I recently read an article about "Transformers 3 Computer Graphics Production" which states:

For a last push on the final weekend of work, ILM’s entire render farm was used for Transformers 3.

ILM calculates that that added up to more than 200,000 rendering hours per day - or the equivalent of 22.8 years of render time in a 24-hour period.

I don't understand what type of render time it is? 200,000 rendering hours per day? How is this meant?

  • By a simple calculation this means that at that time the ILM render farm consisted of at least 8300 CPUs. In comparison: the Pixar render farm had 12,500 CPUs in 2011.
    – Oliver_C
    Jan 2, 2014 at 22:17

1 Answer 1


A "render hour" refers an hour of computer time it takes to generate a visual image ("render") from raw input data such as a 3D model. The amount of time it takes to render a given image depends on a LOT of different factors including how complex the input data is (and how much input data elements there are, since there can be textures, lights, etc, in addition to the 3D model data). The "hour" varies from computer to computer. My personal laptop might take 10 hours to render a single image from the Bee movie, but a more powerful desktop computer might be able to do it in just 1 hour. So just knowing that Bee movie took 25 million hours isn't really much to go on. For a true understanding of how long the film took to render we'd need to know what types of computers were involved and what type of input data was rendered.

25 million hours sounds reasonable for a movie such as Bee movie, actually. Feature animated films like this are VERY time consuming to render, and if they're always rendered on large collections of computers such as the Media Grid since individual computers and even small collections of computers aren't enough. The Media Grid has thousands of powerful computers all connected together to render, for example. This is known as a "render farm". - Barbara M

emphasis added

So basically they spent 200,000 hours of rendering to process the raw images into what you see as the final product. You might want to give this resource a look to start and go from there (What is Rendering?)

  • Think of this like man hours. In a typical day in the US, a person might work 8 hours. If you have 10 people working 8 hours, you now have 80 man hours. Mind you it would take 25,000 people to equate this to the amount of rendering hours their rendering farm put out. Jan 2, 2014 at 23:02
  • @Paulster2 correct but in this case the "man" hour if you will is generated by the rendering farm to process the raw data and the label is a bit of misnomer. For example, many mistakenly think light year is a measure of time, but in fact its a measure of distance. This case here the render hours are like light years in that it measures the volume of processing done not how long it took to do it per se. Jan 3, 2014 at 2:35
  • Render hours can be a very ambiguous measurement. Sometimes it refers to a single thread so 1 computer could complete 4 hours if it has 4 cores. It also depends on the speed of a single CPU. Sometimes they use old standards like a 2Ghz CPU as the baseline. Unless these details are stated, then you really don't know how long it would take your computer to do the same job.
    – Reactgular
    Jan 3, 2014 at 3:12
  • @GµårÐïåñ ... Understand and agree. Was just trying to make it a little more understandable through analogy. Just like with men, the more you throw at the problem, the more you can accomplish (in most cases, lol). Jan 3, 2014 at 4:39
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    @Paulster2 you did great my friend, I was simply adding some additional perspective to what you said which was absolutely correct and plainly put :) Jan 3, 2014 at 21:02

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