LOS ANGELES — Chaos Group (chaosgroup.com) announced last month that its co-founder, Vlado Koylazov, was honored with a Scientific and Engineering Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for the “original concept, design and implementation of V-Ray,” for its advancement of fully ray-traced rendering in motion pictures. The award honors pioneers whose “developments result in significant improvements [to] motion picture production” and was presented by The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences at its annual Sci-Tech Award event on February 11.
Chaos Group reports that V-Ray has been used on over 150 feature films since 2002, including recent hits like Doctor Strange, Deadpool and Captain America: Civil War. According to the company, V-Ray provides artists with world-class photorealism, helping them create high-end, computer-generated visuals.
In its announcement, the Academy praised V-Ray for its “efficient production-ready approach to ray tracing and global illumination, its support for a wide variety of workflows, and its broad industry acceptance [that proved] instrumental in the widespread adoption of fully ray-traced rendering for motion pictures.”
Here, in an exclusive interview with Post, Koylazov talks about V-Ray and winning this prestigious award.
What does it mean to you to win an Academy Award, recognizing your achievement?
“It's truly an honor to be recognized along with the other recipients. The achievement really belongs to the entire V-Ray team, though and I am thankful to them and to all of the artists and studios who have been with us over the years.”
Why did you feel the need for a product like V-Ray in the first place? What did you think the post market was missing that you felt this would solve?
“When Chaos Group started in 1997, they were actually a small 3D design and animation studio. I joined a little bit later when [CEO and co-founder] Peter [Mitev] decided that it would be interesting to write software for computer graphics. The first plugin that we did was a volumetric effects plugin called Phoenix (which was quite different from the Phoenix FD fluid solver that we have now). At some point I needed accurate volumetric shadows for it, so we decided to implement them with raytracing. This turned out to be way more interesting and we started to write our own renderer, and from that V-Ray was born. It quickly became clear that there was a growing demand for photorealistic rendering in production, and we put all our efforts into developing V-Ray.”
The solution has been accepted on a rather large-scale by many post houses. How do you feel knowing that something you conceptualized and developed has made such a big impact on the post industry?
“It's exciting for me, since I love films. It is also very gratifying to know that millions of people see pixels that I helped put on the screen. I've always appreciated visual effects in movies and the work that goes into making them. My hope, always, is to help artists as much as I can, and V-Ray is the result of a lot of artist feedback over the years.”
Why do you think V-Ray has been so widely accepted?
“V-Ray is built to handle just about anything. It works well in many production scenarios, so I think it’s a good fit for a lot of studios. Of course, the overall quality, speed and usability are key. We work pretty hard to make the integration with the host application as seamless as possible, and we also spend a lot of time to understand our users and their needs and to build the right tools for them.”
What are the different types of applications post houses are using V-Ray for?
“V-Ray is used in all types of productions — films, television, commercials, titles, animation, etc. And it’s used by all types of artists – lighters, look dev artists, generalists, matte painters, concept artists, even production designers. We try to make V-Ray do everything that artists need, right out of the box, whether it’s rendering creatures and characters, or environments and effects. Recently, we’ve been adding tools to help with VR and we’re seeing a big uptick in VR content.”
What further developments do you envision for V-Ray, or, Chaos Group?
“We’re always testing new ideas, looking for ways to make V-Ray faster and easier. In the latest version, we introduced a new Adaptive Lights algorithm that optimizes light calculations and cuts render times in a big way. Also, GPU rendering has come a long way, and I expect to see it adopted into more productions. Of course, we’re always experimenting with other ideas and projects, but it’s probably too early to talk about.”