[CentOS] Rendering farm?

Warren Young warren at etr-usa.com
Mon Oct 12 14:44:45 UTC 2009


Scott Ehrlich wrote:
> I received at least one email suggesting a Windows-based rendering
> farm - likely to consist of a few rack systems all running 64-bit
> Windows.  I read an article on Tomshardware which gave some decent
> insight.   What can list participants offer on this concept?

Well, since you've asked in a Linux forum, let's discuss Linux-based 
render farms instead, okay?

(If not okay, kindly take your question somewhere else. Thank you. :) )

It comes down to whether the rendering app has a Linux version.

This is more common than you (or those emailing you) might think.  Many 
companies with Windows or Mac-only GUI tools offer command-line Linux 
versions specifically for use in render farms.  Such versions are not 
always advertised; it may only be available to select customers, on request.

If your client is a VFX studio with many seats of the GUI version of the 
VFX tool in question, it'll be a lot easier to get access to such tools 
than if you're a lone gun.

> I don't care _how_ the resource is implemented - virtual machine,
> cluster, etc.  

Generally you let the tool itself tell you how the implement the farm. 
Often such programs are built with a proprietary networking protocol 
that distributes the work for you, and has certain assumptions about the 
system architecture built into it.

Sometimes it's possible to buy third-party farm management software that 
works better than the first-party offering.

Either way, you don't decide on the architecture before studying the 
existing tools.

> Just provide links/resources to
> help me get better educated.  

Ask the vendors of the tools in question.  They will have documentation.

> If it makes most sense to migrate the money from a single desktop to a
> transparently available farm that does the same job the desktop could
> have done, and considering the farm is expandable, then I'm all for
> it, as would be the money people!

In my limited VFX experience, render farms are never transparent.  At 
bare minimum, expect the "render on farm" command in the program to be 
different from the "render locally" command, and for it to work 
differently in key ways.  You're not likely to get the same visual 
progress indications when rendering to the farm as when you render locally.

It's not uncommon for the entire render setup process to be up to the 
individual artist, at least with the in-box render farm support.  This 
is one big reason why the third-party farm management software market 
exists.


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