I am directing a series of animations in Blender in which the camera floats around dimly-lit rooms to reveal its contents.
The scenes are usually lit only by a couple of elements in the room, usually neon lights or emission objects, and usually contain transparency or reflection objects which are necessary to the scene.
Here is one example scene:
This image is the scene rendered as a single image, without too much noise 1000 samples at 50% of the default 1920 x 1080 resolution:
This render took 50 minutes. Since the animation is 180 frames long, rendering it with these settings would take:
180 * 50 minutes = 6.25 days
This is obviously too long, especially since ideally I would like to make animations longer than 180 frames, add more reflection or transparency objects, and even render at 100% someday. (The result is 2 days on my other computer, which is still a little too long for me). Lower amount of samples (i.e. 300) are faster but obviously produce grainier results.
I've read many questions about this problem, both on Stack and elsewhere, and watched several tutorials, but most of them mostly recommend adding light sources to the scene, or disabling transparency/reflections or other modifications which I think would denature the scene. I tried changing the Exposure, the emission strength, and other settings but it never really kept the scene's mood right.
I even considered just switching to another render engine, but feel that I need advice about that.
My question is: is it possible to render this scene in HD, and with as little grain as possible?
Please post examples of the results you get and how you achieved them.