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Building a render farm in GCP using OpenCue—new guide available

March 5, 2019
Brennan Doyle

Staff Technical Solutions Consultant, Google Cloud

From rendering photorealistic humans and fantastical worlds which blend seamlessly with live action photography, to creating stylized characters and environments for animated features, we are in a golden age of computer-generated imagery. It’s no wonder that this work requires more and more processing power, faster networks, and more capable storage to complete each frame of these projects.

As the work necessary to complete each frame in a movie grows in complexity, so does the number of scenes requiring visual effects (VFX) or animation. A blockbuster film’s shot count is now in the thousands, and for an animated feature, every shot requires a multitude of different rendering tasks. In addition, visual content created for streaming services, television, advertisements, and game cinematics increasingly call for visual effects and animation augmentation—much of it at the same level of quality as feature films. The number of projects requiring VFX and animation work is growing rapidly and pushing render requirements to new heights.

Google Cloud Platform (GCP) can help by providing resources to get this work done efficiently and in a cost effective manner. By using Instance Templates to tailor a Virtual Machine (VM) in size to fit the resource requirements of each individual frame or task, you optimize your spend by right sizing your VMs. Managed Instance Groups (MIGs) can be used to scale the number of resources in these templates to the amount of tasks you need to render. When processing is complete for each of these, simply shut down the associated resources so you only pay for what you use, when you use it.

But how does one orchestrate the distribution of the multitude of rendering tasks required for an individual film, much less the group of films larger studios work on concurrently?

For a long time, studios have carried the cost of building their own render management tools, or used a third party software provider to help solve this problem. There is now another option. In collaboration with Sony Pictures Imageworks, Google recently released OpenCue, an open source, high-performance render manager built specifically for the needs of the visual effects and animation industry. OpenCue can be run in a variety of ways, and it’s capable of managing resources that are exclusively on-premise, entirely in the cloud, or spanning both in a hybrid environment.

Today, we’re announcing a new solution: Building a render farm in GCP using OpenCue. This tutorial guides you through deploying OpenCue, and all the resources required, to build a render farm in GCP. It explores a workflow for creating and deploying all prerequisite software as Docker images, as well as managing the size and scale of compute resources through Instance Templates and MIGs. It also provides an overview of the OpenCue interface as you manage rendering an animation scene from start to finish.

We hope you find this guide useful. Please tell us what you think and be sure to sign up for a trial at no cost to explore building a render farm in GCP using OpenCue.

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