News and Info 2012

Why is there no time to do it right, but always time to do it over?...

Posted August 10, 2012

I don't want to alter what I consider a good formula, but
unfortunately the RK subscription model has been being really pushed and abused the past few months... For the past 10 years the majority of RK users were skilled professionals, quite capable of co-existing in the sharing model with very little issues and it's been easy to maintain a fair balance and access to render time. Just a couple years ago the typical user of RK averaged between 10 and 20 render jobs during a subscription period, and now the average has grown to between 30 and 50 renders - an increase of average 250% - as well that now nearly all renders are HD - a quadruple or 400% increase in render times. Even with all the increased demands on the farm, this still equates out to an extremely low $25 average per render cost with no regard to the ever growing render times being placed on the render farm. The RK "all you need to render" subscription has become a victim of it's own success in effect.

RK was founded as a farm for professional users, a way for the independent or small studio to apply their skill, talents and efficiencies and compete with the bigger studios for jobs - but it was clearly the users skill and talent that was the hallmark of jobs that passed through RK and allowed them to compete for any job effectively. Recently though, too often a small minority of users are really pushing what I can consider fair use, jobs with every render option enabled whether it's needed or not, the art of lighting has been replaced with one click multi-diffuse GI and the ensuing battles with flickering and endless re-renders creating thousands of hours of wasted renders. GI is now used for even such mundane things as flying logos - which is not bad if you know what you are doing, but would have been laughable excess just a couple years ago - too often being used it seems simply because it is there. These changes in users workflow coupled with incredibly wasteful render settings in far too many jobs regardless of scene content and often with no perceptive benefit compared to traditional lighting. It seems very few anymore even know how to alter and adjust the often too high default settings.

Now as well, users queue up jobs with frame ranges frequently in the tens of thousands of frames, frequently multiple at once - again this is fine if you know what you are doing, but particularly time consuming has been the excessive re-renders of jobs. Yes even the ones of multi-thousands of frames, the entire job over and over again. This becomes incredibly wasteful when often four, five or six versions, sometime ten or more of the exact same render job is put onto the farm nearly back to back, day after day to keep fixing errors that are missed time and again. The skills of working shot by shot and making steady progress that way has been replaced by the "all in one take" render - which means one small error and the whole entire job gets sent to the farm again... extremely taxing and wasteful of render time. Personally I cannot comprehend a client being so demanding to necessitate such frequent repetitive back to back changes and can only assume lack of testing and confirmation of final scene settings before the brunt of the load is dumped on RK with endless "free" render time to process it... and still the jobs are considered urgent each time. It is increasingly difficult in this situation to have fair use and balance, never before was the majority of admin time spend on consoling users access and time demands and making sure a minority of users are not monopolizing 100% of the render availability. It's extremely difficult when users expect the farm is for their use alone and anything less is a personal offense to them. My concerns are these abuses and excesses will negate the "all you need to render" benefit that attracted and appealed to the RK core base of professional users while keeping costs so low.

I am reminded of that old saying, "Why is there no time to do it right, but always time to do it over?" I can only surmise that the farm render time is becoming seen as of too little value by a segment of RK users, worthless and expendible - having so little value to be wasted as it has been. Too often I am seeing users consistantly rush to put a job up and be "done with their part" so the farm can take over - that is subsequently needed to be re-rendered because of user mistakes, apparently only because it is "free" to render it again, and again. Sure everybody makes a mistake now and then, or some unknow bug or issue with C4D can catch even the most proficient user off guard, and everyone knows clients make last minute changes - but nearly back to back re-renders for multiple iterations seems increasingly common unfortunately. It is becoming difficult for balanced access to render time when some are taking excess advantage of the "unlimited free" render time and still demanding instantaneous turnaround in their renders. In the previous ten years RK has only refunded one or two users subscriptions due to users unhappy with the service, while in the past few months I've refunded five - not a huge number, but a noticible change - of users simply because of the griping and unhappiness because they can't have the farm "all to themselves". I often find it difficult to grasp where the misunderstandings in how RK operates and the low costs may have occurred.

My only recourse is to increase the costs of the farm as a way to gain some perceived value back for all the wasted time that is occuring, I want to avoid frustrated users who may be unhappy with RK services due to unfair excesses by a few - unfortunately penalizing RK for what was a positive benefit of unlimited render access being taken to wasteful extremes - no different then a local buffet restaurant would need to raise prices to recoup for the excesses of a few that waste food and discourage other patrons access to their meals in a timely manner.

Next, should there be futher changes needed, I suppose will be to reduce the total allowed number of users in an attempt to reign in the "competition" between users, hopefully balancing the easy access to available render time like it was before. The last resort and one that I hope to avoid will be to move RK into a time based pricing model - where users will pay for exactly what they use - including their excessive waste and mistakes...effectivly ruining what I think made RK so beneficial and valuable but mabye what is needed for that minority to realize the wastes they are generating. This would be the last resort option to make that small minority responsible feel the impact of their actions, sadly it would affect all users negatively as well - but something has to be done as RK is becoming unweildly to manage with the path it is on. Sadly, this is completely opposite of the original goal of RK - but unfortunately it may eventually have to come to this it seems based on the current abuse and usage patterns - meanwhile I'm hoping a little premptive action will keep RK moving forward the way it has for the past ten plus years.

Thank you for understanding and using RenderKing.

dann

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