I found my self in need of faster Cycles rendering for a complex animation I'm working on, and I wondered if I can cheat with baking since my scene is completely static with camera movements. Unfortunately, all baking tutorials and examples are dealing with completely diffuse surfaces. I needed both dynamic glossy reflections and glass materials for animation and they don't bake very well.
So I started experimenting and found out that I only need to bake diffuse direct and diffuse indirect passes and use material nodes to recreate materials in half-baked form. Color coming from texture or RGB node, and lighting from combined direct and indirect diffuse passes. All glossy and refractive components remain unbaked. And I was surprised to see how effective this is. Once all object are baked, I reduced render times 7.5 times, which is impressive. Apparently glossy and transmission passes don't take up much of processing power as diffuse passes in scenes like this.
Baked result ended up looking more noise free at 100 samples than original render looked like at 300 samples. #Blender #b3d #Cycles #Blender3D