Speed Up Render Times w/ AO...or fake it?

Question No. 1:
Is there anyway to speed up my rendering? The AO absolutely KILLS it.

Question No. 2:
…or can I just fake it? I just need short, super-soft shadows, not neccessarily GI.



The octree resolution might be adjusted better for your scene. High numbers are suitable for big scenes with many polys, but the scene preparing will take longer. Set the AO better by lowering the dist param, if using it. And of course, fewer samples.