Adobe Project Felix with Chaos Group’s V-Ray
At the Max Adobe show last year Adobe announced that it was moving into the 3D space, in a very limited but focused way. Adobe showed publicly for the first time their new 3D Application named Project Felix. The aim of this new string in the Creative suite bow is to allow 2D designers to introduce and light 3D models so that they can be used in presentations, brochures etc. It is not an animation tool, nor is it aimed at recreating a whole scene but it does have at its core a full (but special) version of V-Ray.
At the time Adobe mentioned this in passing when the product was first shown, but preferred to focus on the machine learning AI tools in Project Felix. They have waited until now to fully discuss the new application. Project Felix is now in open beta, with the final version expected to ship sometime later this year.
Chaos Group, are naturally proud of this strategic partnership with Adobe, bringing V-Ray’s
Academy Award-winning rendering technology to the Creative Cloud.
The aim of Project Felix is to make rendering pack shots or imported geometry at the push of a button. The hope is that graphic designers can easily create photorealistic 3D rendered composites with Project Felix that they might then finish in Photoshop. Project Felix helps users composite 3D assets like models, materials and lights with background images, resulting in an editable render they can continue to design in Photoshop CC. For example, users can turn a basic 3D model of a generic bottle into a realistic product shot that is fully lit and placed in a scene to create an ad, concept mock-up or even abstract art. V-Ray acts as a virtual camera, letting users test angles, perspectives and placement of their model in the scene before generating a final high-res render. Using the preview window, Felix users get immediate visual feedback on how each edit affects the final rendered image.
By integrating V-Ray, Adobe has brought the same ray tracing technology used by companies like Industrial Light & Magic to a much wider audience. The key is using Image Based Lighting (IBL) to produce photorealistic rendering so that graphic designers with no 3D experience can produce worthwhile final imagery.
Project Felix uses clever computer vision and learning techniques to extend an imported still to use as an IBL light, this means that either correct HDR 360 IBL files can be used or just normal images imported from your laptop. If you are an experienced 3D user then Project Felix is not going to be something you will use, but for compositors or those wanting to do small but high quality 3D stills the program is both smart under the hood and completely simple to use.
While the version of V-Ray could do anything that a normal renderer could – the available functionality of options has been limited to the bare minimum. This must be an attempt to try to succeed where previous Adobe 3D plugins to photoshop have not. In Photoshop the 3D tools are little used and so it is no surprise that Project Felix comes from a whole new team that joined Adobe as part of their acquisition of Mixamo.
Mixamo was acquired by Adobe Systems in June 2015. Based in San Francisco, the company developed and sold web-based services for 3D character animation. Mixamo’s technologies use machine learning methods to automate the steps of the character animation process, including 3D modeling to rigging and 3D animation.
Mixamo is a spin-off from Stanford University and had raised over $11 million from investors before it was acquired by Adobe. Machine learning is one of the hottest areas in R&D right now and while Chaos Group are not discussing any explicit plans, they have commented how keen they are to learn all they can from working with the Machine Learning team in Adobe. Chaos Group’s engineers and Adobe’s engineers are continuing to work closely together.
“Working with the amazing team at Chaos Group meant we could bring the power of the industry’s top rendering engine to our users,” said Stefano Corazza, senior director of engineering at Adobe. “Thanks to their stellar team, our collaboration lets graphic designers design in a more natural flow. Each edit comes to life right before their eyes