Why we think cloud rendering is the way forward in VFX

02.10.2017 Home >Blog >Why we think cloud rendering is the way forward in VFX

Rendering is hard.

With over 1000 users now on our YellowDog platform, we should know. Like you, we have pulled all-nighters, torn our hair out at rendered black frames, hit the refresh button 400 times in a minute trying to check for finished shots for our clients, and learnt the hard way that cloud providers are still learning what rendering is. That’s why we’ve changed the game. Our Founder Gareth mentions some of these challenges in a letter that he penned to himself recently.

Rendering in VFX these days is particularly hard.

Whilst business is booming and there are more content producers asking for more animated characters, CG environments, and VFX shots than ever before. Budgets are getting smaller and deadlines remain as tight as they have ever been. Increasing resolution sizes, stereoscopic, and a demand for higher and higher quality is making VFX work trickier and trickier. Last year, Hollywood Reporter stated that profits in VFX work are rarely above 5%.

With multiple studios often involved in a single VFX project plus demanding clients, rendering is becoming more unpredictable. A VFX company can schedule a certain number of nodes within their render farm to be used to render a job a few months out, but all of these moving parts often mean that rendering is delayed, there are more frames that need rendering than predicted, there are retakes required, and now another project has begun meaning that fewer machines are available to get the job done.

It looks like cloud rendering – spinning up hundreds of machines to get your job finished on time and only paying by the hour – is the obvious answer. But right now, it’s not.

According to our Summer Survey, 38% of respondents render absolutely nothing in the cloud today, and 42% say that they only render “some” of their work in the cloud. For something that has been a hot industry topic for more than two years now, that’s a lot of people who haven’t exactly embraced it.

But now we know why. Feedback from our customers on their experience before YellowDog is that cloud rendering is unpredictable, getting large amounts of compute at short notice is often impossible if not expensive, and setting up and working with a cloud render farm is unsatisfactory. This is the last thing a VFX studio needs: more time wasted, more money poured out, and not even a guarantee that you’re going to get enough machines anyway.

Good news, we’re different. At YellowDog, we aren’t bound by one data centre or to one provider: we enable users of our platform to harness the power of lots of data centres at the touch of a button, without the hassle of setting up with multiple providers. We fix your prices before your job starts, and our Operations team are always at the end of a phone if you need to chat. It’s what we here at YellowDog call Limitless Compute.

Over the next 7 weeks we’ll be bringing something each week for the VFX community, starting with a head to head comparison by our Render Wrangler Iris of Vray, Arnold, mental ray and Redshift to help you decide which renderer is right for you. We’ve got interviews with VFX industry experts, an exclusive of an experimental project by a well-known VFX artist, and even a moment with our founder Gareth.

Rendering is hard, but we’re doing our best to make it better. Why not join us on our journey?



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