Having worked for a 3D-department specialized in visualizations for automotive industry, I decided that it could be fun and useful, to do my own car-vis project. Test my tools and see how they would perform and improve upon workflow. Furthermore I am able to experiment and display my images and animations in a public portfolio as they are part of a non-commercial, free project. The car I use is a Volkswagen Golf 7 model and I use it because I am fairly familiar with it.
The software I use is Blender and its pathtracing renderer Cycles. For projects like that, the company I worked for used a combination of Cinema 4D and VRay.
Cycles is mindblowing. The integration of the renderer and the fact that you can use it in a realtime preview, makes setting up shaders and lights blazingly fast and easy. Especially using the GPU (I use two GTX 980 4GB cards in parallel). The preview is exactly what you get when you render. It doesn’t matter if you use CPU or GPU* – it just looks the same in realtime preview and final rendermode. Cycles is really fast and accurate. The results are impressive and the fact that you can use renderlayers, passes and render to multilayer OpenEXR files for compositing, is just awesome. It’s a huge improvement over tools I have worked with before. The speed is great! For single images and for animations.
Blender is really a great tool for professional use (in my usecases). The speed of the outliner and workflow of managing lots of objects isn’t exactly the easiest (yet), although it performs quite well if you know the workarounds. Shading, lighting, rendering are great with cycles and it’s hard to imagine working with a slower renderer again. Blender is really excellent in a lot of things and has basically everything I need, but it yet lacks tools for exchange to external software. This could/should be improved, in my opinion, so let’s support the developers and donate.
*GPUs do not support Smoke and SSS is an experimental feature.