Can a Cycles render expert give me a rough start on settings for this please!...

Hi there,

To save me a whole lot of time trying out lots of different settings, can someone take a look at the kind of scene this is give me a rough idea of where to start with regard Cycles render settings over a whole animation. For example, you might tell me that with motion blur and with not many glossy things, I might only need ‘N’ amount of sampling.

Here is some info:

The only glossy bits are the bouncy character’s eyes (which you hardly ever see because he is moving) and some wetness on some rocks.

The final renders will be 1080p

The vines have Sub-Surface Scattering so can only use CPU.

Motion blur is used - would this cover up low sampling?

The clouds/mist/smoke are done in a different pass so no need to worry about that.

The bouncy character AND the rocks have fur.

“Guess and check” is the only real way to set sampling. With practice you can make more educated guesses, but that’s about it. So start with this: Set to branched-path with squared samples enabled. Set sampling to AA-6, all secondary samples at 1. Go over to the passes tab, and turn on all the “direct” and “indirect” passes. Now hit render. Your image will probably still be noisy with that few of samples, but now you can uses the passes to figure out which sample type to raise. Look at the noise in your main (beauty) pass, then flip to the others, and you should be able to recognize the individual noise types that are coming from each. Now you know what to chage:

AA - increase if you’re getting grainy edges (such as on fur or other fine details) or grainy motion blur/DOF
Diffuse - increase if your diffuse passes contributing too much noise
Glossy - increase if glossy passes are contributing too much noise
Transmission/SSS - same deal as diffuse and glossy, check the pass, increase as needed
AO - if you’re using AO, turn on the AO pass too and check if it’s noise free. Increase this if it isn’t.
Mesh light - If your mesh lights have grainy shadows, increase this. Lamps and the world have their own sampling controls you can raise if one of them is giving your shadow noise

And sadly, 3D motion blur will not cover noise. It actually makes it worse because you’ve introduced another random factor. Two otherwise identical samples that take off with different time values now get a different result. 2D (vector) blur does not have this issue, and it CAN cover up noise. It has it’s own issues though, like blurring reflections incorrectly and sometimes not handing edges and overlap quite right.

If you want to go more in depth and have a Blender Cookie citizen pass, watch this. What I just told you is basically a quick and sloppy summary of what it covers:

Thanks very much, I shall start working on what you suggest over the next few weeks.