A renderfarm, despite implications behind the name, has nothing to do with animals. According to Google definitions, it’s simply ‘a group of networked computers devoted to rendering images, used typically in the production of computer-animated films.’
As with most 3D production studios, the kind of images and animations that can be created rely heavily on decent hardware – and plenty of it! I’m always trying to improve my in-house hardware in small ways when I can and last summer, when landing a large animation job, (thanks to the good people at Treehouse Media), I decided to bump my renderfarm up. My strategy has always been quality over quantity so I decided to buy exclusively dual quad-core (8 core) xeon Dell Precision workstations as render slaves to run alongside my similarly specced main Boxx workstation. These are initially more expensive, but you need less of them and as my office is based at home, I need to keep electricity running costs and heat output to a minimum. I also invested in a new Lenovo server which acts as a file server as well as a domain host so all my machines are networked properly.
The total cost including hardware and software licences was several thousand pounds but it enables me to produce large animations (the last job was almost 20,000 frames in total) and render several complex images at once, rather than endlessly waiting for one image to finish rendering before being able to start rendering another.
I’m pleased to say that I now have eight, very high spec machines, which I can send single images or animation render jobs to day or night (although my wife prefers during the day)! Next job is installing air conditioning!