I guess in a way, it’s comforting to know that even Tiny’s mind can be blown.
There’s definite advantages to rendering the entire scene myself as opposed to just the characters (and certain elements) and then pasting that onto an existing backdrop. Not only does light and shadow generally become much more consistent, but there’s also a greater possibility to directly interact with existing surroundings since I know exactly where element is.
On the other hand.. it’s far more costly in terms of setup time; thankfully I managed to get the environment pre-textured this time around so I didn’t have to spend time doing that (as it takes forever), but as a strange side effect.. there were some strange issues with lighting and shading which meant I had to switch back to the older rendering engine to avoid the worst of it. Conveniently, for once, it was actually rendering the scenes faster. Still, it also meant I tried a few new things in lighting, notably using a Skylight (two, actually) to provide ambient lighting instead of having to place light sources everywhere. I think in general it’s a better solution; unfortunately, it also means I’ll have to turn it down or off if I want a really dark shadow somewhere.