Rays Render Team talked about its service, shared the insights of the technology and discussed future plans.
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We are Raysrender.com, an extremely fast render service for CG artists. We kind of implemented a new-generation service because it uses commodity GPU-servers (similar to top-gaming PCs), and we execute each frame in parallel, high parallel. It started in 2017 as a non-commercial Proof-of-Concept pet project while we were working on a distributed computing project. We were researching how may network limitations influence data distribution between remote machines and possibly negate the benefit of cheap commodity hardware at homes. It turned out that though the network has its limitations, they are not overwhelming and given the fact that commodity hardware is 10x times cheaper than in the cloud - it still makes sense to use it. This hardware availability is outweighing any network limitations. In 2019, we decided it is about time to make this work as a commercial service and called it Rays as "rays" in "ray-tracing".
About Rays Render
Rays render is a fully automated single-button render service. It means you just upload your project (as a .blend file or a .zip archive) and click "Start". No setup is required, it works automagically. Internally, there is automated machinery that analyses your project, finds free computers, books them, secures the machine and connection, distributes the data and runs your scene on many nodes at once, then the resulting images are collected and you can download them individually or all as an archive. If you have hundreds of frames - we will use up to hundreds of machines at the same time to deliver your frames in the least possible time. It is simple and extremely fast. Also, we are proud to offer a quite low-price tag for GPU hour which starts at $0.75 per GPU-hour of GeForce 1080Ti with 11 GB VRAM (the market averages seem to be in the range of at least $1-3).
About the Technology
This is a Software-as-a-Service. We have a front-end website that welcomes you, where you upload your files and see the dashboard. Behind the front-end, there are such servers as overseer (it is provisioning worker machines that work by renting them on a computing marketplace, setting them up, monitoring their health and performance), job manager (it accounts how many clients use the service now, what render jobs they started, instructs the overseer how many worker machines are required, deploys the actual render jobs and collects the results), storage service (it distributes data on the remote worker machines), etc. It is a conveyor and multiple servers that process your work on all stages.
There is another feature that makes us different. We run an analysis for each project before the work even starts and predict the render time in advance. You upload the file, we analyze it and offer you an upfront price for this rendering work. If you are fine with this price, you accept it and the work starts. We guarantee that the price will not change, so you can rely on it. We see it that knowing the final price in advance is a value. It's similar to how Uber tells you the ride price upfront. Even if there are traffic jams - the price won't change.
Artists can use it with great ease - just open our website raysrender.com, register with a social network (or just an email for privacy-concerned folks like me) and upload your project. We will analyze it and tell you the price. The rest is on us. We give a welcome bonus for people to give it a try, you have to register with a social network to get your $30.
Rays Render and Blender
It started as a non-commercial pet project back in 2017, and Blender seemed like the best option for that:
- Blender is, for sure, an example of full-fledged CG software, it can be used professionally, featuring a great viewport and a competitive Cycles render engine.
- It was free, we did not have to purchase any license to make our research, and given the fact we have temporal worker machines that are rented on a marketplace the license situation is even more complicated because of many licenses "stick" to some exact machine. Now we work with vendors for special floating licenses, but at that time Blender was perfect in this sense.
- We had some experience with Blender, so it was kind of familiar for us already.
- It was open-source, this openness helped us too in the integration field of work.
- It has arguably the best community, very friendly and responsive.
While we plan to support other CG software, such as Redshift+C4D and Vray, we find Blender an interesting starting point on its own.
We already negotiate with Maxon and Chaos group in order to support Redshift+C4D and Vray in Rays, this software will be supported in the upcoming months, probably in the first part of 2020.
Today we focus on Rays promotion for studios and companies, as well as individuals. We are open to give very special offers for the early adopters. A lot of R&D is in the process, mostly focused on being, even more, faster and supporting other software. There are also some things we work on which I prefer to keep in a secret.