In 2009 I started writing a plugin to connect LuxRender to DAZ Studio. Actually, the first idea was to write a plugin for Poser but the API for Poser plugins at that time was too crude to allow that. So, I looked at DS and started working.
Reality was the first implementation of Physically-Based Rendering (PBR) for the Poser/DAZ Studio universe. In August of 2010, it was launched on the DAZ Store and became a huge success. I thank all the loyal customers who purchased it over the years and created fantastic artwork with the combination of DS, Reality, and LuxRender.
Of course, without the generous and dedicated effort of all the developers of LuxRender this could not have happened and we all owe them a large debt of gratitude for pushing the envelope on realism and on insisting for physics accuracy.
Reality was made possible because of my love for photography and the frustration that I had with traditional, biased renderers. In the real world, the size of a light determines the softness of the light and how light wraps around the subject. Biased renderers don’t do that and they force you to use all sort of horrible hacks to simulate light softness and ambient light.
When I saw what LuxRender could do I got very excited about the possibility of having my own “virtual photographic studio.” Reality was the vehicle to make that happen.
The software sandwhich
Depending on other people’s software for your project is a dire situation. Reality is “sandwiched” between the host, DS or Poser, and Lux, the renderer. Both sides of that sandwich have different agendas and move continuously. I am a single developer and I wrote Reality to run on both Windows and Mac OS. That is not an easy task in general and very onerous for a single person. Add to that that Apple is going off the crazy route and making things like OpenGL and OpenCL deprecated, which adds a level of headaches that would be hard to manage for a small team of developers.
It doesn’t help that it is very difficult to make money in the DS/Poser market. DS and Poser users don’t invest much money in software and when they buy 50% of that goes to the broker. Of the remaking 50% one third goes to taxes, one third goes to running the company, and the last third finally goes in your pocket. That is just too little. All that makes it hard for somebody like me to make enough money to hire others to help.
Running marketing, sales, distribution agreements, technical support, documentation, and, finally, software development on a multiplatform project is simply too much.
New developments both in the host side and on the renderer side made it clear for me that I need to move on and let Reality go. It was very hard to make that decision but I simply cannot continue on this path.
Nevertheless, Reality can and should continue. All the people who use it today deserve to have new versions. For that reason, I decided to release Reality as an Open Source Software (OSS) covered by the very permissible BSD License.
I hope that this will inspire other developers to pick up the project and update it.
The good news is that Reality is designed to work with multiple hosts and multiple renderers. The system itself is not tied to LuxRender. You want to make Reality run as a plugin for Blender or Modo? That requires just a bit of Python code on the host app. You want to take the Eevee code from Blender and connect it to Reality? It can be done.
The source code is in a repository on BitBucket. I will provide the necessary information to replicate the compilation of the project and on how to start making the first modifications to any developer who is willing to pick up the baton.
The website for Reality will continue to run for the time being. I’m not taking it down because it is required for the licensing to work. I hope that over time new versions of Reality will be made and that the first thing that the developers will do is the removal of the DRM code. Once that is done and everybody will have a chance to download the DRM-free version, then I will shut down this website.
I want to thank all the thousands of customers and fans who supported Reality over the years. You gave me great joy and I’m incredibly proud of the fact that together we have transformed this industry. Reality and LuxRender pushed PBR prominenetly in the mainstream of DAZ Studio and Poser and were the trailblazers that caused the adoption of this technology on both platforms. Because Reality and LuxRender made it clear that PBR was the way to go, iRay was added to DS and Cycles was added to Poser. I consider that a great success. Now it’s time for somebody else to write the next chapter.
Paolo Ciccone, developer of Reality and founder of Pret-a-3D