FPrime Workflow

FPrime is not a previewer. It is a renderer, and fast enough to compute and display your rendered image interactively. The workflow change this makes is best experienced firsthand, but even the demonstration videos on this site give a feeling of its power.

FPrime is particularly adept with complex scenes with many lights, transparency, reflections, high polygons, radiosity, and area lights. Like all 3D programs, FPrime's rendering speed is highly scene dependent. For simple low polygon scenes with just a few lights, both FPrime and LightWave render at roughly same speed. As scene complexity increases, (especially as transparency, reflection, area lights, and radiosity are added) FPrime's renderer tends to outstrip LightWave.

FPrime Progressive Rendering

FPrime's interactive renderer is faster, but it also has an offline Render mode which is even faster. But even better, it is not just a simple rendered sequence saver like LightWave. FPrime's design is workflow oriented, with the powerful ability of progressive refinement. This simple but powerful idea allows FPrime to revisit rendered frames or stills and efficiently increase their quality iteratively. For example, you might create an initial very fast draft render of all of the frames of your project. As you're viewing that first low quality (but complete) sequence, FPrime is already working to repeatedly improve each frame. No work is wasted or quality lost. You never need to specify render quality in advance. Instead, you simply let FPrime's refinement "cook" for as much time as you want or have. You can also abort renders in the middle of frames and resume them later, which is particularly important with very slow or print-res renders.

A few examples may illustrate how progressive refinement changes workflow:

  • It's noon, and you need to deliver a rendered sequence at 3 pm. You start FPrime rendering. At 2:50, you hit "stop." You don't have to estimate or predict what antialiasing level you have time for in advance.
  • Very soon after you start your animation render, you can inspect a draft version to sanity check for gross errors. As FPrime continues, you can preserve a copy of the animation at any time to hold as a safety backup. You can even deliver a complete animation early to your producer or customer when they panic and ask for it sooner than you expected.
  • You want to make a test animation or large still render while you're out to lunch. You simply start FPrime, and view the result immediately when you return. FPrime will not stop too soon and waste CPU time. And yet you won't have to wait for it to finish after you get back, since it's always ready.
  • Your slow render is about one hour into a two hour print res render. You want to reboot your machine since you just installed some new software. You just stop FPrime, reboot, then have FPrime continue from where it was, with no time wasted.
  • You have some idle CPU time. You can load up your old scene from a few days ago and give it some extra (unneeded but welcome) polish.
  • Your print resolution render takes 5 hours to render, even in FPrime. After 30 minutes, FPrime's already saved a full resolution but low quality placeholder image. You use this to set up your Photoshop layers and actions. When the final render is ready, you just swap in the final image and apply the prepared Photoshop effects. This method works with animation processing and compositing too.