Price When Reviewed: 820
Pros: pros Fast when using NURBS, subdivision surfaces, raytraced reflections/refraction, and motion blur. Superb image viewing and fast re-lighting rendering option.
Cons: Polygon models render much more slowly and global illumination can also be slow compared to Mental Ray.
Most commercial 3D rendering solutions such as Photorealistic Renderman and Mental Ray use the computer’s CPU to do offline rendering. nVidia’s Gelato is different because it combines the processing power of the system’s CPU with the processing ability of the graphics card.
With graphics chip technology developing faster than CPU technology, Gelato’s approach makes sense and paves the way for the possibility of real-time photoreal rendering at some point in the future.
However, there are some complications. While it makes sense to harness the otherwise dormant power of your system’s graphics card, it’s not as useful for a company who have already invested in a CPU-based render farm. Gelato may require an entire reinvestment in rendering hardware that may outweigh the benefits it could offer.
Gelato is a standalone renderer but it comes with Mango – a plug-in for Maya that enables translation of geometry and shaders to Gelato for direct rendering. Mango supports most Maya functionality but there are obvious limitations such as for Fur, Cloth, and Hierarchical subdivision surfaces. All the bread-and-butter features are supported though, including motion blur, depth of field, displacements, and most light types. Support for 3DS Max comes via a free third-party plug-in called Ameretto.