Before the present Digital Everything Era, film editing was accomplished with the aid of complex, Rube Goldberg-like electromechanical contraptions—plus seasoned professionals wielding sharp razors. Classic animated films owe their existence to small armies of illustrators, colorists and photographers—plus other seasoned professionals wielding sharp eyes. Both kinds of productions were labor-intensive, costly, time-consuming, repetitive and tedious.
We are now three decades into the modern computer era, dating from around the time that serious processing power began landing on desktops. The new personal computers (PC’s) eventually evolved to give these animators and filmmakers, as well as the rest of us running businesses or playing games, capable combos of hardware and software onto which we could dump our labor-intensive, costly, time-consuming, repetitive and tedious tasks. Perhaps the most powerful symbol of how far we have come is the “render farm.”
Farms in Hollywood?
Today, film editors and animators have incredibly powerful software tools that require very brainy and brawny computers. Animators work with such applications as Maya, the Strata family, Toon Boom Animate Pro and a number of others, while film editors rely on Adobe Premiere, Sony’s Vegas products, Apple Final Cut Pro (or FCP, now at version 6), the Avid product line and several others. Some applications do 3D, some do texture mapping, some are strictly for character animation and a few combine multiple capabilities. Most of the top applications are cross-platform, running under both Windows and Macintosh OS X, but FCP is still Mac-only and Vegas is exclusively for PCs. Of course, both OS’s run on Intel-based Macs, so there is no lack of choices for production professionals whatever the hardware situation.
However, even with the fastest individual PC or 8-core Mac Pro, there can be a lack of computing power when it comes to rendering—performing the final output—from one of these software programs. While an editor or artist will use a single workstation to create and modify their movie or animated film, they can avail themselves of a group of networked computers—the render farm—to output their files into the final product we will see on screen. This means that the creative process can continue on a standalone workstation while the render farm crunches the numbers to produce those final, finished images.
No more bottlenecks .. rent a PC or Mac
CRE has been configuring render farm rentals from fast PCs and Macs for years, supporting the work of animators, filmmakers, video game artists and post-production professionals. When projects start backing up, clients have a rush job or a system goes on the fritz, entertainment industry veterans know that renting a PC-, Mac Pro- or Xserve-based render farm from CRE can be configured, flight checked and on its way to Ground Zero in no time. Considering the price tag on these potent computers and high-end graphics software, a render farm rental is a cost-effective way to get the work done (fast!) without making a five-figure purchase.
We have pre-configured our capable “render farm toolboxes” to handle most anything you throw at them. An extra 16GB of RAM in the 8-core Mac Pro rentals and the crystal clear, accurate color of the 23-inch Apple Cinema Display HD monitors add serious muscle to these state-of-the-art workstations (and we have 30-inch displays, too). When you request a render farm rental quote from CRE you can specify exactly what you need, tell us precisely what you’re doing and be 100% sure that our Account Executives will configure and deliver not just hardware and software, but an efficient, effective solution to your production bottleneck.