I have create a very basic blender scene with Suzanne and a modified cube with no UVs and only basic materials. The scene contains about 3 emissive lights.

Using the cycles rendering engine, when rendering the exterior scene (3 lights, Suzanne and cube), blender takes 55 seconds.

Exterior Scene

However when rendering inside of the cube which contains only 1 emissive light, it takes 3 minutes and is relatively slower. Why is it so?

Inside of Cube

Even the empty inside of Suzanne which contains nothing takes longer time. Why so? Am I doing something wrong or is it natural?

enter image description here Note: All the scenes are rendered with exactly the same settings and 6 samples

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ When outside, most rays don't hit much and just go off into the sky. Indoors all the rays bounce around and around, which takes much longer to calculate and tends to result in more noise. $\endgroup$
    – gandalf3
    Commented Jun 29, 2015 at 1:33
  • $\begingroup$ @gandalf3 That makes a lot more sense. Thank you. I tinkered around with light path bounces in the settings and do get faster results. But I probably think blender could have much more optimizations built-in $\endgroup$
    – Swoorup
    Commented Jun 29, 2015 at 3:23
  • $\begingroup$ The latest build has the addition of portals for interior lighting. Using them greatly reduces calculations as all the rays from the environment are collected via the portal and better contribute to the final integral. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 29, 2015 at 8:24

1 Answer 1


In outdoor scenes most rays don't bounce much and just fly off into the sky.

In indoor scenes almost all the rays will end up reflecting around up to the maximum number of bounces. Not only does this often mean more noise, but also slower rendering (more ray intersection calculations etc.)

You can speed this up a little by reducing the number of bounces. You can also try and reduce noise by using MIS and non-mesh lamps where appropriate.


Note that in 2.75 cycles will have Light Portals, which can be used to guide rays through openings. This is useful for indoor scenes lit by an outside source.

To set up a light portal, add an area lamp which covers an opening (e.g. a window), then enable Portal in the lamp settings:

enter image description here

The direction matters, the lamp should be pointing into the interior.

Portals will actually make sampling slower, but converge the scene with far fewer samples. So much so that if you reduce the sample count, you can get less noise with fewer samples and a shorter render time than if you didn't use portals:

enter image description here

enter image description here

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks a lot. This helps me understand the essentials a lot better! $\endgroup$
    – Swoorup
    Commented Jun 29, 2015 at 21:27

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