Anyone tried James Yonan's "brenda" which uses Amazon instances for rendering?

Anyone tried James Yonan’s “brenda” software which uses Amazon instances for rendering?



If so, were you using Windows and is there anything in the tutorial that needs to be done differently?

I haven’t done it yet, but I watched the Blender Conference and it seems really, really interesting. It can’t really get any cheaper to just use straight Amazon power with no middle hands. It is almost like I feel bad for all the people selling rendering on various websites.
But I suppose they don’t really have anything to fear for as long as it isn’t as easy as a button press to use.

(speking of which, if someone feels like creating an addon or some other simple-to-use service based on brenda where you just enter your amazon credentials, set the maximum price etc and press render, I would be happy to donate to it)

Haven’t tried this yet either, but i started thinking about this with cloud power almost a year ago. Which is why i registered the domain that’s just sitting there doing nothing right now, time to get back on the web design tools and get this running for the community. Also ive been working on my own opengl rendering engine/game engine with a custom build of Embree to try to hack as a bake tool for levels as one of the options for level design if wanted by the user. Now cycles has started to get bake tools it makes sense for me to plug into a tool that my engine and custom Blender build level and asset tool can default to, about time a found a way to use my domain :slight_smile:

Edit, Lol it’s been so long since i even thought about this domain that i just went there to see if still had the standard page to suddenly remember setting up a holding page with exactly the intention of this tool but had forgot id even made the holding page Lol. Well saves me a little time

The tutorial looks daunting but I’ll definitely give it a try at some point. It seems to be Linux/mac specific though so I might have to install Linux just to make sure I don’t reach any dead ends.

Once I’ve mastered it though, it’ll be an EXTREMELY valuable tool :slight_smile:

GustavN: I would be willing to donate to someone slapping a GUI on Brenda and maybe some direct integration with Blender in the future - as long as it’s kept open with no middle man. That would be amazing - Blender would have a plug in which, I would imagine, give it the cheapest cloud rendering in the world (due to no middle man and unlimited render licenses). I wonder if a Kickstarter would be worth looking at?

I have used Amazon instances with Sheep It before. I created a private project and added about 5 spot instances. It meant I didn’t have to wait for my project to reach the start of the queue and, as a bonus I actually earned credits for rendering my own project. It works very well. Unfortunately you are limited to .PNG files, its a 500MB project upload limit and I’m not 100% sure that other users can’t see your preview thumbnails (no good if you are a freelancer).

If I were Sheep it, I would have a pro level subscription which would make your project completely private, render to any file format available in Blender, offer a higher project upload limit and the ability to automatically add Amazon instances at cost. I would definitely use this service for a fair yearly subscription rate.

I just got it to run yesterday. It was hell of configuring and yes, it is only command-line. But compared with Sheepit, where the whole blend-file is stored on each client, (hint: watch your %temp% when working for SheepIt) it’s completely unusable for sensible client-data. That’s why i spent some bucks to render it at amazon. Unfortunately, you are limited to 20 Instances on the spot market and the prices for the on-demand instances are way higher. spot 0,07$ vs. 0,58 USD on-demand. For private Use: SheepIt, for commercial use: Amazon. My opinion

Hi Rubicon,

I got it working in Ubuntu last week and it’s AMAZING!

I think I googled “Amazon instances limit” which brought me to their help page. On that page there is a link to request a higher limit. I asked for 100 and they said yes. I Think its just so beginners don’t accidentally overspend. They ask for a reason and I put that I am a freelance artist and being able to render with lots of instances would give me a competitive edge. Will prob ask for a 1000 in a couple of months.

Can’t really think if any reason to use Sheepit now.

Has someone made a benchmark to test which instances are the best ? Some render times for the BMW or Barcelona scene with cg1.4x / g2.2x / c3.x / c1.x? If not, could someone with an account do a quick test?

Hi rider,
think i found it. It’s a service request ???, Ok whatever, i asked for 1000. We are competitors now :wink:
I’m on Linux Mint 16 btw.
SheepIt is ok for private use but it’s not working on my linux. No idea why.
Let’s see what amazon does with mi christmas wish


Damnit, now I’m going to have to request 2000 instances :wink:

Just had a look in my temp folder while rendering on Sheepit like you mentioned - I didn’t realise the .blend file was so easily available to other users!!! Only really makes it useful for tests and tutorial renders.

Have you tried these lines in your terminal (these are what I used when I ssh’d into EC2 instances running Ubuntu to help render with Sheep it)

sudo apt-get install default-jre

sudo apt-get install libglu1-mesa libsdl1.2debian


java -cp farm-client-3.2.1538.jar com.renderfarm.worker.standalone.FermeDeRendu MYLOGIN MYPASSWORD


James Yonan said that c1.xlarge probably had the best price-performance ratio. You could probably check it’s specs and see if you can find something similar in the benchmark results spreadsheet for the BMW render. If I get time this week I might give it a test. Whats the Barcelona scene?

Hi matali, still haven’t got round to doing this yet but I think it will be very helpful (as people can make an estimate of how much their project will cost to render).

Rubicon: Did you get your 1000 instances?

Hey guys, just ran across this thread and wanted to mention that I’ve been using the Brenda project for some of my rendering jobs. I did some testing a few months back, and was really impressed. It took me about a day to figure out how to install everything, and I also ran into some silly mistakes with paths and filenames etc., but once I got it running it was amazing!

Once you order 300 instances and then they all come online to start working on your job queue it feels pretty darn good!

In my case, I had just previously done a paid render job at Renderstreet, so I was able to re-render it with Brenda for an apples-to-apples comparison. The Renderstreet job took about 6 hours and cost just under $500 (this was a commercial job for client), and the Brenda job (with 300 instances of the c3.xlarge instance type) took about 5 hours and cost about $70. A MUCH better result in my book!

My biggest gripe with it was having to do everything via the command line. I’ve been working on a python gui frontend app that is going to help me streamline my render jobs with Brenda.

Here’s a screenshot of what I have so far. Still lots of work to make it really slick.

I should also mention that currently it’s not easily possible to integrate Brenda into Blender due to the different version of Python in use.

Blender internally is now using Python 3, while Brenda relies heavily on the boto library which currently runs on Python 2.7. Hence the need for a standalone gui app built in Python 2.7. There is a branch of boto (neo) being developed for Python 3, but it’s not complete yet, and I’m not sure how much work it would be to port Brenda over to it.

Regarding the comments about donating to a project, I would be open to that. I do have some experience with crowd-funding as I was the one who ran the Ocean Sim Project a few years back. I was also thinking about selling the app on the Blender Market place, but the biggest hurdle is getting Brenda installed in the first place, this is the pain point of the project. Perhaps I could sell my time as a consultant to help other artists get it up and running, but a better install experience would be much better for everyone involved in my opinion.

If there was some money in it, I could spend more time on it and move faster to research some of these options.

Ha ha, did you charge your client for both renders :slight_smile:

Fantastic work Todd. Brenda seems to get very little attention around here and I can only assume it’s because of the perceived complexity of command line programs. I think a friendly, easy to install piece of software and maybe a little branding would go a HUGE way! Although I bet there are a few companies/freelancers using it on the quiet.

So were you thinking of Kickstarter for crowd-funding? If getting things off the ground means you getting paid for your time then I think you should look into it before James Yonan gets bored of updating his Brenda software.

Imagine a future where, in the little “render” panel of Cycles, the options are “CPU”, “GPU compute” and “EC2”!

The only unfortunate thing is though, the more users of Instances there are, the higher the prices will go :frowning:

@rider_rebooted Ha, thanks. The client actually had to pay for the first expensive one, and the second one was just a comparison test done after the project deadline, so I paid the cost myself.

There are a few challenges with the project. The first is that my gui is just a front end app for the Brenda project, so you still need Brenda installed. It might get to the point where the Brenda code is replaced in my app’s code, but that seems rather redundant.

The second challenge is finding a way to create an install package for Brenda that greatly simplifies the install process. That’s actually the biggest problem with the project, there’s been no work put into simplifying the process. That’s not to discount the work James has already done, which is fantastic. But, as he’s mentioned to me, he only had limited time to put into it, so he wasn’t able to take it further for free.

Regarding the render engine selection you’re mentioning, I’m not sure we’d be able to get that far with it, because it still needs to be an external python app.

There is another chap I know in Australia, James Crowther, who’s started a company that is working on a much more integrated system for realizing realtime distributed rendering from the main Blender instance. I’ve been encouraging him to consider using AWS as a possible node network for the system, so your dream about the EC2 selection may be possible in the next few years!

Hi! I started using blenda yesterday. The setup was fairly simple to do, however I’m having an issue with the rendered PNG not being output to the S3 bucket. I think I had done something wrong by misspelling the S3 bucket name, I’m hoping that it is the issue. I’m currently running a second job to test that.

The installation and setup was fairly simple, keep in mind that I am a Linux Systems Engineer. If anyone is interested in having this setup please feel free to reach out to me.

@toddmcintosh that is a pretty good solution gui solution for blenda, will you be contributing it as an open source project?

Hi Dalekurt. Have you tried changing the bucket name (and references to it in the script) to all lowercase. Caps didn’t work for me as I remember.

@Toddmcintosh I was probably getting a little ahead of myself there lol. I remember seeing a website someone started where you could upload a project and it did all the EC2 stuff automatically. Not sure if it’s at cost or the site owner charges a premium. I’ll have to find a link.

This might be a dumb question but is Brenda useful for large single-frame renders? Does each instance act as a “core” or does each instance render a frame of an animation?

I ask because I am planning on making a couple high-resolution renders for print soon, almost billboard-sized…

Hi Kemmier, yes it can be used for single images. You can change the work units to tiles instead of frames and then each instance works on a tile with its multiple cores.

@rider_rebooted Yeah the great thing about Brenda is you are charging the work to your own AWS account directly without anyone else marking up the price on you.

Yeah definitely. Do you have any idea if Brenda would work in Windows? I found the article on Blendernation for that website btw… Blendergrid