There are few things in this world that frustrate me more than slow computers. It seems that no matter how far technology advances, the programs we run just get more and more complicated, so we end up sitting and waiting for our computers to catch up. This is especially true in the world of 3D animation. We often work with very intricate 3D models, complex lighting scenarios, and sometimes hundreds of thousands of objects.
We also live in a world where people expect things to be done quickly.
The Hardware Revolution
One of the most exciting advances in 3D animation from the past few years is the shift from CPU (computer processor) rendering to GPU (graphics card) rendering. GPUs are much better suited to handle rendering tasks and you can have multiple GPUs inside a single computer. Suddenly files that used to take over 20 hours to render can be completed in 30 minutes!
At Moxie, we primarily use Maxon Redshift for our 3D renders. Redshift allows for utilization of both the CPU and GPU resources which, when leveraged properly, make for the fastest render times vs. any of the other systems we have tested.
So, What Makes 3D Scenes So Complex?
Let’s use Redshift as an example. When a 3D render is complete, you end up with what is called the “Beauty” pass. In order to create that, the computer needs to calculate a lot of different things. The “formula” that Redshift uses looks something like this:
Beauty = [Diffuse Lighting + Global Illumination + Specular + Reflections + Refractions + Subsurface Scattering + Emission + Background + Caustics] * Volume Tint + Volume Emission + Volume Lighting
And that calculation has to be done on every…single…frame. So, multiply the time that single frame takes by 24 or 30 and you have a single second of animation. Multiply that by how many seconds of animation….you get the point.
Pixar is often used as the “gold standard” of animation, and with good reason. Any guess how long it takes to render a single frame on one of those movies? Well, it can vary based on the complexity of the scene, but speaking in broad terms, it can take anywhere from 1–160 hours. You read that right. 160 hours for a single frame. So, when Pixar gets ready to render their videos at final quality, they split it up amongst giant clusters of computers all across the United States so that it doesn’t take them 10 years to render it out.
We have a similar approach at Moxie (although on a slightly smaller scale 😊). We have multiple high end computers on site that are loaded up with some of the fastest GPUs that currently exist. This allows us to render out most animations in a couple hours or overnight. We also have a couple of cloud based resources that we utilize which allow us to expand our computing power on demand when the need arises.
The result? Well, check it out for yourself in the Testo 300 Combustion Analyzer Launch video Moxie produced. The team at Testo needed a video that showed the product’s smart capabilities, something only possible with 3D animation. And our process meant Testo received a high-quality video on time.
Trust the Experts
Animation is a powerful tool, and to do it right requires a lot of specialized knowledge and hardware. At Moxie, we consider it to be one of our specialties; and our clients come back to us for it again and again. Reach out today, and let’s explore how a professional animation could take your company to the next level!