Could be promising

Forums General Could be promising

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    I evaluated Maxwell Render for product/industrial design fairly recently after a long absence and found that the speed was not too bad, but of course falls short of the very expensive and cliché and soulless Keyshot imagery.

    The bella product could be promising if render speed is on par with Keyshot and integrates some of the features that make it popular so that even small studios cough up the dough – the many material and industrial design texture presets, mapping product graphics and logos, or matching to a backplate. In product/industrial design “things have to be easy like a smartphoe app” (not my personal view); there is no way around it. The young generation wants results yesterday, lol, and does not care if something works like a real camera or is so physically correct that Wolfram Alpha looks like a fake news site in comparison.

    There is a huge market out there in product/industrial design and one benefit of Maxwell is that the Studio part of it is CAD agnostic via OBJ import; in design studios you have Fusion 360, SolidWorks, Alias, Siemens NX and Rhino to integrate, or even Creo and Catia, or clients using the aforementioned software. If bella could cater to that market segment, with speed benefits over Maxwell, but keeping the ease of use, it could be promising.

    It is great to see that some developers dare to approach a market that has so very many contenders, where some have – for better or worse – become industry standards.

    Jeremy Hill

    Hi Andreas, thanks for your input, I recognize your name from my days on the maxwell forum (we are all ex-NL people here).

    According to my measurements, bella can significantly outperform maxwell and blender on cpu at this point (unlike mw which has hardly improved in years, except by adding gpu, we have roughly doubled performance of our cpu algorithms over the past year), and that is before we get to the new hybrid cpu/gpu solver that Oscar has been working on (some discussion of that here). I have not directly compared with keyshot, but would guess that bella may be faster in some situations, and slower in others, as will often be the case when comparing different technologies, with different strengths.

    Also discussed in that thread are new material types we are currently working on; especially relevant to this discussion, a super-simple PBR style material that will make it ridiculously easy to work with materials from places like Those particular materials are public domain, so we could hypothetically bundle some of the best, but think it would be interesting to contact them (and others) to see about an arrangement to let bella users browse and use materials directly without separate download.

    Regarding your comments about having a 3d platform-agnostic application to work from, while our GUI can indeed import several formats, I would not yet call it a great solution for working from scratch with a model, as it is still primarily intended for rendering from a plugin. However, we will continue to work on it over time. I want to see how smooth the interaction can get with Oscar’s new solver, at which point we’ll know if we should invest time in adding an opengl-style viewport, or to extend the rendered view with object-selection, and so forth.

    Even if so, though, it is probably a bit too complex & fiddly for the audience you are referring to, so maybe we could entertain the idea of building something far simpler, which hides many seldom-used details.

    Thanks again for your input, it is very valuable to us to get this kind of feedback.


    Hej Jeremy,

    thanks for replyin’. For most product/industrial designers, whether in a studio environment, or at student level, CPU is the primary use case to begin with. The critical thing really is to be able to have a standalone app that allows to integrate all the many 3D design programs that are in use today, as mentioned above. The platform agnostic nature of Maxwell or Keyshot means no matter which studio, client or education, nobody involved has to worry about plug-ins; via OBJ everything just works right away, and within 10 minutes, a great library of typical materials/textures provided, one has a decent picture. Keyshot is good in that respect. All designers find all the typical bump/normalmap textures from Moldtech there, for example.

    I am not knowledgeable about the architectural visualisation sector, the need for a standalone app could be very different there of course.

    In any case, I hope you guys can deliver product/industrial designers the “killer app” everyone so dearly needs.

    Jeremy Hill

    I definitely see your point, and will sure keep this in mind going forward. Part of the reason to prioritize on plugins was to avoid the situation that easily arises where something is difficult to implement in a plugin, and the easy line becomes “well you can get that done in the studio app, so leave your plugin and give that a try.” So at least as we got things started up, I just wanted to make that impossible by deliberately adopting a plugin-first approach, while I iterate between implementing things in plugins, and extending the underlying system.

    Just to let you know the thinking behind how we have arrived where we are, so far. But as I say I think we begin to approach a point where we could consider some dedicated application that is deliberately kept simple, to specifically target people like you describe.


    Jeremy if you say Bella out-performs Maxwell just make it easy to use and forget about anything else for the moment 😉

    Jeremy Hill

    That’s what we’re doing currently, with materials. This is currently the entire interface for my new material for PBR texture sets:

    Just pick one of the files from your texture set, or a .zip containing the whole set, and that’s about it.

    And Albert is working on two materials, one full-featured “uber” material similar to Disney Principled BSDF or Arnold’s Standard Surface, and another one like that, but much simplified to include only the most commonly-used features.


    looks good. may I suggest that you guys try to make some material-converter that can compile vray, maxwell and corona (maybe more…?) materials to bella’s. that would make it much easy to choose as many users by now have libraries full of assets that need converting. I believe it can be a significant factor for people thinking weather to give another engine a chance… I remember 15 years back starting to use Maxwell, took me a loooong time to re-make a decent library of my assets from previous render engines. In the beginning I even used Maxwell for only small part of the work because of that.

    Jeremy Hill

    It’s something we can look at, where there exists an open specification of the file formats, to allow reading them.


    I’m testing the new build with new materials. It sure looks better – however (sorry….): I don’t think it’s the best way to work this day with material names, functions and general approach: I still have to go through a long process just to assign a bella material to selected objects and choose “assign new material” then “bella material” then have to pick it from a list of strange names all starting the same (“bella…”) so instead of having a simple list consisting of logical names (say, Glass, Metal, Default or Simple, etc.) I have to view all sorts of “bellas” that some has names that make no sense other than to you guys that are familiar with their purpose…. I struggle to create materials on a simple bedroom scene just because of that. I have to guess and do all sorts of trial-and error tests to define wooden panels, painted surfaces etc. I think it’s the wrong approach. using PBR should point you to the right direction: look at all the sites that offer PBR mats: they don’t use names like “uber” etc. 😉 they just give you categories that are real-world and dead-simple. wall, stone, wood …. I don’t think you need so many categories in the material library (still it will be great) but material like “urethane” I hardly use or know what to tweak-in to use on a regular basis….I think a bella toolbar button with “assign bella material to selection” that does just that’ and on the material attributes common section include something like “import from library” button and another “wizard” that gives the few typical choices (glass, metal etc.) is much more easier to understand.


    I mean, try to create a FABRIC material for the bed. gave up on it. just can’t understand the too-many options that gave me very interesting results (bed with film sheets, bed with metal sheets, etc…). It SHOULD be simple. assign a bella material, select a preset with understandable name from wizard or your library, tweak it a bit. that’s it. so how do I make a nice cotton sheet in bella 🙁 ??


    Jeremy Hill

    Thanks for the feedback Yossi. To answer the last question first, the way to do that is to use the Bella Sheet material, and add scattering. Regarding the different types, we have discussions ongoing here about which to keep or get rid of (e.g. Urethane). The three new materials are these:


    This is specifically for use with a texture set like you get from the various PBR sites, or like you may bake out of a tool like Substance Designer/Player.


    This is much like the Arnold Standard Surface material, and has been requested & is being developed with input from friends of ours in VFX. This is why it has so many settings. We are continuing to work on this, putting less-used parameters in their own sections, below the main ones.


    This is intended as a simplified version of the Uber material, and provides just the most impactful/useful parameters of the Uber.

    Regarding your comments about ease of assignment, I have not forgotten your prior requests to make some dedicated shelf commands for this, and your further comments/impressions above will be useful when I do that. I am also thinking of something similar to what you mention, where the Uber/Principled materials get a drop-down at the top of them, or a button that shows a list, where you are able to select some named types like you mention (glass, etc), and we set the material up according to what you choose.

    Lastly, I should mention there is still missing a related function for Uber & Principled, where you can choose a PBR texture set, and have all its textures instantly assigned where they should logically go in the material.


    thanks for the reply. I think I have understood your approach better now thus I have another suggestion: create a simple library of about 10-20 materials that will allow people that only started using Bella to get fast results without having to be VFX veterans that are regular to a specific workflow, as most of today’s 3d artists (and I know some here, believe me…) are not working like that anymore and are more and more used to the preset-styled workflow. sort of, say, two material assignment buttons: one that will open a new Bella material selection as now with all the uber, oren-nayar etc. names for the veterans… the second will assign a Bella material but will open the library to allow quick selection of pre-made materials (like, “shiny aluminum”, “clear glass”, “white wall” , “red car-paint” and than some) so users can very quickly populate the scene and test it. manipulating the pre-made materials should be as KISS as possible (simple navigation to bump, transparency etc. attributes instead of making us go and start connecting nodes. it should be done automatically thorough  the material attributes box). I know that creating an asset library is a bit of work but you do know best how to make Bella materials and you do have some very nice examples…I can tell you that if I had a simple library so I don’t need to “eat door” to assign a simple white fabric with subtle bump map to the bed – but just pick it from the library- I was able to render a nice scene by now (and I want to! the short preview I did cleared much faster than maxwell !!! but the bed was pure black from frustration…)


    I’ll also try and elaborate on my workflow, for what it’s worth: after modelling is more or less finished, I quickly use the toolbar button to assign materials to selected objects. My material library is not very big but includes the stuff that usually goes at most of the projects, like AGS, white walls, glossy white plastic, some car-paints, fabrics, metals and floors. A simple library that every now and then gets an update. but I don’t re-create and re-create materials for every project and I think most of CG industry people don’t…. we all like shortcuts 😉

    Jeremy Hill

    Thanks for taking the time, I really appreciate it. I’ll roll this around in my head, along with the other input you’ve given, and see what I can come up with.

    One thing on which I’d be interested in hearing your opinion, regards an external material file format. Obviously bella still lacks this, and it is because I always delay defining something like that until it is absolutely necessary. The reason for this is, you always end up regretting creating something earlier rather than later, when you have more complete information on how it should be designed.

    So I’d be interested to know, if I added a bella material file format, what percentage of time do you think you’d use pre-built materials contained in files, as opposed to creating a material from scratch in the scene.

    And secondly, how important would it be to you to be able to reference a material file, as opposed to using it as a template to create an independent material in your scene — would you predominantly use one method or the other, or would you typically use a mix of the two.


    1. 90% of the materials I use are picked from the common library I use for most of the projects. the other 10% are usually based on those but tweaked to clients’ specification…so yes, in maxwell (my tool for years now) you have the MXM extension which stand for maxwell material (also with external editor that I never use). almost never I’ll try to create a material from scratch unless no other option to play with something from the library (that includes all typical materials with easy to change attributes).

    2. I never use referenced materials files as most of the clients ask for “change this change that” and since material files are usually quite small I don’t need to save space and wnat to have the option to change materials in the scene file itself.

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