Should I learn cycles?

I’m about to start a new animation and am trying to decide whether to use BI or another renderer, the obvious alternative is Cycles but I’d be open to alternative suggestions. My aim will be for a photo-realistic appearance, which renderer would have the shortest render times for this?


Perhaps you should go with cycles.
Since mango is in development, soon you will have everything you need in Cycles to make an animation.

BI is just not suitible for photo-realistic stuff. Possible, but I wouldn’t recommend it.
I don’t think there are any other renderers suitable for animation that work with blender… The supported renderers either are not fully supported or don’t have stuff like motion blur, don’t work for compositing etc…

Hi Andrew

well this really is based on few things:

What materials will you need and does Cycles support those right now?
What is your PC you render on and how long will the animation be?
Will it be indoor or outdoor?
Will you need/use compositing/render layers?

In the past weeks I gave Cycles few tries again and noticed that to reach a finale rendering for my product design the interactive preview is drastically shortening the shot development and I only work on a dual core laptop, so I dont have a GPU to render with.

I work with a lot of glossy materials and Cycles simply makes short work out of them putting BI’s raytracer where it belongs to, the trash can because it is unusably slow with layered and complex materials.

In Terms if composition Cycles clearly reached a mature level with render layers, excluding objects from affecting specular diffuse and camera. It also offers AO now.

Yafaray on the otherside is a pretty well developed render engine as well with great materials and quite fast render speeds.
But it does not offer the interactive rendering nor a good connection to compositing.

I think considering that Blender is currently using Cycles for the next movie project I am close to suggest that maybe considering Cycles, even more when you have a decent PC and a good GPU.

The per shot render might be longer on complex scenes but the shot setup time is drastically shorter with Cycles.

Because you are rendering an animation, Cycles might not be the way to go. This comes back to the What materials are you using question?that cekuhnen mentions. This is important because Glossy reflections do currently produce fireflies. While it is not too bad to fix up fireflies on a single image product shot, it can be a nightmare to have to hand fix hundreds or thousands of frames.

Just giving you the other side of the coin.

Cycles + Glossy Reflections = Sadness

Other than that, cycles is shaping up.

“Should I learn Cycles” is a very different question from “Should I base my current animation project in Cycles”
I tested Cycles out for my current project. I found that it took waaaaaaaaaaaay too long for my project’s needs.
I’m still learning Cycles, even though I’m using BI for the current project.

Good compositing makes a bigger difference than which renderer one use. Jurassic Park was pretty photorealistic, even rendered with a crappy scanline renderer, hehe… So in the fight to the death between Cycles and Blender Internal I choose the compositor thus winning the battle. ;D

For me, motion blur is an absolute prerequisite of a renderer for animation. This currently leaves just BI and Luxrender in contention.

Cycles will have motion blur sooner then you’d need it if you started planning to make an animation with cycles right now.
So no, cycles is not out of the question.

There is always Yafaray, which is fast and free. It dosen’t do motion blur, but I heard of a work around where one guy took his frames into 2.49’s compositor and interpolated them there.

Well, there are some preliminary questions to be asked. How complex/long will this project be? How far along is pre-production? How many hours will you be able to put in per week? These are relevant questions because cycles is blooming quite fast. I imagine that during the next few months some more major features will happen- if motion blur doesn’t happen, there is always that cool hack floating around here somewhere.

Fireflies can be avoided with a lightpath trick

Plus isn’t it true that currently Cycles cannot do hair and good looking skin?
So if those are needed maybe BI is the way to go then.

Is there a comparison out there about BI vs Cycles with regard to rendering a photo-realistic image? Such as, for example, the steps necessary to achieve the effect in each? I’m still using BI because I don’t get much of a speed up with Cycles and there seems to be more tutorials out there for BI.

For animation with Cycles you can go down to 1 or 2 bounces which is slow but not catastrophically slow, I think Breacht mentioned this in that colossal Cycles thread in Latest news. 1 or 2 bounces on a GPU flies.

It is possible to merge BI with Cycles renders.

uhm Cycles just runs circles around BI when it comes to photo realism. Glass metal GI it just looks much better
and with the node system you nearly have all trick to play with as with BI.

Ramp shaders just made it into Cycles now as well.

Short answer: Yes. Absolutely yes.

If photorealism is your goal then Cycles is your answer (as well as many other external renderers of course).

I’ve seen the future. It’s shiny and BI free.

You didn’t specify if it’s a must for the renderer to be free or open source. You might want to give vray a try. It’s mature and fast but it is NOT free. For animation you can reuse the iradiance map and light cache GI computation. In cycles you can’t.

Maybe check it out see if you like what you see ->
There is a nice gallery and great support.

reC uhm he did not mention commercial alternatives but yes in case this is something that might be ok with him to pay the 300$ for the VRay engine VRay offers all the bells you need motion blur different GI modes rich set of materials fast SSS etc hair and so on.

I know the thread is veering wildly off course [sorry] but where do you buy vray standalone? (and $300??! I thought it was nearer $1k) On the chaosgroup website, you can buy vray for max, maya, rhino, sketchup and XSi but I don’t see a mention of a stand alone version?