Home render vs. Render farm

Started by raymoh, August 06, 2021, 05:39:08 am

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raymoh

What do you use to render a final render? From various statements here in the forum I conclude that most of you render at home. Do you also use a render farm from time to time (e.g. animations)?
I assume that if you render at home, you use a machine that you only use for this purpose, not a "commercial" one. Otherwise I can hardly explain the "patience" with mentioned render times of sometimes several days.
I use an iMac Pro with 8 cores here, which I also need for everyday use. And this is where it starts...
With a complex final render (terrain, clouds, water, reflections, etc.) the Mac can hardly be used anymore if I allow Terragen to use all cores. And possibly for many hours or days. "It makes my (straight) hair curl!"
Are Windows machines better or do I not have your patience? Terragen should be much more performant in my eyes. Or asked another way, what kind of "hell machine" do you have to have to finish a complex render in a couple of hours?
I like to use a render farm for more complex renders. I know it's a "losing deal" in the end, but it works well for me as an alternative to rendering for days on end with a computer that's almost at full capacity. Buying a "hell machine" just for rendering is not financially feasible for me at the moment.
"I consider global warming much less dangerous than global dumbing down"   (Lisa Fitz, German comedian)

Kadri


I have used a couple of times Pixeplow render farm.
But mostly for a hobby it is too much for me. Not that the price is high actually...

I use my own PC for rendering. Sometimes for months for animations.
I use the Affinity settings in the  Taskmanager in Windows for restricting some cores for Terragen.
Mostly 24 to 28 cores restricted for Terragen is enough to browsing, gaming etc.

In the past when i had only 8 cores i used 6 for Terragen for example.

This is the reason i buy the best-fastest cpu (PC in general) i can buy with the given money i have at the time.

The only problem is that the behaviour of Terragen is more aggressive then for example Lightwave.
With lightwave i had always less problems. But this is only my experience of course and nothing scientific.

I suspect the Windows version and maybe hardware etc. is a factor too.

Kevin Kipper

Hi Raymoh,

For the example shot in the "Terragen for VFX" series we used Pixel Plow's online render farm to render the sequences of 750 frames.  We rendered multiple versions and various resolutions during the project.  You can view the final shot here: https://planetside.co.uk/terragen-tutorials-for-vfx-series-1-the-basics/

Pixel Plow's website is: https://www.pixelplow.net/

Once I had installed the render agent on my local workstation, submitting render jobs was quite simple and straight forward.

Here's an overview of the process I generally went through:

1. The Terragen project pulled assets from several different locations on my workstation, so after making local test renders and being satisfied with the results I exported the project via Terragen's "File > Export Gathered Project" menu option to a new location on my hard drive.  Something like E:PixelPlow/ShotName.  This saves a new TGD project file and places all the assets used in the project into a subfolder called Project Assets.
2. Next, I load the newly created TGD project file into Terragen just to make sure there are no warnings or problems.
3. In this new TGD project file, I set up the render output paths, usually to a "Renders" subfolder, for example E:PixelPlow/ShotName/Renders, then I resave the TGD project file and it's ready for submitting to Pixel Plow.
4. To do that, I launch the Pixel Plow Agent software and tell it I'm going to render a Terrgen 4 project.  An interface will appear that's designed for submitting Terragen 4 projects.
5. By default, Pixel Plow will render the GI cache sequence first, followed by the "beauty pass" sequence.  You can specify frame ranges and steps for both, and they don't have to be the same ranges.
6. It's highly recommended to render a test range first, in case there are any problems.  Typically, I would render a small sequence or frames from the beginning, middle or end of the shot.
7. Pixel Plow will render, then download the frames to your computer.  If you've shut down your computer for the night, you just have to launch the agent when you're ready to start downloading again.
8. Note, Pixel Plow "holds" onto the assets for a certain amount of time in case you need to resubmit your project, and this is a good thing.  In our example shot, part of our assets consisted of 750 spherical enviro frames, which took awhile to upload.  So, having the frames uploaded once saved upload time when a revised scene needed to be submitted.

I hope this help!

raymoh

Hi Kevin Kipper, sorry for not being clear. I also render at Pixel Plow and know (as far as I'm concerned) the steps and processes involved. But thanks anyway for your specifications.
"I consider global warming much less dangerous than global dumbing down"   (Lisa Fitz, German comedian)

WAS

I had a buddy that was trying to do a render farm and had a wonky implementation of Terragen. And while I had a permanent 50% off on my acc it just proved to be too costly. Event at 50% off it was just a little cheaper than mainstreams like Pixel Plow. I think if you have the added budget from external sources it may be worth it, but maybe not personal endeavours that may not pay back what you spend.

Kadri

Quote from: WAS on August 06, 2021, 02:44:33 pmI had a buddy that was trying to do a render farm and had a wonky implementation of Terragen. And while I had a permanent 50% off on my acc it just proved to be too costly. Event at 50% off it was just a little cheaper than mainstreams like Pixel Plow. I think if you have the added budget from external sources it may be worth it, but maybe not personal endeavours that may not pay back what you spend.
Yeah, for paid projects i would certainly use it when needed.

raymoh

It seems you guys are more on the professional side and probably sometimes work on commission and get paid.

I, on the other hand, am a real amateur and do Pixel Plow from time to time, although I know that it is certainly not profitable in the long run and you lose money if you don't sell (or don't want to sell) your "art" afterwards. Someday I might buy a "hell machine" to render "reasonably" at home. Now I simply don't have 32 and more cores available and still don't want to put up with the "slowness" of Terragen. So I let render from time to time...
"I consider global warming much less dangerous than global dumbing down"   (Lisa Fitz, German comedian)

Dune

Perhaps it's possible for you to buy a secondhand pc, that may not be  a 'hell machine', but can be set rendering while you can work on your laptop. A lot of people are upgrading, so a lot is being offered. If it's only for quietly rendering away in a back room, you won't need a good screen or good gpu, just the fastest processor and maybe 32 gig of memory or so for the cash you can spare. Keyboards and mice cost virtually nothing.

KlausK

For me, Terragen is strictly a non-profit thing.
But I also would recommend a render-only box. Simply because TG scenes will always be "slow" to render - no matter what "hell machine" you might have.
Faster computers lead to more complex scenes lead to longer render times.
And the developers put more into the software because of the capabilities of the hardware.

I used to use my old computers for rendering only and it was a pita when you only had quad core cpus at most...
but at least the main machine was usable. Setting up more then one dedicated computer for a renderfarm is not a trivial task.
TG has no built in render manager like othe software has so distribution has to be done by hand (copy & paste), by scripting or by third party render manager software.
Using one render box where you copy the tg file to render to is much more easily done.

Since I build the machines myself I have an eye on the second hand market,
everything new that is end of line hardware (2-3 generations back) for that purpose. These days useful Xeon cpus are very cheap.
A older dual cpu and lots of ram might not be what you want to work on - for rendering it is a very capable machine.
LGA2011v3 socket would be the way to go in my opinion. They can handle E5-2600 v3 and v4 Xeon cpus and are affordable now.

When I configured my dual xeon cpu box back in the days one of Xeon E5-2640v3 cpus cost about CHF 900.-.
Nowadays that CPU goes for about CHF 100.- used... I still use this machine for everything today. 8 cores per cpu at 2.6 MHz.
So you have 32 threads in total. TG can handle that nicely.
Take a look at the benchmark results - 8 minutes plus was my score.
Dune with his new machine is at 4-5 minutes and the fastest Threadrippers are at 2-3 minutes.

Since you are in CH you maybe might want to take a look at "ricardo".
I don`t think that a Windows PC or the Windows version of TG is faster per se - but
looking at buying a second hand machine you should get away much cheaper on the Windows side of things.
And looking at all the used "Gamer" PCs - there is a lot of value for - sometimes - little money around.
If you consider this and are not comfortable with that whole thing just ask.
CHeers, Klaus
/ ASUS WS Mainboard / Dual XEON E5-2640v3 / 64GB RAM / NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 TI / Win7 Ultimate

KlausK

ANd sorry for that "epic" long post... :P
/ ASUS WS Mainboard / Dual XEON E5-2640v3 / 64GB RAM / NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 TI / Win7 Ultimate

raymoh

Quote from: KlausK on August 07, 2021, 04:40:04 amSimply because TG scenes will always be "slow" to render - no matter what "hell machine" you might have.
Faster computers lead to more complex scenes lead to longer render times
Of course, this inevitably leads me to the next, perhaps naive question: why shouldn't it be possible to "speed up" the render algorithms of a rendering program itself? Whether Terragen or another program is irrelevant in this context.

Technically/hardware-wise there is always room for improvement, provided the necessary "small change".

But shouldn't it be possible to raise the software components involved in rendering to the next "level", i.e. to noticeably speed up the processing of a render job?
Or would a completely new rendering approach have to be sought/found for this?

My (our?) wish would be to press the "Render" button at the end and have a complete complex render scene on the screen a few minutes (!) later.

Unfortunately, I already know the answer: "Dream on"...(at least for the next few years). ;) :-\
"I consider global warming much less dangerous than global dumbing down"   (Lisa Fitz, German comedian)

SILENCER

As far as rendering long jobs or super high rez spherical cycs, etc. - Never invite hassle or inconvenience.

Never tie up your machine(s) once you get past the test stage.
Wear and tear, heat, power consumption, time, all kinds of other issues.

Just open a PixelPlow account.

Even low rez tests to make absolutely SURE there's no flickering or other annoyances before you go full rez can be done on the farm for minimal cost...and get you through the trepidation stage without three days of waiting for 240 frames or whatever.

Stop punishing yourself.  It's not 1998 anymore.

WAS

Quote from: SILENCER on August 07, 2021, 09:09:13 amAs far as rendering long jobs or super high rez spherical cycs, etc. - Never invite hassle or inconvenience.

Never tie up your machine(s) once you get past the test stage.
Wear and tear, heat, power consumption, time, all kinds of other issues.

Just open a PixelPlow account.

Even low rez tests to make absolutely SURE there's no flickering or other annoyances before you go full rez can be done on the farm for minimal cost...and get you through the trepidation stage without three days of waiting for 240 frames or whatever.

Stop punishing yourself.  It's not 1998 anymore.

Kinda weird post. You are right, it is not 1998 anymore, and you don't need SGI nodes, and can render on PC.

Nothing you suggested should be a reason not to use your home PC. And if you are stressing the machine just working, let alone a render, it may be time to get a new PC, not resort to paying long-term to a farm (that money could go towards a workstation or server)

And I am not sure what you mean by little cost? It's pretty expensive on a power consumption scale (they charge more than the power company will), let alone service fees.

You are not really saving money with a render farm unless you are making profit back. Which is why its best reserved for paid gigs where you allocate budget for rendering.

Additionally at costs I was being charged, it was by far more worth it to lease a dedicated server to off-load renders to the Terragen Linux Node, and not tie up my machine. I use the server for other stuff, but the projects I have done based on it, it's cheaper than a render farm for just one project. Let alone numerous.

Kadri

August 07, 2021, 03:47:43 pm #13 Last Edit: August 07, 2021, 04:02:49 pm by Kadri
Quote from: SILENCER on August 07, 2021, 09:09:13 amAs far as rendering long jobs or super high rez spherical cycs, etc. - Never invite hassle or inconvenience.

Never tie up your machine(s) once you get past the test stage.
Wear and tear, heat, power consumption, time, all kinds of other issues.

Just open a PixelPlow account.

Even low rez tests to make absolutely SURE there's no flickering or other annoyances before you go full rez can be done on the farm for minimal cost...and get you through the trepidation stage without three days of waiting for 240 frames or whatever.

Stop punishing yourself.  It's not 1998 anymore.

Silencer i think like Jordan (Was) about this. Not to argue but your post feels more kinda like a first world individual post.
Just for example i am retired now. In Germany i think average retirement income is around monthly 1700 Euro. My monthly retirement income isn't even 400 Euro. So except a paid project using Pixelplow is really a luxury for me.

WAS

Yeah it really comes down to cost. The speed is sure nice, but I found ways to cut some time while being cheaper.