V-ray 5, update 1 is out now! It comes with a few significant improvements and new features, one of which is a model and hdr library called “Chaos Cosmos”. But before taking a look at it in particular, let´s highlight some of the other new or upgraded features:
Improvements on how VRayMtl looks in the viewport, meaning that material properties, like glossiness, Fresnel or IOR will be better represented in the viewport and visually closer to the final render.
An updated advanced material override option was added. Now it preserves a scene's original opacity, bump, refraction, and self-illumination, eliminating the need to exclude objects from the material override option.
The V-Ray Light Cache is now on the GPU, enabling a faster render start. Out of core (WIP) now supports all V-Ray GPU features allowing any scene to exceed GPU memory for textures and/or geometry.
A new VRayMtl translucency was developed, with more visible effects and more intuitive UI. It comes with a built-in volumetric subsurface scattering making it easier to render realistic skin, plastic, or wax.
A much-desired feature was implemented which uses the masking render elements (Cryptomatte, MultiMatte, Wirecolor, and Object/ Render/ Material IDs) to select and apply changes to any rendered object directly on the VFB.
Now there is a quicker and easy-to-setup caustics calculation, without the need for pre-calculated photon maps, making it possible to do it in progressive rendering.
Now you can add multiple additive dome lights, and on the VFB Light Mix panel, turn them on or off. This makes the task of trying different environment lighting set ups much easier.
In this update, Autodesk's Physical Materials are now automatically translated to V-Ray materials.
Now let's focus a bit on the new asset library, not to be mistaken with the old asset browser where the V-ray materials were and now renamed as material browser.
Integrated free of charge with this latest V-ray update, this new feature entitled Chaos Cosmos is an online asset browser divided into 6 main categories (Furniture, accessories, Lighting, Vegetation, Vehicles, and People).
The models are supplied by well-established 3d assets companies like Design Connected with 338 models included at the time of this post, Maxtree with 126 assets, Hum3D with 25 vehicles, Vizpark with 57 models, Renderpeople with 55 ready-posed 3D people, and Noemotion with 105 hdr images.
The library looks well structured, simple, and easy to navigate, with a few useful tools to help you choose more efficiently, like picking a model by color or place (indoor, outdoor, living room, etc.).
The library can be accessed through an icon in the V-ray toolbar. After downloading the model, it is possible to just drag and drop it into the scene, in a very easy and intuitive manner. Another user-friendly feature is when an hdri is dropped, the respective dome light is automatic created.
The models are imported as V-ray proxies but can be edited (materials and geometry), by merging them into the scene like any other V-ray proxy, of course at the cost of performance.
Keeping in mind that this a free ad-don, I have to make some remarks regarding the variety and quantity of models in some sections. All the models are high quality and there is a lot to choose from in areas like vegetation with plenty of models from Maxtree and Vizpark. On the other hand, the quantity and diversity of models in the furniture section could be improved. For instance, the majority of sofas are very similar and they are not the best models from Design Connected in terms of detail and complexity.
I will stop being overly critical and conclude that overall this is a welcomed new implementation, and most importantly, being free of charge will certainly be a valuable point when trying to choose a render engine. And perhaps, in the future, they can improve the offer by adding more assets.