Fast Animation Rendering with Allura

Allura

Allura GPU for SketchUp - Powered by NVIDIA Iray® is a GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) based renderer for SketchUp which utilizes the power of your NVIDIA GPU to create renderings, faster.

Allura, using NVIDIA Iray+ from Lightworks, creates physically accurate renderings by tracing light paths. It unleashes the full power of Iray's interactivity and scalability with an easy-to-use, intuitive workflow that maximizes productivity by providing immediate visual feedback during scene development.

You can try Allura today by signing up for a 30-day free trial. Stop reading and go play with it!

Read about one of our user's experience using Allura in this Case Study


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Download and Installation

Download Allura

Download a the latest version of Allura from this page: Allura Downloads

After downloading the .ZIP file, click on the file name inside to install Allura.

Start SketchUp

Download SketchUp if you don't have it yet. (Allura works with both the free, make version of SketchUp and the professional version of SketchUp.)

Start Allura

Select Allura Load from the SketchUp Extensions menu.


What is NVIDIA Iray+?

NVIDIA Iray+ is a physically based 3D renderer which uses the power of your GPU - Graphics Processor - to perform the rendering. Iray+ quickly computes light paths and reflections.

Quite simply, most of the rendering settings are automatic, e.g., Indirect illumination, reflections, refractions, soft shadows, blurry reflections, reflective and refractive caustics, etc.

You just assign material properties in SketchUp by right clicking on the material, and click render. All the rest pretty much takes care of itself.

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SketchUp model rendered with Allura

Materials

Your SketchUp materials will automatically work with Allura. Allura gets the color, texture, transparency, etc. directly from SketchUp.

You can add special rendering properties, such as reflection or refraction, by selecting one of the Material Presets. Each of the Presets selects a base material type, and presets values for a good rendering of the material. You can then change the amount of Reflection, Sharpness, or Index of Refraction to fine tune the materials.

Right click on a SketchUp material to load the: Allura Material Wizard

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Here are some examples of the Presets:

Glossy

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Glossy Materials create smooth reflections from light, but not sharp reflections from other objects.

Wood Varnished

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Wood looks realistic when it reflects lights. You can lower the Sharpness to get a more realistic, blurry, reflection.

See: Allura Wood Material

Thick Glass

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Thick glass distorts objects seen through the glass, and reflects light based on the Index of Refraction.

See: Allura Glass Materials

You can see all the Presets here: Allura Material Wizard

Lights

Allura provides a library of lights you can place in SketchUp for interior scenes and artificial lighting.

Warehouse lights.jpg

Allura will even correctly render color dispersion in caustics as indicated by the tiny rainbow patterns.

See: Allura Light Wizard

Two Rendering Modes

Allura offers two rendering modes: Interactive Mode for fast, high quality, rendering of your scene, and Photoreal Mode for even better rendering when you have time to let them fully converge. See: Allura Render Modes

Responsive Workflow

Allura provides a great responsive workflow experience. You can fire up Allura in SketchUp (either with interactive or photoreal mode) and, with a beefy enough GPU, you can arrange your lights and tweak shader attributes and get rapid, high-quality feedback in the render window.

No more guessing settings and waiting forever to see if you guessed correctly!

Given compatible hardware, interactive feedback with Allura can be significantly faster than other renderers.

NVIDIA GPUs

What sets Allura apart is that it's implemented in NVIDIA CUDA allowing it to take full advantage of NVIDIA Quadro cards including those based on Fermi, Kepler and Maxwell cores. You can even mix and match multiple GPUs from different generations in the same machine and Allura will utilize them all.

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Allura is for SketchUp users such as architectural designers, product designers, hobbyists and others who need near push-button photorealistic renderings, quickly. It does this very well. Simply load Allura, assign materials, click render and for the most part you're done. As long as you get your materials right, you won't be spending time fussing around. Allura takes care of things for you.

How is Allura different?

Allura can take full advantage of CUDA to dramatically accelerate the rendering process. With Allura this is not a piecemeal approach to GPU acceleration. Instead, Allura, using Iray+, was designed from the ground up for CUDA - even across multiple GPUs.

While Allura makes no attempt to be a real-time renderer like OpenGL or DirectX based technologies, given enough hardware, it can actually become real time as is the case when using a NVIDIA Quadro VCA.

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Allura scales. It can utilize all CPUs and CPU cores of even a multi-socket system, and all CUDA cores on all NVIDIA GPUs. The more hardware you throw at Allura, the faster it renders. It's like the Borg of renderers.

License rates are not per core or per GPU. Allura is very affordable.

Working with Allura is fun. The image starts out grainy but rapidly converges as you let it process more and more samples. You can also set a maximum time or samples permitted to render.

Multiple GPUs

Allura will make use of multiple GPUs from multiple generations including Fermi, Kepler, and Maxwell.

With Allura, you can be far more productive than with other renderers. Being able to instantly see changes update in the render view, even if grainy at first, is invaluable.


Easy to Use

The best thing about Allura is its simplicity. There's very little head-scratching or weird rendering artifacts or bizarre tricks required get a particular look. Instead, Allura pretty much just works. It really is very easy to use and results are amazing.

Drawbacks?

Automatic physical accuracy has one down side: Things like turning off shadows for a given object are not possible with Allura. Don't fret because a consequence of being simple to use and providing such rapid feedback greatly diminishes the need for these hacks.

Instead, things just look amazing all on their own. You really don't have to cheat to make things look great with Allura.


See also

Iray® is a registered trademark of NVIDIA Corporation