Top 5 Takeaways from the AMA with Jules Urbach, CEO of OTOY/RNDR
Jules Urbach, CEO of OTOY and RNDR, held a reddit AMA on 6/23 on r/RenderToken to address questions from the RNDR community. Throughout the over 50 thoughtful and expertly formulated community questions answered, the RNDR team was wowed by the high level of understanding our community has acquired over the past two years.
While we encourage everyone to read through the entire AMA to get the full picture, the RNDR team has put together a bite-sized digest of the most important takeaways from the AMA below:
1 — Execution of the RNDR Purchasing Plan
In March 2020, the team announced a plan for the RNDR network to buy back up to 4.5 million RNDR tokens on the ProBit exchange to fuel liquidity and user acquisition on the RNDR platform. As discussed during the AMA, the RNDR network has acquired 3.2m tokens from ProBit to date, at an average purchase price of about $0.042, and is currently in the process of transferring all the purchased tokens to a token wallet found here: https://etherscan.io/address/0x0e54147eecbc7ebc945b3a59aee7124ff70c6c95#tokentxns
Regarding how the Stripe payments portal acquires RNDR Credits and how RNDR is transferred to nodes, Jules detailed how, “the tokens being sent to node operators for jobs done with purchased RNDR Credits are in fact the same tokens you can purchase on the open market.”
RNDR will continue acquiring tokens on ProBit from time to time in order to support faster network growth and the RNDR Credit system initiative. The RNDR team is also planning to utilize the tokens for user acquisition purposes, which we will publish information on as the new initiatives are released.
2 — The purpose of RNDR Credits
RNDR Credits were created as an intermediary step to bootstrap network usage and to reduce friction by helping artists get comfortable with RNDR, without having to endure some of the frictions of cryptocurrencies — which are difficult for some studio purchasing departments. When someone purchases RNDR Credits, those Credits are backed by RNDR Tokens that have been purchased off an exchange by the company; i.e., when an artist pays for a job using RNDR Credits, node operators are paid for their work using RNDR Tokens purchased off of ProBit.
When addressing longer term automated ways to directly purchase RNDR tokens, new exchange providers and currency gateways were highlighted in playing a large role in expediting the process:
“If you look at the trajectory of payment platforms like Square / Cash App and Paypal, they are all going in the direction of native crypto payments as well as offering wallet functionality.”
In the future, RNDR credits may still be offered in a limited capacity for Enterprise Tier jobs that run on the public cloud, but they will share the same features and interface as RNDR, “to get the benefit of all the development work we have done since ORC [OctaneRender Cloud] was deprecated”.
3 — The Long Term RNDR Ecosystem and Sustainability of the RNDR Economy
Jules discussed the value users get when viewed on a per-watt compute basis:
“A RNDR Token can do more work in 99% of cases than the 25 cent cost of the same GPU on the public cloud — about a $1 worth of GPU work for most users — with much greater availability than even the on-demand GPU work.”
In other words, there is intrinsic utility baked into the pricing of RNDR that exceeds the floor set by the initial token sale as well as public cloud availability. Moreover, the RNDR network offers three usage tiers: Tier 1 (Enterprise) for Trusted Partners; Tier 2 (Priority) and Tier 3 (Economy).
If an artist chooses the Priority Tier, they get 100 OBh, or 4x the rendering power per token compared to the Enterprise Tier. The Economy Tier offers a further 2x gain in OB over the Priority Tier. This is all balanced against node availability and security, and the requirements for each RNDR job vary based on their specific needs.
When this value is better realized by artists and node operators, and combined with more fluid purchasing options, ever-growing network capacity, a fixed supply of tokens, and workloads that need to get done at any price with no other system where they can be executed, Jules envisions the token being “more valuable than the 25 cent equivalent on the public cloud.”
4 — Making scene, volume and mesh data procedural for a smaller footprint
A priority for RNDR is to make it easier for OctaneRender artists to export ORBX files from DCC tools such as C4D. Even if the rendering on the decentralized RNDR network itself is multiple times faster than locally, if the time it takes to export your assets to ORBX and subsequently upload them to the network is slow, it’s an area that should be optimized to speed up workflows. Jules stated that “this is being worked on, and there are some huge improvements we are preparing in that regard”, and will provide more information as new OctaneRender releases are announced.
There is also work underway on making scene uploads “much, much smaller” over the coming months. In a nutshell, Jules wants to “explore making scene, volume and mesh data much more procedural than it is now in a baked alembic or VDB file, starting at the authoring endpoint when we can”. In broader terms, this means moving away from baking to real-time volume generation and texture compression calculations whenever possible, in some cases bypassing VDB altogether. Instead, the goal will be to simulate and to render on the GPU directly, forgoing expensive loading from cache. Embergen FX, C4D Noises, and Sculptron are all milestones on that path to reduce data, ultimately making the RNDR network an even more attractive value proposition for artists.
5 — Network’s Evolution Beyond Offline Rendering
Jules explored some of the potential future use cases for the RNDR network, including the short term goal of “putting the entire RNDR SDK inside Octane”. Once that is done, a web UX would be the logical next step. When asked if it will be possible to use the RNDR network to render in WebGL browser based websites, e.g., a scene with three.js, Jules replied in the affirmative and revealed that the team at OTOY actually “built Chromium as a RNDR module a ways back” that worked inside the Oculus GearVR browser as a remote stream and used the exact same systray launcher as the RNDR client. Adding in WebGPU/WASM support enables running Unity and Unreal content within an ORBX package, which was done for the ORBX Media Player app for VR.
Beyond rendering, “AI jobs are the next highest priority”, with the Octane AI denoiser/upsampling training that is currently running on the public cloud being a prime contender to be moved over to RNDR. A scene and mesh building framework for photogrammetry for the Facebook RED light field camera, another potential source for future RNDR jobs, actually predates the RNDR SDK. Finally, as the project moves to Phase IV, streaming irradiance/light fields to local scenes live will become feasible. Jules envisions:
“That could also be done for entire scene rendering live from a node — this is actually the system we built for Autodesk, and we do plan to get it working for RNDR as a premium, real-time, low-latency node type”.
— The RNDR Team