1st Mar 2022 | Development
Sybren A. Stüvel
Almost 5 years after the release of Flamenco 2.0, development has started on a new version: Flamenco 3.
In this blog post Sybren Stüvel describes the current vision on Flamenco 3, with the intent to discuss this with anyone interested, get feedback, and improve the design.
Flamenco is the Open Source render farm software, developed by Blender Studio. It is aimed at performing tasks such as frame rendering, and video encoding. It supports any Blender version, hardware configuration and any other software with a command line interface.
Update 2022-03-02: while the original design proposed to use PostgreSQL as database, the current direction is to leverage an embedded, no-need-to-install database instead: SQLite. The blog post has been adjusted to reflect this.
Flamenco is meant for smaller animation studios and individuals at home. Think of roughly 1-10 artists using it, and 1-100 computers attached to the farm to execute tasks. Blender Studio uses various desktop machines for the render farm when they're not used by the artists, and some developer machines are powerful enough to run Flamenco and work on coding Blender at the same time.
The following principles guide the design of Flamenco 3:
Blender.org Project: Flamenco is a true blender.org project. This means that it's Free and Open Source, made by the community, lead by Blender HQ. Its development will fall under the umbrella of the Pipline, Assets & IO module.
Minimize External Components: Running Flamenco should be extremely simple. This means that it should depend on as few external packages as possible. Apart from the Flamenco components themselves, all you need to install is Blender, FFmpeg. And we're even thinking of bundling the latter with Flamenco.
The downside of this is that development might take longer (because some things that an external service could solve need to be implemented).
No Errors, Guide Users To Success: Instead of stopping with a "no database configured" error, Flamenco should show a helpful interface in which you're guided towards a working system.
These custom scripts should also be picked up by the Blender add-on that's used to submit files to Flamenco, so that there is just one place where customisations take place.
Work offline: Like Blender itself, Flamenco should be able to fully work offline. That is, work without internet connection. If any future feature should need such a connection, that feature should always be optional, and be disabled by default.
Data Storage: Data should be stored as plain files whenever possible. Where a higher level of coordination is required, an embedded database can be used; the idea is to use the no-install-required SQLite for this.
Setting up a render farm is not as simple as pushing a button, but Flamenco aims to keep things as simple as possible. What you need to run Flamenco is:
Since Blender Studio fully runs on Open Source software, Linux is the main platform Flamenco is developed for. Windows and macOS will also be supported, but will need help from the community to get tested & developed well.
Sybren has been working on a proof of concept, which has now been published in the official Flamenco repository on developer.blender.org. Anna Sirota, Pablo Vazquez, and Francesco Siddi are also part of the team.
It will take several months of development to produce a minimal viable product.
The goal of this post is not only to inform, but also to get feedback.
Leave a comment below, or join the discussions in #flamenco on Blender Chat.
Sybren A. Stüvel