NAB 2012: Render Rocket Launches Free Unlimited Test Renders
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The Version 3.0 interface is called Mission Control.
Click on image to zoom.
Cloud-based renderer Render Rocket now offers free, unlimited test renders and a new referral program. "A lot of people are new to rendering in the cloud," explains Render Rocket Vice President of Business Development Tracey Farrar. "There should be due diligence on the customer's part, and this allows them to render five frames at a time at no charge, as many times as they need to, in order to make sure it's correct."

"The creative process does take iteration," she adds. "This allows customers to test the renders until the net result is what they want as well as verify that it will fit with their workflow, all without spending any money up front."

Render Rocket -- which will be at NAB in the CloudMediaHUB Booth #N3222I -- has been in existence since 2005, delivering professional level rendering on-demand to 2D and 3D production teams around the world. Among its media and entertainment customers are Sony Imageworks, Picture Mill, Nickelodeon and others. Among the projects that utilized Render Rocket are Spiderman 3, Superman Returns, Night at the Museum, and Die Hard 4.

"Our customer base is quite diverse," says Farrar. "Anyone doing digital content creation and needs rendering may be a customer. We have the bulk of the visual effects houses and post production entities and animation houses, from boutique operations up to large studios. And, in the media and entertainment space, we also work with a lot of individual artists, as well as marketing, branding, design and architectural firms."

Rendering is available 24/7 over the Internet and supported 7 days a week. The Version 3.0 interface -called Mission Control -- was launched at SIGGRAPH 2011. Cloud-based rendering makes sense for content creators, notes CEO Ruben Perez, for many reasons: it reduces the cost of acquiring and maintaining hardware, software and space to house the machines, as well as the waste of the unused compute power between projects or times of peak demands. By out-sourcing rendering, content creators also have the opportunity to gain access to greater rendering power than they could purchase and thus take on bigger projects.

Render Rocket Vice President of Business Development Tracey Farrar
Render Rocket Vice President of Business Development Tracey Farrar
In addition to its free, unlimited test rendering, Render Rocket is also debuting a new Referral Program, which enables customers to get 100 free credits per month for an entire year for every customer they bring to Render Rocket. "We want to reward our customers who have helped to build this business," says Farrar, who notes that most of the company's business has been through referrals and word of mouth. "Students in particular will get more bang for the buck."

Farrar notes that when Render Rocket CEO Ruben Perez was just starting out, she was trying to sell him render farm management software. "When they started, they were proving a concept that most people didn't think would work," she says. "Cloud-based rendering has definitely become a focus in the industry. The paradigm shift I've seen is that studios that used to want to maintain large render farms now want to reduce capital expenditure and utilize Render Rocket for at least a certain percentage of their work."

Much has been made about cloud-based services being not ready for primetime when it comes to creation of complex visual effects and other, similar work. But the outsourcing for such compute-intensive activities as rendering is an obvious first step into the cloud. The computer animation industry has grown more than 50 percent over the last five years, says Perez, and is currently "more than a $50 billion industry." Certainly a portion of all that digital content is going to require out-of-house rendering, so Render Rocket is already in a sweet spot. And the fact that savvy production, post and VFX companies are already on board is a sign that more such cloud-based services are in the offing.

Mission Control interface details. Click image to zoom.