You’re fresh out of a course and gearing up for a job in VFX, running through everything you’re going to need to succeed. Skillset up to date and qualification in hand? Check. Networking efforts online and offline in full swing? Check. Vimeo playlist getting positive comments? Check.
In other words, you’ve got the talent and the education it takes to be successful. But are you also all set up to deliver blockbuster-worthy content, regardless of the type of job you’ll eventually land?
Whether you are contemplating a freelance career or a junior position at a studio, you should also ensure that you have access to the technology and render power needed to grow as an artist and consistently deliver superior results on time and within budget. Here are four ways in which a well thought-out cloud rendering strategy can help you achieve these ambitious goals, and a guide to getting started.
Photo: Fluid Deep Comp by Jeff Ranasinghe
#3 Cloud rendering is highly scalable
Even if you set up your own render farm, you’ll likely try to minimize your upfront investment by basing your infrastructure investment on your average render requirements. This can be the most cost effective way to render if you can consistently ensure a high utilization rate for your local machines.
Unfortunately, whether you’re a big studio or a new freelancer, render needs are rarely - if ever - constant. More typically, the opposite is true and you may face a crisis situation involving maxed out machines, costly project delays and expensive last minute attempts to rent or borrow machines.
To avoid this type of situation plan a modest setup so any machines you do buy are consistently functioning at high utilization rates - ideally greater than 50%. Then, supplement with a reliable and cost-effective cloud strategy that addresses your remaining render needs, allowing you to scale as you get busy.
Photo: Idea Field by Steve Sanders
#4 Work from anywhere, with any system
The VFX industry doesn’t have the best reputation for work-life balance, and big studios increasingly congregate in a handful of major cities, camped around massive in-house render farms.
But for the artist who wants to work a little differently, you’ll be amazed at the scale of work you can actually get done when you outsource your rendering.
I recently met an Australian artist who bought an 18th century church in a tiny town, three train hours away from the nearest big city. He renovated the church and turned it into a creative studio. From this idyllic location, he now produces awesome 3D renders for a variety of clients. True story!
With a stable internet connection and some space in your garage, you can now render files, regardless of where you prefer to sit in the world. Imagine producing that next hero scene via your satellite connection on a yacht along the Pacific Coast. Once your input files are uploaded, all the dependencies can be processed within the cloud. Gone are the days of wasting precious time and money transferring large intermediate files back and forth.
You don’t need to be employed at a large studio to produce work of extraordinary quality, at least not from a rendering and simulation standpoint. A farm like GridMarkets can take on large scale simulations with complex dependencies, VR files in the terabytes and practically anything else that you want to throw their way.
Photo: Waves Abstract by Niels Prayer
How to choose a cloud render service
A quality render provider will support you by becoming a valued member of your team. This is particularly important when you are starting out – you’ll need all the support you can get. Here are a few key aspects to consider when evaluating different cloud rendering services:1. Customer Support
Does this farm have highly qualified staff that can help to solve render problems that may arise? Can I reach their people at any time of the day, any day of the week? Do they understand and are they responsive to my specific needs? Are they able to tailor a render solution to my specific requirements?
If the answer is a resounding yes, chances are that your cloud rendering provider will be a key factor in boosting your productivity. If no, then you may put your project at risk by engaging such a provider.
For instance, GridMarkets carefully selects support staff who are experts at what they do - rendering. A GridMarkets render wrangler will assist you with your render jobs and take you further than you could have gone on your own. That’s partnership and teamwork, and it goes way beyond outsourcing your renders to a bunch of faceless machines.
2. Render Cost
Keeping production costs under control is always an issue, particularly if you are an artist starting out. Look for providers with all-inclusive pricing, which makes it easy to predict expenses. At Gridmarkets, this includes the cost of software licenses, CPU time, storage, bandwidth AND service. For example, if you’re doing HtoA renders, there will be no need to pay for an Arnold licence. And you can store your files in the cloud at no extra cost while you work away on your project. We charge only for your render time to the second - with no minimum usage period.
Well known names like Google and its ilk have made massive investments into their own data centers. However you pay for that when you use them. GridMarkets has upended this model by using a more efficient sharing economy model (think AirBnB). We don’t own our own data centers or high performance machines. Rather, we leverage high performance machines that reside in secured data centers around the world. As a consequence, our costs are extremely low and we pass those savings on to you.
Here are a few security guidelines to consider:
First of all, be sure to understand how your cloud rendering service works. Stay away from crowdsourced render power that may stem from non-secure private workstations. Instead, look for providers like Gridmarkets that only source render power from high performance servers in vetted, secure data centers.
Secondly, make sure that the provider has clearly explained the measures taken to ensure security. GridMarkets’ platform security is aligned with MPAA security guidelines. We specifically focus on network access, system security, authentication and authorisation, logging and monitoring, content management and content transfer. Don’t make assumptions that could cost you weeks of work.
Lastly, interview your cloud rendering provider to make sure you understand how their security protocol works. If they are willing to build a solid partnership with you, they should be happy to address your concerns in detail.
Finally, trial if cloud rendering is right for you
We recommend that you do a bit of research first. Kick the tires on our cloud rendering service and see for yourself if our service works for you. You can get your free account and trial credits by signing up here.
If you do decide to try GridMarkets then we would love to hear about your experience with our platform! Just email your comments or questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.