, high quality, easy to use interface and workflow.

Caustic Visualizer for Maya 2013 is now available to users as a free download via the company's open beta program.

Leading ISV partners are also developing plug-ins for popular tools using the PowerVR Brazil SDK. Robert McNeel & Associates, which is developing the Neon plug-in for its popular Rhinoceros® product, has already seen unprecedented interest for the Neon beta plug-in, thanks to the performance of the OpenRL and Brazil SDKs.

Key features of the Caustic Visualizer Maya plug-in include:

  • High-Quality Visual Feedback: Caustic Visualizer for Maya provides an interactive, fully ray traced viewport complete with soft shadows and diffuse reflections, enabling artists to view their scenes with an unprecedented degree of visual fidelity.
  • Versatile Material Set-Ups: the plug-in supports Maya's Hypershade render nodes and mental ray® shader nodes.
  • Geometry Independence: Caustic Visualizer supports a full range of standard scene geometry types, including polygons, NURBS and subdivision surfaces.
  • Lighting Flexibility: The plug-in is compatible with Maya's Point, Spot, Directional and Area Light types, providing complete flexibility when creating lighting set-ups.

Continues Greenwalt: “Caustic Visualizer for Maya's interactivity eliminates the guess work that has always hampered CG lighting.  Now I'm free to explore new ideas and variations as fast as I can imagine them. It's an instant classic."

Caustic Visualizer will be unveiled at SIGGRAPH 2012, Imagination Technologies Booth #522. The beta version of Caustic’s Visualizer for Maya is available now for Maya 2013 64-bit and may be downloaded for free from the Caustic Professional website at  Rhino 5.0 customers can download the “Neon” plug-in, which uses the same OpenRL-based ray tracing acceleration platform as Caustic Visualizer (See:

Editor’s Notes

* and 3ds Max® 2013, coming later this year

Caustic Visualizer

Caustic’s Visualizer for Maya is a plug-in for Autodesk Maya 2013 that enables artists to create 3D content within a fully interactive ray traced viewport. By providing a much higher degree of visual fidelity than Maya's standard rasterized viewport, including accurate global illumination, reflections and shadows, Visualizer for Maya enables artists to identify and resolve potential problems from the earliest stages of modelling, minimizing the need for time-consuming preview renders and radically streamlining the look development process.

PowerVR Brazil SDK v1.0

The Brazil SDK v1.0 is a high-level rendering toolkit that can incorporate photorealistic visualization technology into to a wide range of 3D graphics applications. It is a completely new implementation, designed from the ground up to leverage OpenRL for real-time photorealistic interactivity on a portable platform.

PowerVR OpenRL

OpenRL™ is a flexible low-level, platform independent API for accelerating ray tracing in both graphics and non-graphics (e.g., physics) applications, available today as a free SDK that includes a software implementation running on x86 devices. It is being integrated by a rapidly growing number of developers in rendering applications for a wide range of markets, including digital content creation, film and video, games, architecture, and industrial design. See:

This cross-OS, cross-platform API is the only ray tracing API that supports multiple graphics devices with optimal performance and from a wide range of vendors. Like OpenGL, OpenRL hides the complexities of interfacing with different graphics devices by presenting a single, uniform interface. A free perpetual license of OpenRL is available for integration into commercial or non-commercial applications.

About Caustic Professional

Caustic Professional is part of Imagination Technologies, a global leader in multimedia and communications technologies. Based in San Francisco, Caustic Professional is changing how interactive cinema-quality 3D graphics are produced, used, and enjoyed.

Caustic Professional’s solutions, based on Imagination's PowerVR OpenRL API and PowerVR ray tracing technologies, use a unique, patented approach that fundamentally changes the performance and cost metrics for production quality ray traced images and animated content without cutting corners for quality or functionality. Thanks to the cross-platform features of PowerVR OpenRL, future generations of Caustic Professional's products will migrate seamlessly from workstations to future generations of mobile and embedded platforms utilizing Imagination's future PowerVR GPU IP cores incorporating Imagination’s innovative ray tracing technologies.

About Imagination Technologies

Imagination Technologies Group plc (LSE:IMG) – a global leader in multimedia and communication technologies – creates and licenses market-leading multimedia IP cores for graphics, video, and display processing, multi-threaded embedded processing/DSP cores and multi-standard communications and connectivity processors. These silicon intellectual property (IP) solutions for systems-on-chip (SoC) are complemented by platform level IP and services, a strong array of software tools and drivers and extensive developer and middleware ecosystems. Target markets include mobile phone, handheld multimedia, home consumer entertainment, mobile and low-power computing, and in-car electronics. Its licensees include many of the leading semiconductor and consumer electronics companies. Imagination has corporate headquarters in the United Kingdom, with sales and R&D offices worldwide. See: .

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