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In Depth: Render Farms

In Depth: Render Farms

Updated June 17, 2016, with updates on Thinkbox Deadline and Qube!

Setting up a Render Farm

Creating the right storage and management can be a challenge but it's important to get that in place first. There are tons of resources out there but I'm keeping this short and sweet. If you have a great resource, let me know

How to Create an Open Source Render Farm for Windows 

This is a French and English translated website that explains how a network was set up using Afanasy as a render farm manager.

English | French

How to build your own render farm

Artstechnica explains how to network a lot of dumb computing muscle in a fast efficient render farm.

Read more.

Render Farm Management

There are MANY options out there. Here are but a few. Let me know if there's something really great that I'm missing and I'll add it to our list.

ButterflyNetRender

ButterflyNetRender is a popular network rendering controller for Lightwave, Maya, Messiah Studio, Modo, 3DSmax, XSI, Digital Fusion, After Effects, Cinema 4D and more…

Learn more

 

AE Render

Users of After Effects can network render with AE Render, a command-line program. 

Learn more from After Effects Help

aescripts + aeplugins BG Renderer Pro for After Effects

BG Renderer can help make network rendering easier. There is a new portable app/folder feature that makes it easy to create an ad-hoc render farm quickly by simply copying this portable app to all the machines on your network and just double-clicking it to launch the render on that machine.

Learn more

Buddyrender 

BuddyRender is not a traditional render farm manager, it's a set of tools which allows you to build a private render farm in a modern way so you can access it from anywhere and even share it with anyone you decide. It works with Autodesk 3ds Max, Maya, Sketchup, Rhino, Adobe After Effects, MAXON Cinema 4D, Blender & Chaos Group VRay. There are single nodes with a server license, but they also have up to 100 render nodes available, so you can just get what you need or expand.

Learn more – There's also a rental version available.

Pixar's Tractor

After publishing the article, Matt Silverman got in touch with me to recommend Tractor. He said, “It’s surprisingly inexpensive and bullet-proof (i.e. good enough for Pixar is good enough for me), but requires a smart Python person to set it up. We wrote custom submit scripts for direct queuing from AE, Nuke, C4D, Houdini, Handbrake, and others…” Perhaps they will build create a product in the future so that others can buy and use it too. Perhaps…

More info on Pixar's Tractor

Überware Smedge 

Render farm management software. You can use Smedge for free with no license installed on up to 4 machines. Smedge can be used to control After Effects, CINEMA 4D, 3DS Max, Houdini, NUKE, Maya, and much more…. anything else that you can control from the command line. 

Learn more

Thinkbox Deadline

Thinkbox, the maker of Krakatoa, have a render farm management system known as Deadline. Thinkbox has made changes to the most recent version of Deadline, with usage-based licensing. This is great news!

Learn more | Download Deadline

Autodesk Backburner

Backburner is “a background rendering network system that allows animation scenes to be rendered by many computers working collectively on the same network.”

Learn more

More Info For NUKE

RenderPal – Set up your own NUKE render farm quickly and easily

Network Render Backburner – This is a simple send Nuke script files to Autodesk Backburner. 

Render Farm Integration (Concept) from The Foundry, NUKE Python Developers guide: Every render manager works in a different manner and facilities’ requirements for their pipeline integration vary, so here is a very brief example describing the basic concept of integrating a render manager.

Plug-ins and Software on a Network Rendering System

Companies have many different policies about using their plug-ins and software on networks/render farms. If you need to get plug-ins for a couple of computers that I will use for rendering purposes only, do you have to pay full price? We have a list of companies and their policies for using their plug-ins on a rendering machine if you only own one license for the plug-in. Some are free for render nodes, others have discounted render nodes, some limit the numbers. Some do not have any sort of render node policy.

If you're a developer and your information is out of date or needs to be added, please email Michele at Toolfarm. 

ABSoft Neat Video

Neat video: Full license purchase must be made for each render use. Multi-user licenses available.

Adobe

A single-user license allows you to install and activate the full version of After Effects on two computers, but users can stall an unlimited number of After Effects CC render engines on computers without using these two activations.

See installing After Effects CC render engines with Adobe Creative Cloud

ArtVSP

ArtVPS Shaderlight Network Licensing

Boris FX

  • Boris FX, Inc. Continuum Complete – Free to Customers on Latest Version

Chaos Group

Universal Render Nodes for V-Ray for 3ds Max, V-Ray for Maya (available in v3), and V-Ray for Softimage

Digieffects

Render nodes are free for all Digieffects products.

Digital Anarchy

Free install on all render-only computers

Digital Film Tools

Tiffen Dfx and Digital Film Tools software is setup for free rendering on render farms. When a user is using an After Effects Render node to render a project that contains Dfx or DFT filters, no license is needed for rendering on the Render node machines.

Licenses are only needed if the full GUI version of After Effects is running.

E-on Vue

e-on License Server
e-on Vue 13 (2015) RenderNode License
e-on Software CloudFactory Ozone Network Rendering License

Frischluft

Free install on all render-only computers

GenArts

Render licenses are free to customers on the latest version, and you may install the full version on any number of “render only” machines. 

GenArts wondertouch pIllusion AE is free for render-only machines. It does not need to be activated as long as the project that is being rendered was saved with a licensed (activated) version of pIAE.

The Foundry

MODO – Free Render license. See Network Rendering Step by Step in the Help files at The Foundry.

NUKE Render-only $460

Cara VR Render licenses – You need one if you want to render through a farm, but you do not need a rendering license if you are working on a pipeline without network rendering.

MAXON CINEMA 4D

Broadcast and Visualize come with 3 Network Rendering Clients, while the Studio bundle provides unlimited Network Rendering Clients.

Pixelan Software

Free install on all render-only computers

Red Giant

Red Giant and Trapcode have a 5 for 1 policy. With the purchase of each single-user license, you may install the software on 5 render-only machines at no additional charge. If your render farm has more machines than 5 per license purchased you are required to buy more licenses to accommodate the render farm. Render-only machines are those never used for front-end work, they sit on a rack or do not have a monitor attached and are used for rendering only, we appreciate you respecting our licensing policies. For example:

  • Buy 1 license 1 workstation, 5 render-only machines (or nodes)
  • Buy 2 licenses up to 2 workstations, Uup to 10 render-only machines (or nodes)
  • Buy 10 licenses up to 10 workstations, up to 50 render-only machines (or nodes)

NOTE: If you have more than 5 render-only machines per workstation (i.e. 5 workstations and 50 render-only machines (or nodes), you are required to purchase additional full licenses to accommodate you render farm.

Below is a list of products and how each is installed on the render-only machines.

Red Giant Software Magic Bullet Suite, Red Giant Software Primatte Keyer, Red Giant Software Knoll Light Factory – These products come with a faceless render-only version of software, this can be installed on each render only machine and does not require a serial number.

Red Giant Software Instant 4K, Red Giant Software Key Correct Pro, Red Giant Software Magic Bullet Colorista, Red Giant Software Composite Wizard, Red Giant Software Image Lounge – You may install the full version on your render-only machines, these require a serial number for installation. You will use the same serial number that came with the product for each of the 5 render-only machines installed.

RE:Vision Effects

Custom quotes made for render-only licensing based on the number of render stations.

Synthetic Aperture Policies

Free install on all render-only computers

Tiffen

Tiffen Dfx and Digital Film Tools software is setup for free rendering on render farms. When a user is using an After Effects Render node to render a project that contains Dfx or DFT filters, no license is needed for rendering on the render node machines. Licenses are only needed if the full GUI version of After Effects is running.

Trapcode

Red Giant and Trapcode have a 5 for 1 policy. With the purchase of each single-user license, you may install the software on 5 render-only machines at no additional charge. If your render farm has more machines than 5 per license purchased you are required to buy more licenses to accommodate the render farm. Render-only machines are those never used for front-end work, they sit on a rack or do not have a monitor attached and are used for rendering only, we appreciate you respecting our licensing policies. For example:

  • Buy 1 license 1 workstation, 5 render-only machines (or nodes)
  • Buy 2 licenses up to 2 workstations, Uup to 10 render-only machines (or nodes)
  • Buy 10 licenses up to 10 workstations, up to 50 render-only machines (or nodes)

All Trapcode products: Install the plug-in the normal way on each machine in the render farm.

Due to the unique nature of the Nuke market, we do sell Particular for Nuke render nodes individually, an exception to our render only policy.  We apologize for any confusion this causes.

Video Copilot

Video Copilot Optical Flares: Each Optical Flare license can be installed on up to 5 render-only machines, though unique license files will be required, and is dealt on a case by case basis.

Video Copilot Element 3D: It is possible to use Element on a network render farm but we do not recommend or support it because inconsistencies of GPU rendering. Since Element renders with impressive speed on a single GPU it is ideal to pre-render any 3D elements before pushing to the render farm.

Zaxwerks

Zaxwerks allows two installs (for instance, a desktop and laptop) with one copy active at a time.

Zaxwerks 3D Invigorator Classic: does not work across a network

Cloud Rendering

If you don't have the computers to do your own render farm, cloud rendering could be an option. Cloud rendering is using someone else's computers to do the processing. You send your scenes and they send you the rendered frames back. Some services have private machines if you have worries about your content being seen or released online without your permission. There are a lot of services available so shop around and get some customer feedback if you're looking at cloud rendering. There doesn't appear to be many that support After Effects for now, but I'm sure that will be changing in the near future.

Zync Cloud Rendering

This renderer uses the Google Cloud Platform. Todd Prives who you may have known from GenArts is now working with Zync. Todd says, “All new accounts come with $300 in credit over the 1st 2 months, which gets you over 600 hours of rendering on a 4 core machine.” You need a Google account to use the service and they have 24-hour support. Right now, Zync supports VRay 2 & 3 for Maya 2014, 2015, and 2016; Arnold 1.1 & 1.2 for Maya 2014, 2015, and 2016; Renderman 19 & 20 for Maya 2016; Nuke 7, 8, and 9, as well as GenArts Sapphire. I have a feeling they will be supporting other hosts very soon. You can contact Todd if you would like more information.  Learn more

Render Rocket

Supports Maya, 3ds Max, V-Ray and Cinema 4D and will do a free test render for you. Learn more

Fox Renderfarm

This service renders 3ds Max, Maya, RenderMan, V-Ray and Arnold. Learn more

Rebus Farm 

A friend of mine recommended this service and said he had very good luck with it. It supports 3ds Max, Softimage, Lightwave, Maya, Maxwell, Blender, Cinema 4D, and Modo. Learn more

Rendicity

Supports Maxwell Render and Blender. Learn more

Pipeline FX Qube!

One of our customers emailed me, recommending this one. “Came across your “In Depth: Render Farms” feature – saw a note in there to let you know if you missed anything. My client – PipelineFX – actually makes Qube! and they are widely used across a lot of industries, by a lot of well-known names (BBC, Deluxe, DHX Media, Electronic Arts, Ford, Google, HBO, Hasbro, Image Engine, Mackevision, Method Studios, MPC, NBC Sports, etc.).” Learn more

Note: Toolfarm does not take responsibility for the accuracy of the above policies. Please send us an email should you have any questions.

Posted by Michele Yamazaki