Normally, when using Blender I always use the internal Blender rendering engine, since it’s so easy and convenient. You don’t have to change anything.
Once in a while, I would use the old Yafray renderer that was included with the program. In that case it was as easy as selecting Yafray from a pulldown menu in the Scene tab.
Unfortunately, Yafray was not being developed any longer and the powers-that-be at Blender decided to drop the renderer from the program, I think at version 2.46 or so.
The latest stable version as of this writing is Blender 2.49b, so there hasn’t been an included alternative renderer for awhile.
So, mostly out of curiosity, I decided to install the successor to the Yafray renderer, which is Yafaray (http://www.yafaray.org/). It turned out to be a little bit of an ordeal, so I decided to write this up in case anyone else had the same issues as me.
First things first, you need to download the Mac OS X renderer from this page (http://www.yafaray.org/download). Now, if you read the documentation notes (http://www.yafaray.org/documentation/install#osx011), you will see a list of instructions.
I wanted to find out what version of Python my machine was running, since they stress that it needs to be version 2.5.1. I have an Intel Mac Mini with Leopard 10.5.8, and I wasn’t sure if it would already have the correct version.
After checking out this page from Python.org (http://www.python.org/download/mac/), it seems all you have to do is open up the Terminal (Applications>Utilities>Terminal) and type “python” in at the prompt. You’ll then get the Python version info spit out for you.
So that’s the first bit done, I had the correct version of Python. The Yafaray instructions also insist that you use a specially compiled version of Blender that uses Python 2.5.1. They say you can find such a version called “custom” at this link (http://www/blender.org/downloads), unfortunately, that link no longer works.
Instead, I checked here (http://www.blender.org/download/get-blender/) and scrolled down to the Mac OS X section. There you should see version 2.49b that says it comes complied with Python 2.5 (not 2.5.1). This was the version I already had anyway, and since I didn’t see any other version that said “custom”, I just decided to work with what I had on my machine.
So at that point I decided to move on. To begin with, they want you to remove old versions of the renderer. I thought I would make sure there was nothing else lurking on my machine that could screw this up. You’ll need to check this folder:
You can’t get to this folder through the Finder, as it’s hidden to prevent the average joe from messing around in there. Instead, you’ll need to use the “Go” menu available in the menu bar of the Finder. Scroll down and select “Go to Folder…“, then paste the above path into the resulting window.
In my case I didn’t see anything in there so I left it alone. I also checked the “/usr/local/lib” and “/usr/local/bin” folders as recommended.
Now I located the Yafaray file I downloaded. After unzipping it I ran the installer package. Now here is where I discovered a problem later. I chose to install the “Exporter->Blender” method, which locates Blender on your machine, and then installs into Blender’s own internal scripts folder.
Unfortunately for me, when I completed the install and fired up Blender, I did not have the Yafaray Export 0.1.1 option in the Render Menu. So I backed up and installed again. Still nothing.
It actually took me a day to figure out that Yafaray was actually installing into the Blender 2.5 Alpha that I had on my machine. That folder was simply named “Blender”, while my 2.49b folder was named “blender-2.49b-OSX-10.5-py2.5-intel“. I changed the 2.5 folder to “Blender 2.5″, then renamed my long named folder to “Blender”. At this point I ran the installer again without even removing any old versions.
Sure enough, when I opened up Blender 2.49b, I got the Yafaray Export 0.1.1 option in the Render Menu. Kick ass. Now that was simple.
Anyway, once I got it installed I played around with it a bit. It’s nowhere near as simple as the old Yafray was. I remember I always had to bring down the power/intensity of my lights because Yafray really intensified everything. Yafaray does this, too, but it’s not as simple as just choosing a renderer.
Once you choose the Yafaray Export 0.1.1 option in the Render Menu, you’ll get a script window with the Yafaray option in it. It’s probably best to split the window here so you can still see your 3D view. Anyway, you have to essentially “match-up” your lights and objects in Blender with corresponding values in the Yafaray engine.
When I just hit “render”, I got a really dark render, as if there were no lights. That’s because I hadn’t matched up my lights yet in Yafaray. The user guide does do a good job of explaining things, so make sure you grab it here (http://www.yafaray.org/documentation/userguide).
As it stands now, I’m really not seeing any obviously superior quality in the renders, but I’m sure that’s mostly because I don’t know all the ins and outs of the renderer just yet.
I have to admit, it’s a bit annoying that these alternative renderers can’t be more integrated into Blender like the Yafray one was, but I suspect that when you’re doing all this work for free, maybe they just don’t have the time and resources to get this done.
Also, with 2.49b as the last stable version, and the 2.5 Alpha already out and sporting significant changes, it’s probably difficult to hit a moving target like that. Hopefully they’re just waiting until the 2.5 build stabilizes to really work that renderer in there.
Still, even with the minor hiccups I had along the way, this was a relatively smooth install compared to others. I’m looking at you LuxRender.
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