In Depth: Render Farms / Network Rendering, 2018 Edition

In Depth: Render Farms / Network Rendering, 2018 Edition


In 2015 we produced a very popular article on Render Farms and Network Rendering. A lot has changed since then, so this is a followup with new information.

  • Setting Up a Network Rendering for After Effects
  • Network Rendering with Render Garden
  • Cinema 4D Team Render
  • Autodesk BackBurner for Autodesk Maya, 3ds Max, Flame, and more
  • Chaos Group V-Ray V-Ray Swarm
  • Digital Rebellion Pro Render
  • Aeriform Ramma
  • Plug-ins and Software on a Network Rendering System


Updated: 29 January 2018 with Ramma information and RenderGarden news.

Read original article: In Depth: Render Farms originally published in October 2015. Although these items are all a couple of years old, there is still a lot of useful information that will work with current systems.

The idea of network rendering is to distribute your render over a network, or farm, of computers, to speed up your render times. This can be done in many different programs with a myriad of different setups, so it isn’t as straight forward and clear cut as I’d like it to be.

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 so this will be a page of resources more than actual instructions. If you have a great resource, let me know

Setting up Network Rendering for After Effects


aerender is a command line rendering set up for After Effects. The aerender application can be used for running a render farm on multiple computer and it can also be used for batch operations on one computer. There’s a full section about Automated Rendering and Network Rendering in the Adobe After Effects User Guide and comes with After Effects. Network rendering works best on a very fast network with rapid connectivity to storage devices.

You’ll need all the plug-ins

How to Setup After Effects CC 2017 Render Farm (Network Rendering)

Ty Audronis explains how to set up a render farm properly. He says not to mix up Macs and Windows on your network. Stick to just one OS due to problems with plug-ins.

Network Rendering with RenderGarden

Rendergarden is a script for After Effects that will help you increase your render speeds on one machine but also lets you render faster with hyper threaded rendering on each network render node. Plus, you do not need to have Creative Cloud serialized to run aerender. Simply follow the directions above to enable Render-Only mode for aerender, which doesn’t require you to sign into your Adobe account.

Network rendering features of RenderGarden

  • Grid multiple computers together on your network.
  • Render QuickTime/AVI Movies or Image Sequences.
  • Hyper-threaded Rendering supported on each render node.
  • Easy to set up. No custom scripting or network config.
  • Unlimited Render Node licensing.

Read: Toolfarm Introduces RenderGarden Plug-in for Dramatically Faster Rendering in Adobe After Effects

Review: RenderGarden accelerates After Effects renders

Get RenderGarden  |  More Info  |  Free Trial

RenderGarden newsUpdate: RenderGarden v1.1 for After Effects – Now with Done Alert Option

Nexrender rendering Node

Nexrender is a tool for render automation for Adobe After Effects that also allows users to set up a render network and render several projects simultaniously.

Download at github   More info at NPM



Team Render Cinema 4D

Team RenderI wrote up a feature in December, C4D Spotlight: Setting Up A Render Farm in Cinema 4D with Team Render, which was what actually prompted me to update this article. In the article, I talk about how Team Render replaced Net Render in R15 and that Team Render is fully integrated into Cinema 4D, making it very easy to set up a network render.

autodeskAutodesk BackBurner for Autodesk Maya, 3ds Max, Flame, and more

Autodesk Backburner is a free render manager from Autodesk that allows Autodesk users to network render. It’s for Mac, Windows, and Linux.

Download Backburner

Read more about Backburner

BackBurner 2017 for Maya Setup and execution in a Computer Lab

VrayChaos Group V-Ray V-Ray Swarm

V-Ray Swarm is an evolution from Distributed Rendering (DR) for V-Ray. “Swarm gives users the ability to capture all the compute power of their local network and render using either the CPU or GPU. It can be used for final frame rendering or progressive rendering, and will drastically speed up workflow allowing for more design iterations and feedback.”

Learn more about V-Ray Swarm Distributed Rendering

Distributed Rendering for V-Ray 3ds Max

Distributed Rendering for V-Ray for Maya

Pro AdminDigital Rebellion Pro Admin

Not exactly a render farm tool or a tool that you render with in any way, but it will help with syncing plugins, maintaining, optimizing and troubleshooting over a network for Final Cut Studio, FCPX, Avid, and Adobe Premiere Pro!

Learn more | Buy Digital Rebellion Pro Admin

RAMMAAeriform Ramma

Ramma is not a tool to help with setting up your render farm, per se, but I’m including it because its purpose is to spot corrupt, dropped, or non-contiguous frames in rendered sequence and it works over a network. This could save you from so many render headaches!

“Intended for post production professionals—large facilities as well as smaller or indie shops—producing motion graphics, visual effects, colour grading or other video and animation work, working with Autodesk, Adobe, Foundry, Blackmagic Design, Maxon or any products that render to image sequences.”

Learn more | Buy Ramma

See also:

The Importance of Image Sequences


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.


A single-user license allows you to install and activate the full version of After Effects on two computers, but users can install 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


ArtVPS Shaderlight Network Licensing

AXYZ Anima

Render Farm Support – AXYZ offer credit for RebusFarm, Ranch Computing, Renderflow, RenderNation to all new anima customers.

Blackmagic Design

Fusion Studio – Distribute your render jobs across an unlimited number of networked computers for incredible performance, at no additional cost! There’s no “per node” render license fees. Simply install it on as many render nodes as you need!

Boris FX – Continuum, Mocha, Sapphire

  • Boris FX, Inc. Continuum Complete – Free to Customers on Latest Version. Render node license support in software via RLM floating licensing server.
  • Mocha Pro – A new Render License option allows users to render projects on a networked render farm or different workstation without taking up a full license.
  • Sapphire – Free to Customers on Latest Version. Both your interactive license and render nodes to the most current version, or install an older version on your workstation and render nodes

Chaos Group


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 RenderNode License


Free install on all render-only computers


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

Next Limit

Pixelan Software

Free install on all render-only computers

Red Giant / 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)

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.

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.

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

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 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

Posted by Michele Yamazaki