Thursday, 6 April 2017

Meet Redshift - Our New GPU Renderer

Here at Escape we're delighted to be installing an Educational License for Redshift, a new GPU rendering tool to help our students get super fast results when creating their film projects.

Go to any animation or vfx festival and you will hear hair-raising tales of very long render times, waiting for days on end for a single frame or batch of frames to render. But CG artists need render times to be as quick and efficient as possible. So, how can Redshift help our students?

What is Redshift?

Redshift is a new rendering engine developed to work with Maya, 3ds Max and Softimage.  It has been widely adopted by leading animation companies like London's Blue Zoo.

How is Redshift different to other renderers?

Redshift is a GPU renderer, meaning that it uses the graphics hardware of your computer to render images, rather than the traditional method of using the processor (CPU).

Why is that faster?
Graphics cards are designed for number crunching, using many units in parallel - much faster than CPUs.  Redshift can be up to 10 times faster at rendering a scene than raytracers like Renderman or Vray.

What makes Redshift special?
What separates Redshift from those other GPU renderers is that it is a biased renderer. "Biased" means that it uses light approximations, blurring and other techniques to greatly decrease rendering time and also produce noiseless renders with very few samples, similar to Vray and Renderman.

Unbiased renderers or sometimes called “physically accurate” renderers like Octane, Maxwell, Indigo etc. calculate light as accurately as possible by shooting rays in the scene until it looks good - which takes considerably more time.

Redshift also uses an out-of-core architecture allowing it to use system memory (RAM) once the GPU memory is exhausted. The reason why GPU renderers have not been used in huge productions is because they were confined to the limits of graphics memory. Redshift eliminates that barrier, allowing scenes with terabytes of textures and billions of polygons to be rendered quickly.

Does Redshift integrate well with Maya?
Yes. Redshift integrates very well with Maya. Most things in Redshift can be done with a click of a button, allowing for the achievement of good results really quickly.

Are student licenses available?
Redshift offers a free non-commercial version of their renderer which is completely identical to their commercial version, with no limitations on its use. But the non-commercial version does unfortunately add a watermark.

Can students get an individual educational license?
Educational licenses are only sold to institutions and unfortunately unavailable for individual students. So, our students will only be able to render in Redshift at Escape, not at home.

Is there an online tutorial which explains how to get started?
Redshift offers an introduction tutorial on their YouTube channel -

The online documentation will also tell you what you need to know: -

For beginners, Redshift is a great way to get introduced to rendering. Although there are not that many free tutorials, the simplicity and speed of Redshift makes it very appealing - especially for 3D artists in a hurry.

The Escape Studios Animation Blog offers a personal view on the art of animation and visual effects. To apply for our new BA/MArt starting in September 2017, follow this link. We train all our students with practical real-world skills, to give them the best possible chance of a career in industry. To see some of our animation success stories, follow this link.


  1. Sadly Redshift does not offer a not-watermarked non-commercial version. There is a demo version, but that has a watermark.

  2. " with Maya, 3ds Max and Softimage." - What about Houdini? Don't forget about Houdini!!! :D