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chris

Best Imac pro setup?

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Hi there,

 

We are an interior design company getting into the world of 3d modelling and rendering with Vectorworks. We do reasonably basic interior models with Vectorworks and we are working hard to perfect our renders through Renderworks to give the best presentations to our clients. We also have a number of projects coming up where our joinery needs to be incorporated into architect's buildings and be made BIM compatible. We currently all run reasonably new 27" 5k retina Imacs, with 3.4 GHz Intel Core i5 processors and 16gb ram, which has been ok so far, but we are finding render times can sometimes be up to 2-3 days long, and we've had a few crashes. Therefore we'd like to purchase one new Imac that can handle anything we can throw at it on Vectorworks, and also maximise render times. We are looking at an Imac pro as these seem to be very highly spec'd, but we are not sure how much we need to spend to get the best results. Is it worth upgrading from the base 8 core processor to more cores (they go up to 18) The clock speeds all seem to be similar, and correct me if I'm wrong but I think the clock speed is the key for rendering times, rather than the number of cores? Also there are two options with the graphics cards; one with 8gb of HBM2 memory and one with 16gb, so is that worth the upgrade? Money isn't really an object, but at the same time we don't want to spend 3-4k on upgrades if they aren't going to make a difference.

 

Any help would be greatly appreciated!

 

Chris.

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2-3 days! What !!

if you want realistic renders then you may want to consider a third party render option instead of an iMac pro.  ie C4D and Corona Render?  (cheaper also!)

 

Below is image , modelled in vectorworks  , exported to c4d and rendered in corona (1hr !) - you should also look at why render works is taking that long?!

 

 

 

Int_Island_Lights.jpg

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Thank you, that render looks great. My only concern with investing in new software, is then having to train staff with the new software. The idea of having one very well spec'd mac in the office would mean all the staff can use it as and when needed. I've spent quite a bit of time looking into improving render times, and its not a problem when doing test renders at low res / dpi, but I cant get a high res / high quality render without it taking at least the best part of a day.

 

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@chris I recently purchased an iMac pro to replace an older 2012 era Mac Pro. We have had this two weeks so it's early in the game for us. I'm hoping to get 4-6 years out of this and we'll see if that happens. Early tests on our 10 core machine vs our old 6 core unit saw a huge difference in render times. Mac Pro render 7:32, iMac pro 2:40. So far I'm really impressed but spent more than I was hoping for. 

The one thing I don't like vs my old machine is the storage. My old Mac pro had 5 hard drives within it, the iMac pro has one, so my back up and data has to go into an external enclosure.  Thunderbolt 3 enclosures are not cheap. Saying that the cost is actually spread out over the life of the machine. Good luck with your choice. PS check out refurbished units, we saved $1300

Edited by J. Wallace

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3 hours ago, chris said:

which has been ok so far, but we are finding render times can sometimes be up to 2-3 days long,


First, if you can send me one of those files I can often show you how to tweak settings to shave a significant portion off that time without sacrificing much if any quality.
 

3 hours ago, chris said:

Is it worth upgrading from the base 8 core processor to more cores (they go up to 18) The clock speeds all seem to be similar, and correct me if I'm wrong but I think the clock speed is the key for rendering times, rather than the number of cores? Also there are two options with the graphics cards; one with 8gb of HBM2 memory and one with 16gb, so is that worth the upgrade?

 

With rendering in Renderworks, it's all about the core count. For a simple example: it is better to have 8 2.0GHz cores than 4 4.0GHz cores. When comparing two CPUs with the same number of cores, the better choice is of course the higher clock speed but that is a secondary concern.

 

Both of the graphics card (GPU) options are excellent, and if you stick with one display, the lower end one is more than powerful enough. If you plan to connect one or more additional high res displays to it though you may want to opt for the higher end one. Choosing the higher end model may also extend the viable life of the machine a year or two more, but that choice is mainly dependent on your companies upgrade cycle/timing.
 

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@Jim Wilson Thank you that is very helpful. I've attached an example file of a typical interior scene, and a render that took the best part of a day to do. Even that was not on the best setting and has come out quite grainy. That render was done on the custom render style 1. Any tips would be greatly appreciated.

steve kitchen 3d v2019.vwx

steve kitchen 3d final copy.jpg

Edited by chris
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I think J Wallace bought the "sweet spot" configuration.

 

That is the 10 core Model.

Noticeably faster than 8 core but reasonably priced upgrade.

If money isn't that much of an issue, I would go even for the 18 core Model

when (CPU) RW Rendering is priority and you can profit from that less time

at a steep price.

Just because it is not upgradable I would go for the better GPU option,

but mainly because it has double VRAM - for the future.

But there is also the option to add an external GPU enclosure later.

But not everybody loves to need extra space, complexity and in some cases,

beside the black Magic solutions, more noise.

Same reason for the RAM, I would go at least with 64 GB. It is theoretically

upgradeable but very tedious or you have to give it a way for some days.

 

All in all that will be a quite expensive solution for professional users only,

far above comparable PC hardware and little issues with heat and still an AiO.

But if you profit from running macOS and can earn more money with it than

you spend or going with standard iMacs - it is a solution.

 

Opposed to standard consumer iMacs, the professional ECC Memory in

iMac Pro may prevent from your crashes when long time rendering.

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10 hours ago, chris said:

We currently all run reasonably new 27" 5k retina Imacs, with 3.4 GHz Intel Core i5 processors and 16gb ram, which has been ok so far, but we are finding render times can sometimes be up to 2-3 days long, and we've had a few crashes


You should be able to save a good bit of render time in this scene by doing any or all of the following:

 

1) In the render style, drop the number of Reflections at the bottom of the Quality tab to 2, you will rarely see a difference between 2 and 3 reflections unless you have mirrors facing one another and the render time saving can sometimes be significant, even so far as cutting it in half.

 

2) On your textures that use Metal reflectivity (unless it's the whole wall, ceiling, floor or something else very large,) click the Indirect Lighting Options button in the Edit Texture dialog and uncheck the box for Emit Light, this will prevent the indirect lighting phase from bothering with those extra bounces. This can also lead to smoother indirect lighting appearance as well as letting you use a higher number of bounces for indirect lighting without taking too much extra time.

 

3) The DPI of this sheet layer was 300, and the viewport itself was twice as large as the page area, which is quite a high resolution render. What parts of the viewport were unacceptable at lower DPIs? depending what it was there may be a way around it. I have a comparable render to yours (at least to my eye, ill post it for you in a moment) that so far looks like it will complete in under 4 hours on a simple 2015 Macbook Pro (the one in my signature).

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I tried it too and did some small changes.

Like deactivate blurry Reflection for the Plaster of the Walls

(Which was set to a black color and should not work anyway)

But I think that looks a bit different though.

 

I went to Interior Render with max bounces for the Render Style.

(I think that is not faster as optimized for that kind and uses a different

(faster) GI Mode (IR +Light Maps ?))

 

I switched the HDRI Background to standard Physical Sky.

 

I rendered on my nMac Pro 3.5 GHz 6 core on VW 2019 SP1 + Mojave,

which should not be much faster than your iMac (?) Cinebench Multi around 960 points.

Unfortunately I did not watch it all the time so I missed to see the render times

but I think it was sub 2 hours.

(And did not save the image ....)

Edited by zoomer
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Have to head out for the day, but here it is at 3.5 hrs:

 

Screen Shot 2018-11-01 at 5.35.09 PM.png

I also did some tweaks with the metals to save time, but i did all the changes in one shot so itll depend what works and what doesn't visually once you see it.

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Ah, and I switched off Ambient Light.

But mine looked like Jim's.

I thought that might be wrong as the original looks a bit different.

Edited by zoomer
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Thank you Jim and Zoomer, those tips are very handy!

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I also wondered whether you need all the complexity that is set into the wall colour texture.

 

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@Tamsin Slatter Yes I thought that may dramatically increase the render time, but I find just a flat colour looks a bit fake? Any tips on a quicker way to achieve a painted wall texture would be appreciated 😀

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You are right about the Wall.

"Everything has Fresnel" (or Reflection)

You can see that when you look along a wall against something bright like a Window.

 

But if I would do (if ever) such a Plaster Material, with its very little but very blurry Reflection,

I would only in VRAY or Modo, which are very fast with blurry Reflections.

And I would hardly see the difference.

(If you have nearly 90% blurriness vs a simple Diffuse Material)

But I don't want to afford the extra render time.

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I'm doing some testing as well.

Allot of materials have a bump texture, like the walls etc.

My experience with Cinema 4d is that the bump takes allot of time when the render engine is doing the lighting calculations.

I now removed them from the bump channel and changed the color setting to a noise texture so you get the nuance in color, but not the render times.

The lighting calculations (interior 16 bounces) where done in 10 /12 minutes on my laptop.image.thumb.png.55274fa3cd8883215b5ff15afdb183ba.png

In 21 minutes the render was as far as you can see in the picture.

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I'm 51 mins into a render where I have left the bump in the wall texture, but set reflectivity to None.

Also using 16 bounces and Jim's recommendations to exclude metals from the Indirect Lighting. I have left ambient on though. 

image.png

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Yes, Irradiance Caching is very fast, when there is low high frequency noise

and the surrounding values are reasonably similar and there IS something

to cache or reuse. And that is not the case with noisy Bump Maps where

nearly every Pixel has a completely different color value.

Then you are better with (slower, noisier but more detailed) Monte Carlo,

for primary Rays.

But you don't want to miss C4D Light Maps or VRAY Light Cache in your

interior scenes for second bounces, which will calculate a much deeper

light distribution with many many bounces in a very short time.

(In VRAY LC/MC is default anywhere now)

 

You can't set the GI settings in VW directly but every option you choose

in VW will do a (reasonable) combination of GI Modes and settings for you.

But to see which Modes are used or to tweak the, you have to send you scene

to C4D.

 

But as my kind of work has priority on render times, I always try to avoid blurry

reflections and Bump/Displacement Maps wherever possible and just use

these where the effect is worth the effort.

Such a scene for me would have to be tweaked to render in in final resolution

at least in under 40 minutes.

 

When I finally have a faster Machine with Threadripper, I would go all

physical correct Materials of course. Which would be even less effort

and more predictable.

 

 

Edited by zoomer

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Reflections are also controlled by the AA setting.

But AA is expensive 🤔

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15 minutes ago, Bas Vellekoop said:

Maybe someone can check how the reflections on the chairs and kitchen can be less grainy without adding allot of render time.

 

 

Just now, zoomer said:

Reflections are also controlled by the AA setting.

 


I've been wondering about this as well, I suspect I'll need to look into what affects reflectivity blur other than AA, since the Blur quality value seems to only control transparency blur quality, ill do a study on that today before we head out for the summit. 

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There was another Thread anywhere.

I think AA controls quality everywhere, in modern Renderers and I think

it came for C4D Reflections too with their updated Reflection Setup.

 

I wondered a bit about the Transparency you mentioned,

but when I look into a C4D Material, Transparency has still its Blurry

Settings together with Sample Quality Settings per Material.

 

So it makes sense that VW Blurriness will still be influenced for

Transparency by VW's extra Setting while Reflection went to AA.

Maybe it needs a new name now.

Edited by zoomer

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