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What’s the difference between Render Boss and a render farm? (pros vs cons)
With a render farm, you send all your files to an external service, they render it for you and then send those renders back to you. With Render Boss, you basically create your own render farm in your local network.
You can mix and match older machines. As long as they can run After Effects and all your plugins reasonably well, any older workstation can help with a few frames, speeding up your render overall. Plus, Adobe doesn’t require additional licenses for extra render machines (some third party plugins might have different license terms).
Advantages and Disadvantages
The main advantage of using an external render farm is that your computers are not used for rendering, and those services usually have dozens to hundreds of computers connected. So the render itself will probably be faster, but… (and it’s a big but)…
The main disadvantage (besides having to pay for each render) is that you have to prep and transfer all your media, assets, etc to the farm service so they can render it for you. Which, depending on the size of project and media files, it might end up adding much more time than it would have taken to render locally.
Render farms are usually a perfect fit for 3D renders from applications like Maya, 3dsmax, Blender, etc. Because they take a lot of computational resources, and usually only need to transfer textures, project files, etc. Which are much smaller than video files. However, After Effects projects tend to have GBs of files and they take less computational power, so you end up spending a lot of time transferring and less rendering. Which is usually not the best solution.
With Render Boss on the other hand, all your files are already in your local network, so no need to transfer them over the internet. They start rendering immediately with a single button inside After Effects.
Render Boss makes it really easy to make your unused computers available to render, and if somebody needs to use a particular machine, he/she can stop the render on that machine, and the other machines keep going.
If you’re curious about what it takes to set and render with multiple machines, you can check this page.