E-Cycles is a build of Blender which is optimised for faster renders in Cycles. As you might know me, I am a big fan of the EEVEE render engine. The reason I am a big fan of EEVEE is that it is fast. Compare it with working in Cycles where you have to wait each move in the 3D viewport a few seconds. For me that is definitely a no go. Especially that I have a huge agenda, and time flies. So why I am interested in E-Cycles then, you might ask. Here I discuss what to use: E-Cycles or EEVEE and when.
Well, first thing is that I am not going to use Cycles. Ever. This because I really don’t have time, so if I ever use Cycles, then it will be E-Cycles. But when I prefer E-Cycles above EEVEE? You probably know I developed the EV Express addon to speed up the workflow even more in EEVEE. And EV Express does optimise all render settings, light settings, shadow etc. So it’s the best you can get for EEVEE. But still, even then… EEVEE might be good enough for some jobs, but if you really want to go professional, you need Cycles, eh sorry: E-Cycles.
I could also make use of a render-farm, but I know that with my gigs I am not going to render a movie of 20 minutes. It’s more like 20 seconds until 1 minute. So I gave E-Cycles a try and I found out it’s pretty interesting. I’ll show you what I like about it.
Ofcourse one of the benefits is that it is faster, and that is exactly what I want. The developer has other arguments than me about the benefit of speed. My argument is: time is money. His argument, I believe is like: you save money by sparing your graphics card. Both makes sense, but somehow, for me, saving time has highest priority.
Getting that out of the way, there are more intesting things, and one thing I really like is light-groups! Yaeah! Light-groups increases the render time, but doesn’t increase like 2x (two light-groups) or like 3x (three light-groups, etc). I didn’t test that much, but it looks it’s more like 0.5 times increase or less. And setting up the light-groups is really easy. All you have to do is putting lights (or groups of lights) in collections. By coincidence I have that in EV Express: one collection for ambient light and another collection for a three point light setup. So that means that after the render, I can adjust the strength of the ambient light and strength of the three point light setup.
Since I used EEVEE extensively past year, I am now behind about denoising. So for now I cannot write much about it, but what I see in the render-panel that you can set up compositing nodes for AI Denoise. With a few clicks you can setup denoise.
Making still goes perfectly with EEVEE and Cycles. But each render engine has it’s challenge when animating. EEVEE has the problem with Screen Space Reflection Artifacts and they are really annoying. I see sometimes animations from well known developers and I see those ugly artefacts. (Why don’t they use EV Express ?!). With EV Express I was able to reduce as much as possible but still there are problems with EEVEE and they because clear when you use metals with sharp gloss or other sharp gloss materials. The problem is that EEVEE doesn’t know if there is geometrie behind the geometrie in the camera view. Is it a box we are looking at or a plane. EEVEE doesn’t know. Often animations in EEVEE go well, but it takes time and tweaking when you stumble upon such an artefact.
And the problem with Cycles is that you need quite some samples to get it noise-free. A year ago, I believe, I did quite some tests with several denoisers, and it simply doesn’t work for animations. I mean, not when you just use 40 samples per frame and then denoise. So in short here the challenges. EEVEE: screenspace artefacts. Cycles: Noise.
Next to that, I experience that Cycles looks better, crispier, more vivid than EEVEE. So when to use EEVEE and when to use E-cycles is something you can ponder about per case. There a quite some factors involved but maybe this gives you something to think about.
For more information about E-Cycles or to get E-Cycles check this link on Blender Market.