By: Sitex Graphics
AIR is an advanced 3D graphics renderer with a unique architecture and extensive features designed for the rapid production of high-quality images. AIR is a hybrid renderer, combining the advantages of scanline rendering - fast rendering of complex scenes, motion blur, and depth of field - with the flexibility of on-demand ray tracing for accurate reflections, soft shadows, global illumination, and caustics.
AIR supports a broad range of geometric primitives, including polygon meshes, trimmed NURBs, subdivision meshes, curves, particles, and implicit surfaces. All primitives are supported in their natural form; no pre-meshing is required. AIR also provides true (sub-pixel) displacement and high-dynamic range (HDR) input and output.
New Features in Air 13
- Physically plausible shading: new sampling methods allow reflections and specular highlights to be treated in a consistent manner, enabling a new set of physically plausible shaders.
- New Retexture application for interactive material editing as a post-process
- New radiosity cache greatly accelerates indirect lighting computations
- Faster occlusion when rendering complex scenes with many threads
- Additive shadow channel for better compositing
- Automatic tapering of curves
- New shaders for creating and rendering carpet
- New light shaders for spherical lights and projecting textures
- New parameters to limit the emitted illumination from light shaders that vary intensity with distance
- Automatic color space conversion of raw texture files
- New Color section in the user manual provides a concise overview of how to handle color properly when rendering with Air
- Light colors may be specified as a solar spectrum
- Texture conversion tools have new options to convert between color spaces
- Air Show has a new simple print option
For a full list of new and improved features and bug fixes, see the What's New section of the Air User Manual: http://www.sitexgraphics.com/air13.pdf
Shader networks and layered shaders
Multiple surface or displacement shaders can be assigned to an object and connected to build a shading network in RIB from pre-compiled components. Shaders may be layered to apply different materials to different areas of a surface or to add details such as decals. Extra shaders can also be used to compute additional output values.
The new environment shader type provides a flexible and uniform method of shading rays that miss all objects in the scene.
Physical sun and sky shaders
A new sun light shader and sky environment shader compute results based on observer location and atmospheric conditions.
PTEX - per-face texture mapping
The open-source PTEX library provides a new texture file format that stores a separate texture for each face in a polygon or subdivision mesh, allowing textures to be applied without the assignment of texture coordinates. Air's implementation allows PTEX textures to be used with any shader that uses standard texture coordinates simply by enabling a new attribute. BakeAir can write to PTEX textures directly.
Mesh baking with BakeAir
BakeAir can now bake shading results to mesh vertices which can be saved using the geometry export feature. Export to RIB allows an arbitrary list of vertex values to be saved with a mesh. The indirect and envlight shaders have been extended to use baked mesh values for indirect lighting and occlusion automatically.
Deep image hider
A new deep image hider and deep image file format allows all primitive surfaces that overlap a pixel to be saved for deep compositing.
Air Show and a new imager shader implement a simple tone-mapping algorithm for viewing high-dynamic range (HDR) images.
Ray tracing memory optimization
A new option to eliminate unused shading data for traced objects can reduce ray tracing memory use by 1/3 or more for some common scenarios.
Smarter texture caching
A new texture cache algorithm can greatly improve cache performance in some cases.
File paths can be automatically re-mapped to work with multiple file systems.
TweakAIR is an interactive rendering tool based on the AIR renderer. TweakAIR is designed to allow interactive tweaking of high-quality images with the full range of advanced rendering effects supported by AIR.
TweakAIR combined with the free AIR Space user interface provides a standalone interactive environment for shading and lighting 3D models.
TweakAIR accepts regular RIB files as input. At the beginning of an interactive session, TweakAIR creates a "deep" framebuffer for the current view, in about the time required for a normal preview rendering. Once the deep framebuffer has been generated, shading and lighting for the scene can be changed interactively, and the rendered image will update to reflect the changes.
- No expensive preprocessing or large intermediate files
- Works with the full gamut of AIR surface primitives
- Tweak any parameter of any surface, displacement, or light shader
- Assign new surface and displacement shaders
- Add and move lights
- Optimized shading for re-lighting
BakeAIR is a special-purpose renderer for recording or "baking" shading and lighting results into texture maps. The baked texture maps can be used for rapid re-rendering with a software renderer such as AIR or for real-time hardware-accelerated rendering.
A typical 3D renderer such as AIR produces a 2D image based on a 3D-to-2D projection of a scene. BakeAIR instead rasterizes individual primitives in texture space, recording shading information into one or more texture maps.
- BakeAIR provides great flexibility in the baking process:
- Almost any value of interest can be baked: color, opacity, position, normal, tangents, indirect lighting, and any shader output variable.
- Values can be recorded at 8-bit, 16-bit, or floating-point precision.
- A single primitive can bake multiple values to different maps, and each map can be shared among multiple primitives.
- Any user-defined texture coordinates can be used for baking.
- Map size, exposure, quantization, sampling, and filtering are definable on a per-map basis.
BakeAIR is built on the AIR core and shares all applicable AIR features, including programmable shading, indirect illumination, ray tracing, soft shadows, caustics, and advanced filtering and anti-aliasing. BakeAIR reads files in RIB format.
BakeAIR is ideal for producing texture maps for accelerating software rendering, visualization, games, or digital content creation. BakeAIR is supported by Animal Logic’s MayaMan plugin for Maya as well as SiTex Graphics’ AIR Space shading and lighting tool.
AIR Space is a new interactive shading and lighting interface for AIR, TweakAIR, and BakeAIR. With AIR Space you can import a 3D model, assign shading and lighting properties, and render final images with AIR.
AIR Space uses TweakAIR to display a high-quality Interactive Preview Rendering (IPR) of the scene as you adjust its shading and lighting. You can perform many common editing functions simply by clicking in the IPR window.
- Import model data in RenderMan® RIB or Wavefront OBJ formats.
- Interactively assign materials, select shaders, and adjust shader parameters.
- Interactively add, move, and tweak lights.
- Unlimited undo and redo of all shading and lighting changes.
- High-quality interactive preview, including soft shadows, antialiased textures, procedural patterns, reflections, global illumination, and ambient occlusion
- Pickable IPR view: click in the IPR window to select objects or materials, position & scale textures, target lights, and more.
- Material palette for quickly creating new materials or modifying existing materials with pre-defined surface shaders, colors, and displacement shaders.
- One-click re-import of a modified model, preserving existing project settings.
- Automatic texture conversion for optimal rendering.
- Texture linking and tracking.
- OpenGL 3D viewport for camera and light manipulation.
- Light linking.
- Support for Darkling Simulations DarkTree shaders.
- Integrated asset browser for materials, textures, light sets, and DarkTree shaders.
- One-click rendering with AIR.
- Distributed rendering over multiple machines (requires an AIR license for each machine).
- Easy turntable and camera-path animation.
- Bake shading and lighting to texture maps with BakeAIR
- AIR Space is a free addition to the user interface tools included with AIR
Option "user" "float reflectlights"
- Light channels can be tracked throught indirect diffuse bounces (GI) with the new indirectchannels light shader. With this new shader, each light channel includes not only direct lighting but indirect illumination due to the corresponding light source.
- Indirect diffuse (GI)
- Much faster rendering with bg environment map
- Much more efficient rendering of multiple bounces without a cache
- Fix for overblown results with non-normalized normals
- new option to enable light channel recording during an indirect prepass:
Option "indirect" "string prepasschannels" "__lights"
- Shading language:
- environment() and trace() calls provide a "background" output value of type color that stores the contribution of the bg environment map or color
- environment() and trace() can return arbitrary output variables from ray-traced primitives in a manner similar to the gather() construct.
- texture3d() accepts a "fill" argument specifying the default value for channels if no points are in range or the channel is missing.
- bake3d() accepts an "append" parameter with a float value. If the append value is 1, points are added to an existing file.
- Shaders may query the current frame number with option("FrameNumber",frame)
- Light shaders can access standard texture coordinates at the current shading location using the new global variables ss and ts.
Improved environment maps
- The shading language environment() call now respects the samples parameter allowing users to fine tune the speed and quality of environment map queries
- New options to set the number of environment samples for the indirect and reflected background
Option "indirect" "integer envsamples"
Option "reflection" "integer envsamples"
- New micropolygon shading mode: Attribute "shade" "integer mode"
- New attribute to apply the flatness tessellation criterion as an absolute tolerance in object space: Attribute "render" "string flatnessspace" "object"
- Geometry export in PLY format
- Added Perspective RIB command
- Increased max rendering threads from 8 to 16.
- RIB filter additions: ScreenWindow, Projection
- Area lights: Fix for area light normals; Better handling of geometry with facevarying data
- New surface shaders: BakeTangentNormalMap, CausticPass, IndirectPass, MotionPass, VAnimatedMap, VFabric
- New light shader: portallight
- New MassiveAgents instancer shader
- Most surface shaders with ray-traced reflections now have a __environment output variable
holding the contribution of the background environment map for reflection rays
- All displacement shaders now provide __bump and __undisplaced_N output variables
- Updated shadowpass shader provides per-channel shadow values
- A 64-bit build of Air for Windows (included in the Windows distribution)
- Ray-tracing may now be used as the primary hidden surface method (includes support for non-uniform sampling of motion blur and DOF)
- A new cache for environment shaders produces faster and smoother global illumination results
- More than a dozen new and improved shaders
- New OceanWaves displacement shader for animated ocean waves
- The sunlight and physical sky shaders allow the sun position to be set explicitly
- Instancer shaders
- Much faster surface sampling when using standard texture coordinates
- Instancers can now be evaluated by multiple threads simultaneously
- Many small fixes and improvements
- Shading Language
- Primitive variable data can be used with layered and networked shaders
- The gather() function can be used to query point clouds
- Traced shadows with transmission hit mode "primitive" now respect prim var opacity data
- Smooth interpolation for deep shadow maps can be specified when the map is created
- Curves used as area lights may now include a width parameter for modeling tubular lights
- Vector-based outlines can be exported in DXF or AI file format
- Max number of threads increased to 64
- Networked shaders can now be tweaked
- The output image can be 16-bit or float-precision
- A preview image is generated as the initial deep buffer is filled
- A new per-pixel occlusion cache accelerates re-rendering
- Many small fixes and optimizations
Specifications & Licensing
Supported Operating Systems
- Linux x86 (32 & 64 Bit)
Supported Host Applications
Unlimited Threading Licenses
Each new Air license now allows an unlimited number of rendering threads on a single machine.
Older Air Licenses allow up to 4 rendering threads per License.
To upgrade your older license to unlimited threading please contact RFX
A separate license is required for each machine. A single license works with Air, TweakAir, and BakeAir. The Air distribution includes a floating-license manager at no additional charge. Users who wish to use a license occasionally on a laptop can contact RFX for information on obtaining a companion laptop license.
License purchase includes technical support and free updates for a period of 1 year from date of purchase. Support renewal contracts are available as an annual subscription. Volume discounts apply to multiple license renewal.
Educational licenses are available to students and instructors. Verification of educational status is required prior to ordering. Contact RFX for details.
Upgrades / Support
Sitex offers the following Upgrades and Support options:
- Included with purchase for the first year
- Technical support via email
- Software upgrades
- Subscription for second year available - contact RFX
- Upgrades from previous versions
RFX is available for all your support needs
Sitex offers support for users with active Subscription
Supported Host Applications
Contact RFX for pricing