Unbiased GPU Rendering – OctaneRender vs FStormRender

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.

Let’s start…

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.

The Lawsuit


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.


Sources :

  • http://christopheremoore.net/otoy/
  • http://www.fstormrender.com/forum/forum/off-topic/1703-andrey-kozlov-vs-otoy
  • http://www.fstormrender.com/Downloads/AndreyKozlovvsOtoy.pdf

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.

/Johannes L

Link to part one

Link to part three (TBD)

Related links:

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

38 replies
  1. Mushtaq Ahmed
    Mushtaq Ahmed says:

    Thea have both biased and unbiased, so a comparsion will be good and thea is really good too

  2. Peter Stoppel
    Peter Stoppel says:

    Unbiased GPU render it may be but a very biased opinion based mostly on disdain of Otoy’s ethics.

  3. oguzbirgoren
    oguzbirgoren says:

    My heart is beating with Fstrom whilst continueing projects with Octane..
    Given the facts and information I truely support Karba on this.

    Availability of supporting a lot of 3D software is actually great disadvantage against Fstorm or any other rendering engines.
    Think of Corona how it got developped so quickly. That was because of focus on a single product.

    It pathetic to see a much bigger firm trying to tackle good developer a rival with cheezy attempts.

    I’ll try to be one of the first people to pay for Fstrom and try to support him on this.
    Just like I did with octane. 

    Technically speaking.. I love them both. But because of adaptivity to speed up rendering I leaning towards Fstorm.

    I see this as fiddling with biassed indirect calculations days are nearly over. But fully unbiassed renders with no cheats is goingto be over as well… Mind you Maxwell has already entered the GPU realm..

    Long came the noise reduction tecnhiques and automated adaptive rendering algorithms.  🙂

  4. .Pixel
    .Pixel says:

    Great article! thanks a lot both, Johannes and Ronen. In my opinion don´t see much sense in octane for unreal as it is proposed (at least for it can be seen on the net). A very different thingwould be if they were doing some kind of gpu-lightmass baking. Just a thought.

  5. Ronen Bekerman – 3D Architectural Visualization Bl
    Ronen Bekerman – 3D Architectural Visualization Bl says:

    Seems to me a story worth knowing about. And even so, Octane is being considered based on the engine merits. in part 3, J is focusing on using Octane – how to get started with it properly.

  6. Filipe Alves
    Filipe Alves says:

    Ronen Bekerman, one thing I am sure, ethically what has been done is completely wrong, and it is usual for contracts with programmers to have clauses of non competition, as they are exposed to a lot of priviledged company knowledge, that gives the programmer a definitive advantage if they decide to work against the company that employs them.

  7. C4D User
    C4D User says:

    crazy how naive you Max guys are. Andrey is having you wrapped around
    his little finger. The slow development that this article is referring
    to is actually only on the Max plugin side and Andrey was directly
    responsible for that. That wouldn’t be an issue if he left the
    company on good terms. Everything was going just fine with C4D plugin
    for example, LW plugin and others more/less. Important distinction
    you fail to see: OctaneRender is one thing, Max plugin is another. In other
    words, the problems you had with **Octane** were caused by Andrey in his
    effort to get you to switch to fstorm. Even if he did develop it from
    the ground up (you don’t just come up with a unique GPU render
    overnight, it took years for Redshift, Cycles, Vray, Thea, Furryball…
    ), he left a company on bad terms. That’s never a good sign. If he
    didn’t, there wouldn’t be a reason for a lawsuit.
    As for the Chris Moore
    story, if you did read ALL of it, you would understand how naive and
    irresponsible he was for not being honest and thinking like a grownup
    person. Most people would consider to be lucky if they get internship straight after school. He got a full time job. But he didn’t read the contract… Pathetic.
    see Otoy as a “company”. I see it as other good developers that now
    have to deal with results of Andrey’s irresponsibility and ego problems.

    My 2c.

  8. mohinder
    mohinder says:

    C4D User 
    Two sides to every story. But as an end user I am mostly interested in what the product can achieve for me and my artistic endeavors. There will always be squabbles when you mix art with commerce. Let the lawyers take care of that…

  9. oguzbirgoren
    oguzbirgoren says:

    C4D User Hi mate. I was there whole time from start keeping track of max plugin and using it daily . I do not know how to develop such a complex gpu renderer. Having said that. I see your point based on your assumption. Even if you’re right that Andey was the one that held back the octane progress. How come a company can fell for a single person. I had massive number of debates with the main developers, users and asking for more user support. 5-6 years later it just starting to make progress on user support side (not development). 
    I see your assumption is lacking of knowledge of how fstorm makes progress. 
    Not on the development side but There is clearly bad management with octane render You cannot deny it. 
    I love the way octane is so much interactive… But I’m really happy fstorm is born. 
    Otoy is a company with wonderfully talented devs on octane render branch.. 
    Before you say all those please consider what Andrey has contributed to main octane engine. 

    I think the law case is based on, otoy says Karba using their code or similar like that.. 
    I believe and hope that’s not the case technically.  There is no evidence of it as far as I can see it.

    So words like Karba held development and caused those problems does not ever just code theft or similar accusations.
    That is a crime on its own as far as i see it. FWIW That is bad behaviour. If karba wrote his stuff from ground up as he say, I think he should sue them back.

    Bad management is bad management.
    Let the codes algorithms fight. Users will decide..

  10. Johannes Lindqvist
    Johannes Lindqvist says:

    First, as far as I know it isn’t stated anywhere that this is a review. It is biased, but the story of Octane vs fstorm is not a review, it’s facts.
    It’s hard to make a review of a renderer that is still only in alpha stage, especially since them both are very similar in their concept. But what makes it interesting is that fstorm is so young but already becoming a serious competitor in the gpu rendering field. The article wasn’t written as a review and I’ve never said it is, but I felt that fstorm deserves some stage time.
    In the end, what’s the point of a review, since our tools are always chosen depending on our individual needs and not a review. Which I also made clear.

  11. Johannes Lindqvist
    Johannes Lindqvist says:

    Peter, indeed it’s biased but it’s not really meant to be a review. I don’t see the point of reviews since we all should choose tools based on our individual needs and not on a review.
    But, knowing that kind of company is developing the software you buy is good, isn’t it. The stories about otoy are not based on biased opinions, they are based on facts which you can read about in the sources. That I personally prefer fstorm, really has nothing to do with it.

  12. Filipe Alves
    Filipe Alves says:

    Hi Johannes, I understand your point of view, but this reply is directed to Ronen, as his blog is very influential, I think it is unprofessional to publish such an article, when only a fraction of the information of a lawsuit that is in process is available, that can have repercussions not only to Otoy, fstorm, but also dozens or hundreds of companies that might base their workflow on such softwares. For some reason there is confidentiality regarding lawsuits. A lawsuit against the someone that made a move like fstorm is perfectly understandable and legitimate, and should not be used to portray Otoy like a “bad guy”, specially in a blog like Ronen’s which should be completely unbiased. Regarding your part in this, you have all the right to express your opinion.

  13. Johannes Lindqvist
    Johannes Lindqvist says:

    Ah, I see your points and for the most part I can’t disagree. But, a lawsuit like that would be legitimate, if it was legitimate, if you know what I’m saying. But looking at the sources, it doesn’t seem very legitimate. Otoy using stupid and false “evidence” against people only because they don’t like them or because they want to get rid of the competition, that’s not legitimate. And I’m pretty sure Andrey knows exactly what contracts he signed with Otoy.
    Everyone is free to make their own views about Otoy or anyone else, but I believe it’s good to know what kind of company that’s developing the software you’re buing and what kind of support you can expect from them. The things written in the article are facts based on sources, and not biased opinions.
    I very much agree that Ronen’s blog should be unbiased, but telling about facts is not the same as being biased. It isn’t only here to tell us how to make a house or setup a camera, it’s also giving us information of what’s happening in the business and this is indeed something happening in the business 🙂
    But again I fully get your points and it’s definately good ones!

  14. Filipe Alves
    Filipe Alves says:

    Thanks Johannes,
    I would say it would be unbiased if all the information was available to the public. We only have Andrey’s version, we do not have the full lawsuit document, the contracts, or a version of the events from Otoy.
    To say that a lawsuit is illegitimate is something that is for a Jury and Judge to decide, not some random guys over the web. 😛

  15. C4D User
    C4D User says:

    Your “facts” are based on small parts of documents from either side, shared on facebook to support whatever interest both sides have. Therefore your “facts” are based on marketing or hearsay. Further more you shamelessly go as far as using other peoples misfortune (CM case) as marketing. Potentially causing them even more damage.

  16. C4D User
    C4D User says:

    oguzbirgoren C4D User Anyone with 50$ back in 2010 could come here and say “I was there..”
    You are contradicting yourself. I’ll assume you didn’t read or understand my comment carefully.

    So how does: spreading rumors based on incomplete information and marketing from both sides, cheating existing users and using other people’s misfortune as marketing help algorithms fight exactly?

    As users we don’t decide. We pay the price. Both Fstorm and Octane will suffer thanks to personal interests of people with selfish and narrow minded opinions spreading rumors around.

  17. Ronen Bekerman – 3D Architectural Visualization Bl
    Ronen Bekerman – 3D Architectural Visualization Bl says:

    Hi Filipe Alves. All things on my blog have always been filtered through my own “lens” – that is a major aspect of what got us all here being able to discuss things like we discuss now 😉

  18. Ronen Bekerman – 3D Architectural Visualization Bl
    Ronen Bekerman – 3D Architectural Visualization Bl says:

    I agree Mushtaq Ahmed and would love to cover Thea as well… anyone with lots of experience with it is welcome to approach me.

  19. Mushtaq Ahmed
    Mushtaq Ahmed says:

    Peter Stoppel is one hell of a Thea artist. and rest i think Thea officials can answer better

  20. oguzbirgoren
    oguzbirgoren says:

    MitchBailey I did. But lots of variables to adapt to.. In the end what do you gain? more speed vs quality? It depends on what you do really. I tend to render 8-9K pixel renders for print work. And fiddleing with bunch of setting and stuff really bores me to death. For years I’ve learnt brazil, finalrender, mentalray, vray. I need stuff like fstorm, octane and corona. A decent interactive renderer. Where it can be open nearly whole time. and I work on the materials and lighting. 
    But if you do interior work and optimization is a must. Than you an walk with redshift or vray.

  21. thenumbernine
    thenumbernine says:

    C4D User I contacted a lawyer before submitting my resignation to OTOY, and about 50 others after being sued, and they all told me the same thing: I hadn’t broke any laws, and OTOY had no grounds to sue me.

  22. JanSandstrom
    JanSandstrom says:

    Yes a Thea comparison would be great. 
    It’s a pretty “unknown” render engine gem in my opinion and the only renderer I know that can use both CPU and GPU at the same time for speedy renders.

  23. JohannesL
    JohannesL says:

    C4D User  Sorry for my late reply, hope you see this.
    First off, this is not marketing, if that’s what you think.
    Secondly, yes this is a biased article. That’s exactly why it’s one of the first things I wrote. You clearly missed that part.
    thirdly, yes you are right, the are sure more facts to this story than what is publicly known. All I do however, is collecting the “facts” that is available at the moment, hence the disclaimer text “there could eventually be revealed new facts that changes things.” You clearly missed that too.

    Shamelessly using peoples misfortune, no I would not say I do. Christopher Moore wrote every piece of his misfortune himself, I’m just referring to his text. And since what I’ve heard from several sources, there’s no reason to believe his text is false.
    What I am hoping for is not that Octane goes in the dirt and FStorm takes it place. What I am hoping for really, is for Otoy to deliver a better product with better customer relations.
    And guess what, their customer relations HAVE become better. I doubt it has to do with this article, but they are indeed working on it.
    So think what you want about the article, but it is indeed going in the direction I am hoping for.

  24. JohannesL
    JohannesL says:

    .Pixel Actually that’s exactly what I think they are trying to do which would would be very revolutionary. 
    But as everything with Otoy, I believe it once I see it. We’ve been waiting for “open shader language” for “forever” now and still no signs of it. Octane render cloud has been announced very long ago and has been available for people with “test credits” given while they purchased V3.0.. But STILL, it’s not officially released to consumers, no way to buy ORC credits.

    Question is, are they doing anything at all, except promising things on exhibitions?

  25. JohannesL
    JohannesL says:

    C4D User Okay.
    Let’s see. 

    1. How long was Octane v3.0 delayed?

    2. How long have otoy been promising Open shader language?

    3. How long have we been waiting for Octane Render Cloud? 

    Seriously, ORC was meant to be publicly available together with V3, and yes, V3 buyers got some test credits.. But now, soon a year later, there’s still no way to actually buy ORC  credits or using it properly as it was meant.

    4. Your really, REALLY think that Andrey deliberately messed things up with the Octane development just to sell his own stuff? Do I have to remind you that Andrey was responsible for most of the heavy main features in Octane core?

    No matter what you say and what loose theories you have about Andreys intentions, I will never change opinion about Otoy until they start to deliver what they are promising.

  26. .Pixel
    .Pixel says:

    JohannesL …yes I remember otoy promising opencl integration since… well… i think unity is working in something interesting about progressive realtime lightmapping, but what i have seen was cpu based… crazy… yes, i think that that way will change the game…

  27. Bobby Bob-Bob
    Bobby Bob-Bob says:

    Forgive me from necroing a post from 2 years ago but I found it interesting reading this after I read about the results of this case (t was a great article by the way given the facts at the time). The reason Otoy won in the end was eventually down to the fact that the New Zealand Court discovered that his VS project files still pointed to the Octane source code which was being loaded in from his own computer. Sorry guys – I’d be pissed as well if I had bought Fstorm but the dude was clearly trying to fuck over Octane. It happens man, sometimes well-meaning people lie – that’s life.

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