Laythrom Media is now starting to post regular video tutorials on YouTube. Videos about Autodesk programs, Adobe Programs, and others are being uploaded on a regular basis. Feel free to check them out and don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel in order to get notified about new content.
Information about Render Farms
Recently, due to our post about different renderers, we’ve gotten some questions in lieu of render farms and rendering services. Let’s try to lay some stuff out for you guys.
First let me say this, if you are trying to do animations and/or photorealistic images, we know that you’re going to want a good output without dropping a lot of money. With that being said, I personally would stay away from HP, Dell and IBM servers (unless you find them used for cheap). They are almost always overpriced for what they are/can handle. Boxx Technologies out of Texas has really good workstations and render platforms for an okay price.
Render Server Setup
Dual Xeon 6 core processors @ 3.2 GHz
64 GB DDR3 1366 Ram
2 TB Hard Drive
You can also go the route of taking older PCs (instead of chucking them into the garbage) and use them as a hodge podge farm. If you are working for a company that is just getting into animations or photorealistic images, you can also utilize any and all workstations on the network when they’re not being used.
Render Cueing Software
Let’s face it, if you’re going to be doing this hardcore, software like Maya’s “Backburner” can cut it but is not really suggested. From personal experience, it doesn’t seem like AutoDesk really supports Backburner. Out of all software that I’ve tried, Qube seems like the only decent cueing software out there (IMO). Check them out.
Third Party Rendering Service
I have generally had bad (well not really good) experiences with these services. I have managed to crash (error out) jobs using very high mental ray settings with RenderTitan (not to mention their buggy GUI interface). RenderRocket was just bad period. Now on the other hand, one that did fairly well was Rebusfarm.
The downside to some of these services (which require some research) is that some of them require a minimum purchase of X amount of credits (or CPU hours). This can be problematic when you have small jobs (or just a small job for that matter) and you have to invest a minimum of $200 worth of credits before you can do anything. Some of the services out there will allow you to purchase smaller quantities.
What do we use?
Without giving up too much information about our farm, I can say that we are running 1 HP ProLiant server, 1 RenderBoxx from Boxx Technologies and a few Laythrom Custom made render platforms made out of CoolerMaster’s HAF 932 tower. We have a decent amount of processing power and memory, but we’re always upgrading and adding to it. We’re currently looking into Nvidia’s Tesla Cards for more computational power, but we have to test them and make sure that the cards will perform the way that we are wanting. This is a much since each card runs around $1200. We will keep you guys up to date on any tests that we run in the future.
As a final note, one thing that I will bring up that is of great importance [no matter what system or layout you try and run] is heat and noise. Servers produce a lot of heat and noise; you will have to keep this in mind when setting up your farm. You will also have to take into account the amount of electricity that will be used and if your home/business wiring can handle the demand.
Finally have gotten to CGI Rendering…
Not meaning that we’ve never done any 3d modeling or VFX yet; but finally we have had the chance to sit down and shine some input on the different programs and renderers that are out there.
Personally, we typically use Autodesk Maya for any CGI that we create [second place is 3ds Max Design]; we have been using it for some time now and hell, we like it.
But on to actual information related to the title at hand…
Instead of rendering images on our “Iron Horse” workstation or on a farm (Render Farm), I actually decided to use one of our laptops that we use in the field at times [for scripting, live view, story boards, etc]. I did this mainly because I have seen many indie filmmakers using laptops vs workstations due to portability reasons; so please keep in mind that any listed render times are for reference only [the times will be different but the ratio between the different renderers should be close to the same].
PC Laptop Specs and Information:
After digging out one of our most basic laptops [easily purchased from any department store for approximately $500], I then downloaded Cinebench from Maxon specifically for this segment (benchmarking information follows).
Windows 7 Laptop, 64 bit OS
1.60 GHz, Intel Dual Core Processor
6 GB DDR3 Ram
Intel HD (onboard) Graphics; 1366 x 768
Cinebench CPU Score: 1.03 pts
Cinebench OpenGL Score: 5.64 fps
Now after running these tests and chuckling to myself about this laptop’s lack of power [approx. 1/10th of the ability of our Iron Horse workstation), I took one of our UH-60 Blackhawk Helicopter models into Maya and started running the renders.
Obviously, there are several different renderers out there, the ones that we will be touching today follow;
Maya: Software, Mental Ray, Vray, FinalRender
Although we are mainly using Maya for this run through, you have the Software & Mental Ray options for 3ds Max Design and can also obtain the Vray plugin as well as iray, although I am not sure about FinalRender for 3ds Max Design. All of the renderings were rendered out at 640×480 @ 300 dpi resolution, settings were tuned to Production (High) quality and the scenes are identical.
Maya Software Render
Other platform solutions
I was planning on putting the render from Bunkspeed on here, but lets be honest…it’s taking FOREVER on the laptop! As I am writing this it managed to complete 2113 ‘passes’ and has also taken 3 hours (thus far). I will be posting raw renderings from other platforms (such as Cinema 4d, Bunkspeed and 3ds Max (possibly also Softimage) in the future. Hopefully posts like this will help spread the information flow in lieu of rendering for others [including beginners]. I also plan to start posting renderer settings and values for entry, mid-level, and professional production quality as well. If anyone wants to help me add to this plethora of information, let us know.
Due to some light confusion and some emails, let me explain something;
The above renders were setup in a manner with settings that could be used by others with basic PCs. Ultra high settings that output a nice quality photorealistic end result (something that would take 45 minutes to an hour on our farm) is not being compared at this moment. The reason why I mainly did this is because I figured that most hobby users and amateur modelers would not like to wait around for 12-14 hours for just one frame.