What is a render farm and how it works?
Behind every jaw-dropping animated film, VFX shot, architectural showcase or ad that contains 3D elements are powerful workhorse machines, tirelessly churning out the frames that make the sequence. More often than not, these machines are a part of a render farm. So what is a render farm, exactly? A render farm is a host of computers, commonly referred to as “nodes” that are instructed by a management software to perform the calculations necessary to convert your 3D scene into frames. Because a complicated scene could take hours or more to produce a single frame, a render farm sets each machine to render each frame in a sequence simultaneously. So if you were to make a 10-second animation at 30 fps, and each frame took roughly an hour to render on your personal workstation,
you could send off your project to a render farm that could render 100 of your frames at the same time. Leaving you to continue using your own machine while your render completes in around 3 hours, thanks to your frames rendering in batches of 100. The bigger the render farm, the more machines are available to render your frames. Some services like AWS allow you to configure your own farm and essentially rent nodes. Some farms are set up in-house and are often smaller scale solutions for studios and freelancers who don’t mind maintaining a farm themselves. Other farms are usually cloud-based third-party services, which store your project, its assets and frames on a dedicated file server. they would usually provide you with a plugin that will prepare your scene, upload it, and download the resulting frames. You then get to track the progress of your job either through that very same plugin, or a web-based dashboard that lists your jobs. But there are caveats to this otherwise powerful solution to your rendering needs. Many things can go wrong when rendering over a network. You may have rendered frames on a farm only to realize none of them are usable. Different farms have different refund policies, but it’s important to keep an eye on your jobs to avoid any unnecessary costs Of course, there are farms with a more involved support system. Legend has it one even has a 24/7 support team of experts, who will not only watch your scenes for you but even attempt to troubleshoot them as soon as an error occurs.