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Helping Businesses Render Faster

Crowdrender helps Marathon Hardware build a batch rendering system to help render their product catalogue

Soooo, not our usual content, but we wanted the world to know what we're now able to deliver custom solutions for CG pipelines :D. One such example is a short project we just completed for Marathon Hardware, a Candadian company who supply products for interior fit out.

Looking around their website, chances are you're looking at something rendered using Crowdrender and Blender.

Loads of Rendering!

CG is used extensively in Marathon's website, they have over 7000 products and, as you can imagine, creating physical displays for that many products is a bit hard. So they turned to Blender to model their products and create virtual displays, their catalogue features many of these, of which, the more recent have mostly been rendered with our addon.

As you can see from this image (from Marathon's Fall 2020 catalogue) asides from there being thousands of parts, there are also different finishes, each has to be rendered as a separate 'variation'. This multiplies the number of parts to be rendered by how many different variations there are. If a part comes in brass, copper or is painted different colours, all of those need to be rendered to represent their unique look.

A Tricky Problem

Our distributed rendering/render farm addon helps accelerate rendering projects in blender, but in this case, the problem was actually finding a way to avoid the manual task of setting up the render for each part and all its variations. Marathon was keen to automate this step and so turned to us to build a solution for rendering the hundreds of parts and their variations.

The Work We Did

We built a custom script, designed completely around Marathon's Blender setup. Our brief was to simply automate the rather tedious manual task of rendering individual parts and their variations. We worked with Marathon's head CG artist to define the requirements for how the solution would work.

This solution was a single python script, running in Blender itself. The script processes all parts its finds, determining if they should be rendered or not based on whether they were enabled according to how Marathon flags models in their projects for rendering. This first phase of processing produces a list of all the parts that are requested to be rendered.

The script then sets up a separate process to render each part, this is important since it protects the job from a render process crashing. Should that happen, the script can move on to the next file and try again, logging this in Blender's UI. Eventually all parts are attempted for render and those which fail can be troubleshooted and retried.

The resulting image files are written to the same place they usually are in blender, the output directory. As much as we can, we avoid making new ways of doing things. Blender already has a way to allow the user to indicate where the output ends up, so we use this in our script. This minimises the learning curve for artists using the script.

What this means for the users of the script

Instead of having to manage each render as an individual job, an entire product set can be rendered with one click. So it's saved a lot of manual processing, like really a lot! This is especially so since we designed a bespoke solution, there was no need for configuring the script as it had been designed around what Marathon had already built into their projects.

Marathon's Catalogue and Website

You might be curious yourself to take a look through Marathon's Fall catalogue, you can find it attached here;

Inspired Living Issue 1
Download PDF • 32.35MB

Also you'll get an appreciation for the size of Marathon's product catalogue and how much stuff needs rendering if you care to browse their website, especially the product section. A good chunk of which has been rendered with Crowdrender and pretty soon the bespoke system we designed will be adding to this.

Would you like to know more?

When we're not busy developing Crowdrender, we're more than happy to work with anyone that wants to have a custom solution building for their tools in Blender, or other apps too. If this story has piqued your interest, then you can get in touch with us to talk about what you'd like building.

There's a link to that here -> get in touch :)


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