What is a Render Farm

Rend It | 31 March 2022

Table of content:

Many of you have heard about “Render farms”, but unless you are a designer or animator you probably don’t know what it means.

T.L.D.R. version is that “Render Farm” is a group or cluster of computers linked together to calculate (render) computer generated images (CGI). Most of you have seen such images in animations, film visual effects or in architect`s presentations.

What does rendering image mean

When a designer creates a 3d image it usually starts with just a wireframe sketch. In this sketch, the artist outlines the form and position of the objects, and if any movements or transformation will occur. This sketch is called wireframe, because the objects in it only have a shape outlined with something that looks like chicken wire or if the designers prefer they only have monochromatic texture. This is done, because, if all of the textures and materials are applied when you edit the image еvery change you make will have to recalculate how lighting will affect it , where the shadows go, (refractions of light), etc. and that costs a lot of computing resources. Well, the process of finally adding those textures, calculating light and shadows,(reflections and refractions) and other contributing factors to the final image or animation is called “Rendering image”.

Blender has a shorter answer – Rendering is the process of turning a 3D scene into a 2D image.

Picture of servers split in half - left half showing pre render - right side showing after rendering.

What is a render farm and why do you need it

As mentioned above, applying textures, lighting, shadows and all of the things needed for the final picture to look good (and photorealistic) is very hard and requires a lot of computing resources. Depending on the scene complexity, this could take minutes or even hours to render. And this is for a single image. Animations require 25 frames (images) for every second, (and in some cases 60 frames). Now with simple math, we can calculate that if a complex scene requires 3 hours to render 1 frame at 25 frames per second (FPS) it will need 25×3=75h for a single second (of animation). Most animations have a runtime of 1h30m or 5400 sec. Again, simple math – 5400x75h=397 500 h or 16 562.5 days to render on a single workstation.

This is where “Render farms” come in. They are data/server centers specialized in rendering animations or complex scenes. They can help you by distributing this load to many servers (nodes) for parallel rendering. This will significantly reduce the render time.

Different types of render farms

Most “Render farms” come in two varieties: self build and cloud based.

Self build – This is the situation where an artist or studio uses their computers to do the job. This is good for small project, but for larger project you will need a lot of computers, plus you will need the expertise to link them together and one other downside is that, your computers will be unusable during the process.

Collaborative – this is a type of render farm, where you let others use your PC when it is idle, in exchange they let you use theirs, this way you combine your computing power so it does the jobs faster. This used to be a lot more common back in the days, but now with growing concerns of data privacy and long wait times they are mostly a thing of the past.

Cloud based hosting – In this instance you rent dedicated servers and you install all of the software you need on it. This is cheaper than commercial “Render farms”, but it will require some time and expertise to set up, but after that it is the same as the next entry.

Commercial Farms – This is cloud based service, which is streamlined for rendering and is made easy to use for everyone.

How much does it cost to run a render farm

This is a complex question . It depends on the hardware you buy, the software you license, the price of electricity in your area, the rent you pay and many other factors. Basically running your own “Render farm” is not a cheap endeavor and is time consuming, too. This is where Cloud “Render farms” may help you.

What advantages do cloud render farms offer

They save time: If you have a project with a close deadline and your computers can’t render it in time, you can speed the process by using one.

They are cost effective: As mentioned above, running your own “Render farm” is expensive and time consuming. With cloud “Render Farm” removes the upfront cost for purchasing the servers, the cost of hiring staff to maintain it, and licensing fees.

They are easy to use: Most of them have software that makes using them only require one or two steps.

They minimize risk: Running your pc’s with this kind of intensive task can make them overheat. Or your power may go out during the night and stop the process. And if this is toward the end of the project this can lead to huge problems or even monetary repercussions. By using “Render farm” you minimize this kind of risk, because they have redundancy and experienced workers who deal with this type of problems.

Support: Most “Render farms” have a support team that can help you with any technical difficulties that may arise during the process.

How much does it cost to rent a render farm

Here at MaXCloudON`s – Rend-it we aim to provide service, which gives full predictability in terms of prices. All our services are fully prepaid. The clients are served on a first-in-first-out basis. The user rents the whole server with full access and control over it.
Our billing is based on a weekly/monthly fee with predefined price for our AMD and Intel dedicated servers with no additional or unpredictable bills at the end of the billing period.
We have additional services like renting additional storage spaces, but this is discussed with our team before the actual start of the service and at an agreed price.

Because we are sure that what we offer works, we provide 48 hours free trial to a test server with limited performance (to every registered and verified account), so you can test that we have the service we advertise and offer exactly what is described. Also, this server is ideal for setting a “source” image with all preferred software, before subscribing to one of our plans – this source image can be deployed at multiple servers afterwards and save you the time configuring many servers manually.

And as a bonus I will leave you a link to a wiki page explaining the origin of the term “Render Farm” – hint it involves overalls and “harvesting” CD-roms 🙂

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