Conductor: Cloud Rendering for VFX, VR and Animation
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Conductor: Cloud Rendering for VFX, VR and Animation
1 September, 2017

We’ve talked with Conductor’s Mac Moore about the new cloud rendering platform, which can help you render your stuff faster and cheaper.

Cloud rendering is not a new thing out there. A lot of big studios are using services like Ranchcomputing, Render Storm, Rebusfarm and other similar solutions to get some of their rendering done. This helped to make the whole rendering pipeline much easier and more affordable. However, it’s still not flexible enough. Cloud rendering platform Conductor is going to change it.

Conductor takes a bunch of rendering cloud power under its belt (think Google Cloud Platform, Microsoft Azure). It is cloud-agnostic, so it’s safe to assume that the company will support cloud services from Amazon further down the line. What makes Conductor unique is its structure.

You can use more power when you have a lot of stuff to render, or you can virtually cut your usage to a zero. You only pay for render resources as needed. From that ‘stasis’ you can scale up to meet production demands. To date, Conductor has been used to render more than  30 million core hours and 36K simultaneous cores. Bigger companies like Vrtul, Riot Games, Atomic Fiction and Magnopus have already used Conductor to render stuff in “Deadpool,”“Star Trek Beyond,”“Transformers: The Last Knight,”“Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales” and “The Walk”. As you probably expect, to ensure maximum data security, Conductor adheres to MPAA guidelines gets verification through ISE. Say no to leaks.

When we think of traditional cloud rendering we tend to think of bigger companies, studios who work with films and complex CGI. Conductor is much more approachable. A great example is the way a small VR/AR company Magnopus utilized this service. Magnopus is concentrated on interactive VR/AR and therefore all of the content is rendered in real-time game engines. The studio has a very small local render farm of 50 nodes. They use from time to time to do some basic work, but when they got a new task to create a 360-video requiring 5K stereo renders, they needed some additional power quickly.

Conductor was fully integrated within Magnopus’s pipeline in two weeks. Assets are created and renders are submitted in Autodesk 3ds Max, converted to Chaos Group V-Ray scenes, then out through Conductor for processing of renders in V-Ray Standalone.

Conductor currently supports Autodesk Maya and Arnold, Foundry’s NUKE, Cara VR, KATANA and Ocula, Chaos Group’s V-Ray, Golaem, Ephere’s Ornatrix, and Miarmy, Clarisse Pixar Renderman. Support for additional software is on the way.

Thanks to this software the studio was able to render 1,500 frames of 5K stereo footage in a single day. The peak has been over 13,000 simultaneous cores. It was a great and simple way to build new content.

Cloud rendering has been of growing interest the last few years, but the numbers didn’t quite add up. While it offered convenience, maintaining local infrastructure was still generally more cost effective in the long run. Conductor makes cloud rendering much more financially viable, and, in some cases, can reduce a studio’s rendering costs by half. You get all that additional power, and use it only when necessary. It’s a very neat solution for game companies, who want to have some stuff done really fast with a limited budget. With all the CGI economy changing so rapidly, seems like we’re going to see more of these smart and flexible solutions.

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