This whole Ray Tracing thing has been completely overmarketed by Adobe (sorry guys!). Even *with* a screamin' CUDA card (or two or three!), it's still excruciatingly slow. Mind numblingly, teeth grindingly, eye rollingly slow. CPU only? Go take a vacation to Fiji and it might be done when you return.
I'm calling it "experimental" at this point. It's only for hobbyists who have more free time than common sense.
So back to your question... just pretend that feature doesn't exist.
What Navarro said. Raytracing is positively useless in CPU only mode. It's already slow with a supported card and I'd never even dream of using it in production but you should forget about it without any hardware support. Your time is better spent learning a 3D program like the free Blender, buying Video CoPilot's Element and toying with it, joining the AtomKraft Beta or buying Zaxwerks 3D plug-ins, if you really must have such stuff to satisfy your pleasure.
Slow and frustrating with CPU only. Way too slow. It's usable with a compatible GPU for simple projects, but as Mylenium said, by the time you render 10 seconds of moving glass text with an environment map and reflections on a shiny floor using the CPU you could download Blender (open source = free) watch a couple of tutorials, set up an animation complete with camera tracking, camera mapping, and multiple passes for compositing, render the project in blender, export the Blender project to AE, and complete your shot.
I've only done a few frames CPU as a test. It works, but a complex shot could easily take days to render. I'm sure that this will improve over time, but so will GPU rendering. There will always be a gap between the two.
Navarro, Mylenium, and Rick,
Overmarketed? Yes I am afraid I would have to agree.
After a frustrating month trying to render 3D animation with the Ray-Traced Final setting in Photoshop Ext CS6 only to find out that, due to a bug, it could not be done, I was hoping and praying AE would be the solution to my problem. The back story, as I posted over in the PS Forum:
"When I saw that Photoshop CS6 Extended would allow me to "Intuitively create 3D artwork [and] animate 3D objects", I thought that would be a great way to add pizzazz to my video project without having to shell out additional money for Premiere and/or After Effects. Ordinarily I am not an early adopter, (I like to wait til they get the bugs worked out!) but I went ahead and plunked down my $400 for the upgrade.
To hear that my constant crashes were "a bug in the 3D code that the 3D team is working on" and the fact that that I could create and animate the 3D objects, but I could not output them was extremely discouraging. I spent a solid month of of intensive study on the specific subject of 3D animation in Ps CS6 (what a waste of time that turned out to be!) and many hours troubleshooting this problem. Most importantly, I've done quite a few hours of work creating 3D animations that cannot be rendered and therefore cannot be used, leaving me with no deliverables to my client--meaning no billable hours for me.
So, now, after spending $400 and a solid month pulling my hair out trying to figure out why this was not working, my only choice is to spend another $360 for a year of Creative Cloud, so that I can move my project to After Effects and hope that, unlike Ps CS6, it will work as advertised.
In all fairness, the hours and hours I spent learning 3D animation in Ps may not turn out to be a total waste as it looks like some of it may be applicable to Ae. However, I've been using Adobe software every day, all day long, for the past 25 years, and I have never had an experience this disappointing. Thanks for your help, Chris. Do let me know when there is a fix for that bug, and wish me luck with After Effects."
(I had originally written a much snarkier version, but that only serves to make me feel better momentarily, so I revised and posted the "nicer" version above.)
So now, it appears that AE will not be the solution I had hoped for. . . .
Also, can you tell me if my lack of an nVidia card would slow down the live preview (I think they call it "RAM Preview?") or just the final rendering? In other words, would I be able to work with it and maybe outsource the final rendering?
It's the other way around. You won't be able to get any work done without GPU support as even the simplest change in your scene will render minutes for the current frame. As for the rest - I've said it many times and I'm gonna say it again - Adobe just doesn't understand 3D workflows. All of their attempts to bring 3D to any of their programs over the years have either been half-assed or ill-fated. You just need to look at Director (Schockwave), Flash, Illustrator, Photoshop and finally After Effects as well. They're always too busy polishing the chrome (fancy GPU rendering and whatnot) without getting the basics right (consistent 3D unit handling and navigation, robust rendering under any conditions, integration with existing features) and similarly they are clinging to the illusion (and marketing it this way) that 3D would be simple and could be learned in half an hour. In turn that leads to people like you hitting a wall every time, making what 3D they have ultimately useless because it becomes creatively limiting rather than a tool you can actually use. And from a technical POV they're somehow always betting on the wrong horse. Nobody out there even uses OptiX because frankly, most 3D developers I know think it's crap, so why does Adobe? They could have just done it with OpenGL/ CUDA and crafted something like Video CoPilot's Element, complemented by better scene navigation and people would have been a lot happier. That would really have made a difference. As it stands, with CS6 they have achieved nothing. They're not an inch closer to competing with Nuke, Smoke, Fusion or even 3D programs nor providing better workflows for the legacy 3D layers, cameras and lights just like the raytracing stuff still doesn't give third-party developers a consistent 3D space to work with in their plug-ins. So as Rick said - simply pretend those features don't exist and move on. Maybe CS7 will set things right, maybe we'll have to wait for CS8, maybe we'll sit here waiting for miracles to happen until we rot and our teeth fall out. Who knows?