We are a leading provider of rendering software for animation and visual effects. At its core, Solid Angle is based on a passion for numerical methods and an obsession for performance. We believe that accurately and efficiently computing light transport in CG scenes is the best way to create stunning imagery for films and TV. We strive to provide our clients with the best rendering tools to efficiently create realistic images.
The company is a wholly owned subsidiary of Autodesk Inc, and has its offices in Madrid and London. We hire the brightest rendering researchers and engineers around the world.
The roots of Solid Angle date back to 1997 when founder Marcos Fajardo had the realization that a brute-force path tracing solution to the rendering equation could be optimized to produce previously unattainable imagery. His early ray tracing code was integrated into WYSIWYG, a stage lighting design tool, helping Toronto-based CAST Software secure an Engineering Emmy Award. The inspiration and itch to work in film production was sparked by a 1998 visit to Blue Sky Studios in New York, where co-founder Carl Ludwig showed Marcos beautiful and intriguing images rendered with their pioneering Monte Carlo ray tracer. Arnold was born shortly after.
One of the first uses of Arnold was by Spanish animator Daniel Martinez Lara, who in 1999 released the animated short Pepe, creating ripples in the CG world. Ruairi Robinson's short film Fifty Percent Grey, another early use of Arnold, was nominated for an Academy Award in 2001. The first Arnold license was sold to Mikros Image in 2001 to render VFX shots for the French feature film Le Boulet. After a year-long collaboration at USC ICT, Arnold was used to render Paul Debevec's short film The Parthenon shown at SIGGRAPH 2004.
In 2004 Sony Pictures Imageworks licensed the source code to Arnold and entered into a partnership with Marcos to co-develop it and adopt Arnold as Imageworks' main renderer. Fruit of this joint work was the 2006 Academy Award nominated Monster House, the first animated feature film entirely rendered with brute-force path tracing, as well as Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Alice in Wonderland and many other films. This fruitful collaboration continues to this day on slightly different versions of the renderer, access to the respective code bases and jointly published research work.
Fifteen years after its inception, Arnold has established itself as the go-to solution for efficient, unbiased global illumination rendering in feature film production. The team has grown to 30 people and most leading VFX and animation facilities have chosen Arnold as their preferred rendering solution.
In February 2016, Solid Angle joined Autodesk, and shortly after Arnold was bundled with Maya. In January 2017, the Academy recognized Arnold's broad industry acceptance with a Scientific and Engineering award.
The name for Arnold was inspired by the particularly brilliant impersonation made by fellow visual effects wizard Andy Lesniak of the then Governor of California and prototypical bodybuilder, Austrian-born Arnold Schwarzenegger. A smiling nod to the heights that brute force can help achieve!
We strive to be at the forefront of rendering. Our team is constantly researching new solutions to improve the efficiency of our algorithms and to solve practical production challenges. We sometimes share the results of those efforts. We think it is important to give back to the rendering research community that has nurtured us over the years.