How to render a 2 hour long cg movie on the cheap?

In producing my new film I AM NIGHTMARE I've been able to keep costs really low- since I'm using the same PC/equipment I used on Heart String Marionette which I bought with profits from We Are The Strange by the way-  I didn't have to buy any new hardware/software I was able to use what money I do have on hiring voice actors-

The other major expense I've avoided so far is RENDERING- rendering takes a lot of time and does end up costing a lot of money because of the electricity consumed- it also depends on how much electricity costs where you live- In California where I live it happens to be one of the more expensive places in the US when it comes to electricity as you can see here

In order to keep costs down I want to avoid rendering the film here- PG&E- the power company here REAMS you and they've only gotten worse since I last did any serious rendering- so I'm looking at other options-

How much is power per kilowatt where you live? Its about 20 cents USD here- If its super cheap where you are I'll pack up my render nodes and render at your house ^_^

Where to render?!

Iceland, where my girlfriend lives- where I visit pretty often USED to have 5 cent/kwh power but they doubled it to 10 cent/kwh recently- still thats the cheapest I have access to- Then I'd have to haul my render PC's over there- I don't want to see the oversize/overweight luggage bill for that 0_0

They have a pretty big geek culture over there so I got an idea....

Putting together a LAN party- but instead of using all the PC's to play games- use them to render a film ^_^ Still don't know how you'd pay the power bill but I'm not a business guy haha AND that would probably be illegal according to software licensing etc

Rendering over the internet via online render farms, Amazon Ec2 or renting a remote server has been available for some time- unfortunately my scene files are pretty big at 200 megabytes to 1 gigabyte- compressed with 7zip they shrink down to a third of the size but we're talking 1500+ shots here- upload speed is another roadblock if your in a country that is ranked 34 and 44 when it comes to internet download and upload speed...

I'm in Silicon Valley- you'd think we'd have awesome internet speed but NOPE! The US is ranked 44th in upload speed 0_o The fastest I can get in Silicon Valley is 300k upload - way to slow to upload thousands of 800 meg files- I better move to Lithuania if I want dat upload speed 0_0

IF ONLY I knew someone that had access to a school or work network with lots of decent PC's that we could render on after hours- that would be the best haha

So the ideas that seem the most realistic to me are...  

Use crowdfunding to pay for the power bill and render them myself-
Haul my render nodes somewhere else that has cheap power and pay for it myself
Throw a Render LAN party in some other place that has cheap power

What are your ideas?


  1. Sponsor from some computer company? did´nt you participate in Mac conferences? places where you gave lectures? maybe smaller companies?
    Just a thought...

  2. Australia is ranked 94 in upload speed. This is friggin bullshit man.

  3. "Well, you could whore yourself out to a thousand fat chicks for 50 bucks apiece. Or - or - or 50 *really* fat chicks for a thousand bucks. "

    - Glen Quagmire

  4. Could you maybe just organise with a render farm that you ship them a hard drive/s?

  5. this is some open wonderment here, i know you've had some ppl blindly tell ya to use blender(which for rendering can be crowd sourced); now i don't know c4d super well and nothing about netrender but i guess it could work the same way where you could give an ip address to someone and they'd add their render power to your rendering effectively helping you render your movie. again i don't really know if thats practical or possible with c4d, but its a thought

  6. My suggestion (which is what I am currently doing) is to just have 1 (or even 2) render slaves going for now that are slowly rendering completed shots as you animate the others. Since I'm assuming your work station is already running 24/7 then running 1 more computer probably won't make too huge of a difference. Then at night use your workstation as another renderer while you sleep. Then when you're completely done animating see how many more shots need to be rendered and figure out what to do from there. It might work out the you end up getting 25%-50% of the movie rendered while you are still animating the other half, then you will only have to figure out how to render the rest of it instead of all of it. If that makes any sense, it might just be my backwards stoner loopy way of doing things haha

  7. A lan render party eh? time to learn Blender and avoid licensing BS...

  8. $0.07235 per kWh where I live.
    My electric bills are usually about $60 a month.
    Running a fridge, plus several other gadgets 24/7 on sleep mode.

  9. I save a lot of render time by using locked camera shots, and rendering them a little larger than they need to be, so I only render the background once, and the actors out as png files with an alpha, (it's exactly the same as the traditional 'cel' animation technique, just 9001 times better ;) Then I do a 'fake' camera motion in Comp.. this is for shots where I can get away with it, dialog, L>R walking etc, action shots or any time you want the camera to move, you have to render full shots.


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