Basic Questions about Baking...

There’s a lot of info out there about texture baking in Cycles, but a few questions have come up to which I’ve found no solid answers.

Before listing them, what I’m mostly interested in is producing short animations, characters interacting inside a building. The building (still a work in progress) is an abandoned factory made of grungy bricks and there’s a lot of old machinery lying around. Obviously, rendering all those bricks and machinery for each frame will take forever, so I’m looking to speed things up which seems to be the main purpose of baking.

Most tutorial writers—once they’ve stated that a speed-up is the main goal of baking—then go on to talk about real-time rendering in the game engine or architectural walk-throughs. They never (not that I’ve seen) mention baking as part of the pipeline for video production. So, the first question is:

  1. Is baking of any use in an animation production pipeline? Or is it best to just bite the bullet and wait out long render times?

  2. And assuming that the answer to Question #1 is ‘yes,’ does the whole ‘to bake or not to bake’ question depend on the type of animation one is doing? In other words: the level of realism one is going for.

Andrew Price pointed out that if an object is moved during an architectural animation that the illusion created by baking is destroyed. But that was in a scene where there were multiple objects and his main purpose seemed to be baking the lighting into an object’s texture. So, my next question is:

  1. If each object is baked separately—baking diffuse, bump, reflection, etc., but not lighting—does that make their textures usable in scenes where objects move around during the course of the animation?

I’ve created the building using arrays of bricks with a procedural material which is quite slow to render. Render time is about six times as long with the procedural texture applied and I haven’t even started on the mortar yet. I’m hoping to decrease this through the use of modeling/texturing techniques so I can get a decent result without tying up my computer for years doing the final render.

What I’m hoping to do, if it’s possible, is to bake maps for diffuse, normal, reflection and displacement for as many objects as possible so I can use low-poly objects. Which brings up one final question:

  1. If I use texture maps for diffuse, normal, reflection and displacement, will that be faster to render than using procedural textures?


Surely someone on this forum knows the answers to these questions? Or did I hit upon a time when only beginners are hanging around here? :slight_smile: