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Support for Multilayer EXR

  • September 6th, 2022

With this news, we want to give the community an update about the latest feature that was added to the farm: Multilayer EXR support!

Ever since SheepIt saw the light of day back in 2008, it has constantly evolved, with more and more features added and more and more Blender versions coming out and being supported. Even now, 14 years later, we are still looking for ways to improve the service for our users.

While we appreciate all the people coming to us with new ideas for SheepIt, we often have to reject a feature request on the basis that it does not lend itself to the situation we find ourselves in SheepIt glues together hundreds of different devices across the globe, each with different specifications, network speed and within distinct jurisdictions. One feature we have been asked about consistently over the years is support for Multilayer EXR, which allows an artist to store the render passes that get generated during the render process and use them at a later time, for example, for compositing in Nuke or Blender. To give just a simple example, this would allow users to get denoising passes and perform the denoising step later on their own machine.
But EXR is helpful beyond just that, as it allows for greater bit depth than most common output formats like PNG.

The reason we have always put off allowing EXR on the farm is the file size of the frames, which gets bigger with each additional layer added to the final result. We also try not to lose focus on our target group: artists and hobbyists who cannot afford a professional render farm. It was always our stance that once you care about advanced features like EXR, you are likely in a professional setting and therefore should have the funds needed to pay for a render elsewhere.

However, with the introduction of support for lossy codecs in Blender, file sizes became more controllable, sometimes even outperforming PNG. And in our survey that we put out at the beginning of the year, people once again showed great interest in EXR support.

We're happy to announce today that we’ve been working on this over the last couple of months and that our investment has paid off!

Before you run off and try it out, please be aware of the constraints we've put in place for the reasons outlined above. Keep in mind that those might change over time as we see how people use this feature.
Therefore we would love to hear your feedback on the current implementation! You can reach out to us via the forum or on Discord or Reddit.

Image by EyeForcz

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