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Render Shootout

Delving deeper into the new features of Cinema 4D R15 I have dug into the rendering features, that is the speed enhancements through Embree here at home (still down sick, that’s why). Teamrender will have to wait until I’m back at work and can set it up. So I dusted off an old CAD-based scene from 2 years ago done in a rush before a tradeshow and compared the render times. No fancies like motion blur, just the Physical renderer with Medium quality setting and no tweaks chewing through those 6.5 million polygons at 1920×1080. The good news is there is indeed a noticeable gain. Using R15 (right) shaved off 5 minutes of this scene and I would predict that under different scenarios you will see even more of a difference.

Result rendered in Cinema 4D

Result rendered in Cinema 4D

Render time comparison in Cinema 4D

Render time comparison in Cinema 4D

Scene stats in Cinema 4D

Scene stats in Cinema 4D

Now comes the ugly part… Despite looking good in the marketing materials, Cinema 4D‘s rendering performance is still sub par compared to other renderers. For comparison I converted the scene to an FBX and imported it into modo. The conversion itself was a jarring experience because Maxon seem to hate their users and just don’t want those scenes to be opened elsewhere, but that’s another topic entirely. Anyway, once I had figured out  the conversion and could actually get to work, I almost cried because I was once again reminded how far behind the times Cinema actually is in the rendering department. The obvious thing is that Luxology‘s program literally smoked Cinema 4D. The same scene that takes 20 minutes there renders in under 2 minutes in modo – that is in its initial configuration with only 5 area lights and using blurred reflections everywhere (which i didn’t in the Cinema 4D version). It makes you wanna laugh like the insane Joker. I actually had to switch on Global Illumination and then added an extra Ambient Occlusion pass to see any noticeable rise in render times.

Rendered scene in modo - normal

Rendered scene in modo – normal

Rendered scene in modo - with additional GI

Rendered scene in modo – with additional GI

Rendered scene in modo - with additional GI and AO

Rendered scene in modo – with additional GI and AO

Render time comparison in modo

Render time comparison in modo

Scene stats in modo

Scene stats in modo

To be fair, of course you have to give credit to the fact that the scene itself is poorly optimized in many areas because it needed to just get done before the deadline back then and things like requiring more samples to get flicker-free animation, motion blur and other stuff would make render times go considerably higher even in modo. Still, one can’t help but feel that Maxon still have a long road ahead of them – a very long and steep one…

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4 comments on “Render Shootout

  1. What the hell! 23 minutes vs 3 minutes

      • I always felt GI/AO in Cinema was slow but this is ridiculous, can you explain to me why is Modo so fast at GI and such? damn!

      • Cinema has never been good with raytracing operations that require multiple bounces like reflections, refractions, soft shadows… GI and AO suffer from the same problem. I don’t know the specific technical cause, but usually this is caused by inefficiencies in the underlying optimization structures like building the render tree. Things like each evaluation needing to traverse the full tree every time instead of being appropriately clipped or re-routed in order to use existing data can quickly accumulate to billions of extra cycles and those cost real processor time. It’s an exercise in itself and and lots of complicated math so I don’t expect them to fix it overnight, but they simply have let the renderer linger for too long without offering users a viable alternative. Not everybody has the money to buy VRay or even the will to use it…

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