Rendering can to be honest be a bit of a pain, there are often so many options to tweak and settings to be aware of that getting the correct lighting or look to a model can be enormously frustrating.
Even when you have the correct settings rendering times can run from a few minutes to a few hours for city and geographic models. As such we were intrigued with the 14 day demo of hyperShot by Bunkspeed. HyperShot is a software renderer, that allows anyone within minutes, to create photographic realism with their model. As their site info states - think of it like a new type of camera, an all software camera. Import all the popular model formats, drag and drop accurate materials, choose your environment and you have a photo of your digital model.
The interface takes a little getting used to, oddly enough because it is so easy to use and with so few options to tweak. You can simply load up a model, the software supports Obj, FBX, Collada, Autodesk 3D Studio Max (3DS), Rhino 4.0 and prior and SketchUp 7.0 and prior on the Mac (our test platform) set a HDR environmental map and then render.
The image above is a geographic model out of ESRI ArcScene, every other software package we have tried to render it in has crashed with 'out of memory' messages, hyperShot rendered it in 3 minutes.
Its a similar story with the image above, rendered within a HDR environment in a couple of minutes. This allows us to get on with the work flow rather than worrying about 'photons, final gathers' etc etc that are far too common in 3D packages.
Of note also is the ability to render from SketchUp via .skp or .dae files and it handles SketchUp files rather well. Below is a render of our SketchUp model of Fitzrovia Square, London:
The only option we would like to see is the ability to render out animations and fly throughs of the models, that would make hyperShot a must buy.
You can find out more and download a 14 day demo for both Windows and Mac operating systems via http://www.bunkspeed.com/