The Impact of Render Farm Technology on the VFX and Animation Industries

By Jordan French Jordan French has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team
Published on April 25, 2023

Render farm technology is the reason why animation and video special effects are everywhere. It is why ads went from featuring people to featuring talking Meerkats. It is the reason why every movie is loaded with computer graphics. It is why they can shoot movies like The Hobbit on green screens rather than using the practical effects seen in the Peter Jackson Lord of the Rings movies. The advertising, animation and movie industries will never be the same again.

Once Upon a Time – Pixar Wasn’t Terrible

The animation company Pixar created the first Toy Story movie. After releasing the second movie, they offered up Blender.org. This is the software they used to create the first movie, and they gave it away for free on the Internet.

Back in those days, working on the software was difficult, and rendering the result took days. These days, working on the software is easy because it can run on Smartphones if needed. However, rendering still takes a long time. This is because generating the sort of high-quality graphics and 3D modeling people want these days takes a lot of work.

Back in the old days, Pixar couldn’t afford to produce the sort of crap they create today. They had to make sure their stories were perfect before a pixel was displaced on a 3D modeling program. But, these days, their animation software can be run on any device, and they can use a cloud render farm to quickly render out their products and edit them into a movie. Pixar has Disney money now, and they have a means of producing their stuff quickly, so they create crappy content. They don’t need to succeed, so they don’t.

Modern Rendering Takes a Lot of Work

Back in the old days, producing poor-quality animation and VFX still took a lot of work. Upon the release of the game Resident Evil 8, somebody did a graphics comparison. A boss in Resident Evil 8 is called Lady Dimitrescu, and a section of her associate had more polygons than the entirety of Resident Evil 1. This is a jarring example of how graphics have evolved and demonstrates how much more work is required to render top-quality graphics, animations and visual effects.

VFX And CGI Are Ruining Movies

This is partially true. Cheap design and rendering means that people can throw any idea onto the screen with little thought and purpose. Yet, it is not the tools that ruin movies, it is lazy movie creators. It is far cheaper to create visual effects than to use real-life footage or even to use models. That is why movie makers like Quentin Tarantino and Sam Rami avoid visual effects and use practical effects whenever possible.

Yet, perhaps the best argument that creators, rather than the tools, are ruining movies comes from the legendary producer Guillermo Del Toro. Even back in 2006, his use of VFX enhanced the movie Pan’s Labyrinth. His stunning work with 3D rendering turned Mama into the jaw-dropping and terrifying horror that it was. Now, contrast the ghost in Mama to the sharks in Sharknado, a movie that came out the same year.

The reason the Insidious and Conjuring movies looked so convincing was that they were mostly using people dressed up as ghosts rather than creating them with visual effects. Yet, on the other side, consider how good the Pacific Rim movie still looks. Sure, some of the monsters are perhaps not as wet and glistening as modern VFX monsters, but a movie like Pacific Rim couldn’t be made without VFX/CGI, and it still looks great. Then, for the second Pacific Rim, they got lazy, and the movie looks like one big computer game from 2015.

Long story short, cheap rendering services have made CGI, animation and VFX far more common and easily accessible. Some people have taken advantage of this to churn out garbage, where other people have used it to create amazing cinema, TV and advertisements.

By Jordan French Jordan French has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team

Journalist verified by Muck Rack verified

Jordan French is the Founder and Executive Editor of Grit Daily Group, encompassing Financial Tech Times, Smartech Daily, Transit Tomorrow, BlockTelegraph, Meditech Today, High Net Worth magazine, Luxury Miami magazine, CEO Official magazine, Luxury LA magazine, and flagship outlet, Grit Daily. The champion of live journalism, Grit Daily's team hails from ABC, CBS, CNN, Entrepreneur, Fast Company, Forbes, Fox, PopSugar, SF Chronicle, VentureBeat, Verge, Vice, and Vox. An award-winning journalist, he was on the editorial staff at TheStreet.com and a Fast 50 and Inc. 500-ranked entrepreneur with one sale. Formerly an engineer and intellectual-property attorney, his third company, BeeHex, rose to fame for its "3D printed pizza for astronauts" and is now a military contractor. A prolific investor, he's invested in 50+ early stage startups with 10+ exits through 2023.

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