Possible Commercial Render Farm

General questions about Indigo, the scene format, rendering etc...

Would you use this service?

Not a chance
5
31%
Maybe.
2
13%
If the price is right
7
44%
Absolutely. I really needed it yesterday
2
13%
 
Total votes: 16

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early
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Possible Commercial Render Farm

Post by early » Fri Apr 18, 2008 2:59 am

Hello All,

I am Early Ehlinger, President of ResPower, Inc. I am considering adding Indigo rendering to our commercial render farm (see link in my signature), and would like some feedback from anybody that has a moment to reply.

We provide two billing models : metered rendering and unlimited rendering. Under metered, we keep track of the render time and charge accordingly. Under unlimited, you pay a flat fee and can submit as many frames as you like during the life of your subscription. However, frames have a completion timeout to prevent abuse and allow us to load balance between multiple customers. The timeout depends upon the subscription level. For Blender, it ranges from 15 minutes to 2 hours. For all other render engines, it is set at 2 hours.

With respect to Indigo, here are my concerns/questions:

1) It looks like the default for Indigo renders is to continue indefinitely. This obviously doesn't fit in with our existing model very well. Would having the render halt when the samples per pixel reaches some (user-defined) threshold or when a certain amount of time has elapsed be acceptable? These are the -haltspp and -halt command line options.

2) You have more experience than I do with Indigo [ obviously :-) ]. When you export an animation from Blender / Max / etc., do you get one .igs file per frame, or a single monster .igs file? If we add Indigo support, I would prefer to support .igs files directly rather than try to keep synchronized with all of the exporters out there, but I'm worried about having a separate file per frame, as this tends to bog down the network and the associated upload times could eliminate the benefit of rendering remotely. Also, our job submission system allows you to choose a single file for rendering, so if you get one .igs per frame, it makes things a bit difficult in that we would need to have a "master" file or something like that.

3) Our farm is heterogeneous in nature, as we have been "growing" it organically for almost 8 years. Obviously this could lead to noise flickering from frame to frame if an older node renders some frames. To make sure that all frames reach the predetermined SPP level, I'm trying to figure out if using the -r igi_path option will be viable. Does anybody here have experience with that option, as far as how well it works, stability issues and the like?

4) I'm considering pricing this so that it fits in with our existing Blender pricing, which starts at $20 for 15 minutes/frame, unlimited frames, for 30 days. Does this pricing sound reasonable?
Early Ehlinger, President, ResPower, Inc.
Remote Render Farm

neepneep
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Post by neepneep » Fri Apr 18, 2008 3:45 am

Have you perchance taken a look at Indigo's license?

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alexmeyer
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Post by alexmeyer » Fri Apr 18, 2008 3:50 am

Darn, neepneep beat me to it. As I was about to say:

I'm hoping you know this already, but I just want to make sure...
As it says in the "Licensing" section under "About", you need to get a commercial license to be able to charge for use in a render farm.
From uncyclopedia.org, on "Elephant's Dream":

"The choice of the title is highly significant, because while the movie does not feature any elephants nor dreams, no one understands what happens anyway."

Sukrim
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Post by Sukrim » Fri Apr 18, 2008 3:59 am

Well, I don't think that would be a problem for him... if he has the money for a renderfarm he surely has some money reserved for renderers, they mostly aren't exacly free of charge like indigo.

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early
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Post by early » Fri Apr 18, 2008 4:06 am

Yes. I've already sent off an email to Nicholas Chapman asking what the process is. Money is an object of course, especially if I am going to price this similar to Blender.

My questions here are based upon the assumption that the licensing process isn't prohibitively expensive.
Last edited by early on Fri Apr 18, 2008 4:38 am, edited 1 time in total.
Early Ehlinger, President, ResPower, Inc.
Remote Render Farm

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alexmeyer
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Post by alexmeyer » Fri Apr 18, 2008 4:12 am

@Sukrim: I never implied that it would be a problem for him. I just wanted to make sure that he knew what the license was. Again, I'm assuming he knows (especially because, as you said, he does this kind of thing anyway), but I just wanted to make sure.

@early: Great. :D
Looking back through your first post, I figured I'd take a stab at answering some of those questions.

#3: As for noise level, you already touched on that in #1, with the -haltspp option. It doesn't matter if one of the older servers renders for a while, as long as you have the -haltspp level set. It'll just take a bit longer. And are you going to try to save igi files? Those things get HUGE. Especially if you're talking about supporting multiple frames.
From uncyclopedia.org, on "Elephant's Dream":

"The choice of the title is highly significant, because while the movie does not feature any elephants nor dreams, no one understands what happens anyway."

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early
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Post by early » Fri Apr 18, 2008 4:34 am

Igi files - I'm thinking about it, but not having control over their location and name makes it a bit problematic (more than the size does, believe it or not).

The main reason I'd want to hold on to them is that it could make the service more attractive, i.e., specify the -haltspp at submission time, and the farm would use -halt to stop your render after X minutes, depending on subscription level, and restart it (possibly on a different, faster, render node) when a node is allocated to your job again.
Early Ehlinger, President, ResPower, Inc.
Remote Render Farm

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pixie
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Post by pixie » Fri Apr 18, 2008 4:50 am

early wrote:My questions here are based upon the assumption that the licensing process isn't prohibitively expensive.
It's not as if you're going to pay for it, costumers will...

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early
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Post by early » Fri Apr 18, 2008 5:03 am

pixie wrote:It's not as if you're going to pay for it, costumers will...
That depends on the licensing process, and the number of customers. If he wants tens-of-thousands of dollars up front or per year, I'll definitely *not* be supporting it, because the number of customers I'll need to get would be too high to justify the cost.

I've been down the licensing road with a number of render engines out there, and believe me that it can be cost prohibitive. I had one company expect me to give them $1M *per version*, before building a customer base. That's simply insane.

I am optimistic that Mr. Chapman won't be crazy like those guys - after all, he's already giving away the render engine for personal commercial work.
Early Ehlinger, President, ResPower, Inc.
Remote Render Farm

handsomedave
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Post by handsomedave » Fri Apr 18, 2008 7:53 am

I just registered just to post on this topic. It would have happened eventually but I was waiting until I had a project to post.

I have used ResPower in the past and must say it's a great service. I was just thinking the other day that it would be great if Indigo was supported except for the time limit per frame on renders. If frames can be stopped and the restarted on the farm the one limitation that I could think of would dissapear.

I hope this happens as Indigo is a great rendering tool and ResPower would give us a chance at doing animations in a reasonable amount of time.

handsomedave
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Post by handsomedave » Tue Apr 22, 2008 3:02 am

I'm suprised this post hasn't gotten more replies. Is there really that little interest in affordable commercial rendering?

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delic
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Post by delic » Tue Apr 22, 2008 6:15 am

I just want to say that I was very happy using respower, everything worked as expected, with a real interesting price.

And add that Early was always very quick to answer, and resolve any request we had .

Thanks a lot Early, again ... :wink:

Edit :

With blender accounts !

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eman7613
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Post by eman7613 » Tue Apr 22, 2008 8:38 am

although i don't use indigo much anymore, here are the problems i see (not addressed in the order you asked them, im an out of order thinker).

1. Igi files get huge (which is a burdon to the user for download), as they have no compression or anything, you could ask Nick if he would be willing to wright a compressed version, or you could wright your own (or get a volunteer from the community) to do it for you, and somewhere in the jviolet source code is an already existing implementation of the regular igi format. Posible solution to this, is converting the igi files to png for the user to look at online when their rendering period comes up. If they are trying to meet a deadline the PNG will sufice, and they can dl the igi later. Also, if they are not saticfied with the noise level they can mearly submit it for another X amount of time. When finished you update the png version.

2. igs files are just text, they also need textures and models which live outside the file. Though this could be solved by having all files uploaded in a zip archive, it is another annoyance of uploading the file. a different igs file is needed for each frame, but inidgo is not well suited to animation rendering and the only attempts at it have been more proof of concept/fun/i wanted to try it out/ OMG this is taking forever! So i would simply say no multi frame options allowed.

3. indigo supports stopping and resuming renders, so there should be no problem with that but do not top it based on samples per pixel, but time. Different scenes will get different SPP depending on what is going and and features used such as sss & all that jaz. If the SPP threashold is user controled, you could end up with a render that will take hours when they have only bought two.

4.) pricing.... what ever turns a profit?

thats my two (horribly spelled) cents.
Yes i know, my spelling sucks

handsomedave
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Post by handsomedave » Tue Apr 22, 2008 11:08 am

Early it appears you're thinking along the lines of 15 minutes chunks of time with the possibility of resuming the same frame. If that is correct would there be a limit to how many times a frame could be resumed?

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Russdigo
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Post by Russdigo » Tue Apr 22, 2008 9:14 pm

I'd certainly be interested!

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