Free Render Farm: Pros and Cons

When you start learning 3D and begin making your first steps in the industry, free software is much more accessible to new users. There are student versions of popular programs, like 3DS MAX or Maya, however, having to deal with a time limit can often cause anxiety in new users. If you only want to learn 3D as a hobby, Blender is a great solution for such situations: it is free and open source as well as offering all of the features of the commercial product. When it comes to rendering projects made in Blender, one would expect to use a free render farm. These can be very useful while still having a few drawbacks. Let’s start with the basics of how these farms work.

Exchange of rendering

Free farms work as a cloud rendering service, but instead of designated servers, it is based on a network of geographically distributed users’ computers. You download a special client that links your computer to the net, and then it starts working on projects submitted by other members of the farm. Similarly, your projects are getting rendered by those same members. The more projects you do for others, the more others work on projects for you.

This is a great example of free cooperation in the industry. Some farms allow users to form teams: this way you and your co-workers can visualize a project you’ve been working on together and share processing power amongst each other. It also helps you to meet like-minded people online and connect with other hobbyists and specialists.

Downsides

Because it is free, such a render farm comes with certain limitations. It is important for users to be aware of them before starting a project.

  1. Rendering software: A free farm can only be created using free software, because everyone in the network must have it installed and running. Many commercial products set limitations on how online rendering is done and may charge special licensing fees. This is why free rendering is almost exclusively done in Blender.
  2. Hardware load: Sharing your processing power means your computer is constantly rendering projects. If you have an old CPU or GPU, it will take time for you to get enough credits or points in the system to render your own projects. Usually, free farms offer ways of gaining points outside of rendering, but it can still take a long time.
  3. Lower speeds: Free rendering is a good way of boosting the speed for the completion of your project, however, don’t expect miracles. Such farms are very dependent on the number of computers in the network and their individual power. Meeting narrow deadlines can’t be guaranteed, so be sure to include extra time in your planning. Additionally, if you are not contributing much time to rendering other people’s projects, your own scenes get lower priority and are moved down in the queue.
  4. Project size: As a result of the constant need to share files between separate computers, free farms have a limit on the size of the project you can upload. This includes not only the 3D file but all the assets too: textures, maps, caches, etc. Therefore, rendering a video with physics simulations (e.g. water or fire) may not be possible on a free render farm.
  5. Limited support: Free farms work based on the cooperation of users and therefore depend on each individual’s knowledge and understanding of the rendering process. Setting up a proper support team is almost impossible in these conditions. The only people who can provide assistance are volunteers and they may not have the access or tools to fix many of the problems that can emerge.

All of this is not critical if you are working on a personal project with no deadline. Otherwise, you should look into paid services: they are not as expensive as you may think!

Cheap rendering

At Megarender we offer individual rendering of Blender, Cinema4D, and Maya projects. Meanwhile, 3DS MAX scenes can be launched automatically through our online service. You don’t have to guess how much rendering will cost and how long it will take: just use our calculator to determine that. If you are unsure how it may apply to your project, our support team is available all the time for any time zone. We are also ready to discuss special terms for bigger projects if you contact us in advance.

Finally, you don’t have to spend money right away. Megarender offers free trial access to all new users who confirm their phone number. It gives you enough credits to test several projects, learn how to use the online service, and determine if it suits your needs. We don’t put watermarks over your images, and they can be used commercially. 

Sign up and start your first render now!

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