A Render Farm is a cluster of individual computers that are hooked up through a network connection. They are usually used to speed up the rendering process of CGI (Computer Generated Image) projects as animations, visual effects, and so on. Each individual Computer in such a Render Farm Cluster is usually called a RenderNode. 

How to build a render farm

  1. Hardware
    A Render farm consists of a bunch of render nodes and one Render manager. Usually, the operating of these instances might be Windows, Linux, or Mac OS.
    Therefore, depending on your needs, you need to prepare render servers (PCs, nodes) with accompanying equipment.
    Depending on the settings in your projects, your render farm might be just a CPU render farm, or you will need to buy GPUs (graphic cards) to add to your render nodes.
  2. LAN Network
    After having hardware, you need to set up a Local Area Network (LAN) to connect render nodes together. You need to prepare:
    – A LAN (Gigabit) switch
    – LAN Cables
  3. Software
    As mentioned above, a render farm consists of a bunch of render nodes which are managed through Render Farm Management Software (Render Farm Manager). Specifically, the render farm manager will take responsibility for splitting, optimizing, and automatically distributing your projects to render nodes for parallel rendering. Moreover, through the manager, you can track the progress, status, and other details of your rendering tasks.

    Currently, most render farms use AWS Thinkbox Deadline as a render farm manager because it supports the most diverse content creation applications in the world. So you can research and find your appropriate render farm manager.

    One of the most important things is buying or registering render farm licenses for content creation applications have used in your projects. After that, you have to install them into render nodes. And, the easiest way to do this is to set up one Node and create a Drive Clone (Drive-Image) that you can then just copy over to your other nodes.

Build own render farm

A type of render farm that  users  build a render farm system to serve their personal needs and purposes. This type of render farm  has high security and you are completely proactive in your work.

However, the own render farm also has many limitation. A computer that is suitable for the rendering process will take $2000 – $4000, and an own render farm needs at least 3-4 computers. Estimated cost also really makes you consider. Besides, the render speed of this farm is only suitable for small projects  that does not require a professional render farm system. For example, rendering 1000-1200 frames will take about 8 – 9 o’clock

Another problem  that people never consider when using own render farm in a short time, is the cost of electricity . However, if rendering for a few days or even weeks, the cost is very real, because rendering in 1 hour on average, a workstation consumes up to 1.5Kwh of electricity.

Using own render farm also means that you must perform all tasks of the rendering process, which requires you have to know about rendering and render farm to limit errors.

Rent render farm service

If you work mostly on commercial projects with short deadline, it is always best to choose render farm service. There are two types of render farm service, physical render farm and cloud render farm. Let’s refer to a few comparisons below about the pros and cons of the two types of render farm rent mentioned above.

1. Physical render farm
    The traditional render farm in which machine system will be installed directly by service providers. Like own render farms, physical render farms are a highly secure method because the service provider only rents the machines and does not participate in the rendering process.

Because there is a service provider, you will have to spend a lot of time for contracting, installing equipment…One more thing you should also care if you want to use physical render farm is that the risk of equipment damage during rendering and of course the cost to repair is not cheap.

2. Cloud render farm

Easy to use:

All processes are done online, you just need to upload the file to the cloud of the service provider, conduct the render and get the resulting file.

Cost effective:
You do not need to spend budget for types of cost such as equipment investment, installation, cost of electricity, etc.

The farms are always ready to help you fix immediately errors during rendering.

Most of the farms sign the NDA (Non-disclosure agreement), which is the confidentiality agreement between at least two parties about documents, knowledge or confidential information that the parties want to share with each other for certain purposes. This helps minimize the risk of information leakage, especially for large projects that need high security.

The above analysis helps you to have the most objective view of types of render farm. However, as you can see, cloud render farm minimizes the disadvantages of two traditional render methods and this is also a popular render farm method in the world.

Source: Cgdirector