The Cloud farming out 3D rendering for the masses
In a move akin to providing Supercomputing to the masses, the Cloud is currently offering 3D render farm capabilities to those who can’t create one themselves but have the talent to bring about the best in 3D stories and imagery. Having my own personal experience regarding this I can’t help but feel the bitter irony of it, but it does mean that these smaller teams can now create 3D content to compete with much larger entertainment companies.
About five years back my company was seeking to break into the local cartoon business by applying for a government grant which was in turn trying to bring about a 3D cartoon based on the life of Saladin. We found the 3D talent required to do so and had a very strong stable of story writers, but our main obstacle at the time was that we didn’t have a dedicated render farm. Unfortunately for us, we soon found that creating a render farm for such a purpose would be tantamount to creating a supercomputer cluster on our own little selves. Needless to say, we didn’t get the grant but this is no longer a major obstacle for today’s new breed of small entrepreneurs looking to bring their ideas to life in full 3D, as the Cloud is now letting these smaller teams have a render farm as and when they need it.
Amazon’s EC2 returns again
Asides from Supercomputing, some enterprising digital content creators are now utilizing Amazon’s EC2 or Elastic Compute Cloud to provide a 3D render farm without having to buy, set up and maintain the machines traditionally required for it. While it is perfectly possible to do a render using a single $6000+ 3D rendering computer, even if you were to use it to render 3D 24/7, achieving full and complete 3D rendering for the level of 3D images and video currently being shown would most probably take a year (with your machine probably burning out well before that).
Since most of such 3D video and imagery projects require things to be done in much shorter time periods the fact that you can call up 300 dedicated render machines using Amazon’s EC2 destroys the main obstacle of a render farm for these smaller 3D content creators in a single stroke. Through this Cloud innovation John McNeil Studio was able to create 9000 hours worth of render time in a time period of one week, allowing them to meet their deadline well within the projected time.
2012 set for explosion of 3D content? Maybe not
While companies as a whole are still actively seeking 3D content, the fact remains that there are still not enough devices capable of displaying this 3D content smoothly. While NVIDIA powered tablets capable of doing so are slowly gaining ground in the tablet market, most tablets and smartphones are just not powerful enough to do so. As such, while the capability for a 3D render farm through the Cloud is now available demand for such content still remains the same. We may soon be seeing some new 3D cartoons coming from China though, but it remains highly doubtful that such an exponential rise may happen in parallel to Cloud Computing’s impending growth.
By Muz Ismial