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rendering explained

Urgh! Rendering! The bane of every video creators life. But what is it and why you may be charged for it?

For those who don't know, rendering (or exporting) is when all the gazillion clips we've edited is processed into a final piece of video.

The longer your edit is (and the more effects that are applied such as colour grades, sound mixing and layers of complex graphics - even the resolution of footage we're working with and format can have a huge impact), the longer the render time.

Computers are powerful machines. But they'll never be fast enough.

We've rendered a 12 second 3D animation which took 12 hours to complete. We've seen wedding videos take nearly the whole day to process a 45 minute video.

But we've also seen videos render faster than real-time (say, if it takes 1 minute to render a 5 minute video for example) - which to be fair, is a lot of what we do.

I can't even comprehend the total number of hours or even weeks throughout our years that we've had to wait for a render to complete.

Just to put that into perspective, Pixar's Monsters University would have taken 10,000 years for a single CPU to render the movie. But it still takes Pixar 29 hours to render a single frame! And that's on their incredibly powerful render farms! So we count ourselves lucky.

Working in video production, we accept that rendering is just one of those things that is out of our control.

But it gets a bit grey when charging for the time.

If a company is spending hours and days just waiting for a video to render, their machine simply cannot be used to work on another project. And if they're not working, you should be charged for that time.

But what if they have another edit machine to work on? What if they rendered overnight or across the weekend? What if the client suddenly wants another change? - The change could be as minute as altering a single pixel on a single frame...but I'll save this one for another day.

Ultimately, whether you will get charged for it can depend on a multitude of factors. Of course, we try to factor this in when quoting for work, but it's down to the discretion of the company as to whether what is asked of them is deemed acceptable vs return business and a happy customer.


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