21.2.0 - Apollo/Atlas integration, PBR materials finalized, node conversion

Forums Releases 21.2.0 - Apollo/Atlas integration, PBR materials finalized, node conversion

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    Jeremy Hill

    Version 21.2.0 is now available.

    This version finalizes the work done to add the new PBR, Principled and Uber materials, integrates the advanced capabilities of the Apollo solver into the Atlas solver, and adds many fixes and optimizations, as well as new features in plugins and the Bella GUI.

    Apollo/Atlas integration

    After a good deal of time spent in testing, we have finally taken the steps to integrate the advanced capabilities of our Apollo solver into our ground truth Atlas solver. This means it is no longer necessary to choose one or the other, based on whether a scene may contain very difficult caustics. For example, here is a typical scene where it would have been necessary to use Apollo, which contains difficult sun-through-glass caustics now handled by Atlas without issue:

    Atlas optimizations

    In addition to this, Atlas itself has seen various optimizations, which can help in scenes with very difficult lighting like this one, where all light is coming from a single bulb, occluded by a semi-rough complex IOR lamp shade with anisotropy:

    And here is a closeup showing that light:

    PBR Material

    The PBR material has not changed much externally since its initial introduction in the 20.16 build, but it has been finished up and optimized internally, to ensure that it matches an Uber material set up using the same textures.

    As before, it is a single-click material, accepting either a single texture from a given PBR texture set, or a .zip file for a PBR texture set. Some examples using textures from the excellent ambientCG can be viewed here.

    Principled & Uber Materials

    The Principled & Uber materials have also been finalized, with the Principled type exposing the minimal set of parameters necessary to build many kinds of nuanced materials with just a few clicks, and the Uber type providing more parameters for ultimate control.

    Both of these types are also able to be created by converting a PBR material, or by directly choosing a PBR texture set in the same single-click way as the PBR material:

    This is supported in Bella GUI and the plugins, as well.

    Node conversion

    Bella GUI now supports the conversion of nodes from one type to another:

    This is a general capability implemented in the system, with some special cases implemented for conversion of some types to other types, for instance conversion of PBR to Principled/Uber, and especially between materials, for instance where the basic color of a material may come from a “transmittance” attribute in the source type, and a “reflectance” attribute in the target type.

    List searching

    All node lists in Bella GUI now support searching for nodes:

    Combined hierarchy

    The Bella GUI’s Hierarchy panel now supports a mode where xforms with a single child are combined into a single item:

    Like node lists, the Hierarchy panel also now supports searching:

    In this case, the search includes node type, name, and in the case of xforms, also the assigned material, making it easy to find what you are looking for.

    Box primitive

    This version also introduces a new analytical box primitive, which includes optional perfect corner rounding:

    The box primitive is also available to be used when exporting a polycube from Maya, or any mesh, from Rhino:

    As shown, a mesh can only be exported as a box if its geometry is actually found to be box-like. Additionally, you have the option of using the Rhino Edge Softening value to set the box edge radius, or overriding that value; the latter approach can be useful for keeping down the weight a Rhino model, while still rendering box-like meshes with the Bella box’s perfect corner rounding.


    In addition to the above, many more fixes and new features have also been added. For a full listing, please see the builds page.


    Wow, just wow!!! This was worth waiting for! I knew you were working on something big – the forum has been so quiet lately 🙂 Congratulations! Great looking renders also!

    Thank you!


    Jeremy Hill

    Yes, apologies that it took so long this time, but along with the other developments, it turned into quite a long process to finalize all the tweaks and validate that the new materials are working how we wanted, and then to integrate them into the plugins.

    Which reminds me to say, I did not mention above that the Rhino plugin also goes to some length to translate Rhino’s Physically-Based material to Bella Uber, so that people are able to use Bella with scenes they have already built for use with Cycles, and so forth. It will still best to use the Bella materials directly if possible, since there is zero translation involved there (just for example, each Rhino texture may have separate mapping settings, so you end up with a lot of texforms attached to the textures, where if you assign PBR textures to a Bella Uber directly, the plugin is able to connect them all to a single texform, controlling mapping for all textures), but I wanted you to have the option of working either way.


    Ok, thanks for that added info – and congratulations again to you all!


    Oscar Cano

    Philip, thank you very much for your kind words 🙂

    Thomas An.

    The presentations and video tutorials do an exceptional job putting the capabilities of Bella into perspective. It’s one thing to stare at the GUI abstractly, but seeing a demo of what is possible took me aback at how much power is in the design of this package.


    Very impressive release gentlemen !

    Jeremy Hill

    Thanks Sir! It’s surprisingly time-consuming to make videos, but we’ll make more.

    Oscar Cano

    Thank you very much Thomas!

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