There is an interesting little enhancement in PhotoView 360 with SolidWorks 2014. It only has a paragraph (or 2) in the “What’s New” and it’s only a check box to tick.
Accurate Environment Lighting! The description in the “What’s New” has a slightly ambiguous statement and a fairly definite statement. The slightly ambiguous statement is that, you would use Accurate Environment Lighting when, “Shadows in the current rendering are too noisy”. The more definite statement would be, “When you use this setting, it can significant slow down rendering”
The only way to see what both those statements mean is to run some renders. I’ve set them all of the render size to 1920 x 1080 and a Gamma setting of 1.3. A fairly simple render with Appearances of “White Marble” & “Jade” (so we can have a little translucency & reflection), use Basic Scene – Backdrop-Studio Room with Environment – Studio Room (rotated 90°) and a 35mm Wide Angle Camera
Which produced this Render in 41minutes, (on a Core i5-2400 – 3.1GHz 32bit, 4GHz RAM) jpeg file size 872kb
Which produced this Render in 77min jpeg file size 926kb (an increase in render time of 87%). You can see a far more pronounced “cleaner” shadow line around the board and the pieces in the foreground (off the board) All of the pieces have a more defined shadow which has created a slightly darker image to the whole render.
So I re-set the render. Same Appearance of “White Marble” & “Jade” changed to a Studio Scene – Black Reflective Floor, changed the Environment – Studio Room (rotated 280°) and set using a 24mm Wide Angle Camera. Adjusted the Illumination – Scene brightness up a touch
Which produced this Render in 38min, a jpeg file size 874kb
Re-run with Accurate Environment Lighting selected. Which produced this Render in 75min jpeg file size 887kb (an increase in render time of 97%) With the environment light rotate around so much it has produced a more pronounced general shadow across the the whole board. With more defined shadow on the Jade pieces
Retained the same Appearance of “White Marble” & “Jade”and returned to Basic Scene – Backdrop-Studio Room with Environment – Studio Room (rotated 90°) and set using a 200mm Telephoto Camera, added a Depth of Field, Focused on the White Queen (and a focal plane of 20mm) to see what difference that may make!
Which produced this Render in 69min, a jpeg file size 923kb
Re-run with Accurate Environment Lighting selected. Which produced this Render in 106min jpeg file size 1010kb (an increase in render time of 53%) Once more you can see the more defined shadowing which again has produced a slightly dark image.
Having run those few renders and now with a (slightly) clearer idea of the effect that Accurate Environment Lighting has on the renders and how better to utilises it. A point to note on the statistics is the quite dramatic increase in the “Indirect Rays” which would go some way to explain the increase in run time.
With the knowledge gained from above I thought I should try a more practical application of rendering with and without Accurate Environment Lighting. The cabinet has a far less reflective material and a few more light sources!
Render produced in 24min, jpeg file size 847kb
With Accurate Environment Lighting set, render produced in 68min (an increase in render time of 183%) and a jpeg file size 917kb. You can see with Accurate Environment Lighting it has produced a far more defined and darker set of shadows