I had an feature idea, that might be handy: the ability to automatically render and create an 360 degree environment map from the particular point where the camera is.
In other words, if you were rendering a car, you could pre-render the garage, to make an environment map for it, this result could be exported/imported and applied like any other environment map, then when you render the car, you can just use the environment map, for rendering speed. This might be handy with cityscapes, where you want reflections for the windows of your building–but don’t want to render area of the city, when you don’t need to.
Perhaps this could be done in Grasshopper, though some 2D work would be needed for the process, depending on the enviroment-map type/geometry.
I saw them film one of the later Star Wars films. It seemed that whenever the shot a scene, the held a mirrored ball up, and then photographed it to make an spherical environment map. These maps were used for special effects rendering. Gazing balls could be used for this; theirs was a mirrored ball on a short stick.
The utility would be a little like rending an object, and rendering a depth map to use for a bumpmap or height-map.
[Gazing balls were popular in Victorian times, when intimacy was such that people would put pants on piano legs so they wouldn’t be too provocative. Gazing balls were popular in gardens so that people could catch a glimpse of someone indirectly, leaving their better virtues intact. LOL!]
If you render, and just want to try others than included environment maps, there are some really good ones here, and the are free as in free-beer:
Though, you might want to download different sizes, and use the one that has the minimal size to do the job. They can be seen, or just used as reflections and/or light sources.