Thursday, 11 April 2013

The Present State and Needs of the Animation Industry

These days, the global multi-billion dollar animation industry is dependent on 3D animated projects in films which are completely filled with photorealistic movement, expression, colors and textures. Blockbuster movies such as Brave and Wreck-It Ralph are constantly pushing the levels of what animation is capable of, when the skill and talent of an animator is combined with massive computing power.

As an example of what the requirements of computing powers could be for the modern animation industry, it is not unusual for big shot studios to spend more than 3 hours for rendering every frame of a CG film on a work station. For instance, to render the 100,000+ frames of the 77 minute film Toy Story, it took Pixar 24 months to do so with a render farm which employed parallelism inherently.

The need for great amounts of computing resources is limited not only to animated movies. Even action movies such as Spider Man, Thor and Avengers required scenes which needed to be shot in CG as the situations would not be possible to do so using conventional actors and stunt work. Another cost which needs to be shouldered by studios is the cost of license for all software which they work with. All such software ought to be purchased and licensed for each workstation which would use it.

There are great costs associated in producing an animated movie presently. There are also rigorous deadlines which need to be met to satisfy the seasonal schedules and quotas. All these mean that there would be a benefit from a technology which would reduce the overall amount of rendering time, the cost of overall rendering and free up quite a lot of manpower which could be diverted to other areas of the business.

Such a technology comes in the form of render farms, which are computer clusters which generate CGI in batch-processing methods. They are mainly used for visual effects in movies and television. Render farms give clients access to tools such as 3D Maya graphics, animations, etc in their clusters. They offer CG artists with opportunities to access quality images at an affordable price and in less time via using sophisticated equipment. For managing large farms and distributing the processes to various processors, a queue manager is used. There is also other software which makes the process of communication between the queue manager and the processors smoother.

It is expensive to maintain a physical farm. High performance servers and software for graphics need to be purchased which is a time-consuming process. A lot of space would be occupied by a physical farm. Here is where a remote render service comes into picture. In this model, you can submit tasks online to be processed by a render server.

Fox Render Farm is a well respected provider of online rendering services which bear the stamps of appreciation by several CG production studios.

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