There’s some outstanding new open-source add-ons for Blender, one of our favorite open-source 3D rendering/simulation/animation programs.
The first, LuxRender is a physically based Light Modeler. It’s currently limited to CPU-rendering only, but it creates enormously realistic lighting scenarios based on physical equations that describe the behavior of light. An amazing new feature here is that it stores the contribution of each light to each pixel during rendering, so you can modify the rendered image photorealistically and non-destructively without having to re-render the entire scene again.
The second, SmallLuxGPU is even more experimental but it is able to harness the full power of your GPU for unparalleled rendering speed of highly photorealistic visual scenes. Even better, with SLG you can interact with your scene in realtime to get just the view you want.
And here’s some examples of renders we’ve done in the past few days. Keep in mind, these are entirely synthetic images. Jump over to flickr to see at higher resolution.