I thought I should probably update this Octane blog once in a while, especially as it's now part of my everyday workflow. I unfortunately don't have any cool images or animations to share at this point, everything is under wraps for the moment, but I can say the last few months using Octane every day have been really enjoyable. I've not spent anywhere as much time with it as I would have liked since this slice of heathen; the end of last year and the start of 2014 was taken over by a monster of a Vray project (which is unfortunately under NDA, sorry!) so I've been itching to get back to real time GPU rendering full time.
If I had wrote this update at the beginning last week the request list would have still been pretty long but as you may have seen, Octane 2.0 (standalone version) was recently announced which addresses almost all the 'big' issues most people have. The new version will add support for:
- Object Motion Blur
- Hair & Fur
- Rounded Edges
- Network rendering
Only time will tell how many of these features make it into the C4D plugin and how long it will take but the chatter on the Otoy forum seems to be pretty optimistic. The only features I would be left wanting after this would be a solid multi-pass system for compositing (although if I can help it, I try to avoid that anyway, and Vray C4D took approximately... forever to implement a good solution!) and better integration with the C4D shaders. To clear up any misinformation from earlier posts: simple C4D shaders like noise, gradients etc work perfectly in Octane; more complex shaders such as Mograph Color/Multi, Filter, Layer etc. still do not. This has been the biggest hurdle for me to overcome while working day to day.
Since February I've been working on a really fun short film with Zeitguised (watch this space!) which is rendered entirely in Octane. There's been more than a few times I've wished for Mograph Color shader functionality, it can often be worked around (sometimes leading to surprising new results) but what would usually be simple tasks can become bigger problems. Luckily, being our own client for a while meant we could bend without breaking.
Having said that, niggles aside, the speed and fluidity of using the GPU renderer has been incredible. I'm currently rendering final HD shots on my old Mac Pro with cheap 660's at 3 mins per frame across the room from me at home. A more taxing shot (takes 25 mins on a single Titan) is blazing away at 6 mins per frame on a crazy PC stacked with 4x780TI's. The power is scalable in a pretty predictable way which is really nice, of course every render isn't going to fly by at 30s per frame, especially with our infamous gratuitous use of SSS and gross polygon misconduct, but comparing the speed to a recent project full of glass and liquid completed in Vray is unbelievable.
The process of texturing, shading and lighting a scene is infinitely more organic than I've ever experienced. For C4D users, Vray RT is still a dim light on the horizon, so the jump from waiting minutes per frame to see incremental shifts in light settings or material parameters to moving a slider and seeing it in real time is monumental. I can load a HDRI, rotate it round 360° and see how the light bounces around the scene for every rotation within 10 seconds. I can figure out exactly how much roughness to add to reflections with a few nudges of a slider. It's fast, seriously fast.
Since I wrote the first article I've had quite a lot of emails about Octane, I didn't realise it would be so popular and I certainly don't have the authority to give advice for the most part, but the questions could mostly be divided into two main questions:
1) "Is the render quality as good as Vray?"
2) "What computer should I buy?"
So firstly, the easy one, in my opinion the physical quality of Octane's lights and materials are absolutely on par with Vray. I would liken it to a really high quality Brute Force GI render in a fraction of the time. There is no faking, no frontal projected GI caches, no flickering, for animation it's a huge weight off my shoulders to know that the ONLY thing to be battled is noise, and it's a fairly simple trade off: let it render for longer, get a better result. And a long Octane render has never got anywhere near a long Vray render yet. If you have any questions about the image quality of Octane I'd urge you to check out this recent clip from Otoy...
The computer question is much more difficult, especially for Mac users. I can't imagine a tougher time to be buying hardware. Until the CUDA/OpenCL disparity shakes out then we are forced to welcome our Nvidia overlords. You need a CUDA card. This means you currently cannot buy a new Mac Pro (you know, the little tube-shaped guy) and use Octane. Either find a used last gen Mac Pro and fill that aluminium box to the teeth with CUDA cards, or buy a PC.
My friend just built an incredible hackintosh based off information from tonymac. If you want to run Nvidia cards with OSX, you should check that site out to be safe when buying hardware, it's quite possible you will need an external PSU to give the card enough power to run safely. I'm sure I'm not alone in hoping that Apple will make the next round of Mac Pro's a little more expandable, whether it's internal or external.
The easy answer: If you're a PC user, then good news for you... buy whatever the hell you can afford! It's pretty simple, two Titans will render almost exactly twice as fast as a single Titan. The only thing to bear in mind is the memory of each card doesn't add together, the scene is loaded into each one individually. 4x 4GB cards can still 'only' load 4GB worth of scene (geometry+ textures), but they will render it really, really, really, really fast.
In conclusion: still a little way to go for full C4D integration, and depending on your requirements for compositing it might not do the job, but for me I can say Octane makes me very happy!