Project Rendering Time Estimation

I’m preparing for a blender project that would involve some heavy rendering, and I need to get a sense of the rendering times to know how much the render farm will probably cost.

The project is a video recreation of an acrobatic dance using muscle-sim actors with the following features:

  • 4K resolution, square, standard 24fps. Cycles render engine.
  • No environment, transparent background, soft indoor lighting.
  • Two or more photo-realistic muscle-sim humans wearing spandex. Internal musculoskeletal system + skin (switches between inside/outside view). Lots of SSS and ilk.
  • Animation is a complex dance sequence, with soft body physics (actors pressing again each other) and gravity.
  • No hair physics required.
  • No special effects.
  • Run time is roughly 1-2 minutes.

Any estimation on render time per frame (if you had a similar project/scene) is appreciated.

Guessing render times is almost impossible. It’s completely impossible when we don’t know what hardware you’re using. Couple of things I can think of to mention though:

  • 2 minutes at 24fps is 2880 frames. There are 1440 minutes in a day. So plan accordingly. 1 min per frame becomes 1 day to render. 10 mins, 10 days.

  • From the description “No environment, transparent background, soft indoor lighting.” “Lots of SSS and ilk.” This sounds like your render times are going to vary VASTLY by what % of the frame the people cover. (brached path tracing can help a lot of with this. You don’t want to set the main samples high enough to clear SSS, then throw that many rays at the empty background)

I understand that this is tricky.

To clarify, the human characters will never be off-screen, however bodies can appear smaller at certain angles.

My personal computer is certainly too weak to get a good estimation as well. However, it would be a starting point.

Write to any render farm, you will probably get a quote for free or you can use some free credits after registration.

It’s good idea to render few frames on your side to know the render time per frame so then you can use any online calculator on any render farm site to get rough estimate. They are based on Cinebench score.

I’m wrangler on a major renderfarm so if you want then I can help you.

Another suggestion is that you try some render farm and then you can get some estimate cost, some render farms such as FoxRenderfarm (Register here:!in.action) offers $20 free credits for trying, you can have a try and then decide whether use it or not.

Probably the only way to get an estimate is to test-render specific representative frames, even on your own hardware.

The Cycles renderer is more-difficult to estimate in some ways, because it basically works by converging upon a solution. It relies heavily on GPU hardware to be successful, and it heats-up that chip!

Carefully consider all possibilities for producing the scenes that you want, particularly including making heavy use of compositing and also other ways to do some of the rendering work. Don’t overlook BI, or OpenGL, as algorithms that can be pressed into doing some of the heavy lifting. Try, also, to devise workflows that will let you “sneak up on” the image that you want … in other words, a workflow that lets you approach producing the final frame, “incrementally.”

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Thanks for the advice everyone, I will contact a render farm and try to get an estimation. I may also browse galleries and ask other blender artists how long theirs took to help get a sense.

Thanks again!

Hi Karric,

As the other artists explained, determining render times solely based on a description of the scene is not something that can be done. Render times vary a lot based on geometry, materials, lighting, volumetrics and so on. Also, the total memory footprint of the project is an important aspect, as (in our case, with both CPU and GPU rendering available) it will determine whether it can be rendered on GPU, or it will have to use CPU.

However, all these considerations will impact only the project cost. We can allocate the necessary number of servers to complete the rendering in a matter of hours, both on CPU and on GPU.

If you’d like us to help with an estimate, please get in touch with us with the contact form on our site. We also have an estimator on our pricing page, which can provide a gross approximation based on how long it takes to render a frame from the project on your machine.