Although itis still a relatively new concept, the graphic card accelerated rendering enginelooks as though it is the way of the future for architectural visualization.Graphic Processing Units or ‘GPUs’ are able to handle more information than theCPUs, and tend to outperform standard CPU based rendering engines sometimes by upto fifty times. This increased speed means an overall savings in both hardwareand software. One computer can now be loaded up with a couple top of the linegraphics cards and conceivably outperform 50 traditional rendering computers. Thatmeans only one license and one work station is needed to get comparableperformance to that of a traditional CPU rendering farm! (This also means asaving on electricity bills and in office space)
In additionto improved rendering time, the ability to create highly interactive IPRrenders with instant feedback on material changes, scene lighting or objectplacement means a far more intuitive workflow for the 3D artist. Gone are thedays of adjusting a light source and waiting 10 minutes to see just a glimpseof the updated image. Final render times are a great perk of the GPU renderer,especially if you’re creating large images for print or an architecturalflythrough. That being said, the instant feedback on adjustments to a scene nowfeel like an absolute must in this day and age and after enjoying the luxury itis almost impossible to go back.
One of thefront runners in the GPU based rendering engine is Octane. It calls itself both the first and thefastest GPU renderer to produce physically correct unbiased images. The claimof being ‘the fastest’ is tough to truly measure because, with 3D, so much isdependent on your own personal workflow and how you’ve chosen to best optimizeyour scenes for the specific rendering engine. That being said, Octane is infact very quick so long as you have a high end Nvidia Graphics Card, or if you’re lucky, more than one cardinstalled on your computer. In addition to being, at the very least, near thetop in speed, Octane has a number of innovative features like the “OctaneRender Cloud”, Octane Live Database, which hosts hundreds of user madematerials which are only a click away, and the IPR render now processesmoveable proxies which means you can see the mesh move in almost real time asyou make adjustments. This is great for architectural rendering, in particular whenan artist is tweaking landscape designs. The ability to move the trees and sunin real time to get the perfect lighting setup and show shade shining throughtrees is extremely fast and intuitive, in more traditional rendering software thiscould have easily taken hours.
Beyond it’sspeed, Octane is extremely easy to figure out as a beginner. Out of the box,even a relatively new 3D artist can begin creating attractive scenes simply by usingan environment HDR lighting node along with some default Live Databasematerials.
For allthat is good with Octane, it does have some issues associated with it. Althoughthe interior rendering and product rendering quality of Octane rivals theimages which V-ray creates, most of Octane’s exteriorarchitectural renders can’t quite compete with some of the other moreestablished companies. The images from Octane often come out looking cartoonyand over saturated, a far cry from the expected physically accurate realismwhich is promise. One could debate that this is more of an issue with theindividual artist; however, a highly regarded architectural rendering company, RealSpace 3D, has been offering their services with bothV-ray and Octane for a number of years now and the overwhelming feedbackthey’ve received is the preference of the V-ray images for the exteriorrenders. In addition to RealSpace 3D’s personal experience with Octane, theimages Otoy showcases on their website further display aweakness on exterior images.
Along withhaving some final image quality issues, Octane’s plugins for a variety of 3rdparty software have not been well implemented. The time it takes for new versionsof Octane to be successfully deployed on very common programs like Maya is almost laughable. As anyonewho’s spent a little time using the Octane for Maya plugin would be able totell you, there is a laundry list of bizarre settings required to simply makethe renderer work along the same lines as their standalone product.
Despitehaving a few issues, Octane is raising the bar in many ways throughout the 3Drendering industry and they continue to be at the forefront of a GPU renderingrevolution. Because of Octane’s speed, cost savings, ease of use and cuttingedge technological advancements they are absolutely worth trying out.