Autodesk invests in Otoy to advance rendering, compression, and cloud use

Academy Award winner’s real-time Path Tracing technology automates many manual post-processing effects. This is the second Autodesk investment this week into a company that has done prior business with Dassault Systèmes.  

Autodesk has made an investment in Otoy, a developer specializing in real-time rendering solutions for complex games and films. Otoy’s Path Tracing technology automates many rendering tasks previously handled manually in post-processing. Autodesk says it want to accelerate Otoy’s development, and plans to integrate Otoy technology into existing Autodesk Media & Entertainment products.

Otoy’s products are primarily used for movie and game development, but there is an Otoy-CAD industry connection that predates Autodesk’s investment. In 2010 Dassault Systèmes SolidWorks presented a technology preview of SolidWorks running in a cloud computing environment, at SolidWorks World; the preview was powered by Otoy’s compression technology. (The idea of SolidWorks running from a remote server was not very well received by the users in attendance at SWW 2010, and is still a work in progress.)

Otoy products include two 3D rendering tools, Octane Render (jointly developed with Refractive Software) and Brigade, which both enable path traced rendering. Path tracing significantly reduces the cost and complexity of high quality rendering by automatically generating effects traditionally handled through manual post processing, including spectral rainbows, lens flares, unbiased motion blur, and depth of field.

Otoy won an Academy Award in 2010 for its LightStage technology for reality capture; it has been used in several recent films including The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Avatar. Otoy’s rendering software uses a physically correct material framework and capture system which incorporates LightStage directly into the rendering pipeline.

Otoy also has products for mesh streaming, 3D cloud rendering, and GPU compiling.

Looking at the “why?” behind the deal

Sometimes the answer to “build or buy?” is “invest.” Only a year or so ago path tracing technology was considered too expensive for use in anything less than a potential blockbuster movie. Today’s advancements in graphics hardware—particularly the fast increase in GPU processing power—makes not only path tracing but Otoy’s other advanced rendering and processing strategies more accessible. Autodesk did the math, and realized it could bring this to the mass market faster and cheaper by funding Otoy to keep up the good work, and reaping the benefits as an investor instead of a customer.

This is the second investment this week by Autodesk into a company that has done business with arch rival Dassault Systèmes. Earlier this week we reported on Autodesk’s investment into Gehry Technologies, which develops the architectural software product Digital Project using Dassault’s Catia V5 as its foundation. (See also the GraphicSpeak article, “Autodesk buys into Frank Gehry’s Catia-powered think tank.”)