Design Engineering

3D Freebie: High-end photo-realistic rendering online

Mike McLeod   

CAD/CAM/CAE cloud computing Lagoa photo-realistic rendering slideshow

Canadian start-up Lagoa offers 2 hours/month of cloud-based 3D rendering at no cost.

14-Feb-Lagoa-rendering-625Creating truly photo-realistic renders — complete with accurate lighting, depth of field, soft shadows and spot-on materials/textures – can add a lot of punch to a design project, but it’s not easy to do.

Configuring stand-alone rendering software or plug-ins to produce the output you want typically requires an in-depth understanding of lighting effects, virtual camera settings and procedural texture parameters. Add to that a high-end workstation to churn out the final image. And if first attempt goes wrong (it often does), a series of trial and error renders can take days.

Montreal-based start-up, Lagoa, has created a cloud-based, photo-realistic rendering service that not only produces Hollywood quality output but takes a lot of the complexity out of the process. The best part is, the basic account — which includes two hours of rendering time per month — is free.

While there are other online rendering services, Lagoa has a few unique features. The first is the company’s proprietary path tracer MultiOptics rendering engine, designed to take advantage of a cloud computer platform. Unlike more common ray tracing rendering, path tracing integrates more sophisticated techniques (e.g. soft shadows, depth of field, motion blur, etc.) by default.


Lagoa also offers a library of high-quality pre-configured materials that can be applied to model components. This includes measured materials, or textures created from laboratory measurements of real world material properties. In addition, users can place natural light sources (e.g. sun, light bulb, etc) and optically accurate cameras or opt for pre-configured templates. The result is an image that is often indistinguishable from a photograph.

And since Lagoa is a cloud-based service, users are basically getting access to a rendering farm that often kicks back a final image in a matter of minutes, depending on scene complexity. Beyond its quality and speed, the online application also allows users to collaborate in real-time on scene creation.

Built using WebGL, the Lagoa interface runs in a browser (Chrome, Firefox) on any platform and can import 40 common CAD formats. Once uploaded, CAD files also retain their original hierarchy, making it easy to select model features and apply specific materials to different components.

To sign up for a free account, check out the company’s web site. In addition, Lagoa’s Youtube channel offers a series of tutorial videos on the finer details of using the service.


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