Although computers have made a significant difference to the speed and ease of the design process for three-dimensional objects, the one area where things still slow down is rendering. This is the process of generating an image from a model and where complex designs are concerned it can reduce even powerful PCs to a crawl. This can prove a major bottleneck to productivity.
What is Rendering?
So how does rendering work? A 3D design usually starts out as a wire frame outline, rendering is then used to apply surface textures to give a solid three-dimensional effect. This can be a complex task, in animation and CGI for movies for example each frame needs to be rendered individually, they’re then stitched together to create the finished product.
Rendering takes into account the position of lighting in order to create shadows and transparency effects. It can also be used to create reflections and where there are multiple objects in a scene these can be used to generate indirect lighting effects where one item is lit by the reflection from another.
Using the Cloud
The problem with rendering is that it is a very intensive process and so needs a lot of computing power in order to do it effectively and deliver results in a reasonable time. A computer powerful enough to do this will be expensive and for most of the time its resources are going to be under utilised.
The answer is to use the power of the cloud to tap into additional computing power when you need it. Via the Internet you can access a ‘render farm’ that has servers available to provide extra processing power when you need it. This can speed up rendering on packages like SketchUp by five times for scenes and up to thirty times for animations. Renting processing power for cloud rendering in this way allows you to use a smaller computer for the initial design, thus saving costs. Most render farms allow you to buy credits for server time so you can choose as much or as little as you need and stay in control of your costs.
You generally won’t need any extra software to render in the cloud, there are usually plug-ins available for most popular graphics packages that will allow you to carry out tasks. It can thus be a seamless part of your design process and make the while process simpler.
[author ]Freelance technology journalist Ian Barker wrote this article about cloud rendering on behalf of artvps.com.[/author]