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Creating World-Class Renders of the Championship-Winning Mercedes-AMG F1 W11 EQ Performance

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AMD Radeon ProRender Mercedes-AMG F1 blog banner 1920x700_v2.jpg


This past weekend’s 2020 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix marked the end of the 2020 Formula One™ season and the first year of the AMD partnership with the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team, a partnership that combines the two companies’ passion for extreme performance.

To promote this relationship, we worked closely with the team and The Pixelary to create some amazing 3D-rendered images of the Mercedes-AMG F1 W11 EQ Performance car using AMD Radeon ProRender, our fast, easy, and incredible rendering engine.

Now, to celebrate the availability of Radeon ProRender 2.0, the next generation of our rendering engine, and the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team’s record-breaking season, we are releasing our renders of the W11 EQ Performance as high-resolution desktop wallpapers and have also created a video.


The video above both highlights key feature of the new Radeon ProRender 2.0 update and includes some amazing animations of the W11 EQ Performance, the car that propelled the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team to a seventh Constructors’ World Championship in a row and Lewis Hamilton to his seventh career FIA Formula One Drivers' Championship.


One of the biggest challenges with creating both the rendered images and the animation was the creation of an authentic, accurate, and photorealistic representation of the W11 EQ Performance and credit should be given both to the power of Radeon ProRender and the skills of the talented artists at The Pixelary.

In fact, why don’t we let Mike Pan of The Pixelary take you through the process of creating the stunning rendered images, all created using our Radeon ProRender plug-in for Blender? Take it away, Mike:

Mercedes-AMG F1 W11 EQ Performance Making of AMD Radeon ProRender Wallpaper_2560x1080.jpg



“Lights Out and Away We Go”

At The Pixelary, we have plenty of experience with rendering cars. When we took on this AMD project, we knew in order to deliver the most believable images, we needed the most accurate model. Luckily, we managed to get access to the actual geometry of the W11 EQ Performance car straight from the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team thanks to their partnership with AMD.

Radeon ProRender Mercedes-AMG F1 blog wireframe image.jpg


Having access to the geometry meant we didn’t have to build the car model from scratch. But we still ended up spending a lot of time adding details to the car using photographic references. For example, we used normal mapped decals to create panel gaps on the car body and we also placed every single screw and rivet that we can see. Small details such as the DRS actuator, camera pods, and aero pieces that are unique to this year’s car were also added.

Mercedes-AMG F1 W11 EQ Performance Black Livery AMD Radeon ProRender Wallpaper3_1080p_v2.jpg


The new black livery for 2020 was also painstakingly recreated. The way the Mercedes Three-Pointed Stars in the paint shine through the black metallic paint was very difficult to capture. Looking at all the reference photos, we found that the car looks quite different under different lighting conditions. In the end, we had to get some help from the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team to nail the shading.

Radeon ProRender Mercedes-AMG F1 blog paint material.jpg


The black paint shown above in itself was hard to get right. We wanted the rendered car to have a deep black, but not swallow up all the lights. We wanted the car to be shiny, but not overly glossy. And we wanted all the sponsor colors to stay visually consistent in every lighting scenario.

Radeon ProRender Mercedes-AMG F1 blog shader nodes.jpg


Because of the variety of small adjustments we had to do to the car material, the Radeon ProRender for Blender shader node setup for the paint ended up being quite complex. We used groups extensively to ensure that multiple artists working together were able to quickly identify the purpose of each section.

Radeon ProRender Mercedes-AMG F1 blog tire material.jpg


One material that needed special attention was the exposed carbon fiber parts of the W11 EQ Performance car, which required the anisotropic shader to achieve the material’s characteristic textured highlight. We also created multiple variations of the tire material (see image above) to suit different racing conditions and the wear level of the tires.

Needless to say, we are quite happy with the final result:

Mercedes-AMG F1 W11 EQ Performance Black Livery AMD Radeon ProRender Wallpaper_Bonus2_1080p.jpg



Radeon ProRender + Blender

We used Blender, the free and open-source 3D creation suite, for this project due to its speed and amazing features, such as the Vulkan API-based Radeon ProRender Full Spectrum Rendering viewport [1]. We were able to easily preview the fully textured car with over 5 million triangles and dozens of 8K textures in the viewport with a high level of interactivity. Radeon ProRender is also compatible with Blender’s native material engine, so once we were happy with the node setup and look of the car, we simply flipped the rendering engine to Radeon ProRender’s “full” OpenCL mode to get all the benefits of photorealistic path-traced rendering.

 

On and Off the Track - Environments

From the very beginning, we had some ideas of the environments we wanted to see the W11 EQ Performance car in, so while we were still working on the car model, work started creating scenes for it to be in. Because the overall look of the final image is heavily dependent on lighting, we also started doing lighting tests quite early as well, in parallel with everything else. This allowed us to nail down an overall feel for each rendered image before committing to adding details.

The image below shows a small selection of the test renders that were produced during this process. You might also notice that the Mercedes-AMG F1 W11 EQ Performance car is shown in the 2020 pre-season “Silver Arrows” livery - more on that later.

Radeon ProRender Mercedes-AMG F1 blog environments.jpg



Red Flag - Restarting the Race

No project is without a few hiccups along the way. Our biggest challenge came when the black livery for the W11 EQ Performance was announced. We had already been developing quite a few renders of the car in the original silver livery and had to restart the process due to this significant change. Not only that, the environments and lighting that we planned were all designed for the silver car. With the car suddenly being much darker, we were forced to rethink how we could light up the car and whether the environments we designed still fit the car.

Mercedes-AMG F1 W11 EQ Performance Black vs. Silver Livery AMD Radeon ProRender Image 1080p.jpg


With the silver livery, the material catches a lot of light, so it was relatively easy to light, but with a glossy black car, the shape of the car is revealed almost entirely through reflections and highlights. Therefore, we had to be very specific with the light placement to control precisely where the reflections of the car fell so that we accentuated the shapes of the car without creating distracting lines.

 

Checkered Flag - The Finish Line

Radeon ProRender is primarily a GPU-based rendering engine and it runs very well on virtually any graphics card. However, due to the size of the scene, we had to reduce some of the textures from 8K to 4K. Luckily, this did not impact the output quality visibly and allowed us to optimize the scene to render on the Radeon graphics cards we were using. If we had been able to render the images using a new AMD Radeon RX 6000 Series graphics card [AMD NOTE: which were not available at the time of rendering], we would have been able to take advantage of the support for hardware ray tracing in Radeon ProRender to get us across the finish line even faster.

 

Post-Race - Debriefing

During this project, we ran into some issues with motion blur rendering that prevented us from creating the shots of the car on the track. A few short emails later, the AMD Radeon ProRender team identified the issue and prepared a hotfix for us, demonstrating the team’s responsiveness to feedback and commitment to resolving any issues identified.

Mercedes-AMG F1 W11 EQ Performance Black Livery AMD Radeon ProRender Wallpaper_Bonus_1080p.jpg


We also identified a few more issues and “good-to-haves” with Radeon ProRender and supplied it to the AMD team, hoping that our experience on this project can help shape future development and make the rendering engine even better for everyone. And as of December 2020, we’re very pleased to see that many of those requests have already been addressed in the latest release of Radeon ProRender.

 

An Upgrade for Next Season – Radeon ProRender 2.0

When this project started earlier this year the recently released next generation of the Radeon ProRender rendering engine, 2.0, was not available. That means that all the final images you see here were created using the plug-in for Blender based on the 1.0 version and as you can see, the original version of Radeon ProRender is more than capable of producing stunningly photorealistic images.

However, as soon as we had access to the updated v3.0 plug-in for Blender that uses Radeon ProRender 2.0 [2], we were excited to see the impact of all the upgrades, especially the improved rendering algorithm and support for hardware-accelerated ray tracing when used with AMD Radeon RX 6000 Series graphics cards.

Radeon ProRender 2_) Mercedes F1 HW RT comparison image.jpg


In some tests performed by AMD, when using the “Full” Radeon ProRender 2.0 render quality mode with the AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT graphics card that supports hardware ray tracing, the image above rendered in 516 sec, compared to 1065 sec when rendered with the AMD Radeon VII graphics card that does not support hardware ray tracing. That is up to a 2.1x reduction in render time [3], which is quite an improvement! On top of that, Radeon ProRender 2.0 also has improved multi-GPU scaling so if we were able to render the same image with two Radeon RX 6900 XT’s, the render times would improve even more.

 

Thank-Yous All-Around

Thanks, Mike for the insightful and detailed write-up about how these amazing renders of the Mercedes-AMG F1 W11 EQ Performance were created. They are a compelling showcase for all the capabilities of Radeon ProRender and how it allows content creators to create incredible renders quickly and easily.

On behalf of everyone at AMD, I’d like to give a huge thanks to the entire The Pixelary team for all the hard work they put into this project. We’d also like to thank the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team for all the help they provided to make creating these renders possible and for being an amazing partner — we are looking forward to continuing to combine both companies’ passion for extreme performance and delivering incredible innovation.

LEARN MORE ABOUT RADEON PRORENDER

DOWNLOAD THE MERCEDES-AMG F1 W11 EQ PERFORMANCE WALLPAPER IMAGES

LEARN MORE ABOUT OUR PARTNERSHIP WITH THE MERCEDES-AMG PETRONAS F1 TEAM*

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE PIXELARY*

*Links to third-party sites are provided for convenience and unless explicitly stated, AMD is not responsible for the contents of such linked sites and no endorsement is implied.

 

Alexander Blake-Davies is a Software Product Marketing Specialist at AMD’s Radeon Technology Group. His postings are his own opinions and may not represent AMD’s positions, strategies, or opinions. Links to third-party sites are provided for convenience and unless explicitly stated, AMD is not responsible for the contents of such linked sites and no endorsement is implied. GD-5

FOOTNOTES

  1. AMD Radeon™ ProRender Full Spectrum Rendering is only available in the Radeon™ ProRender SDK and for the Autodesk® Maya®, Blender®, SideFX® Houdini™, and Unreal® Engine plug-ins (Windows® only)
  2. AMD Radeon™ ProRender 2.0 available in the SDK for developers, SOLIDWORKS® Visualize 2021, and the plug-ins for Autodesk® Maya®, Blender®, and Houdini™.
  3. When using Blender® 2.91.0 with the Radeon™ ProRender 3.0.2 plug-in with hardware ray tracing support, the AMD Radeon™ 6900 XT can render at an average of 2.1x the speed of the AMD Radeon™ VII with no hardware ray tracing support. Testing conducted by AMD Performance Labs as of Dec 5, 2020, on the AMD Radeon™ 6900 XT and AMD Radeon™ VII graphics cards with AMD Radeon™ Software 20.45-201201 driver, on a test system comprising of an AMD Ryzen™ 9 5950X, 32GB DDR4-3600 RAM, MSI MAG B550 Tomahawk motherboard with BIOS version 7C91vA45 at default settings, and Windows® 10 Pro October 2020 Update. Benchmark Application: Blender® 2.91.0 with the Radeon™ ProRender 3.0.2 plug-in with hardware ray tracing support rendering the AMD internal “F1 Garage Benchmark” Blender® scene with 512 samples. Recorded the average render time of three runs in seconds (lower is better). Scores are based on AMD internal lab measurements and may vary. RX-618

ATTRIBUTIONS

Mercedes-AMG F1 W11 EQ Performance renders and animation created by The Pixelary using AMD Radeon™ ProRender and rendered using Render Pool™ powered by Morgenrot. 3D model courtesy of and copyright Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One™ Team. “Mercedes-Benz”, “Three-pointed star in a ring”, “Mercedes-AMG Petronas” are all registered trademarks of Daimler AG. Renders and animation created with permissions from Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Limited. All logos featured on the livery and tires are used with the permission of their respective owners all of whom reserve their respective rights in the same.

© 2020 Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. All rights reserved. AMD, the AMD Arrow logo, Radeon, and combinations thereof are trademarks of Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. Autodesk, the Autodesk logo, and Maya are registered trademarks or trademarks of Autodesk, Inc., and/or its subsidiaries and/or affiliates in the USA and/or other countries. Blender is a registered trademark of the Blender Foundation in EU and USA. The F1 FORMULA 1 logo, F1 logo, FORMULA 1, F1, FIA FORMULA ONE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP, GRAND PRIX, and related marks are trademarks of Formula One Licensing BV, a Formula 1 company. Houdini, the Houdini logo, and SideFX are registered trademarks or trademarks of Side Effects Software Inc. registered in the USA and other countries. OpenCL is a trademark of Apple Inc. used by permission by Khronos Group Inc. Unreal and its logo are Epic’s trademarks or registered trademarks in the US and elsewhere. Vulkan and the Vulkan logo are registered trademarks of the Khronos Group Inc. Windows and Microsoft are registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the US and other jurisdictions. Other product names used in this publication are for identification purposes only and may be trademarks of their respective companies.