Blender Cloud Rendering Using Amazon AWS EC2 and Google Colab

The first time I thought about cloud rendering, I thought the Amazon AWS EC2—as I have some free resources there. (I got the AWS credit from this event).

Render using Amazon AWS EC2

#update to the latest kernel version
sudo yum update -y
sudo reboot

#install blender dependencies
sudo yum -y install freetype freetype-devel libpng-devel
sudo yum -y install mesa-libGLU-devel
sudo yum -y install libX11-devel mesa-libGL-devel perl-Time-HiRes
sudo yum install xz

#install blender from
wget ''
tar -xvf data.tar.xz

To open Blender software, the basic command is ./blender -b where -b means the software will be running in the background.

The documentation about command line rendering:

Rendering command:

./blender -b file.blend -E CYCLES -s 0 -e 120 -t 8 -a
  • ./blender -b: Running Blender software in the background
  • file.blend: File that will be processed
  • -E CYCLES: Using CYCLES engine for rendering
  • -s 0 -e 120: Start from frame 0 to frame 120
  • -t 8: Use 8 threads of CPU
  • -a: Render using all the setting in the .blend file

This rendering method is quite helpful as I can leave it in the cloud, but the rendering time does not much differ from my laptop—because I only have the access to General Purpose instances in AWS EC2.

However, at least I can leave the rendering process in the cloud without hurt my laptop.

I tried to contact AWS team to increase my limit to use P-type instances that have powerful NVIDIA Tesla K-80 GPU. I’ll update this in the next post.

Render using Google Colaboratory

Google Colaboratory is a platform from Google to execute python script in Jupyter Notebook style + Free GPU.

I used this Google Colab in my previous Deepfake project as it can speed up the process.

As it offers free GPU, I also can use it to speed up my Blender rendering process.

Mount Google Drive

from google.colab import drive

Download Blender

!wget -O 'blender28.tar.xz' -nc ''
!mkdir blender28
!tar -xf 'blender28.tar.xz' -C ./blender28 --strip-components=1

Adjustment for Google Colab

import os

os.environ["LD_PRELOAD"] = ""

!apt update
!apt remove libtcmalloc-minimal4
!apt install libtcmalloc-minimal4
os.environ["LD_PRELOAD"] = "/usr/lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/"


Blender Dependencies

!apt install libboost-all-dev
!apt install libgl1-mesa-dev
!apt install libglu1-mesa libsm-dev

Config data for GPU rendering

gpu_enabled = True
data = "import re\n"+\
    "import bpy\n"+\
    "scene = bpy.context.scene\n"+\
    "scene.cycles.device = 'GPU'\n"+\
    "prefs = bpy.context.preferences\n"+\
    "cprefs = prefs.addons['cycles'].preferences\n"+\
    "# Attempt to set GPU device types if available\n"+\
    "for compute_device_type in ('CUDA', 'OPENCL', 'NONE'):\n"+\
    "    try:\n"+\
    "        cprefs.compute_device_type = compute_device_type\n"+\
    "        print('Device found',compute_device_type)\n"+\
    "        break\n"+\
    "    except TypeError:\n"+\
    "        pass\n"+\
    "#for scene in\n"+\
    "#    scene.render.tile_x = 64\n"+\
    "#    scene.render.tile_y = 64\n"+\
    "# Enable all CPU and GPU devices\n"+\
    "for device in cprefs.devices:\n"+\
    "    if not re.match('intel',, re.I):\n"+\
    "        print('Activating',device)\n"+\
    "        device.use = "+str(gpu_enabled)+"\n"+\
    "    else:\n"+\
    "        device.use = "+str(cpu_enabled)+"\n"
with open('', 'w') as f:


!sudo ./$blender_version/blender -P './'  -b '/blender/Plank3.blend' -E CYCLES -o '//render/' -s 0 -e 120 -a

Google Colab based rendering is about two times faster than the normal (my laptop and Amazon general purpose instances)

The more interesting thing about Google Colab is that I can use multiple Google account to create a branch rendering.

For example:

  • Account 1: Render frame 0 to 80
  • Account 2: Render frame 81 to 160
  • Account 3: Render frame 161 to 240

Voila! It results in 3 times faster rendering!

There is another option to do this thing (using multiple resources to render one file) called render farm.

Actually, I already tried the render farm method to use that three resources to render a file, but it is not working as expected as I can’t access the overwrite and placeholder option in Blender software using the command line.

By Fajrul

Amateur physicist and science writer

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