What is cloud rendering?

Tuesday, August 10th, 2021

What is cloud rendering?

Cloud rendering is the process of calculating 3D images/animations on a render farm which is incredibly faster than rendering on a single computer system. These render farms are specialized in the calculation of computer generated images (CGI). Next to the speed, cloud rendering has further benefits. Read the full article for more detailed information.

More detailed explanation

Ever get tired of waiting an insane amount of time for your render to be ready? Maybe you have missed a deadline or suffered great stress, just waiting for your computer to finish rendering your masterpiece. There is a much simpler and faster solution - a render cloud.

First of all, let’s recap. Animations and 3D visualizations have to be calculated to define light, shadows, reflections and a lot more - this process is called rendering. As we were saying, this is not a simple or fast process, it requires a lot of computing power and above all, time.

Example of the rendering process

Why render in the cloud?

When you use a render cloud service, the process of rendering your project is several times faster. This rendering-in-the-cloud-service is also called render farm service, which you might have heard before.

render farm consists of many computer systems, specialized in the calculation of 3D images. These systems are called render nodes. Every render node has the required 3D software, the renderer and needed plugins installed to be able to render your projects. Additionally, the hardware is optimized for CPU and GPU rendering. The bigger render farms have up to thousands of render nodes.

Just to give you an example, imagine you have a one-second-long sequence, and it is rendered by 100 render nodes instead of just one local system, 10 days of rendering will shrink to about 2.5 hours.

How does cloud rendering work?

Since a render farm has many render nodes, the frames of a 3D sequence can be calculated simultaneously on all these nodes. This is what makes it possible to reduce the rendering time so much.

For this to work, the render farm has to be in optimal condition, the hardware of the render nodes must always be up-to-date, the software has to be licensed and the render farm needs a complex infrastructure, maintenance and a lot of power. Additionally, fees per frame for various 3D software and renderers have to be paid.

This is where commercial render farms come to light. 3D artists can rent the cloud service and only pay a very small amount of all these costs, while still profiting from really fast cloud rendering.

Where does cloud rendering happen?

There are two types of render farms: self-built and cloud-based render farms (commercial render farms).

If an artist has several computers at his studio, he can use them to complete the rendering. In this case, we're talking about a self-built render farm. Larger studios may use hundreds of self-deployed servers to render a project. However, this requires a high level of technical skills for the setup and maintenance. Further costs arise from the hardware and software licenses, manpower and energy.

With a cloud-based render service, 3D artists enjoy all the advantages of a render farm without the high costs for maintenance, hardware, software and energy. The render cloud/farm is always available and ready to render your projects while saving you a lot of money. Due to the thousands of render nodes, the speed of the rendering process will be so much higher and you are able to use your own computer while your project is rendered in the cloud.

How to start rendering in the cloud?

Commercial render cloud services are very easy and comfortable to use.

First, you need to register with your favorite cloud rendering provider. Usually, they will have software that you have to install. This software integrates into your 3D software, where you create your work, which makes the online rendering very easy.

rebusfarm software integrationExample of RebusFarm’s software integrated into your 3D software

The render farm software checks your scenes for possible errors before they are uploaded to the render cloud. Once uploaded, the scenes are distributed to various render nodes that calculate the frames. Once a frame has been calculated, it is automatically downloaded to your local system.

There are render farms, like RebusFarm, that offer their users a ControlCenter, where they can always check the progress of their rendering, pause or stop it.

rebusfarm control centerA look at RebusFarm’s ControlCenter, where you can monitor your rendering’s process

How much does a render cloud service cost?

Most render cloud services have their own currency. RebusFarm for example uses RenderPoints. To get an overview of how many RenderPoints you will need for your rendering, RebusFarm offers a cost calculator and a render cost estimation (based on a few rendered test frames on the farm).

rebusfarm cost calculatorView at RebusFarm’s Farminizer software with the cost calculation options

What are other advantages of cloud rendering services?

You now see how rendering in the cloud can make your life easier by saving you lots of time and money. Let’s see some other reasons why you should use a commercial render cloud provider:

  • Support – most commercial render farms have a support team to help you with any technical issues that may arise during the rendering process.
  • Minimized risk – rendering on your own computer can cause it to overheat quickly and shut down. This can be a real hassle if this happens to you while you are on a tight deadline. By rendering your project at a render cloud service, you avoid this, since a render farm has experienced technicians who assure that your rendering gets done without any problems.

When choosing the right render cloud provider to use, you should not only pay attention to the costs but also how easy the procedure is, how well you get along with the cloud service’s software and if they have good customer service.

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