As some of you may know, Aqsis has been undergoing some serious work and has been overshadowed at times by news about Blender, RIBMosaic and other open source projects. In a recent IRC developer meeting it has been revealed that the developmental and experimental branch of Aqsis has point based microbuffer rendering, which allows for ambient occlusion, radiosity and subsurface scattering. It was incorrectly assumed this was ray tracing, until that was cleared up. The catch is that since it is a new code update, it is slow and not meant for public consumption and won't be for some time. Chris Foster is the one that has been rebuilding Aqsis and adding the new core, as well as other major overhauls and graced the IRC chat with an image of Aqsis rendering a Cornell Box with point based indirect illumination.
As a side note, it truly is a very special time to be involved with the Blender to Renderman movement and community. In 2005 all the recent software upgrades that have happened were a dream.
Literally we are at that moment in time that most of us only dreamed of achieving. With Blender and RIBMosaic at a more stable state, we can safely say that this is the start of that breath of air, the awakening, that moment in time where things that where only a dream a few years ago, are now in front of us. Now Aqsis has kicked it up a notch, revealing an image that inspires us to continue. There have been many times that a few of us really had no idea if this was going to catch on, the whole Blender and Renderman pairing. The whole concept of it is hard to grasp since the workflow alone is alien to most Blender users, and Renderman users were a bit frustrated with the lack of this or that, things that are nearly built into Maya and Houdini. Over the past 2 years much of that time was spent rebuilding code from the ground up, making advances in pipeline construction and flow, getting involved with the Blender community as well as the professional Renderman community so communication could be established, the thousands of hours testing scene after scene.
Now here we are. Blender is more powerful than ever, RIBMosaic has evolved and Aqsis is capable of modern illumination methods at an embryonic state. Welcome to the new way.