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There are several presets for various levels of quality. Some will include multi-pass rendering for anti-aliasing. Some are faster but skip the fine details.
You can use the quality presets, or you can take control of the various parameters and be the king, be in control.
Here are some key factors for changing rendering quality and features:
Before you start, know this:
The Global Illumination checkbox can be used as a toggle, i.e. to turn it on or off, and also to force re-rendering immediately. In other words, if you change the Global Illumination checkbox status, it causes a re-rendering.
The illumination level below the checkbox can be adjusted too and thus cause the scene to appear darker or brighter, especially in those areas where the sun does not shine directly on the terrain. But when you change the value on the sliders (or other parts such as by dragging in the preview with the left or right button), it typically generates 2 or more updates.
Sometimes, changing other parameters also can do the trick, such as when dragging the mouse in the preview pane, but it can be slow when you have 6 render passes (in High Quality mode) and it may see multiple moves on the mouse and thus take even longer. Use this toggle therefore to render once, without G.I., and again with it, if you prefer to see it with global illumination. Also keep in mind that the brightness will then come from the sky chosen, but it should have much impact on rendering time, with rare exceptions.
1- Set the initial quality. For example High quality, and then work your way up until you see the level of details, colors and quality you seek. The Final Render preset may not be the one you need, or want. You may want even more refined details, and /or more rendering passes for extra quality in antialiasing or refraction and reflection.
Note: In the lower left corner, Render grid is showing as being set to 512x512 in my case. The default is 128x128, and you can lower it even further. There may be various reasons to bring it up high or low. If your graphics card has problems, sometimes you'll want to try that.
2- These are the controls for camera, light, world.... Use these together with the preview pane (by dragging with the left or right button of the mouse in the preview pane) to change the camera's view direction, or the camera position, the position of the light source represented as the Sun, or to change the position of the world and scale its scale too, and camera angle (from wide to tele). If you turn the camera to look down, not including the horizon or far distant details, it might render faster, especially if the fog distance is very high and lets you see far away at the distant horizon.
7- Set the AA passes to 1. While you experiment with the other parameters, keep the number of anti-aliasing passes low for better interactivity.
3- The fog distance greatly affects render time, especially if you see the horizon and set the fog far to a high value. Puppy Ray tiles the basic terrain patch endlessly until it's disappeared in the fog. Try to bring it closer, at least temporarily, for more responsive interaction.
4- Shadows can also take a lot of extra time to render, so consider perhaps trying without until you're ready for them to be included?
5- Anti-aliasing kicks in with the High Quality preset, and with Final render preset too, but while it is disabled (unchecked) with the other, lower-quality presets, nothing prevents you from enabling AA even with them. You can use it even with the fastest preview modes. The image may still look a bit blurry in that case but you get the antialiasing, the better reflection and refraction, if you have AA set to 10, 20 or even higher, you'll see if that's what you seek. We've done rendering with AA at 140 and it is beautiful!
6- Interpolation may have a slight impact on render time, it's subtle, try it. Of course it gives that very blocky appearance you disable it. You may not see much difference with or without interpolation for terrain portions that are far away, but if you have some terrain elements very close to the camera or you are zoomed in up close, it will look very special.
7- We mentioned AA steps earlier. While you experiment with the others, you will want to keep the value of AA low, best is 1, perhaps 2 or 3 at most. Then for final render, set higher values. If you have the water plane enabled with Refract(tions) enabled too, you may need 40 or more passes for best effects and get rid of graininess.
8- This is one of the big consumers of rendering times. Look at what it changes to when going through the various Presets.... 0.004 is the value given for High Quality, and even smaller for Final Render, i.e. 0.002 or 0.0015 but you can go even finer, nothing's stopping you to go down to a smaller value for smaller details to also show in the render. But that's rarely needed, and if you have any problems with your graphics card, perhaps a discoloration display glitch showing at 0.002, bring it up to 0.003 and see if that works better. Then go to 0.0029, 0.0028, 0.0027 etc..., try a few more till you find the spot that is best quality without the glitch.
9- Shadow quality may also slightly impact the quality. Experiment! Use higher values for softer shadows. This should have no impact of course if the checkbox for Trace Shadows (lower left) is unchecked and disabled.
10- Bump maps can need some extra compute time. But it's worth it. You can get so much more realism from a render with bumpy rocks or other bumps. Try and experiment!
11- Water plane.... especially with Refraction, can take extra time.... but depending on what's being reflected or refracted vs. what's no longer seen (because it is hidden by the plane), who knows if the extra time for rendering with or without water plane is a wash (pun intended)
You'll want to explore these and not just rely on the Presets.
Try these options to see if you can get the desired quality or at least acceptable quality.
Also, don't forget to set the TDR values (including TDR_delay) to well above the default of 2 seconds. Read here for more about the TDR.
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