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Allegorithmic Integrates NVIDIA DesignWorks into Substance Designer

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Quoted from Allegorithmic Case Study:

Founded in 2003 by CEO Sébastien Deguy, Allegorithmic develops the Substance suite of applications that allows users to create and edit textures, paint materials directly onto 3D objects using pre-built or custom physically-based shaders, and convert bitmaps to tiling textures. The company is headquartered in Clermont-Ferrand in the Auvergne region of France and has five other offices in France, China, Korea, and the United States.

CHALLENGE
The Substance suite of texturing applications allowed game designers to create and edit complex procedural textures and materials and perform limited real-time visualizations. Still, the artists had to export those textures and materials to a different application for rendering, such as a game engine or 3D application such as Maya--a time consuming process, even though Unity, Unreal Engine 4, 3DS MAX, Maya, Cinema 4D, and Modo include native support for the Substance format.

Artists could also apply post-production effects via the integrated Yebis middleware from Silicon Studios. Post production is where visual effects are added to fully-rendered frames to enhance the realism and/or quality of the image--a process similar to retouching photographs.

"Our tools worked very well for game designers who wanted to create great-looking materials," said Deguy. "Many of these designers also create high-resolution portfolio images of their characters for their own use. Exporting textures and materials to external applications is a time- consuming process. We also saw a growing opportunity to bring high- end materials and visualizations to the design and manufacturing industries."

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SOLUTION
DesignWorks is a toolkit that allows professional developers to quickly and easily develop advanced features on top of professional-grade software. This toolkit includes functionality that ranges from virtual reality on multi-GPU systems to advanced rendering that delivers photorealistic results via a complete and consistent workflow.
Developers can leverage DesignWorks technologies like OptiX to build custom rendering engines or use the NVIDIA Iray rendering engine that is optimized for full GPU acceleration.

The Material Definition Language (MDL) SDK offers a physically correct programming language to any rendering engine. MDL and Iray work in concert to realistically render any programmed or measured material using the Xrite AXF scanning format. Figure 1 shows how MDL building blocks combine to form a complete material

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Chief Product Officer Jérôme Derel was already familiar with NVIDIA Iray and MDL technologies when he joined Allegorithmic in late 2014. He urged the company to integrate NVIDIA DesignWorks into Substance to allow the creation of complex, physically accurate materials and to eliminate the need to export those materials to a third-party application for rendering. Artists, designers, manufacturers, and enthusiasts can now use Substance to both create and render photorealistic scenes.

eedobaba7726 -winning entry from the 2015 Allegorithmic Procedural Materials Contest

"MDL is more complete and open than other material languages," Deguy explained. "Further, it is based on the physical description of the actual material that each definition represents. This allows truly photorealistic rendering. Using Iray to render directly on the GPU delivers an exponential increase in both speed and accuracy, which allows our users to iterate much more rapidly to obtain the results they are looking for."

MDL is a simple text-based markup language (see Figure 2) that artists can modify in any text editor. Substance adds the ability to create procedural textures in a visual environment with no hand coding required. Further, combining MDL and Substance opens up a whole world of material, including complex wood knots or huge surfaces that cannot be scanned. Artists can simply export the Substance into textures that can be read by any Iray-enabled application that supports MDL import. They can also preview materials inside Substance Designer before export, thanks to the embedded Iray rendering engine. (See Figure 3 on the next page.)

Figure 2: MDL code sample

Integration required about four months: one month to complete the initial integration, and three more months for extensive testing and fine- tuning. Allegorithmic is also creating the first fully visual node-based MDL editor that will make creating and editing materials much faster and easier than current text-based methods--a project being undertaken with the full support of NVIDIA. Figure 3 shows visual material creation inside Substance.

The combination of Iray, MDL, and Yebis brings an almost unprecedented level of speed, accuracy, and realism to Substance..

Figure 3: Creating a procedural texture with MDL inside Substance

RESULTS
Initial customer feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. Social media responses to the announcement of Substance Designer with Iray have exceeded those of all previous releases to date. Customers using the Iray-enabled applications are clamoring for additional features--a sure sign of strong enthusiasm and ongoing interest. Allegorithmic is actively incorporating this feedback and expanding functionality.

"Our meetings and subsequent work with NVIDIA proved their deep commitment to Iray and MDL," continued Deguy."We know we can count on them for the ongoing support needed for successful integration and future upgrades. NVIDIA saw the potential to replace text-based MDL creation and editing with the visual experience of interconnected building blocks offered in Substance Designer. This is a true partnership with many benefits for everyone. Our customers are very excited, and some upcoming announcements will validate that excitement!"


To learn more about NVIDIA DesignWorks and Iray, visit: www.nvidia.com/vdi www.nvidia.com/Iray

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© 2016 NVIDIA Corporation. All rights reserved. NVIDIA, the NVIDIA logo, NVIDIA DesignWorks, Quadro, and Iray are trademarks and/or registered trademarks of NVIDIA Corporation. All company and product names are trademarks or registered trademarks of the respective owners with which they are associated.

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