Spotlight on Arnold

The Mill’s Lighting and Rendering Supervisor, Amaan Akram, talks about rendering using Arnold.

Why did The Mill choose to use Arnold and how do you think your
work is impacted by this?

Arnold was a much better alternative to what we had at the time. It was more artist-friendly, the API was more accessible, and we had a very good relationship with the developers. We are able to set up more complex shading networks, and spent less time figuring out the best combination of settings for, say, global illumination.

Obviously you've had a lot of experience with different software, How do you think Arnold compares to other software you've used/ what differentiates it from other software?

There is a lot of convergence in terms of how different renders work to generate the final image, and they are all great. One thing that is of great use to us is the thriving community of 3rd-party shader writers. We write our own
shaders, but also are able to find freely available ones when we need them.

Is there anything you would recommend if you were to use Arnold in regards to getting the most out of the software? Are there any tricks you can share on Rendering in Arnold?

I always ask people to view their renders in a properly calibrated viewer - one
that doesn't use sRGB transfer curves, but using film-style LUTs. Also, keep
their HDRIs unclamped whenever possible. This helps with introducing much
better physically-based lighting intensities and helps with getting more real
renders faster.

There was a lot of discussion on speed of use, especially in comparison to Redshift, do you think will effect it's success in industry - or is speed not everything?

Speed is a very important factor, but we also need as much support as possible for custom AOVs, a nice API for developing our own plugins. Speeds gets us quite a bit of the way, but we still need customisability to deal with large projects.

For educators like Escape, how do you recommend they train their students considering the vast amount of software is available? Should they train in one software in depth or just learn the foundations of each?

In depth always is better. It makes students ready to head into production and thus need less hand-holding. But obviously this requires time to develop. 

Spotlight on Redshift

Glassworks 3D Artist, Matt Fletcher, discusses rendering using Redshift.

Why did Glassworks choose to use Redshift and how do you
think your work is impacted by this?

Previously we used Arnold as our default render engine. It has a production proven past, and produces fantastic results. However, with Redshift,
we found we were able to achieve the same/very similar results in a fraction of the time. We switched primarily for its speed and rock steady reliability. It’s a render engine in which you can crank up all the items (DOF, motion blur, volumetrics etc.) that you may have to hold off on with other render engines. It allows us to get on with more stuff during the day, and tackle shots that would traditionally be more demanding – for example, a low light interior shot. With other engines you may require very high sampling to get an acceptable noise free result in these scenarios, with Redshift you can see exactly what you are getting from the start, without having to compromise on post options (i.e. DOF applied in comp), sampling quality or render size during development or final output.     

How do you think Redshift compares to other software you've
used/ what differentiates it from other software?

It's really fast!

Is there anything you would recommend if you were to use
Redshift in regards to getting the most out of the software? Are there any tricks you can share on rendering in Redshift?

Although it is already fast out of the box, there are a few areas where a bit of scene/setting optimisation can go a long way. We have found that adjustments to VRAM allocation settings can help. In most cases, increasing the memory allocation for rays can significantly improve render speed. Along the same vein as this, spending a bit of time optimising your main sampling settings for Global Illumination, reflections, refractions, and individual light samples can also be a significant factor to improving your render times.

The development team at Redshift are also very fast. It’s worth keeping up to date with their improvements and build releases.

For educators like Escape, how do you recommend they train
their students considering the vast amount of software is available? Should they train in one software in depth or just learn the foundations of each?

In regards to rendering and education, I think the most important thing is to teach the fundamental techniques of how to light and frame a subject. In my opinion, it is the core understanding that counts, skills within a particular render engine/software (button clicking) are transferable - I suppose this could also (to some extent) stretch to software too.