How to cope with long render times

Feb 14, 2019 at 10:00 am by Warlord720

Do something constructive during render time

If thou are on that noble quest for the photoreal render and you’ve come from the world of real time, it will be difficult to explain your frustrations with how LONG the renders take. Especially animations.

Some of you have taken note of my tendency to throw shade at Vue due to its incredibly long render times for each image but, those long renders were a necessary evil. There was no alternative.

One thing about Vue is the stunning work that can come out it. While I haven’t used it much over the past couple of years, I can still remember it being years ahead of the competition in landscaping and final render quality.

Imagine your best photo ever

You just had to wait three lifetimes for the render.

OK, that was my requisite Vue cheap shot for this article.

In fairness, a great render takes time no matter how you are doing it. Beauty passes take a lot of clock cycles.

Early on us old-timers didn’t know any better. We were used to the slow pace of rendering.

Create a scene. Review in wireframe or if you were lucky a poorly shaded view. Then wait overnight or longer for the render. All the while praying you didn’t screw something up, which I inevitably did in the early render passes.

Nvidia Store

It was all we had available.

Then real-time engines came along, and things changed. Real-time spoiled everyone. Except those wanting to match the quality of post rendering for beauty passes.

We were used to the long render times, but later real-time digital artists were conditioned to just the opposite to see the results.

An hours-long render is almost unbearable, and days are… to some… unfathomable.

Then along comes Iray, eventually working its way into 3D software like DAZ Studio and later Reallusion’s iClone.

The DAZ folks already know what some iCloners are finding out. It’s not real time. It's not even close.

In fact, it’s more like waiting for the grass to grow type of thing. It’s beyond annoying but it’s real, and we must deal with it.

So how is that done?

We all have our different coping mechanisms, but one thing is certain… you’ll learn to MANAGE your render time as effectively as possible.

It’s no longer hit the render button and wait a few minutes to a few hours.

It’s hit the render button and go participate in… life… the world... something… to keep your mind off all the waiting. Don’t let the long render times keep you from doing something.

Some folks won’t take on a project knowing render times will be long and that is a shame as it limits their contributions.

It will only take a few blown renders to get some type of system down for handling the time when things work and just importantly if you are doing this on a deadline… when renders fail and need to be done over.

Figure in extra time for when things wrong. You can’t meet a deadline in 12 hours if it takes 13 hours to finish the render.

A few things to consider:

  • Like all things 3D… think ahead. Murphy’s Law is real in 3D.
  • Develop and use a checklist concerning all aspects like lighting, frame rate and so forth.
  • Thoroughly preview your work before entering the render stage.
  • Manage the clock. There are only so many hours in a day.
  • Render in the off hours such as nighttime, if possible, so your machine isn’t tied up.
  • Time your everyday activities around the render when necessary. This will keep your mind off the waiting and get things accomplished in the meantime.

As you can see… it’s not rocket science.

Before we became trapped in the matrix known as the internet there was this thing called patience.

Google it.

Embrace it.

Then continue in thou most noble quest of the photo-real render.


M.D. McCallum, aka WarLord, is an international award-winning commercial graphics artist, 3D animator, published author, project director, and webmaster with a freelance career that spans over 20 years.  Now retired, M.D. is currently working part-time on writing and select character development projects. You can learn more about MD on his website




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