Baking to speed up render times for stills?

Hi, folks ,
I’ve been watching videos on Baking in Blender and I have some questions on matters that I was left unclear of.

Is Baking recommended for using in High Resolution stills renders or games only?

Can you choose to only bake selected elements of an overall scene to speed up render times?

I’m also curious whether baking may be helpful technique on a less powerful computer to speed up render times when using Cycles?

Does the time it take to create material bakes negate any advantage in having a quicker final render at the end?

Is there a rule of thumb for breaking down a scene i.e best to reserve any baked material objects to middle or far distance objects to lessen the resolution of maps required to be baked?

Any help advice and creative opinion much appreciated

Eh, I haven’t done much baking.

But what it pretty much is, is storing the shadows into textures instead of calculating them. This means that you calculate it once and that’s it. This is good if the objects do not move and anything that casts light on it does not move. Because when that happens, the shadows are supposed to change, but because you baked them, they do not.

It is a good idea to use baking for animations where only the camera moves. Games are another good example since baked shadows come with practically no performance impact, but even there you have to think about where you use it, due to limitations of the static shadows. I.e player moving with a torch in his hand.

If you only render one frame, well, you will do the one calculation you need during either the rendering or baking, so it doesn’t make much of a difference. If you want to make a short animation where only the camera moves, rendering times can be much lower.

If you only partially bake a scene, you have to think hard on how the moving objects should affect the scene and the baked objects.

I would say that the number uno consideration for baking is simply to think whether if your shadows being completely static would break the immersion, make the scene look ugly or whatnot.

Many thanks NoSleep,

If you only render one frame, well, you will do the one calculation you need during either the rendering or baking, so it doesn’t make much of a difference.

Yes it’s stills I work with not animations and was intrigued whether baking distant scene elements from the camera such as trees would speed up renders.