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An Introduction to Online Render Farms

Simply put, rendering is a process that is used to draw and/or add details to digital images through computer software. Depending on the requirements of the project, the complexity of the rendering process increases with the variety of elements present. A 3D model for instance, contains a 3D outline, 3D polygons for structural body, texture, lighting and a variety of other elements. Groups of high-performance computers, referred to as render farms, are employed to handle so complex rendering requirements. 

In order to promote better understanding, here is a brief introduction to render farms:

What Is a Render Farm?

Rendering is an inherently resource intensive process. When it comes to rendering more complex images, like those used in animated films, a single computer, no matter how powerful it is, is inadequate. This gives rise to the need for render farms, which, as mentioned above, is a cluster of high-performance machines all networked together to and built purposely to render complex computer-generated imagery.

The render farm consists of a main computer that has responsibilityfor assigning various tasks to the other computers called nodes in the network. The main computer carries out “task assignment” through a software application called the Queue Manager or the render management software. This combined system works on parallel computing, where each node executes separate tasks simultaneously.

Depending on the complexity of the rendering to be executed, the jobs assigned to the nodes can vary according to the full image, a layeror a sequence of the model under construction. The Queue Manager also keeps a check and balance on the quality of the task performed, and if it is not up to the mark, it can fix it accordingly.

How Is It Different From a Super Computer?

A render farm expands on a gradual basis, depending on the complexity of the duties to be executed. VFX businesses do not generally start off by purchasing thousands of computers in one go. As the business grows, it expands gradually with the addition of more computers for rendering. A render farm starts small and eventually develops and grows over time.

On the other hand, a super computer is a system that focuses on predefined tasks that require high-speed computations. Upgrades can be made with the passage of time, but the fact they already “start” by performing multiplex tasks makes them different from render farms that start small and gradually expand. Additionally, this option is more cost-effective compared to super computers.

What Is an Online Render Farm?

An online render farm is based on cloud computing. It is the most feasible option to consider. Outsourcing to a render farm based on cloud computing is not only efficiently controlled, it is also cost-effective as it allows business owners to save a great deal on hardware space and maintenance costs. Additionally, these companies provide a project-by-project policy, making one liable to the payment of the project in question only.

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