I recently wanted to explore cloud based rendering and I was able to try two different systems, Deadline 10 and Zync. My requirements were:

  • I needed to render several 300-500 frame sequences
  • I didn't need to collaborate with any other users
  • I had the entire animation and scene built in Maya and setup to render with Arnold (render times ranged from 30 seconds to 15 minutes per frame on a moderately equipped Macbook Pro)
  • I did not have any other local computers or resources I wanted to utilize
  • I am working on a Mac laptop, so the software client needed to work with Mac OS


Deadline 10 is primarily a render farm management tool. It allows you to network together multiple local machines to use as render nodes and distribute render jobs between them. Deadline 10 includes integration with Amazon Web Services (AWS), however the AWS Portal Asset Transfer System that is used to transfer scene files between your local computer and the cloud is only available for Windows and Linux. Without this software, you cannot utilize Amazon AWS.

Installation was not straightforward, as it required a separate installation of MongoDB that didn't install correctly with the default Deadline 10 Mac installer. And only after I got the Deadline 10 client installed and configured did I find out that I could not render with Amazon AWS, because I was on Mac and could not install the AWS Portal Asset Transfer System software.

When I initially installed Deadline 10, the documentation for AWS did not clearly state that Windows or Linux was required. As of this writing, Thinkbox has updated their documentation to clearly label this limitation.


Zync, which was acquired by Google, was far easier to setup and get running. I signed up for Zync, downloaded the Zync client, installed the shelf scripts for Maya, and I was able to submit render jobs on up to 50 machines. There was a comprehensive video tutorial outlining this process, and some helpful documentation. The client and web-based interface to manage render jobs was responsive, useful, and easy to navigate.

The only pain point for me was file upload times, since I had 1.5-3 GB scene files. But that would be mostly because of my slower upload speeds with my ISP. Zync is smart enough to realize when it doesn't need to re-upload a particular asset or scene file. So if you start multiple render jobs without changing your assets, you don't need to re-upload.