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NX 11 Rendering - Iray+ Introduction


NX 11 rendering drill.jpg

Photorealistic rendering allows you to make decisions about aesthetics, function, and materials of a product early in the design process when costs are low. The new Lightworks Iray+ rendering engine in NX 11 delivers progressive ray tracing in a fully integrated environment with Ray Traced Studio. Today Product Manager Patti Longwinter shows us how the new rendering engine in NX 11 helps you to imagine your products visually.  


There are 3 components to the new rendering capability in NX 11:

  • Rendering Engine
  • Content
  • Tools



NX 11 rendering engine.jpgThe rendering engine comes from Lightworks Iray+ based on NVIDIA Iray progressive, real-time ray tracing. It is a physically based rendering engine, which means it is easier for you to use and materials look realistic right out of the box. It is a scalable solution that uses multithreaded processing and also CPU.  So what does all of this mean? The new rendering engine creates more realistic looking results, it is easier to use, and it is also much faster. You will see this demonstrated in the video below as well as in tutorials to follow.


NX 11 rendering materials.pngNew content takes the form of a new materials library that is MDL based. MDL is the NVIDIA materials definition language. NX 11 supports sophisticated layering for the materials, as well as material effects like emissive materials and sub-surface scattering. Emissive materials are those that emit light, while subsurface scattering is where light penetrates a translucent object and is scattered by interacting with the material.


NX 11 rendering tools.jpg

New tools in NX 11 Iray+ Ray Traced Studio include remote rendering using the NVIDIA Iray server. This means you can get the same high quality results from your home office or anywhere you happen to be working on a laptop. Effects like Depth of Field are supported. Depth of Field is a term that originates from photography and film, and it is the distance between the nearest and furthest objects in a scene that appear acceptably sharp and in focus.  We will be covering that more in depth in a future NX Quick Tips video, so check back.


In the demo below, you will see how to set up and render a product using NX 11 Iray+ Ray Traced Studio to prepare for a design review or product presentation. Let’s get started.


NX 11 rendering 1.jpg


The example shows a part, in this case a drill, in Shaded mode, and we are going to add some materials to this. Select the Render tab to see all of the rendering options. TrueShading is used for simplified materials or scenes, and is not photorealistic. Advanced Studio is slightly more realistic. Ray Traced Studio is another option. What we want, however, is the Studio Task environment. It contains UI focused on rendering specific commands and operations. Studio Task is where we will set up our materials and scenes for this render.


Open up the System Studio Materials palette, and notice how we have a new, richer set of physically based materials available to us. There are also System Scenes to choose from, and a palette for materials applied to part. No materials have been applied to this part yet, so none display in the palette.


NX 11 rendering materials 2.jpgNX 11 rendering system scenes.jpg


Notice as soon as Studio Task is open and our display is set to Advanced Studio, this default Gray Studio 1 scene is applied. There is a shadow on an invisible plane beneath the part and the lighting changes to be a bit softer.


In the Studio Task, the advantage is that there are operations like these that are specific to materials. It is possible to use Advanced Studio and Ray Traced Studio outside of the Studio Task, but for this example, we will stay in the Studio Task while we do our rendering.


Now we are going to apply some materials to this drill. Select a material from the System Studio Materials palette and drag and drop on the geometry to apply that material to the part. Notice the different folders for the various material types: Automotive, Glass, Leather, Lights, and Metal.  


At any point in time, launch the Ray Traced Studio display window for a photorealistic representation of the part. The material is only applied once, but it displays in both modes. The most photorealistic display comes from global illumination using image-based lighting, rather than individual light sources. Shadows are more realistic, and there are inter-object reflections (for glass, refractions).


The new progressive display has a fairly clear initial image with “noise” that appears as dark spots. Those clear up as the rendering engine iterates to give a better display with more control.


NX 11 rendering static image comparison.jpgLeft: Simulation in the Advanced Studio Right: Photorealistic Render

 Using the new Switch Windows command available in NX 11, we are going to switch to a part where there are already materials and decals applied. For instructions on how to apply a decal in NX Ray Traced Studio, please see Sam Kuan’s video tutorial.


Let’s launch Ray Traced Studio again, and you notice that the shadows and lighting appear much more photorealistic. There are differences in how the materials display – plastic appears transparent. You also have more torque control.


Ray Traced Studio rendering modes give you control over quality and performance. Switch to the Bronze setting, and you’ll notice the metal and plastic still look very good. The transparent plastic is darker, which means there is less light bouncing, but the performance is nearly as fast as Advanced Studio. The Silver setting gives a slightly better display, and Gold gives the most realistic appearance. There are tradeoffs in performance, of course, so you will have to determine whether the quality of display or speed is most important to whatever task you have at hand.


NX 11 rendering levels.jpg


There is the option to render interactively, or save a static image as a file. To do this, open the Ray Traced Studio Editor. Select the File Save Format from the dropdown list of options: TIFF, PNG, or JPEG. You can also select the size and set a time limit for the length of the render. Hit Start Shade to begin the full antialiasing process. This will take a while. You ultimately have control; you can either wait for the render to finish, or you can watch for the dottiness to go away, pause, and then save the image to a file when you are satisfied. Select the folder where you want the saved image to appear and give the file a name.


That’s a quick introduction to NX 11 Iray+ Ray Traced Studio.  Look for more NX Quick Tips about it coming soon. Thanks for watching and reading!


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