Render Plus Software

Brand new to the forum and to the product. I work for a small business that just started producing SketchUp models for commercial laundromat investors (Learning as I go). We've dipped into the SketchUp animation pool and found interest in the iRender nXt rendered animations. Problem is, my office PC struggles to produce the rendered animation in any realistic time frame.

Our latest animation produced in SketchUp was ~3 min 45 sec. Fairly quick production time for the finished product. Transposing that to rendered animation at 5071 frames, estimated at 481 hours... So... I dropped the Passes, Resolution, and FPS and ended up around 90 hours. Definitely reconsidering how many scenes I have and working on a good middle ground for configuration quality - but figured I'd regroup and check on here first.

Getting to my main question - does anyone have any recommendations for PC specs when it comes to producing a larger rendered animation? We're considering a dedicated machine for rendering animations/images for time purposes.

My current PC:

Lenovo M93z ThinkCentre

i5-4570S @ 2.90 GHz

16GB memory

64-bit Win7

Intel HD graphics 4600

Any knowledge in this area is appreciated. Thanks.

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The i5-4570S is a 4-core processor (we use all the cores) 
A more powerful processor may run at 4.0 GHz rather than 2.90, which would be about 35% faster.
For the fastest processing you want a fast processor, as many cores as possible, and perhaps a dual processor machine.

16GB of Ram should be fine.

The speed formula is (# processors X Processor speed X number of cores), so for your CPU it is (1 X 2.90 X 4) or 11.60.

If you found a 4.0 GHz, dual processor, quad core machine, it would be (2 X 4.0 * 4) or 32 - which would be about 3 times faster.

You already worked with the number of passes, resolution and frames per second. 

The other thing you can do is try a Panoramic image rather than a movie. (You can make the move yourself, by viewing the panoramic image and recording your screen.) The Panorama is much faster to create - but just keeps the camera in once place and lets you zoom and rotate.

Here is a sample Panoramic image:

You might be able to combine some of your animation with some recorded scenes from the panorama.

Another trick is to pre-render some of the geometry. For instance if there are plants, you can replace the ones in the background with images of the plant.

I would also suggest always rendering to jpeg or png images, instead of trying to assemble the whole movie as an AVI file. That really should be the default, instead of trying to automatically make the AVI file

That way you are protected in case the entire animation process doesn't complete for some reason, and you can later try different codecs or other programs to assemble the actual animation. It also lets you render parts of the animation and then then assemble all the pieces when your done.

Thanks for the input, Al and Rich. A follow up question would be on the video card topic. Any recommendations from users/development on GPUs for quality rendering in SketchUp? 

We do not use the Video Card's GPU for rendering. So the main advantage you will get from a decent video card is when you are working in SketchUp on the model.

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