Otoy is giving virtual reality artists a free cloud-based rendering solution that generates an image up to 25 times faster than a typical local workstation.

The beta for the OctaneRender Cloud service starts today. It’s part of Los Angeles-based Otoy’s mission to make powerful rendering solutions accessible to artists, designers, and engineers who wouldn’t otherwise have access to expensive high-end technology. With it, we’ll likely see a lot more virtual reality content being produced by a wide range of people, which can only be a good thing.

This beta is Otoy’s first step toward providing a dedicated cloud-based animation service that can easily render photorealistic, explorable virtual reality environments — such as the inside of the Great Pyramid — from light source scanning.

Right now, artists using Otoy’s OctaneVR virtual reality tool can upload high-resolution cube maps of virtual environments that OctaneRender Cloud will then render for downloading and viewing as 360-degree panoramas.

Otoy is currently running Render the Metaverse, a virtual reality art competition in association with Oculus, and it’s encouraging contestants to try out OctaneRender Cloud with their entries. Now entering its second month, the competition offers prizes of up to $35,000 for art that people can explore panoramically using Samsung Gear VR headsets.

You can see the winners for May — as judged by John Carmack, chief technical officer at Oculus; Otoy founder Jules Urbach; and the artist Alex Ross — in the screen grabs below. You can also download them to view on your computer or grab them from the Oculus Store for viewing on Samsung Gear VR.

Above: Deck 75 won first place — and $10,000 — during May in Otoy and Oculus’ virtual reality art competition.

Image Credit: Otoy
Exploring the Metaverse came second.

Above: Exploring the Metaverse came second.

Image Credit: Otoy
This surreal scene won third place during May in Otoy and Oculus' virtual reality art competition.

Above: This surreal scene won third place.

Image Credit: Otoy