This isn't a formal review because I haven't had any free time lately. It's more of just a quick brain dump after using the Artlantis 5 Studio demo for a couple of hours. I'll try to do a more thorough review later because I get asked all the time, "Which rendering program should I get?" For those of you who can't wait for it, my answer is usually: "It depends." I do plan on attempting to tackle this subject in the future, but until then I hope that holds you over :)
One of the new features in Artlantis 5 is volumetric lighting. It's not something you need too often, but in our architectural renderings it can enhance the way a viewer feels in a space when they look at the image, and that's what makes it useful for me. It helps viewers perceive atmosphere in the space which can make it seem dramatic or even less pristine (dusty?), which again is not something you always want but it's nice to have when you need it.
It's incredibly easy to set up in a scene (you just check a box really) and the only thing you really need to keep in mind is that they only work if you can see the light source in your field of view. I also really like that the light rays show up in the preview window (if you wait long enough) so you don't even have to formally render to see them when planning the shot.
I was playing around with the demo version of the software to take it for a spin last week. It's still a little buggy (it crashes more than I'd like, and I'd like it to crash never) but overall I'm very impressed with the new version.
The interface is really nice. It makes total sense especially as more and more people are using laptops where screen real estate is of utmost importance. It allows you to put things away that you're not using but you still have easy access to. I also love how easy it is to populate the scene with additional items like trees, furniture and people with the Catalog feature. It's not a new feature but it's laid out in a much better way now with categories. Being able to find what you're looking for is really nice.
Some other new things that make my life easier are that every view can now have it's own backdrop, effects, field of view, and more. Built in perspective matching makes comping a building into a background photo pretty easy without going into Photoshop or my trusty Pixelmator.
Batch rendering is also a breeze with this app. Just cue up a bunch of views and tell it to render later. Then when you're ready, launch the Artlantis Batch app and you can run it overnight, cranking out image after image until they're all done. This is a huge feature not to be underestimated. For most of us in small offices or doing solo work who only have a single computer, this can make it so work is getting done while you sleep.
One thing I was interested in seeing was if the Artlantis 4 exporter built into Bonzai3d and FormZ would work with version 5. I'm happy to report that it seems to work just fine. I'm not sure if AutoDesSys should look into updating their exporter as I've been told it would take some major effort. For now it seems to be fine, but if someone else has any ideas of what it would be able to do that it can't do now, I'd like to know.
On a side note, I think it's odd that displacement (they call it relief mapping) and light rays have taken so long to get into this app - I remember having those things in Electric Images in 1997. But like I said they are really nice to have so I'm not complaining!
If you're not familiar with Artlantis and would like to get an idea of how it works, I have a couple of tutorials here that will give you a great start using this very capable application.
A reader of the site emailed to let me know that Artlantis 5 running on Apple's Mavericks operating system is having issues opening older versions of the software's files (both v3 and v4). Here's a thread on the Artlantis forum where people are trying to figure it out. Thanks for the info Tariq!