Big and Ugly Rendering Project
||The topic of this article may not meet Wikipedia's general notability guideline. (October 2012)|
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (October 2009)|
Big and Ugly Rendering Project (BURP) is a non-commercial distributed computing project using the BOINC framework. It is currently[when?] under development to work as a publicly distributed system for the rendering of 3D graphics.
BURP also refers to the volunteer and grid computing software BOINC, because BURP needs BOINC in order to distribute computing task among their users. BURP is free software distributed under the GNU General Public License V3 licence. Because BURP is used to refer to both BOINC project and BURP back-end software, some confusion can arise when talking about other services running the BURP software.
BOINC users who are considering joining BURP or ORE/RenderFarm.fi should know that they will not always have work available, as the projects depend on users to submit sessions that need rendering. This may be confusing to new users, as the BOINC client may report "Got 0 new tasks" or other error messages without explaining the reason for not getting any work.
The BURP idea
The idea of BURP is to use spare CPU cycles on participating computers around the world to render 3D images and animations submitted by the users of the BURP network - in other words to build a large shared render farm that can be freely used by those who also contribute computing power to it. The potential processing power of a system like this is enormous—theoretically the rendering speed would only be limited by available network bandwidth.
The fundamental goal of BURP is to give users access to computing power to render animations that would take an impossibly long time on a single computer. By dividing the work among hundreds of computers, an animation that takes possibly months to render in CPU time could be completed in only a few days. BURP hopes to make animations and images public as soon as they are finished so that all participants will be able to see the outcome.
The BURP project was originally started by Danish national Janus Kristensen. The main BURP website went online on 17 June 2004. At that time the only supported renderer was Yafaray and the website was very basic. In August that year it became clear that Yafray was not the best choice, and focus was shifted towards Blender - a renderer with more features and a compact file format.
By the end of October enough tests had been done to show that not only is the distributed rendering of 3D animations possible, it can achieve performance that rivals many commercial render farms. The current trend of increasing network bandwidth throughout the world will make it even more powerful. The rest of 2004 was used to improve and develop the website frontend for the system.
Until May 2005, the Linux and Windows clients got major code overhauls and loads of tests were done to estimate and improve performance of several aspects of the data transfer systems. Most importantly, code for a mirrored storage and distribution system for the rendered output started to emerge.
Although many people have contributed to the source code since the start of the project, the majority of the BURP code base remains authored by Janus Kristensen, who continues as the head developer of the software.
Open Rendering Environment (ORE) and Renderfarm.fi
In 2007–2009, the Open Rendering Environment (ORE) project run by the Laurea University of Applied Sciences in Finland was created. Under guidance from Janus Kristensen and Julius Tuomisto, a team consisting mainly of undergraduate students started to do research on BURP for applications in Finnish small and medium-sized enterprises and third level education. For the project, an independent BURP server was set up in Finland and given the domain Renderfarm.fi, a name which the project is identified by to this day.
Upon its opening to a public beta in summer 2009, Renderfarm.fi claimed to be the world's first publicly distributed render farm that advocated the use of Creative Commons licensing. The main BURP project later followed suit and took up a similar licensing scheme.
Although they use similar back-end code, Renderfarm.fi and BURP have some notable differences in the way their front-ends work. For example, Renderfarm.fi uses the open source Django web application framework for managing information on its website, whereas BURP relies on a custom solution based on BOINC's content management system.
Open by design
When asked about whether the system encrypts or obfuscates the data it processes, Janus Kristensen stated in an August 2010 AssemblyTV interview: "No. The whole system is based on open ideas. When you send files to people, they can look into the files and see what's inside. Actually that's part of what's cool about a project like this. It's community based and not closed down or DRM protected in any way.".
While the ORE project researched the possibilities of using BURP for education and business, it became evident that accessibility would be key in reaching users. The development focus within the ORE project soon shifted towards making BURP more accessible. A script for uploading work to a BURP project directly from within the Blender software was created to address these issues. The script lets the user input a rendering task (the file to be rendered as well as additional information), called a "session" through an XMLRPC interface on the BURP service. Since the release of Blender 2.5 Beta 3, the script has been available as an add-on in the main trunk of Blender.
Supported render software
- Licensing of BURP and related components
- "iSGTW Link of the week - B.U.R.P". 2008-03-26. Retrieved 2012-01-29.
- , BURP Forum post: "Beta is starting soon", author Janus Kristensen
- , "What is Renderfarm.fi?", a video on Youtube. September 2009.
- , Renderfarm.fi, BURP and collaborative movie making on AssemblyTV
- , Blender 2.5 Extensions, Render scripts: Renderfarm.fi, Wiki.blender.org