I would like to just post this here just in case I am missing something. I have had a chance to play with this particular render engine before and recently, with some excitement, I was able to sit in front of a computer containing an updated version running Maya 2014.
After which, I began to wonder about a few things…
I made a little red cow and coated it with red car-paint. I set the cow atop a plane and through in an HDRI background. I made the scene identical in both software packages, which included fidgeting with Maya’s color space and Arnold’s Gamma. After I was satisfied that both renders looked the same in both color and lighting (to the naked eye) I began rendering the scene.
First off, Arnold and Cycle’s photo realism seems identical. I even played with the skinshader in Arnold which everyone seems to love, and compared it to the Cycles “simple skin shader” that I recently got off of Cgookie. Again they looked about the same. Practically, if not completely… identical. Hair was a bit trickier because I seem to know how to do it in Blender better then in Maya. But with the new hair node it seems that cycles can do hair as good as Vray or anything else that is not Hair Farm.
But what really got me was the render times. Cycles was faster then Arnold while running on CPU, and by no small margin either. On GPU it was much faster then Arnold. This surprised me a great deal because you only ever hear about people talking of fast and amazing Arnold is. Well, it might be when compared to a software like Maxwell but compared to cycles this just does not seem to be the case at all.
Note: I was running Arnold in the ranges of 4-5 diff, 4-5 spec and 6 AA at 1920 x 1080 (which I think are very reasonable low to mid range settings) in order to get rid of the noise. I did increase the samples for the sun, but I admit that I do not know how to set the equivalent of multiple importance sampling in Arnold/Maya.
The only benefits that I saw in Arnold is 1. it did not create as many fireflies (but the renders were allot longer) and 2. there was no shading issue like there is inside of blender. But that is more of a Maya thing then an Arnold thing. Or perhaps I should say it is more of a Blender thing because I do not seem to run into shading problems in other packages.
So I am not posting this as a “cycles is so awesome and better then Arnold” thread, I am actually asking if I missed something? Or is it just that people are so fed up with Vray’s complexity that Arnold’s simplicity seems like a godsend to them? Is it perhaps that Arnold is simply fantastic for the type of render that it is (I think its monte carlo unbiased or something?) but when compared to other render engines be it Cycles, octane or whatever… it is still a bit on the slower side?
I am just not “getting it” apparently. So could someone here educate me? :o