Meet the experts: Phillip Boettcher

Meet the experts: Phillip Boettcher

Many of you will already be familiar with Phillip’s dulcet tones from his time with our tech support team, or have met him while he was our main onsite engineer for media customers, whose Avid storage solutions he has been expertly installing for several years. Now, as a Technical Architect, he helps our customers design their custom workstations, storage setups and rendering solutions. 

High performance

“I spend a lot of time working on high performance storage for editing, and speccing workstations for creatives who need a specific build. If you need rendering workstations to do grunt work around your facility, I can help there, too. I’ve been an ASCR Elite, which is Avid’s highest support qualification, so if you need help putting together your Avid workflow and designing the systems that support it, I’m a good person to ask.”

Disaster aversion

“I definitely think working my way up through tech support has helped me because, having seen how badly things can go wrong, I know all the things that can crop up after a build is complete and the amount of preparation that it’s best to take before diving into a project. When I’m scoping things out with customers, I can see where people have gone wrong in the past, and steer them away from that from the get go.”

The rise and rise of Resolve? 

“I’ve installed and provided workflow advice for a number of quite high-powered Resolve systems in quite demanding post-production environments, so it’s interesting to watch version 14 develop and see the new tools relating to the collaborative workflow emerge. It’s pretty clear that Blackmagic Design want Resolve to become a one-stop shop that you visit when you’re acquiring your media, when you’re starting your edit, when you’re finishing and when you’re colouring, for audio and for delivery – and they’re allowing you to do a lot of it in the free version, without even having to buy the studio version. I know some people will always want to use tried and tested software that their regular freelancers already know, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw young talents working their way up as Resolve all-rounders.”

The easiest way to start your asset management regime…

“Avid’s new Media Central Editorial Management is going to be the next big thing that I’ll be discussing with customers who are considering (or already using) the NEXIS storage platform.  It’ll be a really good product for small to medium production businesses who are trying to get things in order from the start, and want to make sure they’re working the right way from the beginning. It has a fair number of integrations with existing workflows, it will be an easy one to incorporate into their setup.”

Future-proofing the media industry

“I like the installs we’ve done for universities, particularly things like the Resolve suite we did at Falmouth. I went in to install that and it was nice to bring that kind of technology to students and see them get into it. Even though it wasn’t all that long ago, the difference between the kit available when I was at university and the things that universities are providing for their students now seems huge; we’re installing Rohde & Schwarz SANs, NEXIS, Resolve, huge storage estates and things I’d never have encountered in education a few years ago.”

If you want to know more, give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email broadcast@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter, or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

Avid update Media Composer with background rendering and more

Avid update Media Composer with background rendering and more

The latest update for Media Composer is out now, with Avid adding all manner of workflow enhancements to turn you into a lean, mean editing machine. Render in the background to save time and money, use floating licence servers to cut out downtime, and find those assets you need quicker with favourite bins and the like.

Here are just a few of the new Media Composer tools and features:

Background render. Render effects in the background while you continue to work and edit within Media Composer. Use the Background Queue window to confirm progress and manage jobs.

Favourite bins. Have one or more bins always available no matter what project you’re in.

Project information in select project dialogue. Selecting a project in the list displays the project type, colour space, raster size, frames per second, stereoscopic profile and more – before opening the project.

Quick filter in project window. Quickly filter bins in the project window based on specific text.

Search for markers. Search for marker names and comments in the Find window across all sequences and master clips within a project, in both open and closed bins.

Image cache for thumbnails. Improved performance loading, scrolling or resizing large quantities of thumbnail images in bins and the timeline. In addition, the Media Cache setting allows users to set the memory and disk cache size, as well as establish the location of the disk cache.

Redundant floating licence server support. Configure an additional floating licence server as a backup server in case of emergency. When the primary server goes down, the editor seamlessly uses a licence from the backup server and continues working – no risk of losing access to your licences!

Enhanced feeds management in Application Manager. View feeds in chronological order and choose which feeds you’d like to receive.

DMF support for DPX files. The AIS (Avid Image Sequencer) plug-in now supports DMF workflows. Use profiles to automate the linking, consolidation, transcode and copy of DPX files in the background using DMF profiles.

How to get the new update

The latest update to Media Composer has already been unleashed on the world, and getting it couldn’t be simpler. If you’re already running the latest version of MC, then Avid will drop you a notification to let you know the update’s available through the Application Manager. When ready, you’ll be given a link to download and install under the Apps tab.

If you’re purchasing Media Composer new, or a Standard Avid Support/Upgrade for Media Composer, Symphony, or NewsCutter, you’ll receive this update in your Master Avid Account. Anyone on current Support contracts can download the update either from their Master Avid Account or the Avid Download Center (login and password required). Finally, if you’re not on a current Avid Support contract, you can get one of those from us to receive the latest software update.

Want to know more? Give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email broadcast@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news, follow @Jigsaw24Video on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

A video guide to rendering CINEMA 4D scenes with Qube!

A video guide to rendering CINEMA 4D scenes with Qube!

Want to speed up your rendering in Maxon CINEMA 4D? Here at Jigsaw we like to share our tips and tricks and, as we know 3D modelling and animation professionals like to learn visually, we put together this video guiding you through the process of setting up CINEMA 4D with a third-party render manager.

The latest R13 release of CINEMA 4D has been a big hit with major FX companies and individual designers alike – although the former might be keen to increase their rendering capabilities beyond what the built in NetRender offers. We used Qube! as an example but the process is effectively the same if you wanted to use another such as Royal Render or Deadline. Watch the video at the top or visit our YouTube channel for more tips, tutorials and product reviews.

For more information on CINEMA 4D and external rendering software, call us on 03332 409 306 or email sales@Jigsaw24.com. You can also visit www.Jigsaw24.com to see our full 3D modelling and animation range, follow @Jigsaw24Video on Twitter or Like’ our Facebook page.

Speeding up rendering at the University of Glamorgan

Speeding up rendering at the University of Glamorgan

The University of Glamorgan were looking for a solution to improve render times on their animation courses. We helped them set up a render farm that would allow quick, collaborative rendering and reduce their workstation downtime. We also provided them with all the animation and rendering software they would need to give their students experience using industry-standard applications.

Eliminating downtime

Before coming to us, the university were using localised computers (i.e. not networked to each other) when rendering animation students’ projects. Each render had to be done on these individual workstations and so, while one machine was busy rendering, it was out of action, and any further design work would have to wait until the process was complete. On top of that, Glamorgan were also using external hard drives for backup, as there was no central server to store files on. This made collaboration difficult and working from home virtually impossible.

Glamorgan needed a solution that could render jobs from an entire class at once, and free up workstations so that students could make the most of their time on campus. They were also looking for a truly collaborative environment that would let their students work together on joint projects, sharing files across a network.

Finding a render management solution

Peter Hodges, head of animation at Glamorgan, gave Jigsaw24 a call and arranged a consultation with our 3D specialist, Ben Kitching, and together they looked at options for the university. They decided that Qube! (a render farm management system) would be the best solution for cutting downtime and allowing collaborative working. Qube! is able to handle thousands of student projects at one time, and its multi-threaded Supervisor tool would make management of the system easy. It would also provide support for a wealth of modelling and animation software and came with a number of application pipelines, including Autodesk 3ds Max and Maya.

The university had also invested in a set of render nodes (computer clusters that form the render farm). These were sent to Jigsaw24 HQ for a system preflight, which involved our engineers making a carbon copy of the disk that could be deployed across all of the other render nodes. We then went onsite to check the farm was running as it should by submitting a number of test jobs.

Software and training

Ben suggested an exhaustive arsenal of exceptional modelling and animation software to complement Glamorgan’s new outfit. These included professional 3D tools such as Autodesk 3ds Max and Maya, Maxon’s CINEMA 4D and LightWave, and plug-in rendering tools like V-Ray and iray. Softimage, Boujou, ZBrush, SketchUp Pro, Brazil and Renderman were also included, so students could add greater detail and effects to characters and scenes. We even supplied Adobe Production Premium, Apple Final Cut Studio and Logic Studio for integrating animation into broadcast workflows.

As part of the installation, we went to the university to configure all the software and, while there were a few initial teething problems in arranging licences for the university, Ben soon ironed them out. He then provided training for the staff at a time that was convenient for them, as well as adding onsite and remote support to the package so we would always be on hand to solve any problems with the system.

Efficient, collaborative rendering

The whole solution has allowed for greater collaboration between VFX and animation students. With the help of Qube!, their new render farm can now be managed more easily and run more efficiently – the Integrated Charting feature lets staff create reports on frame times and CPU usage right on the GUI. Qube! has allowed Glamorgan to push through jobs faster, and to save all their work on a single, central server without being tied down to rendering times.

The students’ experience of working on the new farm will set them in good stead for getting a job once they graduate. The Autodesk software we provided is something everyone starting out in animation will benefit from experience using. And a few of the more specific apps, such as Brazil, will really make the students’ CVs stand out to potential employers, as they will have a wider knowledge of different animation techniques.

Commercial potential

Glamorgan have even thought about the commercial advantages of their render farm, and aim to get the system turning a profit to put back into the university. Their new setup is powerful enough for outside companies to hire for rendering, even while being used by students. As a Citrix Silver Partner, Jigsaw24 have been looking at virtualisation technology options at Glamorgan to give companies secure, collaborative access to the render farm, while also allowing their students to work from home and have access to their applications, shared storage and render farm.

For more information speeding up render times, get in touch with us on 03332 409 306 or email sales@Jigsaw24.com

Using Photoshop in your post-production process

Using Photoshop in your post-production process

Many of us have experience using Photoshop in our post process, but it’s always good to see an example of an extremely experienced 3D artist at work. Step forward Ramy Hanna.

Ramy has written a step-by-step guide to the post process from part of one of his recent projects to design a Media Centre for Klein High School. Whether you’re an expert keeping tabs on the industry or a newer artist looking for ideas and tips: this blog post is well worth a read.

“Many of you have asked for my post production process and here it is.  I typically use AE (Adobe After Effects) for my post work, but for this post I’m demonstrating in PS (Photoshop) because most people use PS over AE for stills. However, the principles apply to all software. Also, I’m trying to keep it ‘out-of-the-box’, rather than show a lot of plug-ins. I always suggest learning the techniques with the software then, once you understand how to create them, go get the plug-ins to make your job faster.

“Some of you already know, but I do most of my modelling in Google SketchUp (SU). Not because it’s better than Max, but I find it super-fast for building design processes. Because we do architecture, SU is apt as it is very good with boxes and simple shapes. If you want to get into character modelling, 3ds Max or Mudbox would be better.

“I also start materials and texturing in SU.  I find SU super easy and fast for texture layout. If I texture most things correctly in SU, I can almost avoid the UVW layout process in Max entirely. The materials in SU are nothing special, just place holders really for the maps I want to use in 3ds Max.

“Using 3ds Max has been great, because I can import SU files straight from Max without needing to export models from SU. The new importer in Max is incredibly powerful. It respects instanced components from SU, remembers UV texture position from SU, and converts SU materials to A&D materials automatically – an amazing tool.

“During import I opt not to import the SU cameras. I prefer navigating in 3ds Max to get my actual camera angles. This is where I add any entourage from my library of 3ds Max models. Furniture, cars, plants, trees, etc all get added here. Then I begin texturing. I swap out SU textures for better texture maps. Or sometimes I replace a texture map with Max procedural maps like tiles and gradients.

“Some of the general settings for my A&D materials: If I can keep glossy samples to 8 then I do. Under Special Effects, I usually turn on Ambient Occlusion, and set the distance to 3′. Under Advanced Rendering Options, I make sure that backface culling is un-checked so I can render both sides of a mesh. If I have a single plane of glass then I check Thin walls.  If my glass is a box or has thickness, then I leave it as solid/thick. I find the real magic behind getting realistic renders lies in the material reflections. I usually have a reflection map that drives how much reflection takes place. In this tile material, the grout lines are black meaning no reflection, and the tile is more white meaning a lot of reflection. I use the same map for a bump effect. I almost always have my glossy reflections lower than 1.0. For this example I have it set to 0.4 – meaning the reflection is scattered at 60%, in this case with eight samples.

“Next I go to lighting.  In this scene I have one Daylight System, 309 photometric lights, and five MR Sky portals, for a total of 315 lights in my scene. This many lights in a scene would typically be brutal. However, for my photometric lights, I opted to use Point for my Shadow type. It doesn’t look as good as the other options (Line, Rectangle, Disc, Sphere), but renders much faster than the others at their default setting. For every shadow that Point renders, the other options render 32 samples per shadow. So this is a big render saver. For my photometric lights, I usually use the default light levels, and switch to photometric web using an IES file for the distribution. As for the MR Sky portals, I try to limit their use to where the large windows are.  Render times take a big hit from MR Sky portal shadows as well.

“This image is what the render straight out of Max looks like, known sometimes as the beauty pass. I render inside models with GI & FG. Surprising to me, I rendered this scene with the default settings for both GI & FG. I was reasonably happy with the results. I did get noise near some of the clerestory windows, but I was willing to live with it. I left all of my lights on, then calculated GI, saved it to a file, then rendered FG from each camera adding onto the previous FG map. Before rendering the final renders, I had one GI map and one FG map for the entire scene. This made it easier for me to switch cameras and not have to worry about changing light maps. The GI map ended up being 154 MB. The FG map was rendered at 50% from the final renders at 800 x 400 pixels, and ended up being 34 MB for all 11 camera angles.

“This is the Ambient Occlusion Pass. If you want to know how to do this, check this post out.

“This is a flare pass for the lights. This can be created in 3ds max, or in post. I usually create this image in Photoshop – it’s faster and gives me greater control on what the flares look like.

“This image is a dummy people pass. I rendered this one out to give me correct scale for adding people in Photoshop later. This way my people won’t look like giants or elves when I scale them.

“These are the people that replace the dummy people. To each person I add motion blur, reflections, shadows etc. Then I save this as a .png file and add it to my beauty pass.

“This is a volume pass that I render in 3ds Max. It is created using the Parti Volume Shader. I then add it in PS and tweak it to the right look.

“Lastly, I render a Z depth pass. Depending on the rendering I sometimes use this. If there really isn’t an object in the foreground then often I don’t use this at all, and rather just manually blur the edges of my image.

“With all of these passes combined in PS, AE or other compositing photo/video editing software, you can take your original image and turn it into something much stronger visually. This quick video should give you an idea of how I add all of these elements together using colour correcting, layers, levels, to transform a raw rendering into a finished rendering.”

All of Ramy’s renderings from the KHS project can be found here.

Source: Ramy’s Renderings on 3ds Max Rendering.

If you’re keen on using Photoshop in your post-production process or would like more information about the software, give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email sales@Jigsaw24.com.

Linear workflow and gamma correction – part 4

Linear workflow and gamma correction – part 4

This is the final part of our series of linear workflow articles. Here, I will look at the manual method of working in a linear workspace with 3ds Max and Mental Ray.

The gamma correction of the bitmap inputs is handled in the exact same way as the VRay workflow, you simply add a colour correct node to the diffuse channel and use a gamma value of 0.4545.

As you might expect, the process of gamma correcting the image output is different for Mental Ray, but is thankfully very straightforward. Press F10 or go to Rendering > Render Setup and select Mental Ray as the renderer, then switch over to the Renderer tab and scroll down to the Camera Effects section. Click on the empty slot next to the Lens shader, and choose a Utility Gamma and Gain shader.

Instance this to the material editor and make the changes as shown in figure 1.

gamma 4

This will bake the gamma correction into your outputted image, which is ideal for test renders or if you aren’t planning on doing any post-production work on the image but, if you are, you will need to remember to return the gamma value to 1 when you are ready to start your final render.

As you can see, it is a very simple process and one that is very easy to implement. And that concludes this series of articles. I hope you have found them informative and interesting.

If you have any questions, call me on 03332 409 306 or email sales@jigsaw24.com. To receive the latest 3D news, follow @Jigsaw24Video on Twitter or Like’ our Facebook page.

Network Rendering III: Third-party management software

Network Rendering III: Third-party management software

Last time, I looked at manufacturer-specific render farm management software. While this software can make a very good solution for many people, it doesn’t tell the full story. Many CG pipelines need to render images that have been created using software from several manufacturers. In order to effectively manage such pipelines, a third-party solution is needed that can queue and dispatch jobs to several software packages.

There are several packages that are capable of this and most of them act as remote program launchers with some kind of front-end queuing system. If you are planning on building a multi-package render farm, you will need a copy of each software package you intend to render along with all plug-ins installed on each of your render nodes. Licensing for this varies between software packages, and most manufacturers offer a number of render-node licenses for free with each seat. Many render farm managers make use of the built-in network rendering functionality discussed in the last article. This helps them to get around any licensing issues and means you can avoid having to buy a fully licensed copy of your chosen software package(s) for each render node.

A few things to look for in a render farm manager are:

Queuing and priority – This should be present in any solution worth its salt – the more granular the better. On a large render farm, options to control queuing/priority on a per user basis can be very helpful. Some managers also have options for creating clusters of nodes that can then be assigned to a certain artist or department. This ensures that, on those nodes, the artist will always have priority.

Resource management – You may have a limited number of render node licenses for certain software packages or plug-ins. For example, you may have 20 render nodes but only 10 licenses for a certain plug-in. If your render manager tries to send frames using this plug-in to all 20 nodes, you may end up with certain elements not being rendered. Your chosen render manager needs to have some kind of method for managing these resources to avoid this happening.

Job dependence – Many render jobs will depend on other other elements being completed first. You may, for example, have a final scene that uses externally created textures. If you were to submit the rendering of both the final scene and the baking of the texture to your farm at the same time, it may try to start rendering the final scene before the texture is baked. You need some way of telling the manager not to start rendering the final scene before the texture is baked.

In-app submission – Most artists will prefer to submit jobs from within their applications rather than using a render manager’s GUI. If you are planning on letting artists submit their jobs directly to the render farm, rather than through a render wrangler station, then it is worth checking that your chosen solution has submission plug-ins for the software you are using.

The Future of Render Farms

Everyone seems to be talking about GPU-based computing at the moment and, with its large amount of relatively simple calculations, CG rendering could lend itself very well to technologies such as CUDA or OpenCL. There are already software packages, such as iray and StudioGPU, claiming tenfold speed increases when rendering on a GPU as opposed to the CPU. These packages are yet to be widely adopted but considering such speed increases, it is bound to filter down into the more mainstream packages as it matures. NVIDIA are already shipping Tesla GPU clusters consisting of several GPUs connected by high speed links. In the future, we may see render farms built (at least partially) out of these clusters instead of traditional CPU-based servers.

 
If you are planning on building a render farm and would like some advice on the options available, give me a call on 03332 409 309 or email us at sales@jigsaw24.com. Visit us on Facebook or Twitter (@Jigsaw24video)

Budget rendering on an iMac

Budget rendering on an iMac

Now, for the first time, Apple iMacs are available with ‘quad-core’ processors (Core i5 or Core i7, if you want to be pedantic). In the same way that multiple processors reduce render times, multiple cores on a single processor also share the computational load. They do this by delegating tasks across each of the cores, as opposed to having one core doing all the work. This can lead to a four-fold increase in speed, especially for rendering. 

Thanks to the quad-core processors, the new generation iMacs are much more efficient than their ancestors when it comes to rendering images – and, of course, they still feature all of the usual gadgets and gizmos you expect from Apple computers.

The workhorse that is the Mac Pro has boasted quad-core processing in previous generations, but only now does its Xeon processor come with the ‘Nehalem’ badge – which is also now shared by the i5 and i7 in the iMac. The Nehalem label itself is exactly that, but it represents some pretty effective technology; while previous Intel multi-core processors are placed on two separate ‘dies’ (parts of an integrated circuit), the Nehalem design is such that all cores sit on a single die. The advantage of this is that no data needs to travel outside the processor when moving from core to core, meaning you’ll benefit from more efficient data transfer and faster processing. Not bad, eh?

To put that into perspective, tests using 3D software have shown that a 2.66GHz quad-core Nehalem processor performs as well as the ‘faster’ 3.00GHz Core 2 Quad. That’s a speed improvement of 340Mhz!

Another feature of the latest releases from Apple is hyperthreading – supported in the Core i7 iMacs and all Mac Pros. Hyperthreading is a process by which multi-core CPUs are able to create ‘virtual’ cores, where two threads/tasks can run simultaneously on one core. In this way, a quad-core iMac has eight virtual cores that your operating system will recognise. Virtual cores are a tricky concept, but the upshot for you is better utilisation of available processing power, better multi-tasking, and quicker rendering.

Finally, on those occasions when you’re not pushing the boundaries of 3D design, all i5 and i7 iMacs and all Mac Pro processors support a feature called Turbo Boost – which is actually as exciting as it sounds (or is that just me..?): Turbo Boost recognises when not all cores are being used, and increases the processing speed of the core that’s in use. This little feature comes in very handy when you’re just surfing the web or streaming video content, as it ensures you’ll always get the most from your machine.

There’s so much more we could say about Apple’s latest releases, like how the new giant, HD screens are perfect for design work (not to mention watching movies!), so if you want to know more about which option is best for you, give our 3D team a call on 03332 409 309 or email sales@jigsaw24.com. Visit us on Facebook and Twitter (@Jigsaw24Video)

Bringing Rendering In-house: The Basic Options

Bringing Rendering In-house: The Basic Options

The most obvious option is to cut out the middle man and build your own dedicated render farm. However, if your performance requirements don’t trump any misgivings you may have about the cost of a dedicated farm, it’s not the only option you have…

A number of render management applications don’t necessarily require dedicated hardware for their render nodes. When a rendering job is submitted these applications can also allow you to utilise the power of your existing workstations and servers, particularly when they’re not busy. This is a great compromise.

Distributed rendering on the computers you already have also helps counter a group of related arguments that are often raised against having an in-house render farm (other than the initial cost) – that a typical office, which is home to, say, 30 workstations, is busy enough already. Or perhaps the server rack is close to being fully populated, so there’s nowhere to put a slew of new hardware.

A great roadmap towards a dedicated render farm


Of course, there is nothing to stop you from combining both options. A distributed render farm, based on the computer resources you already have, is an excellent way to start to enjoy the benefits of in-house rendering – the speed, flexibility and cost savings that you’ll accrue – and as time passes you can begin to invest in dedicated render nodes, adding them as you need them, or as the budget becomes available. Who knows? You could even end up generating income by offering rendering services yourself!

In other words, there is nothing to stop you from gradually creating a hybrid system for rendering. Later, you can even invest the money that you’ve saved by rendering in-house in dedicated rendering hardware.

Adding dedicated rendering hardware makes your facilities ever more efficient and quick to turn work around, all of which clearly helps give you a more competitive commercial and creative edge.

Render farm management software

So, there’s software available that manages not only the jobs being submitted but also the servers and workstations on which they’re being rendered.

Client software can be installed on any workstation to make it act as a render node. It gets better though – more advanced render management software, such as Qube!, can even schedule the times when a particular workstation is to act as a render-node.

The productivity of your artists and designers is never compromised.

The benefits of in-house rendering


  • The rendering process is fully integrated into your workflow, making life easier.
  • The time from submission of the job to its completed return should be much shorter, giving you an edge.
  • You can be much more flexible about submitting and changing jobs.
  • The initial investment needn’t break the bank.
  • It’s easy to scale rendering performance upwards as your needs grow.

There is a clear roadmap all the way up to a dedicated rendering resource without having to discard any hardware or migrate to a new rendering method.

Call our team on 03332 409 309. Email us at sales@Jigsaw24.com. Visit us at Jigsaw24.com.

Bringing Rendering In-House: Further Expansion – a Dedicated Resource

Bringing Rendering In-House: Further Expansion – a Dedicated Resource

As we have already said, many people exploit “quiet time” on their workstations for rendering; they submit frames for rendering either out-of-hours or opportunistically, and this is a great, cost-effective option. However, there are other factors, such as rendering performance, which mean a dedicated render farm may work best:

  • Artists are more creative – When scheduled rendering is not an option (maybe because of tight deadlines and the need to keep the creative process moving) a dedicated render farm won’t draw on the workstations’ processing power or RAM, leaving applications snappy and responsive.
  • Extreme rendering performance – A dedicated render farm is optimised for fast rendering, so the completed job is returned as quickly as possible.
  • Accommodate new projects with ease – The rack-mounted hardware used in dedicated render farms is fully scalable, so if you start a new project you can “scale out” your render farm by adding new render nodes. In an emergency you can also pull in some workstations as additional nodes.
  • Low profile but maximum processor density – There are hardware options that offer thousands of cores per rack, meaning only around two feet by four feet of expensive floor space for a powerful render farm.
  • Protected by server room facilities – Most dedicated render farms can be located alongside other computing facilities and tend to enjoy the protection and security of uninterrupted power, cooling, industrial grade power feed, and restricted physical access. In other words, maximum uptime.
  • Workstations – Regardless of which platform you’ve chosen, whether it be Boxx workstations or Mac Pros, and whether they’re optimised for professional 3D animation or games development and visualisation, a render farm can be assembled to match.
  • Ethernet switches – Connecting the render farm to your workstations, we can recommend options for high performance or close integration with your existing network infrastructure. Gigabit Ethernet is the most common choice today, although 10 Gigabit is available. Leading brands include Cisco, Juniper, HP ProCurve and 3COM.
  • Render nodes – Using rack mounted blade servers it’s straight forward to build a hugely powerful farm. Great choices here include the Boxx RenderBOXX 10200 system or a bespoke HP C-class Blade system.
  • Storage networking – It’s important to identify the right technology for shared back-end storage. The best option for you will depend on your exact workflow. These options include iSCSI, Fibre Channel, FCoE, InfiniBand, and simple NAS over Ethernet. Each has its specific pros and cons that we can cover.
  • Storage – There are some fantastic options for storage. For example, the Isilon IQ series scales performance right up to 20Gb/sec with 3.45TB of shared storage. Even if the numbers are not your thing, the simplicity of management is compelling. For example, more storage can be added, as you need it, without downtime.

The table below shows some examples of the amount of storage that you may require:

10 minute long footage (14400 frames total, 3 passes) = 43200 images

Resolution       Open Exr File size     Total size of project files

1920 x 1080     30MB (per image)       1296000MB
1280 x 720       14MB (per image)

604800MB
640 x 480          5MB (per image)         216000MB

rendering workflow diagram

Points for Diagram:

A)  An artist clicks the render option in his 3D application and is immediately free to continue with his design work. The job passes to the Supervisor node of the render farm.

B)  The supervisor node breaks the animated sequence into frames and allocates them to specific render nodes.

C)  The render nodes pull files they require from high-speed shared storage and process the frames.

D)  Now complete, the rendered sequence is pulled together and made available to the artist.

Call our team on 03332 409 309. Email us at sales@Jigsaw24.com. Visit us at Jigsaw24.com.