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View Full Version : Online render farms - are they any good?



stevecullum
09-15-2012, 10:32 AM
I've been giving some thought to buying a couple of render boxes, but before I do I wanted to find out if anyone has used an online render farm before?

If you have any experience and can answer 1 or more of my questions, that would be appreciated.


Are they good value for money?
What happens if you are using plugins such as turbulence or nextlimit manager?
If they do support them - how do you upload the massive amounts of data needed to render the results - kind of seems impracticable if you got 80gb of cached data! Or could you use the farm to sim the data first?
What happens about intellectual property rights - by uploading to a farm do I need to sign over the rights to use my content?



Thanks

stevenpalomino
09-15-2012, 10:44 AM
I'm actually in the same place right now. I'm looking more at just buying a couple boxes though. You could buy a couple good boxes (just for rendering) for about $1000. Coupled with either RenderPal or Butterfly Net Render (I'm going with the first), I think this just makes it easier for me to have access to things whenever I need them. Just do some research on networking and what to buy (I mean for those times when you have 80GB of cached data to transfer). Although, if you have some stuff you need rendered like..yesterday.. you might consider a render farm just because they usually have more than a couple boxes and they're pretty fast. I'm not sure of any prices and stuff for that though.. I just know for me it'd be more practical to have 24/7 access to my files because my work schedule is sometimes not 9-5.. anyway.. hope this helps any.

stevecullum
09-15-2012, 11:13 AM
It would be interesting to know how much time $1000's would get you on a render farm. I see prices like 3.9c per GHZ hour but how that relates in the real world I don't know. I guess if I have 3ghz x 12 normally, and 1 hour renders me 3 frames then it would cost me 3.9c x 36 per hour to match my proposed setup. So that's $1.40 per 3 frames on the farm. So if I have 5000 frames to render, that would cost $2333! Something must be off with my maths! :D

Hieron
09-15-2012, 03:43 PM
Not per se. Your current setup (X3930? does that exist?) would take +- 70 days to render that. Not quite a trivial shot we are talking about. If you have only 2 days to pull it off, your choices are:

-Buy 35x your equivalent pc (dual Xeons == 12 threads?) (I'm roughly guessing 100k $ if lucky)
-Spend $2333 and try to get it pushed through some big renderfarm
-Tone down on the rendertime per frame :)

ShadowMystic
09-15-2012, 04:06 PM
Not per se. Your current setup (X3930? does that exist?) would take +- 70 days to render that. Not quite a trivial shot we are talking about. If you have only 2 days to pull it off, your choices are:

-Buy 35x your equivalent pc (dual Xeons == 12 threads?) (I'm roughly guessing 100k $ if lucky)
-Spend $2333 and try to get it pushed through some big renderfarm
-Tone down on the rendertime per frame :)

If I was rendering something that would have 5000 frames at 3 frames per hour, I'd hope $2333 would be in the budget for rendering.

stevecullum
09-15-2012, 04:17 PM
Not per se. Your current setup (X3930? does that exist?) would take +- 70 days to render that. Not quite a trivial shot we are talking about. If you have only 2 days to pull it off, your choices are:


-Buy 35x your equivalent pc (dual Xeons == 12 threads?) (I'm roughly guessing 100k $ if lucky)
-Spend $2333 and try to get it pushed through some big renderfarm
-Tone down on the rendertime per frame :)

3930k details if your interested - http://ark.intel.com/products/63697/Intel-Core-i7-3930K-Processor-12M-Cache-up-to-3_80-GHz (not strictly 12 cores of course)

I suppose when you look at it like that, a couple of thousand dollars vs 70 days wait isn't such a bad thing!

And yes on 5000 frame animation the budget would indeed have to cover the render time.

The Dommo
09-15-2012, 05:16 PM
Simple.
www.GarageFarm.net

I swear by them. Speedy and very cheapy.

silviotoledo
09-16-2012, 06:43 AM
http://www.garagefarm.net/ <---- try it!

I'm happy with results.
I use to render on EXR file format wich gives-me 25 mega per image, but their upload/download works great throught FTP.

You also see the data when images are in rendering and you may also render test 1/4 resolution for free.

Pavlov
09-16-2012, 08:39 AM
i recomend Garagefarm too.
imho best thing is to have enough machines to deal with most jobs, and in my case 10 nodes + 5 workstations (which become nodes by night or during we) are pretty enough. for all other needs i rely on GarageFarm, price are nice and it will always be faster than an internal farm - unless you buy A LOT of machines/blades.

Paolo

Hieron
09-16-2012, 03:04 PM
nvm :)

kopperdrake
09-17-2012, 04:32 PM
I'll third that, Tomek at garagefarm.net has pulled the stops out for us on several projects now. He's a true star, a pleasure to deal with and is very reasonable.

Whilst you could buy a couple of render nodes, you have to ask yourself how quick do you want your animations rendered? For us, a farm that can render out a sequence in a day on their 30+ PCs is so much better than having 2 of our own nodes that would render them out in 15 days. And to have 30 nodes just sat idle waiting for a project is a waste. It comes down to how quickly you need your renders doing.

sukardi
09-17-2012, 05:53 PM
I have used ranchcomputing and rebusfarm. Their main advantage is they are very fast. Most of the time, it takes me longer to download the files than for them to render it. Some caution though,

1. Each farm has its own way of charging, in term of priorities etc. So make yourself familiar with the workflow before sending it a big job. You don't want to pay more than what you need.
2. Make sure the plugins that you are using is supported. Whenever possible, try bake things first (deformation, radiosity solution) etc before sending. Always test before sending the full render.
3. I am sure each render farm says that they will not use your assets for anything else other than rendering but honestly, I have not gone through all the legal fine prints. If you project is truly sensitive, you may want to reconsider.

Render farms are so useful for me that now I don't have an in house rendering nodes anymore but like anything, they are tools. You need to know how to use them properly.

Philbert
09-20-2012, 04:08 PM
I haven't used any myself but I know the lead artist at one of the studios a work with a lot said he uses one a lot. ResPower I think he said and was quite happy with it.

papou
09-20-2012, 05:18 PM
- Are they good value for money?
Depend of your budget and depend of your time.
Just finish 6000 Kray HD frames for 3000 euros. For this project, I couldn't imagine render them on my little local farm. Do not have the time.

- What happens if you are using plugins such as turbulence or nextlimit manager?
Plugins need to be share with them for safety render.

- how do you upload the massive amounts of data needed to render the results - kind of seems impracticable if you got 80gb of cached data! Or could you use the farm to sim the data first?
I'm a Ranchcomputing and RebusFarm user and both do not permit to cache the Gi. You have to send the data. Yes it can take long time. But it's faster to send than render at home.
(I'm not familiar with Maxwell but i saw a special button for maxwell project into the Rebus manager. Other software have a single same way to send project.)

- What happens about intellectual property rights - by uploading to a farm do I need to sign over the rights to use my content?
i can't imagine they get the rights because they render it.

Hope it help.

Just a tips: You have to package project for safety sending on external farm but Lightwave Package scene do not copy images instances (image clone in the image editor) ... so don't use them or some of your surface will be empty textured.

Greenlaw
09-21-2012, 12:31 AM
I agree with Pavlov: if you're a small 'indie' studio, buy a handful of dedicated render boxes to handle day-to-day work and use a third party render farm for heavy duty work during a crunch.

At home we recently replaced our old render farm with four 'render-only' boxes that cost about $750 each. These machines appear to be about four times faster than our old machines and they run very quietly and much cooler. (Considering the heatwave we just went through here in Los Angeles, thank goodness for that last point.) About two weeks ago we re-rendered 'Happy Box' at HD res as a test for our new farm and the entire task took about two days using only these four machines. 'Happy Box' runs about 1,500* frames from start to finish, with multiple layers for each shot, so I thought that was pretty decent for a small 'personal' render farm. That said, if we were doing a similar production for a paying client and a tight schedule, we'd probably use our in-house farm mainly for testing and proofing the shots, and sending the final 'full res' renders to a commercial render farm. Needless to say, this third party expense should be figured into the job's budget.

G.

(*'Happy Box' is actually less than 3,000 frames long but we rendered on twos. When we rendered the movie the first time, almost a year ago, we rendered on two's because we were desperate to save time, but we wound up liking the slightly stuttering result so we kept it for the new HD version.)

Philbert
09-21-2012, 09:05 AM
It's probably a good idea to look into these places and maybe even decide on one for the future. I almost never need to render stuff, but with one project last year I not only had to render but it was several LONG renders. I had all three of my PCs (including a laptop pounding away at it for days. I considered these services but I didn't really know much about the options or how it worked at that point. I got the job done but With all that extra time I probably could have had it done faster and maybe better for a happier client.

stevecullum
09-22-2012, 01:06 AM
Thanks for your feedback on this folks. After some consideration, I think I'm going to build some render boxes. I worked out I can build one for about 350 so for the budget I would have for this project, I can get 4 or 5. :)

kopperdrake
09-22-2012, 01:24 AM
Interesting price point, care to share the components?

stevecullum
09-22-2012, 01:50 AM
Interesting price point, care to share the components?

If you have a look at the Novatech site, they have barebones bundle i5 for 299.

http://www.novatech.co.uk/products/barebones/bb-34708a.html

They are normally very flexible, so I'm going to ask them to swap the mobo for one with a built in graphics card and 4 memory slots ;)

Greenlaw
09-22-2012, 02:20 AM
That price sounds pretty good!

For comparison, the system we chose for render boxes is the HP Slimline s5xt custom configured as:

• Windows 7 Home Premium [64-bit]
• Intel(R) Core(TM) i7-2600 quad-core processor with Turbo-Boost [up to 3.8GHz, 8MB cache]
• FREE UPGRADE to 6GB DDR3-1333MHz SDRAM [2 DIMMs] from 4GB
• 500GB 7200 rpm SATA hard drive
• Intel HD Graphics
• SuperMulti DVD Burner
• 6-in-1 memory card reader, 2 USB, audio ports
• Integrated sound
• HP keyboard and optical mouse

When we bought the first two last winter, a single unit cost 412.86 ($669.99) with free shipping. We bought two more this summer and the cost per unit was 449.83 ($729.99) with free shipping. The price seems to fluctuate often because HP runs frequent sales and discounts. If we can afford it, we're thinking of getting two more units at the end of the year.

What we really like about these boxes is that they are tiny and quiet--they take up about a third less space than a big full-size computer and you can hardly tell when they are running. By contrast, our old render farm sounded like we lived on a airport runway. The new computers seem to run a bit cooler too. IMO, I wouldn't get this model as a work computer but for render-only boxes in a home studio, it's pretty decent.

G.

stevecullum
09-22-2012, 05:11 AM
The 2600k is a good chip stiill, even though they are last gen. Looking at the rest of your specs, have you ever ran into trouble with only 6gb of ram? Wondering if I actually need more than 8gb....

Greenlaw
09-22-2012, 05:23 AM
I haven't run into any problems with RAM yet but this is relative of course--I doubt Happy Box stressed the RAM in these machines at all. Our current short film project will be a better test for memory since we have a fairly complicated environment in this one. We're not ready to do full renders yet though. For this project I think we'll be okay with 6GB but, that said, I'm sure I will want to upgrade the RAM when I start using Vue on our next project.

G.

stevecullum
09-22-2012, 05:57 AM
Ah ok. I thought you might have used them for more taxing stuff. I think I'll stick with my plan of getting 16gb per box.

tayotain2
09-22-2012, 06:04 AM
I have: I7 2600k + noctua cooler. OC 3.4ghz-->4.4ghz really easy. i could go 4.6ghz, but just wanted to be sure its stable i didnt.

nemofish
11-15-2012, 09:01 PM
Try this one,and you won't regret: http://www.foxrenderfarm.com/

m.d.
11-16-2012, 10:42 AM
If you need a really big job done....I just priced out a theoretical 4 episode 1/2 hour children's animated render....15 min per frame....almost 3 years on my system alone....garage farm about 1000 hours $2000........rebusfarm 12 hours and about $16,000

papou
11-16-2012, 07:31 PM
Try this one,and you won't regret: http://www.foxrenderfarm.com/

You won't regret...except when you realize it don't support Lightwave...

Afalk
11-17-2012, 07:35 AM
I am a Huge fan of GarageFarm.net. They saved my bacon more than once -- fantastic group, great service, and absurdly affordable.

kadri
11-17-2012, 08:24 AM
I do not know why but GarageFarm.net is always problematic to open here .
Maybe it is a problem on my side , not sure of course , but Garagefarm and the pages in it opens nearly always not at all or partially .
Looks randomly mostly. And i have not many such sites that behave in this way. Curious why this happens.

Ryste3d
11-17-2012, 08:46 AM
We use GarageFarm.net and are quit happy with them. Always great help and support... we did a mistake once and he had to render it all over again. He did it for free. Plugins no problem.

We posted this on Kray forum in 2010

Just put together a very short animation to test out Garagefarm.net And believe me, that was the most happily $13 I have ever spent in my life.
I send him a packed scene file and after a few moments I got an email asking how I would like to have the animation deliver. I told him as 24 Bit tiff files. And then I ask him if it was possible for him to and change to camera 2 after camera 1 was finish rendering. And for all the other 5 cameras in the scene. No problem he says. We was on Skype so no waiting for answers. And then he call me just to make sure we was ready to go. We had a problem with a plug-in, but that was taken care of in a few sec. I have never seen that kind of service in my life.

After 4 hours he was finish rendering 350 frames (on my system I used 7 min pr. frame = 40 hours) and I only paid $13. That is properly less then the electrical bill for having my own PC running for 40 hours.

Try it out. I works.

Kray forum:
http://www.kraytracing.com/joomla/forum/index.php?f=3&t=2063&rb_v=viewtopic


Her is the test animation:

http://vimeo.com/14854312

Pavlov
11-17-2012, 11:06 AM
Garage is great. Thomas gives great support and feedback as well, and he manually tweaks scenes if a small fix is needed. In some other farms you dont have any direct contact with a guy, he answers realtime on skype instead. So yes i would reccomend Garage too, we did quite a lot of works with them.


Paolo

alexos
11-17-2012, 12:24 PM
Garage is great. Thomas gives great support and feedback as well...

To be fair, Rebus' support isn't shabby either - I once called them at 1pm on a sunday and they were as kind and helpful as always. Having said that, apart from price (but you do get some truly astonishing rendertimes) they're not big on plug-ins - even relatively common stuff such as IFW isn't supported.

ADP.

Soth
11-17-2012, 12:44 PM
Hi,

Thx a lot for all good feedback. We are changing all hardware, by end of the year we will have more - more efficient - nodes. That probably will help us to lower the prices even more. :)

If anyone want hardware advice for buying stuff I can post some suggestions if you are interested.

kadri
11-17-2012, 01:27 PM
Soth what about my strange problem?

"I do not know why but GarageFarm.net is always problematic to open here .
Maybe it is a problem on my side , not sure of course ,
but Garagefarm and the pages in it opens nearly always not at all or partially .
Looks randomly mostly.
And i have not many such sites that behave in this way.
Curious why this happens."

Seems like i am the only one who have this problem?
I tried with Chrome , Explorer and Firefox .
All the same.

Soth
11-17-2012, 01:47 PM
I can imagine that almost 500kb background image does not play well with your internet connection. :)

What speed do you have there?

kadri
11-17-2012, 03:27 PM
It is 8 mbps Soth.

When some of the links above do not open i see this message
Hata 101 (net::ERR_CONNECTION_RESET): Bağlantı sıfırlandı.

If i click the links on the top they sometime open but mostly i get this kind of problem.
The strange thing is for example i tried to see the pricing page.
I saw it ones but then so much i tried to refresh etc it did not open.

That background image is big but i doubt that this is the problem Soth.
I had this problem 1-2 years ago too and could then not see all of your website .
I had a project a while ago but could not open your site.
I thought you had some server problems at those times but i think this is another kind of problem now.

Not that i have now a project to use your farm , but just in case if i have to :)

Soth
11-17-2012, 03:34 PM
Hmm, i actually do not host my website at all, I will try to contact their technical support, thx for the info.

I will ask other customers from Turkey if they have any problems with my website too.

Soth
11-17-2012, 03:37 PM
Looks like there is a need for some YT video about building your own render farm rig, I guess I have some knowledge to share in that topic. :)

kadri
11-17-2012, 03:41 PM
Thanks Soth :)

Ryste3d
11-17-2012, 03:52 PM
Looks like there is a need for some YT video about building your own render farm rig, I guess I have some knowledge to share in that topic. :)

I would love to know how to do that... :-)

allabulle
08-01-2013, 09:49 AM
Bump!

(I thought this thread better not die just yet)

Afalk
08-01-2013, 10:38 AM
I've used GarageFarm in production as well as privately over the years and have to say -->> those guys have been FANTASTIC and the results well worth it in every regard (they rendered all cg sequences on the 4 tv spots I did for American Chopper and Fast & Furious -- been a while but their level of service is notable and memorable). I am ramping up my own studio as we speak (new workstations, expanding our software arsenal, and all around beefing up the pipeline and looking forward to sending more work their way over the next year!).