Check This Out: Video Tour of LucasFilm's Huge Renderfarm
by Alex Billington
February 25, 2010
Our friends over at SlashFilm just featured a video today from CNET (dated January of 2007) that gives us an inside look at LucasFilm's Renderfarm, albeit an old one. If you don't know, a renderfarm is basically a room full of computers that are used constantly to render computer graphics (either for CG movies like at Pixar or CGI effects like at ILM). Some of these facilities are gigantic and contain thousands of computers because they have to process so much data. In this video, the tech guy that Veronica Belmont is interviewing says that their renderfarm "far exceed[s], in most cases, the capacity of any of the other production houses."
ILM/LucasFilm's campus (as seen in the video) has a 13,500 square foot data center with more than 3,000 AMD processors, proprietary render-management tools, allowing desktop workstations to be added to the render farm pool after hours, expanding the processing capacity to more than 5,000 processors. I know this is a bit old, but it's not often we get an opportunity to look at the technical side of special effects like this and it's cool to see. That photo at the top of the article is actually from Pixar's Renderfarm - you can see more photos on SlashFilm. I can only imagine how much they've expanded if these specs were from 2007.
Mehran on Feb 26, 2010
Ahhh, the life of a Render Monkey. Old video but interesting enough to see the capacity that was required to render complex shots in 2007. I'd be curious to know render times per frame on something like...oh....Avatar? Also, Alex, Special Effects typically refer to on-set or mechanical/practical effects while Visual Effects are usually referring to those done in post-prod and would be the relevant term here. There is a distinction. 😉 Just a little FYI.
Evo on Feb 26, 2010
I bet Avatar would take up that whole thang
Scott McHenry on Feb 26, 2010
I read some where that avatar was 30hrs + per frame.
9mm on Feb 26, 2010
not one lame ass mac
jont on Feb 26, 2010
Was that Roomba cruising around?
VyperStryke on Feb 26, 2010
I wonder how much render time the cheesy gopher in Indy 4 took? I'd want that back!
Crapola on Feb 28, 2010
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