Chaos Announces Project Arena, Bringing Full Ray Tracing to Virtual Production

Game Engine Alternative for Virtual Production In Development Now for CG Teams; Chaos Actively Seeking Feedback from VFX Community

April 4, 2024

Today, Chaos unveils Project Arena, an upcoming toolset that offers studios a faster, simple alternative to game engines for virtual production. With Project Arena, artists can move V-Ray assets and animations to LED walls in around 10 mins, accessing production ray tracing with pipelines they know and trust.


“Game engines helped kickstart a revolution, but many in the VFX industry still can’t access it,” said James Blevins, co-founder of MESH and former post-production supervisor of The Mandalorian. “Project Arena takes an essential part of the VFX toolkit, ray tracing, and makes it available in a virtual production volume, straight from Maya, Houdini or 3ds Max. No faking, no baking — just something that puts an artist’s work directly on the wall.”


Utilizing off-the-shelf NVIDIA hardware and ray reconstruction technology, Project Arena helps studios quickly move 3D scenes from industry-standard creation tools onto LED screens without a costly/slow data conversion process. Artists simply build their assets, bring a V-Ray-authored scene into Project Arena and they are ready to start their virtual shoots. And because these tools are production-ready, those artists can continue to utilize the same assets throughout the process (from pre to post), with no do-overs or drops in quality.

Because its results are fully ray-traced, Project Arena can handle an immense amount of geometry. Recent tests have already seen a quarter of a trillion polygons running at 60fps on a single GPU, which Chaos hopes to improve with the addition of more shader types.


These tests are currently being conducted on virtual production stages around the world while working on a new short that’s being created with Martini Giant’s Daniel Thron and Erick Schiele; cinematographer Richard Crudo; MESH’s James Blevins; line producer Debbie Kennard and some surprise guests. The film will not only serve as a way to test this new technology, but a chance to make a comment on how technology often stands in the way of live-action filmmaking.


“Project Arena represents a huge step forward for cinematographers by allowing us to do our jobs more creatively, quickly and efficiently,” said Richard Crudo, six-term past-president of the American Society of Cinematographers. “It delivers a much more precise method of accomplishing what up to now has been a generally cumbersome task. My eyes are always the final judge of what I’m doing, and my experience with it thus far has been thoroughly convincing. It’s destined to become the standard for all volume and LED wall work.”

Project Arena is the latest news coming out of the Chaos Innovation Lab, following a set of AI announcements last month. The Innovation Lab was designed to not only accelerate the production of Chaos tools, but share ideas and research about offline and real-time rendering, machine learning and AI with the wider world.


The Chaos Innovation Lab is currently seeking production feedback on Project Arena. To influence where it goes next or learn more about its current capabilities, please contact the Chaos Innovation Lab via the form on the Project Arena page.