Well, it has been a little while since Autodesk released the ability to render in the cloud. I have to say, it has come a long way (I have had mixed reviews in the past). I have been using and testing this technology starting as a plug-in to Revit 2012. Now, it is fully built into Revit 2013 and the overall process is much more fluent I just wanted to run through a few things I feel have gotten better (or worse) while rendering in the cloud.
I am using Revit 2013 (One-box) updated to Service Pack 2....
The Good:Custom Materials:
One thing I remember from the very first cloud renderings I produced was a disconnect when it came to custom materials. Revit has some cool default materials but over the years they get really old. I love making and finding new textures and using them for renderings. Well, this has finally gotten to a reasonable point in cloud rendering. The custom materials, bump maps, and reflections are all very close to Revit's renderings. The one exception you must be aware of is glazing. For some reason the reflection/refraction of glazing on the cloud appears much different than on native Revit renderings. You might need to makes some tweaks to it.
Speed and Efficiency
The speed and efficiency of using cloud rendering is it's biggest selling point. Sending 40 renderings to the cloud and having them finish 20 minutes later without impeding on your workflow is AWESOME. It is so much better than letting an 8 hour rendering run overnight only to find you screwed up somewhere. I cannot begin to tell you how insane it would get rendering 20+ hour images a week before the presentation... I know many fellow college kids are going through that right now.
FREE!! For Students...
The cloud rendering and other Autodesk 360 Services are now free for students to use... I repeat... Not a trial! This is awesome considering the intensity of studio projects and schedules as well as the lack of rendering farms or super computers in a student's budget.
I have yet to get Revit and the Cloud renderings of exterior night scenes to look remotely similar. I have tried messing with sun lighting (the 2.A.M. trick) and seeing how that effects the cloud with no luck... Granted, the renderings on the cloud look pretty sweet but it is very difficult to make them NOT look like a nuclear bomb went off... A perfect example can be seen in the images below:
I haven't been able to confirm this yet but so far if any of my rendering have artificial lighting in them they will render as so in the cloud. That is to say there is no way to turn them off (even if my render setting are set to day lighting only). Most of the time I don't mind this but the option would be nice.
Resolution and Size
I can understand why the resolution of a cloud rendering might want to be limited... but... we need something a little larger! In this day and age where retina displays and 1200dpi printers are becoming more and more common a maximum of 2000 pixels wide is just not cutting it. I have managed to print some pretty good looking boards (24x36) with the cloud renderings but the pixelizing is very noticeable. Therefore, if you require a 150 to 300dpi image and need some serious detail (even when zoomed) then you may have to stay inside Revit.
Still No Pay-Per-Render
There is still any sign of a pay-per-render or subscription offer from Autodesk. I know... I know... If you are a subscription user you get it all to use ... But, is everyone on subscription yet? I guess Autodesk hopes so.