2009-08-27

Computing Cloud Rendering with Processing and Amazon EC2

This project is my first experiment with using Amazon EC2 for cloud rendering. The source code is all there and I'll post detailed instructions on how to use it later, but here is a speeded up video of the output:

Computing Cloud Rendering from binarymillenium on Vimeo.



It looks kind of cool, but not too exciting- but there's potential for better things.

What I've done is launched several compute instances on EC2, where worker nodes create individual lines seen in the plots, and then pass data back to a head node, which creates the plots, puts them on a web page for real-time feedback, and stores all the frames for retrieval at the end of the run.

The plots are aggregations of all the results, blue is the presence of any line, and white is a high density of lines, and greenish tinge signifies the line was from a recently aggregated set. It's interesting because the more lines are aggregated, the less the plot changes, so it becomes increasingly boring.

All the plotting and data generation is done using java applications exported from Processing. 3D graphics are also possible, and something like this earlier video could be ported to the scripts I've made. There is no graphics card accessible on the EC2 machines, but virtual frame buffer software like Xvfb and software rendering (either Processing's P3D or software opengl) make it possible to trick the application into thinking there is.

It's not distributed rendering since all the rendering is on one computer, but I think I need to distribute the rendering in order to speed it up.

There is potential for more dynamic applications, involving user interaction through webpages, or simulations that interact with the results of previous simulations, and communicate with other nodes to alter what they are doing.
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