Here’s a screenshot from a test spiffyandy is helping me with. In the preview screen you can see thumbnails of frames as they render. Each frame of this animation takes 5-6 minutes to render.
I have recently been working on blender render farm software for a project of mine. The goals are for it to be highly scalable (possibly thousands of nodes), easy to use, inexpensive, and put no hardware requirement on the user (i.e. you don’t have to own 40 computers). More details are at the bottom of the post.
Now I’m at a crossroads. I can complete the project for my own personal use - end of story. Or I can make it a multi-user environment capable of handling many full-size render jobs at once. That would entail a good bit more work, but I’m willing to do it. The catch is, I’m not going to spend countless hours making it multi-user if no one would really use it. So the question I pose to you is:
Do you need a render farm? Would you use my render farm? If so, how often would you use it on what size projects?
Please be honest, the answers will determine if I open this project up for community use, or keep it private.
If you’re still reading, you’re probably interested in the details. Here they are:
You log in to a web interface where you upload a .blend file and wait for a few preview images to be rendered. An estimate is then calculated as to the total time and cost involved to render the entire scene. If you approve the job, it will start rendering immediately and hopefully be done within an hour or two. You could start downloading frames as soon as they were available. All you would need is a web browser and a .blend file.
The software is built on the popular Amazon EC2 and S3 infrastructure where you can rent computer processing power. When you start a render job, the farm requests more computers (render nodes) be allocated. When they’re done with your animation, they’re released. The configuration would initially be aimed at animations using the blender internal render. Conceivably, it could handle yafray or single image (mosaic) renders if there was demand for it, but that’s not on the radar now.
The render farm would be cheap, but not free. Sorry. I rent the processing time, so if I rendered your animations for free, it would cost me money! I think the final price would be somewhere around 10 - 15 cents per GHz-Hour, but that may be adjusted for actual usage patterns. As far as I can tell, that’s a good rate compared to existing render farms (and thus the impetus for creating this software to begin with - to save me money on my animations). There are also file transfer fees and other miscellaneous fees, but the 10-15 cent number has been slightly inflated to compensate for that already. Payment would be made after a job was estimated, but before it actually ran.
I currently have a small proof of concept running that could be ramped up to a secure, multi-user environment. But it will take a while, in the meantime, I would need a few guinea pigs with medium sized animations to render that weren’t on a time crunch (things can and do go wrong during development, so you’d have to be able to roll with the punches)