This is a comparison of rendering with "'ambient occlusion" versus rendering with a light dome.
Both renders in Animation:Master
Ambient occlusion darkens or lightens the surface of a model based on how exposed each point is to the surroundings. Light domes approximate this effect by illuminating the objects from many (hundreds) of different angles. In this case my dome is made up of lights traversing a spiral from the top of a hemisphere to the ground plane.
Ambient occlusion is easier to set up and does its thing on the entire composition, while the light dome must be carefully maneuvered and works on only a finite volume of the 3D space.
However, in this situation the light dome was faster to render; 2 minutes as opposed to 10 minutes for the ambient occlusion render.