Rendering has always been the most boring part of working with Blender. Waiting aimlessly to see the result of your work, tying up your computer for hours or days on end…
In today’s world, one would think that there would be a simple way to render projects in the cloud. Several commercial render farms have cropped up. However, these operations are expensive, remove the actual rendering from your control, and demand access to your files.
Enter Amazon Web Services (AWS). AWS, launched in 2006, provides powerful servers on a per-hour rental basis via its Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2). Through the AWS Spot Market, you can consistently get access to render nodes featuring, for example:
-18 Intel Xeon E5-2666 v3 (Haswell) cores for around $0.25 - $0.45 per hour
-Four high-performance NVIDIA GPUs, each with 1,536 CUDA cores and 4GB of video memory for $0.35-$0.45 per hour
-One high-performance NVIDIA GPU with 1,536 CUDA cores and 4GB of video memory for $0.065-$0.10 per hour
James Yonan’s Brenda scripts (https://github.com/jamesyonan/brenda) laid the foundation for a way by which Blender
users can take advantage of Amazon’s infrastructure to render their projects. His talk at the 2013 Blender Conference provides some background on this project.
Brenda was a great first step, but never got the kind of traction it deserved, especially considering the fantastic technical work James Yonan put into it. At this point, the code has not been updated in two years and lacks the streamlined setup process and ease of use that are necessary for widespread adoption.
Which is where Renderbot comes in. Renderbot is a framework built around James Yonan’s scripts that irons out the key issues that made Brenda unusable for all but the most determined users. It provides a user interface that is much easier to use than the all-command-line Brenda. It is absolutely free. You pay Amazon directly for the use of the hardware you rent.
Renderbot fully supports AWS GPU instances, and runs Blender 2.74. I plan to release a 2.75 version within the next week or two.
Renderbot’s goal is to give every Blender user the ability to create a personal render farm in the cloud. Without making you give your files to anyone. While Renderbot’s setup process is more involved than a point and click installation, once it is configured, you should be able to go from working in Blender to launching your personal render farm in minutes.
Let’s democratize cloud rendering.
I am happy to announce that Renderbot is now moving into open beta. See renderbot.net and click “Get Started” to view a startup guide.
Please direct any and all comments, critiques, and questions either to this thread or via email to [email protected].