Render Farms & Blender: Choosing Cycles vs. Third-Party Plugins

by Render Pool

October 6, 2020

Blender 2.83 and 2.90 have shown the 3D modeling industry that it’s a software to be reckoned with; commanding versatility with familiarity and accommodating all users with its open-source, eternally free business model.

However, this simplicity doesn’t always translate well when Blender users try to use a cloud-based render farm to quickly render a scene. Keep reading to find out what you should consider before choosing a render farm for your next Blender project.

Blender’s Cycles vs. Third-Party Rendering Engine Plugins

When using a GPU-accelerated render farm to render your files, you may find that some services do not support Blender’s internal rendering engines Cycles and Eevee. Instead, it’s necessary to use a third-party plugin, such as Radeon’s free rendering engine ProRender.

Though we’ve talked at length about the specifics regarding the differences between Cycles and ProRender, perhaps the largest difference lies in their filenames. If you’re familiar with Blender, you likely know that the software’s filename extension is “.blend”, which contains all of the objects, textures, sounds, images, and effects used inside the scene, and packs them into a single file. It’s a project file rather than a basic 3D image or animation.

These files are forward, backward, and cross-platform compatible with most other versions of Blender. This also includes the internal rendering engines Cycles and Eevee. Their functionality is inherent to the program, so no matter what machine you use to open your file, you can open it in Cycles and Eevee with no complications, with all of your settings intact.

On the other hand, a third-party plugin like ProRender is self-contained, and its data (.rpr) can either be rendered locally within Blender or must be exported from the file in order to be rendered by a render farm. If you were to export an animation, ProRender will give each frame its own .rpr file. For larger projects, this data can become very cumbersome.

Choosing a Render Farm Based on Your Preferred Rendering Engine

If Cycles is not supported by your preferred render farm, it’s possible to convert your project to a new rendering engine plugin, but you will likely have issues with keeping the same material output parameters and settings. Many creators and designers are satisfied with their results in Cycles and to switch their rendering engine setup may not be an advantageous decision.

At Render Pool, we understand the needs of today’s Blender users, which is why we offer streamlined rendering services for both Blender’s Cycles and Radeon’s ProRender rendering engines. Whichever engine you choose to use, your scene will be rendered quickly, professionally, and at a cost well within your budget.

Note: As of the writing of this article, Blender’s Eevee is not supported by Render Pool. Considering the engine’s real-time viewport rendering system and already expedient local render times, it may not be particularly necessary to implement it.

How to Render in Blender’s Cycles Using Render Pool

At Render Pool, we make it easy to upload, render, and access your Blender files using our fast and affordable cloud-based render farm service. The following steps show you just how simple it is to get professional-quality results.

1. Save the Blender File

Once you’ve finished setting up your scene, assigning your textures, and situating your camera in Cycles, all you have to do is save your file in Blender. You can do this either by going to the File menu in your toolbar and pressing the Save button, or typing Ctrl+S.

2. Upload the File to Render Pool

Uploading your Blender file to Render Pool is as simple as logging in to your Render Pool account and navigating to the File Manager, then finding the upload button.

Upload the File to Render Pool

In the drag-and-drop area, you can take your saved .blend file and drag it directly into Render Pool or locate it in your file directory by pressing the ”Browse Files” button in the center. Once you’ve located your file, the next step is to press the yellow “Upload File” button on the right-hand side of the screen to upload it to your account’s File Manager.

Upload File

3. Render the File

Once the file is uploaded to Render Pool, you can start your render by pressing the “Start Render” button located on the right-hand side in red.

When pressed, you will be taken to the render settings where you have the ability to select your render’s:

  • Sample rate
  • File format
  • GPU processing speed
  • Frame selection (start-to-end frame selection if it’s an animation)

You also have the option to switch on Arbitrary Output Variables (AOVs).

Arbitrary Output Variables (AOVs)

After everything is set to your specifications, hit the “Start Render” button at the bottom and the render will begin.

Start Render

You can then view the file’s progress in the Renders manager tab under the “Running” subfolder. The amount of time it takes to complete the render depends on the size of the file and the parameters you’ve set for the render, but it’s usually very fast.


4. Download the Rendered File

When the render is complete, you will be able to download the file by pressing the “View File” button that appears on the right-hand side.

From there, press the “Download File” button on the bottom left and you’re done!

Download File

Render Pool Makes It Easy to Render with Blender

At Render Pool, we strive to meet everyone’s rendering needs. We’re proud to be able to provide effective and affordable rendering services to our Blender users as we continue to grow and support more 3D software.

If you’re a Blender user, we invite you to try Render Pool out for yourself and see how much more efficient and beautiful the results can be. Happy rendering!