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Driving innovation: The use of Iray+ in the automotive industry

In an industry as competitive as the automotive sector, the importance of high-quality, immersive 3D imagery throughout every stage of the design and manufacturing workflow cannot be underestimated.

From creating new shades of paint, to customisable finishes, adding decals and ensuring the car interacts with the world around it as it should, realistic imagery and animations that truly reflect the vehicle and its natural behaviour can make all the difference in making the right developmental decisions and, ultimately, clinching the sale.

The Iray®+ SDK (software development kit) gives automotive designers and manufacturers the ability to create bespoke applications to suit their workflow, using technology that allows users to develop their own physically-accurate materials and test new ideas and design features quickly and easily – from concept through to the point-of-sale.

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A material world

With many 3D rendering and design tools, developing bespoke materials and design finishes, such as a new paint colour, can be a costly and timely exercise.

As standard, Iray+ enables those working within the automotive industry to build their own physically-based materials, either from Iray+’s comprehensive library or from scratch, using a wide range of base material layers, colours, textures and finishes. 

So, for example, a new paint colour can be developed to create a true match with an existing range, and Iray+ will intuitively combine the physically-based properties of each material layer, from the bodywork to the finish, creating a 3D visualisation of the vehicle that acts and appears the same way it would in the real world.

Equally, both manmade and natural materials – from decals such as stickers and logos, to dust, dirt and snow - can be added to the model, using the same properties they have in real life to interact with the vehicle accurately, adding another layer of realism to your imagery and visualisations.

The natural environment

Whether it’s a simulation of a car speeding down the side of an Alpine mountain, or a static image of a vehicle sitting pretty in the showroom, making sure the product reacts to its environment as it would in real life is essential to winning the approval of both internal and external customers.

Factors such as temperature, lighting and weather conditions can all have an impact, not only on how a vehicle looks, but how it moves and maintains its appearance, too.

Iray+’s physical sky feature and image-based lighting capabilities allow you to test your product against a stunningly realistic backdrop, demonstrating exactly how a vehicle will act and appear at different times of the day, under different lighting conditions and without the need to move to another system designed specifically for lighting reviews and simulations.

From how the paint absorbs or reflects sunlight, to what affect showroom lighting will have on the car’s appearance, Iray+’s true to life materials interact with the light sources and show exactly where reflections, glare and shadows will occur – allowing for the creation of incredibly realistic simulations, end images, animations and the design of engaging and effective showrooms.

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Full speed ahead with render mode choice

Switching between design ideas and incorporating internal and external feedback is common practice in any design and manufacturing workflow, and the automotive industry is no different.

Iray+ offers four render mode choices to suit the user, whether you’re working in the initial design stages or presenting the final images at the point-of-sale.

Interactive Fast Mode is ideal for the early stages of the workflow, when design decisions are still being made and quick feedback is required on concepts.

It allows you to see your changes almost instantly and start testing the accuracy and functionality of your design from the outset, with approximated lighting effects, ray traced materials and navigation.

Additional accuracy is then provided with Interactive Direct Mode. This option allows the user to add in real-world materials and lighting effects to the image and, in turn, start making more informed initial design decisions earlier.

When those decisions have been made and the design is nearing completion, Interactive Preview Mode then takes things a step further, creating stunning, sophisticated visualisations that use direct lighting, real-world materials and approximated global illumination models, while still allowing changes to be made to the design quickly and easily.

No matter what Interactive Mode stage is being used, the ActiveShade window (in our Iray for 3ds Max plug-in) means you can see the results of changes made while you work, providing a realistic preview of the final render while the modelling is still taking place and providing a reassurance that’s not always there during a more disjointed workflow.

Iray+’s Photoreal Mode then brings your designs truly to life, generating fully interactive, physically accurate images and simulations that represent the design in its environment, with stunning accuracy.

Steering automotive success

Iray+’s ability to be used throughout the workflow, from the design review process through to the marketing and promotional phase allows the automotive industry to create consistent quality from start to finish.

The materials designed, built and tested at the start of the workflow will react and appear in 3D marketing simulations, such as point-of-sale configurators, as they would in the real-world, providing reassurance for the designers, manufacturers and customers that what they see is what they’ll get.

And, with its photoreal rendering technology and physically-based materials and lighting capabilities, Iray+ allows users to create incredibly immersive and realistic customer experiences - bringing 3D automotive designs to life like never before.

To find out more about the Iray+ SDK, visit www.lightworks-iray.com. Or, to buy Iray for 3ds Max, visit www.nvidia.com/object/iray-for-3ds-max.html

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