I have been evaluating some render engines for the project. This page will be used to accumulate my findings about features that I care about in this project.
Blender Internal 2.4x
+ Pretty fast with Approximate Ambient Occlusion
– No GI. Areas that should be shadowed are not.
– Linear workflow difficult
Blender Internal 2.5x
+ Addresses many of the deficiencies in 2.4x.
+ Linear workflow is a big improvement in quality (nearly as good as Yafaray).
+ Environmental lighting.
+ Much faster than 2.49
+ Good sun/sky
+ Good sun shadows
+ Linear workflow automatic
– No tangent normal mapping
– Procedural textures cannot be used as stencil mask
– Image files need to be directly addressed (not relative)
– Some extra work to use Blender particles (for grass).
+ Now with tangent normal maps
+ Linear workflow
– Slow renders
– Requires absolute paths to files
– No normal maps
– Procedural functions mapped to global coordinates
+ Physical camera simulation
– Does not support Blender procedural textures
– Requires no space in paths
– Normal maps supposedly supported but I found problems with level control and results
– Exporter is a one-man operation (risky)
– Still very much a work in progress
– Costs $300
I considered using Vue to generate and render environments.
+ Easy to add trees and bushes
– Renders look more like an oil painting than a photograph
– For this project, the terrain generator was of no use because the detail that I needed in the acequias would make the file too big
– User reports indicate this tool is very buggy with minimal support
– Overpriced. $900 for the ‘Infinite’ version.
+ Good GI
+ Biased and unbiased render
+ Physical Camera controls
+Physical Sun/sky with time/location parameters
+ Support for tangent normal, displacement and bump maps
+ Physical based material system
+ Supported Blender 2.5x exporter
+ Good support from company and user forum
+ Standalone studio for setting up scene, rendering and material development
+ Animation support
+ Roadmap that includes GPU rendering and Environments
+ Reasonable cost (<$300)