Why Clarisse iFX offers a revolution in rendering software

Two days before their talk at HP ZED Paris, Sam Assadian and Yann Couderc explain what their high-end software offers CG artists.

When companies announce that their product is "revolutionary", that's usually just empty marketing speak. But Clarisse IFX from Isotroprix, released in 2012, really did live up to the hype.

As our review pointed out at the time, it offered a true paradigm shift in the way CGI pipelines work, by reducing the amount of time from any interaction to the machine starting to render final images. And from there it's gone from strength to strength.

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Created by artists for artists, Clarisse iFX is currently on verson 1.5, and with CEO Sam Assadian and render technical director Yann Couderc due to speak at free event HP ZED Paris tomorrow (2-4pm), we asked them about use cases for the software, the latest features, and their own careers in the 3D industry.

How do artists tend to use Clarisse?

SA: Whenever the job requires work with dense geometric complexity (animated or not), Clarisse iFX proves invaluable and offers many tools to simplify layout and scene assembly management. Initially, users tend to use it at the back end of the pipeline for layout/rendering/lighting/pre-compositing. But they can also use it in the very first steps for artworks and look development.

Where does it particularly shine?

SA: Clarisse projects don’t store geometry and texture data but instead, geometries and images are kept as reference into the item file path. So the software works at insane speeds, making it an instant hit for matte painters and artists who work on dense CG environments.

Lighting/shading is another area where Clarisse shines. Material applied on their geometries inside Clarisse’s 3D View in real time is just bliss for artists. Lighters can stop wasting their time optimizing their scenes and can finally spend the major part of their day on lighting. No more waiting for the renderer to start or blindly tweaking passes. As a former 3D Lighter, those things are really important to me.

What's been added to Clarisse in 2014?

SA: Since January, we've added a new colour management system based upon Open Color IO. We've also enhanced the Clarisse AOV workflow to provide one of the best available in the market.

We've also made improvements to our scattering system and our shaders, such as a powerful occlusion shader. In the rendering area, along with speed and memory optimizations, we've integrated volume rendering and support for Open VDB, double sided micro displacements as well as vector displacement. Regarding scene assembly, we've released a very powerful file referencing system supporting local overriding and incremental file updates.

The next major version (2.0) should be released around next Siggraph. Clarisse iFX 2.0 is going to be a really exciting release!

What's your relationship like with the big studios?

SA: Since 2012, Isotropix has built up strong relationships with world leading studios like Double Negative and Industrial Light & Magic to mature our software, using real production data, and bring Clarisse to the next level. These great collaborations led to the release of Clarisse iFX 1.5 and the upcoming 2.0, bringing major improvements.

How did your career path lead you to Isotropix?

Yann worked on French-Canadian sci-fi hit Upside Down, starring Kirsten Dunst.

YC: After 10 years working for leading studios like Duran-Duboi, Cube Creative and La Maison, I gained experience in high-end VFX production as a CG artist, director and CG supervisor. I worked on several movies, including Upside Down, Immortal and The Nest as a CG supervisor and others as director ('Peryl sur Akryls', 'Monaco, un rocher pour l'éternité').

As an active tester and technical consultant early in the development of Clarisse, I decided to formalize my collaboration and joined the ranks of Isotropix in June 2011. I’m in charge of technical support and tutorials, and I work to constantly improve relations between Isotropix and its community. I think that, thanks to my technical expertise and my strong knowledge of the commercial tools and the user needs, we built a real synergy between our R&D Team and our users.”

SA: I've spent most of my career in the animation industry finding innovative solutions to improve the image creation process. Beyond my expertise as graphics software engineer, I also worked as high-end 3D artist and participated in several feature films, TV, TV commercials and AAA game cinematics.

During my years in prestigious animation studios, I was directly involved in the design and development of several production pipelines integrating most graphics software. I also developed many proprietary tools. This unusual career path gave me a vision of the animation industry and its graphics software market.

In April 2011, Isotropix was born out of the observation that during these past 20 years, graphics software workflows had become more and more complex and less and less well-adapted to the artistic needs facing economic reality.

What will you be covering in your talk?

Assadian and Couderc will demonstrate the new features of Clarisse iFX at HP ZED Paris

SA: Curiously, many people do not know about Clarisse yet, what the software can bring them and how it can meet their needs. The ZED will be an opportunity for us to show how Clarisse changes the game by presenting some of the exciting features and functionalities of the upcoming 2.0 which are already available for our maintenance subscribers.

I will start with a presentation as an introduction of the software features and will show how it can easily be integrated in pipelines. Then, Yann will make demonstrations and will reproduce realistic situations to illustrate what Paul Huston (Senior/Lead Digital Matte Artist at Industrial Light & Magic) said some weeks ago: "The guys at Isotropix are dedicated to putting power into the hands of production artists and streamlining their work flow, and the result is an entirely new experience of creativity and productivity that we have all been waiting for".

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