Solid Angle releases major Arnold 5.0 update

Apr 22, 2017 at 09:29 pm by -gToon

SOLID ANGLE, the creator of the industry-leading Arnold global illumination ray-tracer, has officially released version 5.0 of the Arnold core rendering library and associated plugins for the main DCC tools. In addition, Autodesk today announced that 3ds Max 2018 ships with Arnold 5, replacing mental ray. Building on Arnold's leadership in production ray-tracing, Arnold 5 represents an evolution in rendering for artists everywhere. Not just a feature release, Arnold 5 also represents a significant transition to a new architecture, paving the way for major developments to come. With a significant update to the Arnold core, faster rendering, new feature additions, enhancements to existing workflows and exciting new capabilities, Arnold 5 will help artists create more stunning imagery than ever.

"We are excited to make Arnold 5 available to artists worldwide," said Solid Angle founder Marcos Fajardo. "With more than 500 development tickets completed, it has been a true labor of love as the team has really pushed to optimize Arnold and prepare the platform for future development."

Arnold 5 is available now as a standalone renderer, as well as a plugin for Maya (MtoA), 3ds Max (MAXtoA), Cinema4D (C4DtoA), Katana (KtoA), and soon Houdini (HtoA) and Softimage (SItoA). Individual licenses can be purchased from Solid Angle's web store. Free trials are also available for download.

Imagine your best photo ever


Many subsystems in Arnold 5 have been optimized, resulting in significant speedups during both render start-up and ray-trace time. Large OpenVDB volume caches in particular can load up to 2x faster, specially on highly-threaded machines. Preprocessing .tx textures is now multi-threaded and can be 10x faster. Both the implicit surface and curves geometric primitives are faster to ray-trace. Indoor scenes with multiple GI bounces, as well as objects with high transmission depth, can render up to 2x faster. Opacity-mapped transparent surfaces, such as tree leaves, can render up to 20% faster, specially in machines with many threads. In many cases, images render both faster and with less noise.

Kingsglaive: FFXV used an early development version of the standard_volume shader. Image courtesy of Digic Pictures.

Better samplers

Arnold 5 includes several sampling optimizations. New two-dimensional dithered sampling, which improves the visual distribution of noise at lower sample rates, significantly improves sampling results with soft shadows, indirect illumination and depth of field. Direct illumination sampling has been redesigned for quad, disk, and cylinder lights, helping reduce noise for both surface and volumetric lighting with these popular light types. Indirect illumination has been improved and can result in significant speedups for indoor scenes. Taken together, these improvements will allow Arnold users to get better results faster, while still enjoying Arnold's ability to tackle the most complex production rendering challenges.

Old vs new samplers with quad and disk lights, shown at 1 sample/pixel

Easier to use

One of the main goals of Arnold 5 is ease of use. While the previous Arnold architecture has been tremendously successful for over five years, common workflows were identified that resulted in wasted time and effort. Arnold 5 simplifies some of these workflows. Installation and deployment is easier, particularly in the cloud, with fewer moving parts thanks to built-in libraries such as OpenVDB 4, as well as an extensive set of new built-in shaders that eliminates the need for 3rd-party shader libraries. Similarly, an advanced VR camera node comes with Arnold out of the box.

Procedural geometry and volume plugins no longer need to provide or guess bounding boxes, and namespaces make it easier to assemble complex scenes that reuse assets without shader naming conflicts. Mirror reflection and glossy reflection are combined into a single "specular" ray type. Image-based lighting is easier to set up thanks to new built-in visibility flags in the skydome light, which is now automatically visible in camera, reflections and refraction. Maintaining a linear workflow is easier than ever thanks to a new color space manager that replaces clunky gamma settings.

Hair UVs are easier to specify and use. Internal cleanups made it possible to remove several obscure render options as well as node attributes, which resulted in an even simpler user interface presented to the artists. Many other little corners of the renderer have been sharpened and simplified for a more satisfying out-of-the-box experience.

Decreasing melanin content in the new standard_hair shader. Model courtesy of Zeno Pelgrims

New shaders

Arnold 5 ships with several new built-in shaders. These shaders are physically accurate and will allow artists to push the boundaries of realism with their renders.


Read the complete Arnold 5 Press release here.

Solid Angle (

is the technology group behind the Arnold rendering software, now a subsidiary of Autodesk Inc. With offices in Madrid and London, Solid Angle's customers include ILM, Framestore, Sony Pictures Imageworks, The Moving Picture Company, Cinesite, The Mill, Digic Pictures, and Rising Sun Pictures. Arnold was designed to efficiently process the complex geometric datasets required for feature-length CGI animation and big-budget visual effects, while at the same time simplifying the pipeline. This unique renderer has been used to create the VFX seen in "Arrival", "Rogue One", "Avengers: Age of Ultron", "Guardians of the Galaxy", "Gravity", "Pacific Rim", and "Elysium", to name just a few. The software is available as a standalone renderer, as a C++ API, and as a set of plug-ins for leading 3D applications such as Maya, Houdini, 3ds Max, Cinema 4D, Katana and Softimage on Linux, Mac OS X and Windows.

Sign up for our newsletter

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience possible More Info
Got it!