I love Bryce, always will. But what’s love got to do with it?
On Bryce and DazStudio as lovers….
Lets be fair and give credit where it is due. The DS 3DLite render engine which is Render-Man compliant is nothing to scoff at. In its full version it is good enough for Hollywood studios with a solid place in their workflows proving it has professional potential. It is more modern than the Bryce engine and can be updated much more easily. There are many effects we are still hoping to have “added” to Bryce that are already present in 3d Lite just waiting to be unlocked by a programmer via a plug-in of some sort.
Marketing Bryce as a plug-in / additional render engine for DS will fail for several reasons:
1. Bryce currently still has no SSS, so humans will never look as good in Bryce as they will in DS. Remember that the only thing DS users care about is the way the humans look, the rest of the environment is much less important to them. And even when Bryce does eventually get SSS, it will be horribly slow rendering like most every other advanced effect in Bryce.
2. Bryce has no native hair. As anyone knows, it is super slow rendering transmapping, so close-ups of females with beautiful flowing hair are not practical. If you use Light Domes, IBL, or TA and attempt to render a close-up with lots of hair it will take weeks to render, literally. If Bryce had its own native hair support it would make things so much better. The mesh hair now available in DS makes this hurdle much less difficult to overcome. Thank God for Look at My hair and Garabaldi. I can even imagine using this as a tool for grass on landscapes in DS. Lack of hair in Bryce means lack of grass in Bryce. A landscaper that can’t produce grass? Are you kidding?
On Bryce and Carrara as lovers…
Carrara is everything Bryce should have been and would have been had it been treated with the right kind of love from the start. Most of the features we ask for in Bryce are already present in Carrara. We just seem to be waiting for the tools to be introduced in a “Bryce-like” manner.
Bryce is far behind Carrara, there is no comparison I’m sad to say. Here are a few examples of the failings:
1. Atmospheres: The word on the street is that Bryce has better atmospherics than Carrara. This is not true. In the first place, Carrara has longitudinal/latitudinal sun controls that also respond to the time of year and the actual day and time. So in Carrara, if you know the latitude and longitude of a location and you know the day and time, you can input those values and Carrara will know at which altitude and azimuth to place the sun. In Bryce the best we can do is guess work, manually guestimating where the sun should be for a given time of year and time of day. Cute, but not very professional. Further, Carrara has a cumulus cloud primitive that allows separate controls for the tops and bottoms of clouds. While David has had some success creating cloud slabs with dynamic undersides, in truth the underside should be flat and the top side should be dynamic. The problem is that in Bryce the flat side is always too flat. We need a real cumulus cloud primitive in Bryce. Just a side note, Vue’s clouds also have the right kid of behavior on the underside and top side. Bryce is the only one without it. NOT GOOD!
2. Bryce has trees, but they are spawned on metaballs. This alone makes them almost completely useless for any real work. Carrara has a much more robust tree generator producing plants that actually look like real trees from most viewing angles. But less obvious is the lower polygon footprint of Carrara trees, and the fact that one needs not rely on transmapping since you can import any geometry you want into Carrara to use as leaves. Bryce doesnt allow you to use your own leaf meshes so we resort to super slow transmapping. NOT GOOD!
3. Bryce has instancing, but it is very primitive and not fully mature. Carrara’s way is much better. Surprise surprise. NOT GOOD!
4. Carrara has an ocean primitive which can be animated. Bryce has nothing like that. In fact, I’d like to see someone even try to animate water in Bryce via the terrain editor, not just on a 2d plane. NOT GOOD!
5. Carrara has caustics. Bryce doesnt have it.
6. Carrara has reliable displacement even if it is less useful than the excellent displacement in Daz Studio. Bryce has it but it is not mature enough to be reliable yet. Basically useless. NOT GOOD!
7. Carrara has actual industry standard animation tools. Bryce’s animation tools are okay, but due to the slow rendering most of its abilities are not even tested. It’s just not practical to render animations in Bryce. EXTREMELY NOT GOOD!
8. Carrara has a much more robust Lighting model. Though TA has come a long way, it still has too much difficulty with indoor scenes, which shouldn’t be any more challenging for the engine than outdoor renders, but there you have it. Carrara’s GI is fast rendering and beautiful to look at most times both indoor and out.
On this same note, lets consider that in Bryce using soft shadows results in a MAJOR render time hit. In Carrara this is not the case. So in Bryce to get a good look from an IBL one needs to use hundreds of light samples to produce a natural softening of the light output with fewer harsh shadows, yet harsh shadows still prevail in most cases. But in Carrara as Howie’s scenes demonstrate, domes made of fewer lights but with each light casting soft shadows looks really great. Even a dome of 10 lights with soft shadows renders slower than a dome of 2000 lights with hard shadows in Bryce. If soft shadows were faster I’d use them a lot more often. SUPER EXTREMELY NOT GOOD!
So in the final sum of my post all I can say is that until Bryce actually gains an advantage over the other applications in some way, there is little developmental future to be seen with the application. If it can’t make landscapes as well as Carrara then why bother using Bryce for landscapes? If Daz Studio is much better at humans than Bryce, then why not stick with Daz Studio?
The final nail in the coffin is that Bryce is the slowest of the three rendering applications offered at Daz3d. This is due to the fact that Bryce is a full brute force ray tracer but ray-tracing is not the only way to render a scene. But Bryce doesn’t have any other tricks so it does everything in the most complicated manner making it slow as all heck. All render engines get old eventually, and Bryce’s is ancient.
Bryce’s only hope, is to innovate. It needs to come up with a tool or two that are new to the industry yet extremely useful. But innovation takes research, and research is what Bryce will never get with multiple year lags between development cycles. What Bryce needs is to be an only child of loving parents so it can get the attention it deserves. But that will never happen.
Until Bryce gets better than the other applications at something, it will never be taken seriously. Until people have a compelling need to come to Bryce because it has features and tools not found elsewhere, they never will come.