OTOY Doubles Down on Its Virtual Reality Bet for Production-Ready Renders

by Samantha Zee

OTOY Inc., a Los Angeles-based cloud graphics specialist, is doubling down on its bet on virtual reality. It’s a move that could help content creators focus on hyper-realistic images and move past the constraints of traditional CGI and filmed media. But it won’t cost customers a dime.

That’s because OctaneVR, OTOY’s new tool for cinematic virtual reality and augmented reality will be released free on Windows, OSX and Linux from April through July.

It allows artists on any budget to experiment and create hyper-realistic, movie-like experiences.

“This is like going to color from black and white in movies, or sound after silent – that’s how big it is,” said Jules Urbach, chief executive officer and founder of OTOY, after the announcement at NVIDIA’s GTC.

“It’s an experiment; it’s a bet on VR to push awareness,” he said. “We want it free, even for commercial use and if it works, we’ll keep it free.”

OTOY also announced upgrades for other tools it offers, including GPU-powered OctaneRender 3 and Octane Render Cloud services. The enhancements include rendering that “opens the door” to snow, mist and gas, and more support for smoke and fire, Urbach said.

The OctaneRender 3 helps transform a production-ready GPU renderer with more power and introduces new features not seen in production rendering before, including volumetric light-field primitives, which improve how light looks and reflects.

While working on updates for the rendering aspects, Urbach traveled to Barcelona to demo the technology at BLR VFX’s studio. He asked BLR VFX’s director J.J. Palermo to test the rendering abilities.

“It’s like telling Yoda 900 years into Star Wars to switch light sabers,” Urbach said.

Deploying two NVIDIA GTX TITAN GPUs, Urbach was able to show Palermo that instead of taking three days to render the kind of scene you’d see in BLR VFX’s movie short “Keloid,” “it could be switched to a much, much shorter time,” Urbach said.