Despite some tough questions from investors yesterday, Nvidia exceeded expectations in reporting its Q1 earnings, which were down dramatically compared to last year — but not down quite as far as forecasts indicated. The company reported revenue of $2.2 billion for the quarter, down 31% from the previous year.

The company declined to offer guidance for the remainder of the year, citing uncertainty in the key data-center market. But in pro visualization, the still-healthy sector of its business that includes VFX, the company said the near future is bright.

Pro visualization revenue was up 6% compared to the same period last year, climbing to $266 million. A category of “emerging applications” that includes AI, VR and AR, contributed about 38% of that revenue, according to EVP and CFO Colette Kress, who said oil and gas, public sector, and manufacturing markets were “areas of strength” in the pro visualization sector.

Kress also emphasized the success to date of the company’s RTX platform for real-time GPU-accelerated ray tracing in gaming and VFX. “At GTC, we announced that the world’s top 3D application providers have adopted Nvidia RTX in their product releases set for later this year including Adobe, Autodesk, Chaos Group, Dassault [Systèmes] and Pixar,” she noted. “With this rich software ecosystem, Nvidia RTX is transforming the 3D market. For example, Pixar is using Nvidia RTX ray-tracing on its upcoming films. Weta Digital is using it for upcoming Disney projects and Siemens NX Ray Traced Studio users will be able to generate rendered images up to four times faster in their product design workflows.”

Nvidia President and CEO Jen-Hsun Huang underscored the message later in the call, responding to a question about its expectations for the videogame market in the fourth quarter.

“The leadership position that we’ve taken has turned into a movement that has turned next-generation gaming ray-tracing into a standard,” he said. “Almost every single game platform will have to have ray tracing. Some of them already announced it, and the partnerships that we’ve developed are fantastic.”

The progress of real-time ray-tracing technology is of keen interest to content creators who are already integrating tools from the games industry, such as Unreal Engine, into new pipelines for interactive visualization and VFX work, as well as VFX and animation studios looking at rendering their work using GPU-accelerated ray-tracing techniques.

In closing remarks, Huang identified real-time ray tracing, along with accelerated computing/AI computing and robotics, as one of the company’s three growth strategies: “It’s now clear that ray tracing is the future of gaming and digital design.”