Hey great post. Thanks for sharing all of that. Lots of useful information there.
Actually I am kind of tracking in the same direction.
Of course I was referring to the brute force setting - which I still don’t understand why is not implemented in Maya.
Here is the Softimage setting:
Exact mode bypasses the final gathering point cache entirely and computes the full final gathering solution for every sample, rather than interpolate between final gathering points. This takes time but will yield superior results. The only Accuracy parameter used to control this mode is the Number of Rays.
Your post confirms testing I am doing right now. I don’t think you can get rid of the flicker but I think you can “brute force it” with point density. But also that said, you never really get a clean image out of brute force anyway. So I think at the end of the day it is the same result. As long as you can reduce the noise to a small enough level it looses visibility to the eye for practical purposes.
The only other thing I would add from my testing now is the interpolation setting. It makes sense to keep that to 1.
I think in general you want to stay away from anything that interpolates. So this is where Maya differs and the setting needs to go to 0 so you don’t have any interpolation.
Again as in here:
Exact mode bypasses the final gathering point cache entirely and computes the full final gathering solution for every sample, rather than interpolate between final gathering points.
And the Multiframe setting. That is an interpolation setting in Mental Ray.
Multiframe mode targets rendering of camera fly-through animations. To avoid picking up illumination from distant objects which is possible in the Automatic mode, set the Max Radius option to limit the maximal distance, within which, if sufficient finalgather points are not found, the illumination is smoothly faded to black. This mode is typically useful for animated scenes, but is not the best method for animation where flickering is not a problem. It can also be used for still images without animation.
The Accuracy parameters used to control this mode are the Number of Rays, the Max Radius, the optional View Dependent flag, and the finalgather Points used for the interpolation.
That is the setting to avoid in Softimage Mental Ray for flicker free animation and I believe it is the same in Maya so I don’t see the advantage in using it.
I could be wrong. But…
Like you said, I think the most important is the point density.
And I would also add to that a low AA contrast setting to force the AA to pick up more subtle details in the interpolation and smooth those. That setting can make much more difference than higher AA.
In short, I think you want to basically try and replicate brute force (no interpolation) as much as possible.
Reduce the samples area as much as possible with point density and smooth it with AA. That is pretty much the brute force method.
Another smaller point. From my testing I think I am finding that point density caps out at a certain level and starts to do little if anything without higher Accuracy rays.
But… we are talking about characters… so I am going to do some testing and see how that pans out with deformations in MR for Maya with these ideas. Something on my list to get sorted here.