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Our 3D render calculator is a useful tool if you want to estimate the rendering time of your animation project or anything else for that matter. Whether you are working on a large scale or personal project, this calculator will help answer questions like:

  • When will my render be complete?
  • How many machines do I need to finish by a particular deadline?
  • What is the maximum allowable render time per frame to finish by my deadline?

Browse through the examples below to see how it works. While you're waiting for the render, check out the video frame size calculator to estimate how large your uncompressed video file will be after rendering. If you're going to add some sound, there's the audio file size calculator, too.

How do you calculate total rendering time?

To calculate how long it takes to render a video, follow these steps:

  1. Write down the time it takes to render one frame. This is the time per frame.
  2. Write down the total number of frames in the movie.
  3. Count the number of machines that will be rendering this project.
  4. Replace them in the following formula: total render time = time per frame × frames / machines.

Let's say you've finished setting up a short animation clip and have started the rendering process. The first three frames take roughly 15 min each, and you have 50 frames in total. How long will it take?

In this example, to calculate render time, type 15 min into the Time per frame field, and 50 into Frames.

This should take 750 minutes, or 12.5 hours, to finish rendering everything, assuming you have one machine (i.e., a computer) rendering the project. If you have multiple machines running, increase the Machines count as appropriate. The Total render time will be divided by the number of machines based on the assumption that each machine contributes the same amount of processing power.

What is the maximum allowable time per frame to meet the deadline?

For projects where both time and the number of machines is limited, or for previewing and editing scenes, you may decide to reduce the render quality (e.g., by lowering the resolution or reducing the number of samples) to shorten the render time per frame. For this to be successful, use the 3D render calculator to determine what render time per frame will allow you to meet the deadline.

For example, if you have 50 frames, 2 machines, and you need to finish in 8 hours, follow these steps to calculate render time per frame:

  1. Set Frames to 50.
  2. Set Machines to 2.
  3. Specify the Total render time as 8 hrs.

The answer would be 19.2 minutes per frame. You can then use this value to adjust your render settings so that you can meet your target. To help decide what resolution would be appropriate for your target screen size, check out the the pixels per inch calculator in advanced mode.

Another helpful hint: if you don't know how much time is left until your deadline, instead of setting Total render time, select your deadline in Finish time and leave the default value for Start time (the current time) unless you have a later starting time in mind. The Total render time will be automatically calculated as:

Total render time = Finish time - Start time

How many machines do you need to meet the deadline?

For many commercial projects, the rendering quality has to meet certain standards, meaning that the rendering time per frame cannot be reduced. In cases like these, one way to finish on time is to increase the number of machines. But how many do you need?

To estimate how many machines you'll need:

  1. Set the Time per frame.
  2. Set the number of Frames.
  3. Unlock Machines.
  4. Now, when you specify the Total render time, the number of Machines you need will be updated.

Note, that this method assumes that all machines contribute equal amounts of processing power, and are running 24 hours a day.

How much time per frame did Pixar need to render Toy Story 3? - an example

To further illustrate how this works with a fun example, let's find the average render time per frame in Toy Story 3, based on some numbers from an Insider video article. We learn here that there were over 77 minutes of animation, consisting of 114,240 frames. Pixar used 117 machines and completed rendering in 1084 days. Each frame took anywhere from 45 minutes up to 30 hours to render, but to more precisely calculate render time per frame, follow these steps:

  1. Set the Frames to 114,240. Note that this gives us a Movie length of 79.33 min, which matches closely to the provided animation length, 77 min.
  2. Set Machines to 117.
  3. Set Total render time to 1084 days.

The 3D render calculator tells us that the average render time per frame for Toy Story 3 was 27 hours!

FAQ

How much time did it take to render the black hole in Interstellar?

Approximately 100 hours per frame. The visual effects team split this task using several hundreds of Dell-M620 servers to work on their Double Negative Gravitational Renderer (DNGR) code.

Does rendering with multiple computers lower the rendering time?

Yes. If multiple computers render the same frame, the work is split between them. The formula for rendering time is then render time = render time (single computer) / n.

How can I speed up 3D animation rendering?

There are multiple options to speed up 3D rendering:

  • Upgrade your computer with a better CPU;
  • Simplify the scene (reduce the number of polygons, remove objects not visible to the camera, etc...);
  • Use multiple computers to split the load; or
  • Render using your GPU instead (GPU rendering is faster but might be less accurate than CPU rendering).
Jasmine J Mah
Related calculators
Time per frame
min
Frames
Machines
Total render time
min
Start time
Finish time
Animation summary
Frames per second
Movie length
min
sec
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