How the Cloud saved our Crowd

Working within a tight deadline has always been a bad idea, especially when dealing with rendering: even if your demo is ready decades before your D-Day, you cannot be safe until you've made some rendering tests... and not even talking about crowd to render... So when we realized that each image of our 40sec crowd demo for Siggraph Asia would require 30 minutes of computation, that we only had one node available for rendering and that there were only 10 days before us, we thought something like "oh oh, it's looking pretty bad".

Well, don't misunderstand me, as Golaem Crowd relies on procedural rendering, generating the crowd geometry at render time is really fast and efficient. But you know, rendering engines have always lots to do and increasing the amount of geometry to render, has consequences. Here's an illustration of the apportioning of the rendering time for a frame of our crowd demo (2000 characters, 1080p, motion blur...):

Fortunately for us and for the sake of Siggraph Asia, we have some great partners. While we were preparing ourselves a slipknot, the guys from Pixar Renderman had a brilliant idea: what about sending our demo on the beta Pixar Renderman cloud rendering solution (powered by the great guys at Green Button using Windows Azure)?

54minutes of Cloud Rendering later, it was in a wrap: magic!

On top of that, we were lucky enough to be invited to tell about our epic story and share our experience at the SIGGRAPH Asia 2011 Renderman User Group Meeting (thanks Dylan!). Here are the slides (with some funny pictures and more information about GreenButton Cloud & process). Enjoy it: