Over to some awesome news. Since I started with blender, the render time was always a struggle. While there were many attempts to speed up the render time, it always took too long. And most solutions didn’t really solve the problem. Now I found finally a solution which is the K-CyclesX build. So let’s break down this story into pieces about the K-CyclesX build from my perspective.
EEVEE is the render engine to do your work in. Meaning, while you are working on your scene, you don’t want to wait for even a second to see what you are doing. Then, of course, there is the material preview, but that is pure for modeling. But when you are doing your materials and light, you need the rendered preview. And at that stage, the EEVEE production Suite is the best choice.
But EEVEE is not good to render your animations (unless you use rough non-metallic materials) because EEVEE is a completely other render engine than Cycles. EEVEE doesn’t know about the 3D space (mostly) and calculates from the 2D space – What you see on the monitor from left to right, top to bottom (2D coordinate system). So that means it is not (fully) aware of what is behind the front face of a cube: is it a plane, or has it depth like a cube. Therefore, it doesn’t know how to render the shadows and reflections properly. But it’s a bit more complicated than that, and the developers gave EEVEE some tricks to make it a bit better than that.
So, the conclusion is: EEVEE is perfect to work in. And sometimes, you can render animations but not when using glossy metallics (well it’s a bit more complicated than that, but you get the point).
Cycles is a more reliable render engine because it is aware of the 3D space. But it is way too slow to work in, for example, when you set up your lights and design your materials. And Even with the solutions out there to speed up Cycles, it is not efficient to work in. And if you render your animation with the standard Cycles, it takes too long to render: like 10 minutes per frame. For that reason, I would think; Ok, then we use EEVEE, even if EEVEE is not perfect: I just don’t use glossy metals.
But! Now there are two awesome improvements at once: Cycles-X plus K-Cycles! It’s called K-CyclesX. And with my first test, I was able to render with my GTX 1080 TI, 720p, 50 samples, volumetric, 3 diffuse bounces, 1 glossy bounce, caustics off, to render an animation with 14 seconds per frame as good as noise-free.
So my conclusion for now is: The best combination is to use the EEVEE Production Suite to do your lighting and materials and to render use K-CyclesX when you need a better quality render of the animation. Fourteen seconds per frame for an animation to post on Social Media, we can live with that, right? However, you want to use a higher resolution and more samples to make it 100% noise-free for real productions.
What I know about Eric Klein is that he was THE expert on settings in EEVEE. EEVEE has a load of settings for the lights, contact shadows, probes (irradiance volume, reflection probe), etc. And he was the one who did a lot of research on that. So I used his recommendations in the EEVEE Production Suite.
But the story goes further. Eric Klein was not happy enough with EEVEE. Despite all the research on the best settings, he looked for a better solution to render his Archviz. And here it comes: He developed his own build of Blender, called K-Cycles. And now that Cycles X is there,
we will have K-CyclesX very soon we have now also K-CyclesX.
Check this video recorded by Eric Klein himself what the K-CyclesX offers:
I just tried out K-Cycles today, and I didn’t need any documentation. I don’t know if it’s my experience, but I understood every setting right away. What is really awesome in K-Cycles is the Post FX (Maybe I would call it more like color-management, but that is not completely correct). What is so awesome is the stepless contrast. Normally in Color management (properties panel, render tab, at the bottom), we find 7 presets for contrast. Often we want something in between medium-high contrast and high contrast. We can do that with the pivoted contrast node in the compositor, but that is quite CPU intensive. But here in K-CyclesX, it doesn’t need the CPU, and so you can drag the slider from left to right like crazy and see real-time the result. It sounds like a small thing, but it’s a big thing to me.
But that’s not all, by far not. There are other things to find in Post FX: Bloom, Flares, ToneMapping, Lens. And these are all VERY handy. Why? Because it works with real-time speed. Most other solutions like that need the CPU in the compositor, for example. And speed is what I need when I work in Blender. Speed means more time, and for me, it means more money in the end. What I mean: while you are working in Blender, it would be a big issue when you have to wait for something.
We are not there yet. K-Cycles X also offers the Ultra Denoiser (which seems to work perfectly, but I didn’t experiment with the different settings yet) and comes with presets like K-Cycles modes (quality) and GPU boost).
And I bet I didn’t see it all yet, so I suggest you visit the K-Cycles, see below.
Take a look at K-Cycles on Blender Market to see all the specs and latest updates. TIP: At the moment there is a 25% off!
The cover for this article is using a render with K-CyclesX. The scene is made and rendered by GREEZYBEAR.