Monday, August 20, 2007


What is a "render wander?"

That's what happens when the progress bar on your computer says "Rendering" for 3, 4, 5 days in a row.

Let's say a shot is 10 seconds long. That's 240 frames. Depending on the scene's complexity, it could take my computer up to 15 minutes to render each frame. Shall we do some math?

240 frames X 15 minutes each = 3,600 minutes (ie: 60 hours... ie: 2.5 days).

Here is a quote from Michael Bay about rendering Transformers animation: “The visual effects were so complex it took a staggering 38 hours for ILM to render just one frame of movement,” reports Bay, “that’s unheard of in this industry.”

Let's say there were 25 minutes of special effects in the 2.5 hour Transformers film (that might be a low estimate). There are 1,440 frames in 1 minute of film. 25 minutes = 36,000 frames.

36,000 frames X 36 hours per frame = 1,296,000 hours. (ie: 4,000 days. ie: 148.4 years).

I gather, then, that Transformers is still rendering? (I'm kidding. I know there was a room someplace at ILM with 1,296,000 processors in it - each one working on a single frame while the animators were asleep). (I'm kidding again. Animators don't sleep!).

Anyway. The point I believe Michael Bay is making here is that the longer your rendering times are, the more kick ass your film is.

And the longer you have to wait for your renders to complete, the more often you go for a render wander. You get up. Wander. Eat. Read. Whatever.


By themselves, a lot of the windows, icons and menus in Maya (3D animation program) look interesting to me. With the addition of a couple textures and some brush strokes they make for nice abstracts.

That's what I do for render wanders. Stare at the monitor until it starts looking like abstract art. Or robots. In disguise.

Here is the Maya screen that became the artwork at the top of this post:

Here's another window:

And what it became: