For many 3D users, rendering your project is a tedious process. Without access to even a small farm or an incredibly beefy machine, rendering with full GI can take an unnecessarily long time, often putting a halt to your productivity if you only have one machine to work from.
Like many other 3Ds MAX users, I started with the tried-and-true Mental Ray engine and was able to get some great results. After a while, I began hearing the chants of other VFX artists claiming the almighty Vray was king. To this day, multiple studios I have worked with see Vray as the be-all, end all render engine.
It wasn't until Wren Weichman of Corridor Digital recommended the Octane render engine that I began having second thoughts about my current rendering bedfellows. Until that point, I was resigned to my fate, planning renders for the evening and weekends with my now-outdated system chugging along through the wee hours of the morning. My very first VR video took over 500 hours to render in Vray. Luckily, since I was on set for my feature film, Unlucky, I wasn't using my workstation for 53 of those days. If I had needed to use my workstation at any point, that video would not have been possible.
When I first installed the Octane plugin for 3Ds MAX, I had heard it was fast but I never expected it to be that fast. Render times dropped almost tenfold and I was suddenly able to pump out minutes of 4K VR content at incredible speeds of ten seconds per frame; an impressive number for my three-year-old rig.
Octane isn't without its own limitations, however. Full integration with FumeFX and Phoenix FD are still on the horizon and render times can really add up when pushing the sample limit for detailed reflections, especially when rendering in 4K. However, Octane's adaptive depth of field and beautiful post-processing options make it incredibly powerful for VFX artists and motion designers alike.
Octane has a free demo as well as their own standalone program, so I highly encourage everyone to check it out! I know I'll be using it as my flagship render engine for the foreseeable future!