Appleseed – a modern, open source production renderer electricity storage handbook

A renderer is of no use without easy-to-use integrations into digital content creation applications, so for the past couple years we’ve been dedicating a sizable chunk of our resources to develop an ecosystem of high quality plugins for 3ds Max, Maya, Blender and Gaffer. This release continues the trend and introduces major improvements to the 3ds Max and Blender plugins. Please check out the release notes of the individual plugins for details.

One major new feature of the 3ds Max and Blender plugins is full native support for appleseed’s high quality OSL shaders. This means that, starting with this release, all plugins now expose the same set of OSL materials**, creating exciting new opportunities for future releases such as seamless exchange of materials and even complete scenes between plugins.

Another important feature of this release is a new light paths capture, visualization and export system that allows to explore interactively and in great details how light scatters in a scene. This feature is part of a greater industrial project between the appleseed team and a major international group. We’ve made a short video to illustrate this feature, make sure to check it out: Light Path Capture on the Hubble Space Satellite.

We’ve also kickstarted an effort to lower the barrier to entry to use appleseed by removing superfluous parameters, by adopting better defaults and by renaming parameters and settings to make their effect more intuitive. We’re at the beginning of this effort and there’s a lot more to do, but that’s the direction we’re following.

As usual, please give appleseed and the plugins a try and let us know what works, what doesn’t and how we can make appleseed better and more useful to you. Feel free to reach out on our forum, on Discord or via Twitter. appleseed 1.8.1-beta Released

appleseed itself received many core improvements and extensions, including partial support for participating media, a completely rewritten AOV subsystem, a faster and more precise color pipeline, support for procedural objects, procedural assemblies and archive assemblies, and a lot more.

appleseed.studio also received a great deal of attention with OpenColorIO support for applying output transforms to renders, a new Python console allowing scripting right from appleseed.studio with immediate feedback on the scene, and support for Python plugins. The next release will see many enhancements and refinements in this area, in particular the ability for Python plugins to extend appleseed.studio’s user interface.

Last but not least, our Autodesk® 3ds Max® plugin also received its share of improvements, including limited support for Activeshade rendering, Physical Camera support, a new mode to use native 3ds Max maps with appleseed and several other refinements and fixes.

This is the first official release of appleseed featuring the amazing work of our Google Summer of Code 2017 students Petra, Gleb and Artem. We’d like to congratulate them once more for the incredible work they produced throughout the summer and we’re looking forward to their future contributions to the project.

Writing a production renderer from scratch is a wonderful hobby, but a truly herculean team effort. We hope that you’ll like what we built and that you’ll give it a try. We welcome all forms of feedback, positive or negative. Feel free to reach out to us on our users forum or via Twitter.

We would like to use this opportunity to congratulate and thank our Google Summer of Code 2017 students Artem Bishev, Petra Gospodnetic and Gleb Mishchenko who all three contributed significant features before even being accepted into the program. We are also grateful to the GSoC candidates that we unfortunately could not mentor this year but who nevertheless contributed to this release: Aytek Aman, Andreea Dincu, Andrei Ivashchenko, Nabil Miri, Kutay Macit, Aakash Praliya and Animesh Tewari.

With this release, we made considerable efforts to further refine our ray traced subsurface scattering implementation. The results are now more accurate and consistent. We also took this opportunity to add support for SSS sets that allow merging or separating translucent objects. Furthermore, we modified the Gaussian BSSRDF to expose the same parameters as other BSSRDF models; this makes finding the right BSSRDF model much easier. Finally, we added Fresnel weight parameters to all BSSRDF models and we exposed the Gaussian BSSRDF to OSL.

We have significantly enriched our OSL shader library. In particular, we are nearing completion on a massive effort to reimplement Maya shading nodes as OSL shaders. We will give a lot more details about this work when we announce the first release (soon!) of appleseed-maya, our new native plugin for Autodesk® Maya®.

The path tracer now offers additional performance controls: we added distinct diffuse/glossy/specular bounce limits in addition to the existing global limit, and we introduced a Low Light Threshold parameter that allows to skip low-contributing light samples (and thus to eliminate costly shadow rays) without introducing bias.

This release brings many other features such as a new physically-based plastic BRDF, a completely redesigned AOV mechanism, initial support for archive assemblies, support for many more texture formats thanks to the full switch to OpenImageIO for texture loading, and many more improvements, refinements, fixes and cleanups to appleseed core, appleseed.studio and appleseed.python.

Finally, we are also pleased to announce the release of appleseed-max 0.4.5, our native plugin for Autodesk® 3ds Max® 2015/2016/2017. This release brings a host of new features such as environment map support, appleseed object properties (as an Object Modifier), support for render regions, and several bug fixes and improvements. Many thanks to Sergo Pogosyan for the hard work on the plugin! appleseed 1.6.0-beta Released

We switched the entire shading pipeline of appleseed from double-precision to single-precision floating point. It was simply wasteful to do all the shading calculations in double precision. While this switch has no immediate benefit, it paves the way for a faster shading pipeline. The geometric pipeline still uses double precision as this provides a clear robustness advantage.

We improved our Travis CI-based continuous build system (which builds every single pull request merged into master) by expanding the build matrix to both gcc 4.8 and gcc 5.0, both in C++03 and C++11 mode, in preparation to finally switching to C++11 in the next release.

Gafferseed, our native integration of appleseed into Image Engine’s lookdev application Gaffer, received a major overhaul and gained many new features in the process. Please check out Gaffer 0.29.0.0 release notes for details (note that, as of today, the current version of Gaffer is 0.30.2.0).

Finally, we have undertaken a complete rewrite of our native Maya plugin to reach the same level of functionality, stability and code quality expected from projects under the appleseedhq umbrella. The plugin is still at an early stage of development but is moving fast and already producing images. You can track our progress on the forum or even by checking the commits on GitHub.