Luxion has released KeyShot 3, an upgrade to its real-time ray tracing and global illumination rendering software.

KeyShot 3 delivers a new animation system that aims to make product and camera animations easier than ever before. It offers improvements to the user interface and workflow with better asset management and part interaction. KeyShot's import pipeline has been expanded to now support Parasolid-based file formats such as NX, Solid Edge and SolidWorks on both PC and Mac -- and also includes over 400 new materials and over 40 new lighting environments.

Using the new animation system, setup, edit and playback take place inside KeyShot's real-time raytraced environment. Rather than relying on setting up keyframes, Luxion has developed an animation system based on offset transforms. These transforms can be combined to create complex part and camera animations. Offset transforms can moved interactively in the timeline, being copied, pasted, linked with and moved to other parts. All animations can be output to standard multi-media formats such as AVI, QuickTime or Flash.

Luxion says that particular attention has been paid the user interface and workflow. Individual or multiple parts of a model can now be moved in local or global coordinate space, making it possible to quickly generate exploded views.

The library has been completely redesigned using a folder structure, which is designed to make organising content much more flexible. The library has also been populated with over 400 materials and over 40 lighting environments with more content available on the KeyShot website.

To make editing of existing materials and creation of new materials simpler, the material dialog has been reworked. Parameters have been logically named and grouped. Texture maps have been grouped under a single tab making it easy to see what texture maps are in use and how they are applied. The realtime preview lets the user explore the changes to the material under the given lighting environment in the scene.

Texture mapping has been enhanced with the addition of specular and opacity maps, allowing users to create even more advanced effects with their materials including geometric patterns based on an image. Texture manipulation is now more interactive and allows for better control of the desired result.

All dialogs have been cleaned up and partially consolidated to make the interaction with the scene easier and the settings more logical. Advanced settings are always present, but never exposed directly to the user. Luxion says that this way the novice user is not overwhelmed, and the advanced user has quick access to an advanced toolset.

KeyShot 3 is out now for $995 (around £630). The animation capabilities can be added for $500 (£315).