Reviews, Software Programs

Review: KeyShot 3D Renderer

Renderers have a special place in the world of 3D applications, as they are responsible for the final image that is seen on the screen. Whether in game development, industrial design, or entertainment, renderers give you all of 3D modelers’ and animators’ vision.

For those unfamiliar with 3D content creation, the procedure is as follows:

  1. 1. Create a 3D model using a 3D modelling application (Maya, 3DS Max, Rhino, etc.)
  2. 2. Apply all materials on models, textures, lights
  3. 3. Render it to get the final image.

Anyone who has ever tried 3D rendering knows that it is a long process, and having serious computing power makes a large difference. Most renderers use the CPU for rendering, so the more cores and faster clockspeeds, the sooner the render will complete.

If you are making 3D content as a hobby or have a small studio, you should already know that choosing all the materials, textures, and lighting demands a lot of time, because when you change something in your scene, you have to render it to see how it looks. However, times are changing, as are modern renderers.

Increasingly, renderers now come equipped with a real time pre-renderer which shows you how the final rendering will look, and the enable you to see the changes in materials in matters of seconds. However, the final rendering is still very time consuming, especially when rendering an animation.

For example, let us say it takes 5 minutes to render one frame of animation, and you want to create a 15 second animation. 25 frames per second times 5 minutes times 15 gets you to complete rendering time of 1875 minutes! Or 31.25 hours!

I have personally used many renderers in my time such as BMRT, FPrime, Flamingo, Mental Ray, and Maxwell, but recently I discovered a new player to the rendering scene – KeyShot.

KeyShot is currently in its 3rd edition and it offers some excellent features, a simple working environment, and most importantly, extreme speed with great results.

So let us start with KeyShot’s workspace, which is quite unique. This is because when starting up KeyShot, there is just one window from where all the work is done.

The first thing you will want to do is to import a 3D scene. KeyShot can import almost anything and it also offers plugins for some applications so scenes can be exported directly from your favorite 3D application.

Once you have imported your scene, the real work begins, though in KeyShot, it is more fun than work.

All the major components of the program for creating your final scene are represented by 7 icons on the bottom of the application; we shall go through them one by one.

– The first one is ‘Import’, it is used to import 3D models into KeyShot.
– The second one is the ‘Library’. When you click on it, a new window will appear, showing you all the materials, environments, backplates, textures, and finished renderings you have at your disposal. When installed, KeyShot already comes packed with materials and environments to work with.

– The third one is ‘Project’ ? it is a section for fine tweaking your materials, scene, environment, camera etc.

– ‘Animation’ is next, and it offers a simple way of creating some mostly basic animations, but the included wizard makes it extremely easy. A turntable animation can be created in matter of seconds.
– ‘Screenshot’ requires no explanation, nor does Render, in which all the rendering parameters are set as resolution, quality etc.
– The last one is something special, but we will get it a bit later. For now, we will just show you how KeyShot works.

In this video, you can see that it took me around 6 minutes to set-up my scene, apply materials, environment, and make it ready for rendering. Of course, this was not done with the amount of detail you will normally work with, but it covers what KeyShot is all about. The next thing to see is how fast the renderer is. We will try that with a 3D model of MiG-29:

It’s clearly pretty snappy. One should also take in consideration that this was rendered on an Intel Pentium E6300 @ 3.35GHz with 4 GB of RAM. Now just imagine how fast an Intel Core i7 would render it.

The final icon we mentioned earlier is ‘KeyShotVR’ ? it is a very simple and fast way of showing your products on the web in full 3D, with the ability to manipulate 3D objects directly in the browser.
This technology is still patent-pending, but at its core it is very simple. KeyShot renders multiple angles of a model/scene and puts them all together via javascript that can be easily embedded into a web page. KeyShot even generates all the required HTML code.
To check it out in real life, we have embedded an example below:

KeyShot can easily be integrated into existing 3D pipelines in studios that require a fast and powerful rendering engine. It can use multiple computers across a network for even faster rendering and anyone can use it to get exception results.

Anyone interesting in creating 3D content should give it try. KeyShot has a trial version available for download, and it is well worth trying out.