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Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Octane Render: Final Verdict

*** There have been some great comments on this post that shine some insight on what results are like with multiple heavy duty graphics cards, be sure to check them out! My findings were based on the use of a single mid-high level graphics card. Since I did my own tests, multiple graphics cards engineered for the specific purpose of GPU based rendering have been released. From what I hear if you get a couple of those beasts, GPU based rendering can in fact be a very fast rendering platform without the need of a several computer render farm.***

Sorry for the delay on posting, I have been in the process of re-branding my company. You can see my new website at http://www.kaplandesignlabs.com - I will also post my marketing materials soon so that you can see what I have been up to.

Anyways, In my last post,

Octane Render: First Impressions in GPU & Physics Based Rendering


I talked about my opinions on the GPU/ Physics based Octane Render Engine. I also touched on some of the benefits of GPU based rendering. Since my last post I have conducted further testing with Octane Render Engine and I have some interesting results. This review is primarily focused on the Octane Render Plugin for 3ds Max rather than the stand alone version. To me, having to export and import my scenes into a separate piece of software is tedious and if I have to do so I can't say that using Octane Render would be a superior rendering experience -so for me, I didn't bother too much with the Stand Alone version and focused mostly on using the 3ds Max Plugin version. 

1) Render Time:

As I mentioned in the previous post when I was working solely with the demo version of Octane Render the resolution was limited to 1000 X 1000 pixels. Since then we purchased the full version and have been able to get more accurate figures in terms of render speed at high resolution. On that note- While GPU based rendering/ Octane Render Engine boasts about increased render speeds, this is a slightly misleading claim. Octane Render plugin comes with a great viewport which allows you to see a high quality render through your preview window. This means you have the ability to have a pretty good sense of what your scene is going to look like rendered, without having to render. This can save a ton of time in the development process because you don't have to constantly do test renders to gauge progress. 

While the viewport preview is great, when it comes to actually rendering scenes my results weren't as good as anticipated. On the subject of actual render time, while Octane Render does create a really nice, crisp, realistic render, it actually seems from a number of tests conducted that Vray actually renders faster than Octane Render. This comes down to a matter of a few seconds of difference when rendering out a low resolution image; however, at high resolutions they were minutes apart. Keep in mind that this is when setting Octane's sampling levels to a high amount to get maximum quality. If you set the samples low, it renders extremely fast; however, the quality drastically decreases. When trying to decide whether or not to switch over to GPU/ Physics based Render Engines like Octane, this really does not motivate me to do so.

It is impotent to note that for these tests I was rendering Octane with a single Quadro 4000 which is a very nice graphics card. If you were using multiple high end graphics cards, instead of a single card, render times would probably be a lot lower. In my opinion though, investing your money in an i7 processor makes more sense then buying multiple high performance graphics cards which have little application outside of gaming and GPU based rendering. 

Octane

Vray
Render time at 4000 x 4000

Vray 1:15
Octane 4:59

2) Quality:

As I said and as displayed above, the final renders Octane creates are quite stunning. The sense of realistic shadows and reflections and the overall realistic quality of the finished render are very nice. While the render quality is great, I did run into a huge problem that affects my opinion of Octane Render. 

At my current job, I take 3d Models which were textured to suit either Vray or Mental Ray and render them out from dozens of various angles. I do hundreds of these renders a day. As with Vray, Octane Render Plugin has a function to "Convert" textures from Mental Ray or Vray into Octane Textures which are essential for the renders to come out correctly. Sounds good right? Wrong! While Octane seems to have no problem converting basic textures, on more complex textures many of conversions had major errors correctly converting color, bump maps, and reflections, as well as a variety of other issues. While it isn't too difficult to go in and "fix" the textures, when you are like me and you have to render out hundreds of objects a day, this is a major issue. If you are building your own models and textures from scratch you would avoid this issue but for large scale operations I would not suggest putting all of your eggs in this basket. For this reason, we determined that making a company wide switch to Octane Render just didn't make sense. 

3) Conclusion

While Octane Render is a very promising addition to your current render arsenal, don't go running out to make a major switch to Octane from platforms like Vray and Mental Ray. Because final, high resolution renders simply do not appear to be any faster than existing engines like Vray, this is a major drawback. On the contrary, the cost of Octane is in the range of $150 making it a pretty affordable option, especially for those of you just looking to get your feet wet in GPU based rendering. Also, on a positive note, Octane was recently purchased by a larger company called OTOY. Since then Octane has started seeing regular updates and seems to be out of the Beta stages so hopefully they address some of these issues.

Donate to the Blog

By donating you make it easier for me to post more often on more topics and give me the ability to spend more time answering your questions. If you enjoy reading or have found any of my posts valuable feel free to let me know.