Slap your CPU and call your mama, KeyShot 4 is released. This version of the rendering and animation software reaches deep into the cauldron of physics-based visualization and pulls out some very nice features users have been longing for.

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Simplicity and Speed

For KeyShot users, it’s always been about simplicity and speed (and not having to purchase $5k worth of graphics card), so many will be glad to know that the new features and improvements shave even more of those wee bits of time off mundane and repetitive tasks.

Leading the mix is ‘Live Linking’, a feature that links KeyShot and the 3D software to allow updates to your model in KeyShot without having to redo anything in KeyShot. Next is a new Color Library that comes pre-packed with presets for PANTONE and RAL colors, lets you set up custom palettes and apply the color independent of material. Also included are new MOLD-TECH materials (download here) with wood, leather and other textures that scale.

Other new features include glorious, glorious, GLORIOUS Physical lighting that allows any object to be imported and used as a point light, area light or IES light profile. A few other features you’ll likely appreciate are rounded edges, ground planes, improved translucent materials and better import options that help maintain scale.

Pro users get render passes, render layers, view sets and model sets that keep all the camera views and model variations in one file, updates to the HDR Editor that allow highlighting, tilt and blur and those with 3D monitors now have stereoscopic viewing capability.

You can see the entire What’s New features here and download a demo here.

You can snag KeyShot 4 for both Windows and Mac OS X. It starts at $995 for the standard edition and $1,995 for KeyShot Pro with Animation and KeyShotVR add-ons at $500 and $1000 respectively.

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Press Release / Click to expand

Luxion Releases KeyShot® 4

February 14, 2013

Irvine, California, February 14th, 2013 – Luxion, a leading developer of advanced rendering and lighting technology and maker of KeyShot®, the first real-time ray tracing and global illumination program, is pleased to release KeyShot 4, the next generation of Luxion’s groundbreaking rendering and animation solution.

Luxion continues to develop their rendering technology to bring speed and improvements to KeyShot, making it an even more integral part of the product development process, from concept all the way through to sales and marketing. This release builds on the integration and accuracy that sets KeyShot apart from other rendering solutions allowing designers, engineer, marketing professionals, CGI artists, and photographers to create stunning renderings, animations and interactive visuals even faster than ever before.

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KeyShot 4 features an updated UI, physical lights, color libraries, render passes and more. Image: Tim Feher

Overview
With KeyShot 4, we are proud to announce new approaches to features and greatly improved rendering enhancements that make KeyShot the fastest, most accurate 3D rendering an animation system for the product visual workflow. New ‘Live Linking’ capability allows Creo®, SolidWorks®, and Rhinoceros users to maintain all part and feature updates made to their models without having to redo any of their work inside KeyShot. Luxion introduces an all new method for applying physical lights, with the ability to turn any object in the scene into a point, area or IES light source. Improved import options give users more flexibility when importing 3D geometry and the ability to work with the actual units of their modeling software. Additionally, users gain the advantage of increased color options through the inclusion of PANTONE®, RAL and custom color libraries to create, store and share their own color creations.

More material options come with an exclusive partnership with Mold-tech® introducing the first accurate representations of Mold-Tech textures. More realism is seen with improved algorithms for subsurface light scattering within Translucent materials. Increased control over the model and environment is provided with the ability to apply rounded edges to sharp corners, multi-select objects in the real-time window and create ground planes. KeyShot Pro users now have the ability to apply render layers to objects and create Model or View Sets to explore different configurations of product appearances, camera views and environments. Pro users will also experience enhanced HDR editing capability with dynamic environment highlighting and options to tilt and blur HDRI’s. The KeyShot user interface now comes with the ability to dock project, library and animation windows. Optionally, models can now be viewed in full stereoscopic 3D on supported 3D monitors, with the use of any stereo-capable graphics card.

Live Linking
Luxion has developed the ability to connect Creo®, SolidWorks® and Rhinoceros 3D modeling applications with KeyShot in a live session. With this enhancement, users will be able to make a change to the design at any level and send it directly to a running session of KeyShot. The scene inside KeyShot will update automatically and either replace the existing design or add the new design iteration to the existing scene. Live Linking will be included as part of each plugin for KeyShot and can be accessed from the 3D software menu or toolbar area with a single click that transfers the updated SolidWorks model to the KeyShot session. This capability requires a separate plugin which is available free of charge from the KeyShot website.

Physical lights
KeyShot introduces a new approach to creating physical light sources. Import preset studio light models, primitives or any 3D data and turn it into a light with KeyShot light materials. Light materials are easy to apply. Simply double-click on the object and, from the ‘Type’ pulldown, select Point Light Diffuse, Point Light IES Profile or Area Light Diffuse to apply. Since the light materials are applied to objects, lights may be moved, animated or positioned with all visual changes in the scene updating in realtime.

Improved import
KeyShot 4 brings in more options to import data accurately and keep the geometry updated throughout the product development workflow. Users have the choice of keeping the original size, units and location of the model, adjusting the environment to match. Additionally updates to the model can be applied from the 3D modeling software with a click of a button, while maintaining all materials and animations.

PANTONE® and RAL color libraries
The color standards that define the communication of color across many industries are now inside KeyShot. The new color libraries are available through the KeyShot Library window. The color tab contains all preset color libraries and custom color libraries with the same searchable folder-based directory structure used for Materials. Colors are applied in the same way as Materials with a simple drag and drop of the color onto the object. New colors may be created with the KeyShot Color Picker or imported from a list of colors.

Mold-Tech® textures
In an exclusive partnership, Luxion and Mold-tech deliver the full range of Mold-tech textures for the most accurate representation of Mold-tech textures inside a rendering application. In addition to the accurate representation of the Mold-Tech patterns, Luxion has developed unique technology that will ensure that the scale of the pattern stays true to the size of model to which it is applied. A sample of Mold-Tech plastics is provided with KeyShot with more available via the KeyShot website. Mold-Tech materials feature options to change color, roughness, scale and depth for supported material types along with the existing capability of applying color, specular and opacity maps.

Translucent Material Enhancements
KeyShot’s algorithms for subsurface light scattering have been significantly improved for speed and accuracy. Users can now use specular maps with the translucent material to further enhance the realism of the object they are visualizing. In addition, physical light sources can be used for lighting effects. The new subsurface scattering algorithm is about 50% faster than in KeyShot 3.

Rounded edges
Speeding the time it takes to add detail to 3D geometry and reducing the files size of imported models has been addressed with the new Rounded edge feature. With this option, users can apply a small radius to sharp edges creating a more realistic look instantly. This option is a a visual enhancement to the rendered graphics without the increase of file size or render times. The Rounded Edges option is available from the objects property tab and allow control over edge radius and minimum edge angle.

View and model sets (Pro)
The Pro version of KeyShot now features the ability to quickly create and toggle through different iterations of a model with Model Sets and the ability to manage your entire photo shoot from a single file using View Sets. Model sets work at the project’s model level allowing duplication of existing models or the import of new models. View sets allow users to save all environment settings, including different environments, backplates and camera angles. Additionally, all environment settings can be save with a camera.

Improvements to the HDR Editor (Pro)
The HDR Editor now offers the ability to add a highlight to the environment by letting the user place it dynamically inside the realtime window. With a simple click on the model, the highlight will be located according to the environment image and may be adjusted by dragging the cursor over the model in the realtime render window. In addition, HDRI’s can now be blurred, as well as tilted to achieve the desired lighting effect for the scene.

Render passes and layers (Pro)
KeyShot 4 introduces new rendering options to aid in post production as well. Quickly render out a Depth, Normal or Clown pass along with the full resolution rendering. The Render layer option allows you to easily assign parts to a layer to be rendered out separately.

Stereoscopic viewing (Pro)
Run KeyShot in stereo-mode and view your models in 3D right on your screen. KeyShot extends the visual experience with support for stereo capability allowing you to work on your renderings and animations or present them to others in a virtual 3D setting.

An full overview of all new features and enhancements is available here.

What customers are saying
KeyShot 4 has been undergoing an extended beta program where customers were able to help shape the product. Here are a few comments that were received from our customers during the beta testing period.

“Developing a software (whether is for rendering or not) always represents big challenges, one if which is how to increase the number of functions, make it more sophisticated while maintaining the same simplicity of use, speed and quality. KeyShot 4 is a brilliant example of how we are getting a lot more capabilities, while the level of simplicity, robustness, quality and speed remains as excellent as we have been getting from Luxion.”
– Peter Kossev, Pixel Mathematics, Inc.

“In my opinion [the lighting] is a game changer for me. I will be able to add that extra pop to my images before post. I also used the new ground plane, which is another great feature.”
– Tim Feher, CGI Leader, Interactive Marketing, Chrysler Group LLC

“I must say the new light source materials are a fantastic addition (especially IES support!). I’ve been reworking a scene that I made in KeyShot 3 by adding IES lights and area lights. The quality of the lighting and the speed of rendering seem are improved significantly from the basic emissive material in KeyShot 3 and I absolutely love the reworked translucent material! I feel that now -using surface color, subsurface color and translucency multiplier- I can get the exact look I have in mind within a few minutes and the diffusion of light materials through translucent objects is amazing.” 
– Dries Vervoort, Mechanical designer, R&D, Caradon Heating Europe

“Guys, this is VERY COOL!!! So far my favorite are the “area light diffuse”. It helps to create spectacular images. I can gently light specific areas of the object for the perfect look. I also love the render passes. So far, so good, hasn’t crashed once. This is really, really GREAT stuff!!!”
– Piotr Kolus, Digital Artist, Ars Thanea

Availability
KeyShot 4 is available immediately. Pricing starts at $995. As with previous versions, animation capabilities can be added to KeyShot 4 for $500 and interactive KeyShotVR capabilities can be added for $1000.

All customers who bought KeyShot on or after November 23rd, 2012, as well as all customers who purchased KeyShot for Education will receive the upgrade to KeyShot 4 free of charge. All KeyShot customers with subscription will automatically receive the upgrade to KeyShot 4. All other customer can upgrade to KeyShot 3 for an incremental fee.

For more information please contact [email protected]. For more information on KeyShot 3D rendering, animation and KeyShotVR please visit www.keyshot.com.

About Luxion
Luxion is a leading developer of advanced 3D rendering and lighting technology. KeyShot is the first real-time ray tracing and global illumination program for  3D rendering and animation that uses a physically correct rendering engine certified by the CIE (International Commission on Illumination). Addressing the visualization needs of designers, engineers, marketing professionals, photographers and CG specialists, KeyShot breaks down the complexity of creating photographic images and animations from 3D digital data. Luxion’s customer list includes many of the Fortune 1000 product manufacturers and major industrial design companies including Chrysler, Fossil, Microsoft, Motorola, Nokia, Procter & Gamble, IDEO and SMART Design. Visit www.keyshot.com for more information.

Author

Josh is founder and editor at SolidSmack.com, founder at Aimsift Inc., and co-founder of EvD Media. He is involved in engineering, design, visualization, the technology making it happen, and the content developed around it. He is a SolidWorks Certified Professional and excels at falling awkwardly.