A few years ago I got invited to a pretty exclusive event where I had the chance to showcase my work on an important stage and since I wanted to create a wow effect with the digital versions of the contemporary jewelry collection that I designed, I decided I was going to create a surrealistic scenario with an animation where the viewer was going to feel immersed into a parallel world, be lead around to slowly discover each piece of the collection and feel the inspiration that was behind the concept.
To achieve the effect I had in mind I ended up creating a pretty complex scene with a lot of elements and complex materials which meant only one thing: without the help of a render farm I wasn’t going to make it in time for the event.
In order to create an impactful 3D scene it’s important to correctly balance a few factors such as 3D modeling the elements and scene props, accurate texturing and lighting to emphasize the mood that we want to express. The process of creating the scene went pretty smoothly since the idea was already defined in my mind. I invested some time designing the details in my head and sketching them on a piece of paper. Then, I set up the scene, at first with no textures to better focus on the composition. After, I adjusted the final details.
The creation of the right composition and the path that the camera was going to take through the elements was a crucial part of my concept in order to make the elements come to life the way I envisioned. I set up the lights in a more or less definitive way and tested all these aspects in order to have a clearer view and impression of the general scenario and also to be able to quickly render a few previews.
The complexity of this scene mostly comes from the characteristics of the materials. I needed good textures for the rock formations, the sand and the floating jewels, and finally, the water. Some materials are more complex than others because of the physical characteristics they have and their interaction with light.
Opaque and matte materials are much lighter on the GPU than transparent materials where light is not only reflected but also refracted, which means that the virtual photons emitted into the scene (usually a few million) are going to simulate much more complex behaviors to be able to accurately mimic reality.
For the animation that I had in mind, I wanted to have the camera move around the space and simulate the same point of view of a virtual observer going around the space and slowly discovering the floating items. So I ran a test and rendered one frame only to see how long it would take to work on a single image, then multiplied that number by the number of frames I planned my animation to have (450). In doing so, I would find out how much time I needed to complete my project.
With the computer and the GPU that I had at the time, each frame was taking almost one hour to render. This meant that to actually render the entire animation it was going to take me two weeks rendering non-stop, day and night. My computer screamed, “Don’t you dare push that button!”
Personal computers, as powerful as they can be, still have limitations especially when we as artists start experimenting more and more and want to push the boundaries of our work. Besides, equipping ourselves with newer, faster hardware as it hit the market is unrealistic.
The workaround involved utilizing a render farm – a facility with several interconnected computers and GPUs. This setup allows intensive renderings and animations to be divided among various machines, which operate concurrently, thereby reducing the rendering time by up to 90%. This approach makes such projects much more feasible within a sensible timeframe and also prevents our personal and business computers from being overly strained.
Usually, the most challenging part of a CGI project is not the complexity of the designs or the animations (even if they can certainly get quite elaborate or complex) but the limited time we are given by clients and agencies to execute the project in the best way possible. And of course, we don’t want to have to compromise our ideas in order to meet a deadline. We want to realize our vision without cutting any corners and still deliver on time. The ideal situation is when we can make ourselves and our clients happy.
Relying on a render farm service brings a degree of comfort and assurance to artists working in the field of CGI. Imagine a gigantic digital workhorse - that's what these render farms really are. They're a network of supercharged computers linked together, each one whirring away to crunch through the dense computations needed for high-end rendering tasks. In this collaborative configuration, even the most intricate and complex of renderings are divided into manageable morsels, allocated across the machines to be worked on simultaneously. It's like a well-oiled assembly line for pixels, potentially slicing the rendering time by up to a whopping 90%.
In our line of work, where each tick of the clock resonates louder than the last, these render farms can be the hero we often need. They help us beat the clock without having to dull the edge of our creative spear. It allows artists to engage fully in their creative pursuits without the nagging worry of time or the fear of overworking their personal machinery.
The artists can pour their talent into crafting exquisite visual poetry while the render farm does the heavy lifting, ensuring the vision is realized in its full glory, within the confines of the deadline. It’s like having an invisible ally, silently shouldering the burden of time and technical limitations, letting us hit that sweet spot where both we and our clients end up wearing satisfied smiles.
In the realm of complex projects, achieving high-quality results can be a daunting task, often accompanied by significant challenges as explained in this article. However, the advent of render farms has revolutionized the way professionals tackle these intricate endeavors. Throughout the journey of such projects, professionals encounter all sorts of hurdles like extended rendering times, limited computing power, and the need for optimal resource allocation. This is where render farms step in as the ultimate solution.
By harnessing the vast computational capabilities of these specialized systems, professionals can overcome these challenges and produce outstanding results. Render farms ensure that rendering processes are expedited, freeing up valuable time and resources for other critical and creative aspects of the project taking off from our shoulders a lot of pressure and stress. The significance of using the right tools and resources cannot be overstated, as they are key to unlocking the potential of intricate projects and achieving the pinnacle of quality.
Creativity, like other skills, needs to be nurtured. And to keep achieving quality projects we need to actually be able to complete projects and deliver them, constantly rising the quality of our work. In a world where efficiency and excellence go hand in hand, render farms have emerged as an indispensable asset for professionals, propelling their work to new heights and pushing the boundaries of creative possibilities.