Blender 2.62 Cycles Rendering
(It's buggy, but it's good)
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Pentium 4 Core2Duo 2.93 Ghz
3 GB RAM
ASUS P5N-D Motherboard
nVidia Geforce 550GTX Ti 1GB DDR5 192 CUDA Processors.
I felt the urge to build a space ship and, at the same time, experiment with Blender's new rendering engine, which is called 'Cycles' for some reason.
After two weeks, I am reasonably satisfied with the end-result; a large scale, futuristic environment, rendered more in the spirit of a concept design than a final show reel scene. Here's what I uncovered.
Let me start-off by emphasising four simple facts about Cycles:
- It is a work in progress - possessing several known bugs that will undoubtedly be fixed in the near future.
- It is more powerful than the old internal rendering system, enabling full global illumination, soft shadows via bounced light etc.
- It is significantly easier to work with than its predecessor, especially with regard to the creation of materials.
- You will probably need access to a Cray Supercomputer if you want to animate with it. I calculated that on my machine, with 2000 samples per frame, it would take approximately 240 hours to render a 60 second animation. That's 10 days of continuous GPU run-time.
The rendering system works by processing the scene in a number of passes ( or cycles - Ah! That's why it's called Cycles).
Each pass adds more detail, or pixel-resolution to be more precise. For a very simple scene, you will only need around 500 passes. For a complex scene, you will need at least 2000 passes.
I wanted the project to be more about the concept than a finished piece, so I decided to keep the UV unwrapping to a minimum and create a simple decal shader.
For this to work, you need two image files; the color map for the decal and the grey-scale alpha mask - in which white represents full transparency, black is fully opaque and the grey scale represents varying degrees of semi-transparency. Here is the node setup:
Okay! If you're still reading this then you probably want to know about the problems I encountered. Here goes:
My computer crashed frequently, particularly when I switched to the F12 Full Render Mode from inside a Camera Viewport. I think this is already flagged-up in a bug report.
There was a constant error message in the console window which read:
"ShaderGraph connect: can only connect closure to closure". I have no idea what this means.
This would be useful, not just for video game developers like myself - who need their scenes to run at 60fps, but for anyone who just wants to produce an animation. Baked Global Illumination, applied as a texture, radically speeds up the render time. The artist could use Cycles to light-up the environment, then switch to the conventional renderer to create the animation.
I've uploaded all of the project files to BlendSwap.com
You can download them here:
I hope this was useful to someone out there.
Bye for now.