If you’ve ever edited a video, then you’ve experienced the thumb-twiddling, ceiling-staring experience known as “rendering.” There’s a lot of confusion and aggravation about rendering, so we wanted to take a moment to clear up some important questions.

  • What is rendering?
  • Why does video rendering take so long?
  • Is creating the final file also considered rendering?
  • What can I do to increase rendering speed?

Are you ready for some answers?

Great, now just wait 18 minutes for the rest of this article to render 😉

What is rendering?

In the simplest terms, it is taking multiple elements and flattening them down into a single file. This final file is shareable and complete. There are different kinds of renders, which only adds to the confusion. Let’s look at three main types you might have heard of.

Web page rendering – This is when your browser downloads the web page and works with your graphics card to create the visual components that make up the layout. Compared to the other two examples, this happens almost instantaneously. But even a couple seconds waiting for a web page to load feels like the world is ending so even this quick form of rendering can lead to annoyance.

3D rendering – 3D rendering is not fast at all. This is what you’d use to create animated films, visual effects, and video games. Depending on the complexity of the image, renders can take hours, days, even weeks. The computer will take the various layers and shapes created and then combine them together into a final image. Calculations are made to take into account how light interacts with every surface, shape, etc. Because the visual frame is being created from nothing, the work required is enormous. If you’re working with 3D, you should have a good handle on the basics of rendering so let’s focus instead on…

Video rendering – This is a lot quicker than 3D rendering because the frames are not being created from scratch. Video rendering just takes the changes you make to the source video recording and creates a new file with the changes (let’s be generous and call them “enhancements”) baked in. 

Why does video rendering take so long?

Have you heard of FPS (frames per second)? One second of video is made up of a certain number of still frames, based on the format. The most common frame rates are 24, 25, and 30. The more frames in a second, the more visual information you receive.

When rendering, each frame is drawn by the computer’s processor and graphics card. You might think a 60-second clip shouldn’t take long but that’s 1,800 frames that need building. Plus the sound and any extra layers of effects or text. Basically, it’s a ton of work. Faster computers can do some rendering in real-time to view certain changes immediately, but a more complicated change or working on an older computer will require you to render manually.

Is creating the final file also considered rendering?

It depends on who you ask. And this is where some of the confusion comes in. Some professionals view encoding, which is the creation of the final output file, as the final stage of the rendering process. Others see it as an entirely separate process.

Whether you want to call it rendering or encoding, know that this final process can also take a lot of time. The creation of the final file can often include a lot of compression, to create a final video file size that is manageable. Nobody wants to receive a link to a 30-second clip that is one gig.

What can I do to reduce rendering time?

Okay, so we can agree that rendering sucks but is also necessary. But what can be done to make it suck a little bit less? Here are a few suggestions:

1 – Get a faster computer. A CPU (the brain) and GPU (graphics processing) are the big ticket items that will help you to crush those rendering calculations in less time than your current system.

2 – Use a render farm. Render farms consist of multiple (and “multiple” can mean thousands) processors working together to complete a render in significantly less time. That crappy animated film your partner just made you watch? It probably required close to 30 million rendering hours. It doesn’t matter how fast your system is; you’re not doing that without a render farm.

3 – Try a platform like Clipman. It uses a massive library of video to help you to create stunning videos in minutes. The rendering isn’t necessarily faster but the video editing time is massively reduced. In seconds you can have your video elements picked out and already be rendering/encoding for a final video file. Time saved is time saved, wherever it comes from.

4 – View each long video render as an opportunity to reach out to loved ones, take a power nap, or just stand up to get some blood flowing to your extremities. Wow, rendering is saving lives! 

Happy rendering

The dictionary has different definitions for “render”.

On the one hand there is “provide or give (a service, help)” and on the other there is “give up; surrender”.

We hope that the information provided in this article steers you towards the first interpretation and next time you see “rendering” you take it in stride.

On a deeper level, when even a couple seconds of web page rendering gets us down, maybe we need to consider that the problem isn’t technology – the problem is us…

Nah, it’s technology.