How do I optimize Cycles for Animation?

With a Titans graphics card, with Tiles set at 768*768 and a fairly simple scene, which other settings are the most optimal for rendering an animation?

It doesn’t need super realistic lighting/shadows. It just needs to look decent, for an animation.

I don’t want to wait 2 minutes for each frame to render. I need to cut down its Updating Shader and stuff like that, in that I only want to spend its time rendering the actual frame/progressing samples.

I haven’t done much animation in blender yet but I would suggest you to lower ray bounces in the rendering panel. The default max is 8 but the diffuse, glossy and transmision are set to 256 (i think? Writing from my tablet). Lowering diffuse to 1-3 bounces is pobably good for idee (depending on the scene). For transmision (e.g. Glas shader) you need at least 2 bounces because it counts as one bounce when it enters and as other when it exits a object (the Glas shader can get black if there are not enough bounces. For glossy two bounces could be enough (depending on the scene).

It’s probably a good idee to activate “no caustics” so that you don’t get bounce light from glossy and transmision shaders and so get less noise.
Also setting filter glossy to get less noisy specular highlights (1.0 is a good starting vaule) and setting clamp sampels to reduce noise and fireflies (don’t set dem lower than 1).

When creating your shaders I would recomend to not use procedural textures as bumpmaps, it will slow down rendering extreamly. As normal difuse or spec textures it doesn’t have that big of an impact but it’s still a bit slower than bitmap textures. Also keeping your shaders as simple as posible might speed up rendering as well. If a simpel shader setup can get nearly the same result then a really complex shader that adds a cuple littel extras that you won’t see anyways, it’s better to go with the simple one.

When setting up your lights you might like to avoid really diffuse shadows, they need more samples to get noisefree. Also Area lights (and the other types of lamps) render faster than meshlights so you might like to avoid them to if possible (I read that, I haven benchmarked them yet).
Also you can reduce the amount of bouncelights for each light with the lightpath node output “Ray Depth” and a math node set to “less than” and mix it with your lamp. Less than set to 2 will create a direct light lamp while set to 3 will create one bounce, etc. Also depending on your scene you might want to add some special lights e.g. for interiors you might want to place a mesh or area lamp at windows to get better sky lightning (you might want to turn of lights from your sky dome to reduce noise and if you use a mesh light you have to make it invisible to the camera and turn of shadows for it).

You are probably gonna use your GPU but for CPU renders I would recomend to use the branched path tracer, it produces less noise in the same amount of time than the normal path tracer. For GPU I think it’s still not up to speed but you could still test it.

There are probably more stuff. I would look for scene optimisations techniques for other similar renderes (like lux, arnold, maxwell, etc) and try to apply them to Cycles and see if it gets less noise.

Well that is what I would do. Hope it helps

If you are just going for a graphic look the first thing I ditch in a Cycles render is all glossy shaders. Just try diffuse only. Set all bounces to 0. Then you are effectively be rendering in a direct lighting situation. Ah, why not use Blender Internal at that point?

You can try the basic tips to speed up any render.

Render smaller.
Get a faster computer.
Use only one or no lighting.
GPU render.
Render at a lower sample rate. (meaning accept more noise in your final)

This thread talks about a way to speed up Cycles rendering by rendering only every other frame.