Cloud Computing and Render Farms in Architectural Modeling: The Basics

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tags : Could Computing Render Farms
categories: 3D Artist Resources , Tutorials

Modern-day architectural plans are no longer done with only pen and paper. Different architectural models often accompany today’s construction projects. These models, both for marketing and construction purposes, use computer-aided design (CAD). CAD helps architects to simulate certain conditions or try to design prototypes without physical risks.

This technology allows architectural firms to give clients marketing material. This is often used for projects that are yet to be constructed, which gives potential buyers an idea of what to expect. Architectural rendering companies like RealSpace 3D focus on models using CAD. These companies create hyper-realistic images and models that serve both aesthetic and functional purposes.

With this knowledge of what CAD can do, one may ask, “How is this possible?”. How does CAD use data points and transform that information into a realistic image?

The answer lies in cloud computing and render farms.

Basics about Cloud Computing and Render Farms

Cloud computing and render farms may sound like something out of a foreign language. However, we will discuss these concepts and elaborate on what they give to the architectural modelling scene.

To start, let’s talk about render farms. When you hear the word ‘farm’, you may think of crops or barn animals. That kind of farm differs from the rendered farm context.

What is Render Farm?

Render farms are, in their most basic form, a network of computers. In this network, there are two types of computers: a computer that executes its given tasks, and a computer that gives the jobs that are to be executed.

The number of computers that execute a task is called nodes. The number of nodes is often larger than that of the task-giving computer. One could think of the set-up, as not unlike an office job: A supervisor hands out and monitors each task to his employees, and each employee rushes to finish his/her task accurately and soon. The output of the processes which these computers do is then ‘harvested’—thus the name ‘render farm’.

Render farms are often confused with supercomputers. However, the fundamental difference is that a supercomputer is a computer specifically designed for a certain purpose. These make supercomputers an expensive investment as they are created solely for the scope of the project to be worked on.

Noting that render farms are often used by start-up rendering and visual arts businesses. A render farm can be started with even just one computer and add more when business is doing well. This makes it the most cost-effective option.

Your render farm can either be home-built, where several physical computers are used for the process. A more stable version is using a cloud or data-centred-based render farm. These render farms use servers from data centres—perfect for businesses that don’t want to bother with tech issues.

However, render farms come at a price. Although the costs aren’t as high as building a supercomputer, they aren’t dirt cheap either. Businesses still have to purchase licensing for render farms software. This could set you back around $4,000 for the software, with each node around $400. For those that prefer to use cloud-based solutions, one can use several online render farm services. The prices for these services are usually priced per frame, and depend on the number and quality of computers you choose.

This is possible with one of the latest technological practices today: cloud computing.

What is Cloud Computing?

Cloud computing uses Internet-hosted remote network servers to store and process data. This eliminates the need for a local server or a physical computer.

Anything based on the internet is essentially cloud computing. Storing your documents in Google Drive? Uploading your pictures on Instagram? Creating a spreadsheet with Excel Online? Those are possible because of the cloud.

Cloud computing is much cheaper than its traditional counterparts. With render farms, cloud computing allows companies to save more. Home-built render farms require a license for each personal computer that is being used—a costly process.

Cloud computing allows virtual arts and effects businesses to outsource their rendering. Not only is it cheaper, it’s more convenient for them as well. Rendering takes time, so while the cloud service renders your project for you, you could do other productive things. Whereas with home-built render farms, consider your electric and other maintenance expenses as well.

Using cloud-based render farms allows different virtual arts companies, both big and small, to produce a variety of 2D and 3D outputs we can enjoy today. In addition, budding architects who specialize in architectural modelling can create their portfolios with affordable services like this.

Whether you’re a large architectural firm or an architecture student, architectural models aren’t just a product of your hard work and creativity, but of technological advances as well. These details are behind the successful rendering of your project to its ultimate form.

Do you use cloud-based or home-built render farms? Let us know in the comments and tell us which you prefer better!

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