What is a Render Farm and How Does it Work

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What is a render farm

The need for top-notch visual content is growing fast, pushing 3D design and animation experts to seek new methods to enhance their work. Render farms represent a major progress in this field, offering a way to produce eye-catching visuals, detailed animations, and complex architectural designs quickly.

In this article, we will cover what a render farm is, how it operates, and its importance in today’s visual content production.

What is Rendering

To truly understand the purpose of a render farm, it is important first to understand the rendering process that it enhances. Rendering transforms a 3D model into a 2D image or animation. This process resembles photography, with light interacting with objects to create an image.

But in rendering, the computer simulates everything. Rendering requires complex calculations to show how materials look in different lights. This includes reflections, shadows, and refractions, contributing to the final computer generated imagery.

What is a Render Farm 

The widely accepted answer is that a render farm is a network of computers working together. These computers, called render nodes, help complete rendering tasks more efficiently than just one local system. A render farm aims to spread rendering tasks across several computers. This allows for the simultaneous processing of different frames or parts of a frame. Spreading out these tasks significantly reduces the time needed for complex calculations and final product creation.

Render farms are used across various sectors, especially in film and TV for visual effects. They’re also used in gaming for making assets and in architecture for photorealistic visualizations. Additionally, they’re gaining popularity in machine learning and deep learning. This is because GPU rendering speeds up model training.

The idea of a render farm isn’t new, but its technology has greatly advanced. Previously, render farms were usually self-built and managed in-house, needing a lot of investment in hardware and running costs. Now, cloud render farms provide a flexible, cost-saving option, letting users rent computing power as needed without the vast initial cost.

3D artists, architects, and animation studios can use render farm services for more than just speed. They provide scalability and the capacity to handle bigger projects impossible with one computer. They also let artists work on other tasks as the rendering happens, optimizing workflow further.

How do Render Farms Work 

A render farm breaks down rendering tasks into smaller, manageable parts, often single frames. These parts are then distributed to individual nodes or several computers on the farm. Each node, a powerful computer designed for rendering, processes the data and sends the outcome back to a central server or the user. A program known as Queue Manager oversees this process. It manages task distribution, tracks progress, and arranges the resources of the render nodes.

A render farm’s efficiency lies in its processing power and managing resources well. By keeping each node busy, idle time is reduced, and rendering speed is increased. Suppose a node faces a technical issue or power outage. In that case, the queue manager redistributes tasks to keep the rendering process going smoothly.

The user finds using a render farm quite simple. They prepare the 3D scene, including assets and settings, and then upload it. The provider’s system then manages task distribution and the rendering. After rendering, the final images or animations are ready for download for your project.

what is a render farm

It’s crucial to remember that you maintain some control over rendering tasks, even as the render farm works hard. Remote access tools provided by many render farm providers let you track progress, adjust, and even cancel or change the order of tasks if necessary. This control is vital for professionals needing to adjust quickly or facing strict deadlines.

Different Types of Render Farms 

Render farms can be categorized into local, remote, and cloud-based. Some users privately manage their own local render farms, which are typically located within their facility. This arrangement provides maximum control since both hardware and data stay on-site. Yet, it demands a significant investment in hardware and continuous upkeep and cooling, which may be challenging for small studios or solo freelancers.

Remote render farms (or commercial render farms) are owned by an external party and accessed through the Internet by users. Users submit their rendering projects to the farm for processing and to get the final output. Using a remote farm can save money compared to having a local one.

However, it might raise issues about control over management and the rendering process. Additionally, there are restrictions on software support and the use of custom scripts. It’s not possible to use custom scripts on remote render farms.

Cloud render farms mark a significant advancement in rendering technology. Hosted in the cloud, these farms offer scalable resources accessible from any location on the internet. They offer all the benefits of local farms without the drawbacks. Users can easily adjust their subscription levels according to their requirements. The advantages include prepaid pricing models and less worry about hardware upkeep and updates.

Rendering farms play a vital role in today’s rendering workflow, quickly providing the necessary processing power for quality renders. To enhance rendering projects, professionals need to know the various render farm types and their operations.

Software and Render Farms 

For 3D designers, animators, and architects, the choice of render software is as critical as the hardware it runs on. Render farms must be versatile enough to support many 3D rendering software applications, allowing users to start the 3D rendering with preferred tools.

This compatibility is essential for maintaining an efficient workflow and achieving the desired quality in the final render.

What Software Can You Use with a Render Farm 

Render farms work with many render software types, meeting the creative industry’s varied needs. They support everything from Autodesk Maya and 3Ds Max to Unreal Engine and Lumion. This adaptability means you can fully use the render farm for architectural rendering, visual effects, or animation.

Integrating a render farm focuses on compatibility and enhancing rendering speed and efficiency. Users see major improvements in rendering time by using render software versions designed for render farms’ distributed computing power.

Cloud render farms also offer the advantage of letting users adjust their rendering settings. Users can add custom scripts, plugins, and specific software for their project’s rendering needs. This customization means the render farm acts like an extension of your computer, offering similar functionality and control as your local system.

How Much Does a Render Farm Cost

The render farm prices can differ greatly due to factors like project size and scene complexity. This includes the specific rendering needs and the render farm’s kind. A cloud-based render farm often uses a pay-per-use system, charging for processing power and time used. This approach is cost-efficient for small studios or freelancers needing strong computing without investing in their render farm.

On the other hand, maintaining your local render farm involves upfront costs – purchasing powerful computers, dedicated graphics hardware, and the necessary infrastructure to support them. While this can be a significant investment for larger projects or studios with a continuous need for rendering power, it may offer long-term cost savings.

Another aspect to consider is saving costs with cloud render farms. Outsourcing rendering to a cloud provider helps dodge hardware upkeep costs. Paying only for resources when necessary leads to better fund management.

Are Render Farms Worth It 

When assessing render farms’ value, consider their numerous benefits. They provide processing power that greatly reduces rendering time, freeing artists to tackle other work or more projects. For big projects, rendering several frames at once or one frame on many render nodes can help meet deadlines instead of missing them.

A render farm offers a more stable rendering experience. Technical support from the provider helps quickly fix issues, enhancing the process. This is especially useful for new users lacking the skills to solve complex problems alone.

For small studios or individual artists, the expense of creating and running a self-built render farm can be too high. VFX cloud rendering services offer a good option, providing benefits without the need for upfront costs. This allows you to allocate resources to other project areas, improve the final product, and possibly save more money over time.

Those services provide benefits that often justify their expense. They offer scalable resources, reduce rendering time, and provide technical support, which allows professionals to finish rendering projects more efficiently. Render farms are helpful for creators of computer-generated images, whether for commercial, personal, or other projects.

MaxCloudON Render Farm: A Superior Choice

Selecting the best render farm provider is crucial for 3D professionals. MaxCloudON is a top choice for a render farm, offering features and services for 3D designers, architects, animation studios, and graphic designers.

Our subscription plans prevent unexpected costs after your subscription concludes.

Advantages of Using MaxCloudON Cloud-Based Render Farm for Your Project

MaxCloudON Render Farm

MaxCloudON render farm’s advantages make it an attractive option for 3D rendering. With unshared CPU and GPU server rentals, you access dedicated resources that ensure consistent performance and rendering speed. This advantage will help you with CPU and GPU rendering tasks that require substantial computing power to produce high-quality computer-generated images.

Let’s see some of our advantages below:

  • Real cloud-based service: With MaxCloudON’s cloud rendering, powerful render nodes are accessible online, avoiding the need for personal hardware investment. This cloud service saves you money and offers scalability and adaptability, letting you modify resource use as project demands change.
  • Cost-savings benefits: The service allows users to save on local system maintenance costs, like power outages, hardware, and other technical issues. Renting servers when needed makes the render farm cost affordable for small studios and freelancers. Also, it benefits large studios and the CGI industry.
  • Dedicated technical support: Our experts assist with all technical problems, ensuring a seamless rendering process. This support is crucial for meeting deadlines and achieving the desired render quality. Initially, MaxCloudON operated as a remote render farm before transitioning to cloud rendering. MaxCloudON’s infrastructure is designed to handle heavy loads and understand the needs of 3D designers and architects in rendering.
  • Focus on rendering and service optimization: Everything, from hardware to network infrastructure, is optimized for the best rendering experience. This solution suits large-scale projects needing a lot of processing power and ensures complex calculations are completed quickly.
  • Rich software compatibility: We let you install 3D render software, custom scripts, and plugins. This customization means you can use familiar tools without adapting to new systems.

All these features make our services an attractive option for professionals aiming to improve their rendering projects for optimal outcomes.

Licensing and Render Farms 

When it comes to utilizing render farms, one of the considerations is the rendering software license.

This aspect is crucial as it directly impacts the legal use of software and the overall cost of the rendering process.

Supported Licencing Models

BYOL, or Bring Your Own License, is a licensing model that allows users to apply existing software licenses to the hardware provided by the cloud render farm. This approach is particularly advantageous for studios and individuals who already have software licenses for their preferred render, as it enables them to leverage the powerful hardware of a render farm without incurring additional licensing costs.

MaxCloudON supports the BYOL model. You can use your licenses with MaxCloudON’s dedicated render nodes, which provide a cost-effective solution for rendering projects.

Final Thoughts  

Render farms are essential for 3D professionals needing to create top-quality renders quickly. MaxCloudON might be your top choice for a render farm, with dedicated resources, cloud rendering, and excellent technical support.

Opting for MaxCloudON, you get a smooth rendering process that boosts your productivity and lets you concentrate on your project’s creative side.


Frequently Asked Questions:

  • What is the difference between classic render farms and cloud render farms?

    The primary difference between classic render farms and cloud render farms lies in their infrastructure, accessibility, and pricing. Classic render farms are typically on-premises solutions requiring significant investment in hardware and space. Cloud render farms, on the other hand, are hosted on remote servers and can be accessed online.

  • What is BYOL (Bring Your Own License)?

    BYOL allows users to apply their existing software licenses to the hardware provided by the render farm, potentially reducing costs.

  • If I need additional licenses, isn’t this going to increase my running cost?

    If you need additional licenses, you will need to get one at the corresponding price regardless of whether you use cloud render farm service as MaxCloudON or run a local farm. Still, if you need a render farm for a limited (or unlimited) time it will be much cheaper to get servers from MaxCloudON.

  • Why don’t you offer render nodes with pre-installed software?

    MaxCloudON provides render nodes without pre-installed software (besides a range of a different operating system) to allow users the flexibility to install any rendering apps, plugins, and custom scripts they need for their specific projects.

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