Render engines have tendencies to pair up and wage “war” through the users mostly. Each one has a favorite and defends it. Geography seems to play this game too. V-Ray and Corona seem to be such a pair. Maxwell Render and Fryrender were in the past. It’s silly really, as the only real reason to choose one over the other is how it fits with your style / pipeline / project / maybe a state of mind too (or age). No point fighting over it. Octane and FStorm are both aimed at GPU only rendering and pair up naturally. It seems that this combo has much more in common looking at things behind the scenes as Johannes kindly tells us in this 2nd article in his series as he puts both render engines face-to-face in terms of why you would want to pick one of them and the legal battle that seems to be going in between as well.
The FStorm Story
Note : The two following stories are written based on my view of things and what I’ve understood from reading the sources I’ve linked below. Even though I am confident that none of the sources are false, there could eventually be revealed new facts that changes things.
To make a long story short, Octane had a developer named Andrey Kozlov, alias ‘Karba’. He is responsible for many of the most important features in Octane like displacement, bloom/glare, volumetric light/fog, BRDF model, QMC sampling and several others, and he was also responsible for the 3ds Max plugin. He was very dedicated and the community loved the work he did.
But he suddenly disappeared from the forums, stopped replying and no one knew where he went.
Rumor told that he has left the Octane team, and since that very moment many users experienced that the Octane development started to fall behind. Deadlines have blown to months, and that fact that every new feature the 3ds Max plugin got seemed to break another, are just two examples of issues that became something we had to get used to. Otoy representatives repeatedly said they were sorry, but I never really saw an improvement. From my point of view, it really seemed like the new developers that came after ‘Karba’ just couldn’t fill his shoes.
Then suddenly, FStorm comes along like a lightning bolt from clear skies, and after a while, the FStorm developer publicly announced that he is who everyone has hoped for; ‘Karba’.
Andrey started developing FStorm in 2015, which means that in just over a year, he alone have created a renderer that is just as great as Octane, if not even better. FStorm is so young, but already a serious competitor to Octane.
I’ve been active on the FStorm Facebook group suggesting improvements and features. Lots of the smaller requests I’ve had have been implemented within 2-3 days, and one of them was actually implemented within only 2 hours.
I can’t avoid comparing this with my experience of Octane, where I, for example, have been asking for a very simple feature; a save button in the frame buffer, and it took more or less a year before it was implemented. Now I know that just might be a bit unfair towards Otoy, since it’s natural that it takes longer time for Octane as they have many more users to listen to, but it was still such a simple request, it shouldn’t be more than a day’s work.
Don’t get me wrong, Octane is nevertheless a competent render engine and it is the renderer that gave my career a rocket boost. But the fact that Octane is a great renderer doesn’t mean that you’ll get anywhere near the support that you’d expect as a paying user.
If anyone of you has read about the ‘Otoy vs. Moore’ case you probably know what kind of company Otoy seem to be. If you haven’t, it’s worth a little bit of your time. Nothing I will go into very deep (a link added below this section so you don’t have to google it), but from my point of view, it seems like Otoy just loves to sue their ex-employees for no real reason other than mess up their lives. After messing with Mr. Moore’s life for 16 months, one week before the trial Otoy dropped their charges. They probably knew they had no case against him.
Why I am bringing it up is because Otoy is now doing the same thing again, this time against Andrey Kozlov. They claim he has stolen code from Octane. Fair enough, reasonable thing to believe since Andrey created FStorm with an almost unrealistic speed (even though he has proven to me several times that he indeed can develop custom features in a matter of hours).
For now, I’m definitely on Andrey’s side on this one. One reason is because, as those who have extensively tried both renderers should have noticed, there are major differences in how they act, how they feel and how the rendered result looks like. Really nothing in the renderers that makes it feel like they are built on the same code.
But the biggest reason is because of the “proof” that Otoy sent to court. Hold your hats, people : they actually took a print screen of the 3ds Max native UI, which of course has nothing to do with either Octane or FStorm, and used that as proof of Andrey stealing Octane code. Also, the fact that the whole FStorm engine file size is less than 10 times smaller than Octane obviously passed Otoy unnoticed.
And it’s getting better. They also compared Octane Proxy feature with FStorm proxy features, showing that they look more or less the same. Which wouldn’t be as laughable if it wasn’t for V-Ray having the exact same feature with the same design 10 years ago? If someone “stole” something here, it was Otoy.
The only thing Otoy prove to me with this lawsuit is that they have absolutely no idea of what their own product look like when they can’t even tell the difference between their product and Autodesk 3ds Max.
Imagine if Otoy was as fast on fixing their own software issues and feature requests as they are with lawsuits, then people probably wouldn’t feel the need for a new renderer like FStorm.
I’d say, FStorm’s success is directly related to Otoy’s ignorance.
Which One to Choose
So you’re probably not wondering which one I prefer. Me preferring FStorm before Octane is definitely somewhat personal due to the lawsuit, but to be honest, I preferred FStorm way before Otoy even came up with the idea. That said, Octane IS a fantastic renderer and I want all of you to form your own opinion about it. While comparing them, the results I’ve gotten have been very similar but there are a few pro’s and con’s to both of them.
Octane, for example, is available for a variety of different 3D packages while FStorm is 3Ds Max Only, this is a pretty strong selling point. Octane has ORC, “octane render cloud” which allows their users to send render jobs to Otoy’s GPU render farm via a built-in tool. FStorm, on the other hand, has some nice features like adaptive sampling and a much nicer material nodes which, in my opinion, makes FStorm more enjoyable to work with.
Another thumbs up for FStorm is that the noise created by FStorm looks much more natural looking camera-like noise and we can get away with much more noise than we can in Octane. Naturally, Octane will have some more features that is important to many, but do remember that FStorm is still in alpha stage.
Arguments to choose FStorm (based on the kind of work I do) :
- Free at the moment, and when it goes commercial, it will be via monthly or yearly subscription like Corona Renderer.
- More natural feeling in the atmosphere and render, better shader interpretation.
- Natural noise.
- Developed by an incredibly talented and dedicated man who listens to our opinions and suggestions.
- Easier to create materials. Needs fewer nodes.
- New BRDF model made specifically for FStorm with angle dependent glossiness and reflection.
- Support for custom LUT’s to make nice color grading directly in the render.
Arguments to choose Octane (based on the kind of work I do) :
- Network Rendering (which FStorm will have soon).
- Displacement (which FStorm will have soon).
- Octane Render Cloud.
- Shadow Catcher Materials.
- Out of core-memory.
- Render elements (which FStorm will have soon).
- Availability for a lot of 3D software, soon even Unreal engine and Photoshop. This is a really good argument, I can’t say anything else.
I assume you understand that the above list obviously is made of my personal opinions and the kind of work I do. Octane is currently far better suited for VFX work than FStorm due to things like render elements and shadow catching, but for ArchVIZ Still Images work I personally have no reason to use Octane over FStorm. As always, try them both and decide for yourself which one best fits your need.
Thanks for reading this far and I’ll “see” you in the third and last part.
Link to part three (TBD)
My Facebook page : https://www.facebook.com/JohannesL.Visualisation/
Download FStorm (free) : http://www.fstormrender.com/downloads
Download Octane (watermarked trial) : https://home.otoy.com/render/octane-render/demo/
FStorm Facebook group : www.facebook.com/groups/FStormGroup/
Octane Facebook group : www.facebook.com/groups/OctaneRender