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Rendering in Maxwell - Basics

Introduction and Basic Concepts

The Maxwell Render approach to rendering is quite different from that of other rendering engines. Because of its physically correct behavior and spectral calculations of light, there is no concept of a “finished” render. The render will keep calculating until you stop it, progressively getting cleaner and cleaner. Maxwell renders the entire image at once, not in "buckets" giving you a very quick idea of what the final render will look like.

Sampling Level

As the render calculates you will see the image output get less and less noisy and the Sampling Level (SL) increase continuously. The SL is a basic measure of quality, the higher it is the less noise the render will have. A few key points regarding SL:
  • It is important to understand that there is no fixed SL number to get an acceptable quality level, because it depends entirely on the scene. Some scenes can be completely noise-free at SL 8 or even earlier, while others may need to get to SL 16 or higher. As a general rule an exterior scene will render much quicker than an interior scene because most of the lighting in an interior will be indirect and there are many more light bounces to calculate.
  • Each new SL takes approximately twice as long to reach as the previous one. If it took 15 minutes to go from SL 4 to SL 5, it will take about 30 minutes to go from SL 5 to SL 6.
  • It is uncommon needing to render beyond SL 19 - 20.

Sampling Level vs Time

There are two ways to stop a render in Maxwell Render: by setting a Sampling Level or by setting a Render Time (in minutes). If you set both parameters, the render will stop when the first one is reached. This double approach gives you a lot of flexibility to control the quality and time invested in rendering. For example if you want to quickly compare a few renders of a scene you can set the time low (ex. 10min) and the SL high (ex. 15). In this case it is improbable the render will reach SL 15 in 10 minutes, so the render will stop after 10 minutes. For a final render you should set the SL to the desired level and set the time to a high value (ex. 999 minutes). Maxwell Render will stop when the SL is reached. If the render needed a higher SL you can always resume the render.

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