The Render-to-Video service has been on the community's mind since we mentioned its existence some months back. Each and every update we published that didn't include news about the planned rendering service was met with Private Messages wanting to know what was up. The answer was always the same, "We're working on it." We still are. But we're also ready to see how it performs in the wild.
Breaking the silence on just what Render-to-Video is, how it will (and won't) work, and whether or not you'll be granted access to the public beta is our very own, Roger Wolfson. You may know him colloquially as "The Wolf," but don't worry, though his bite is way
worse than his bark, we've done the dangerous work ourselves, stepped into the den, and came away with all the details. We also came away with bite marks (and quite possibly, rabies). While we tend to our wounds, read on for details on Render-to-Video's public beta, straight from the keeper of "The Contraption" himself.
The Hydra Contraption
While that may sound like a 70's disaster movie, (The Towering Inferno, The Poseidon Adventure, The Andromeda Strain, The Forbin Project, ...,) the particular Colossus I'm talking about today is Bungie's monster Render-to-Video setup, with some large number of render systems wired together (they won't stop writhing long enough for me to get an accurate count), and a 150Mbps tail hooked up to our datacenter. I've dubbed it the Hydra; everyone else calls it The Contraption in hushed tones as they creep by behind it, giving it a wide berth. The low growl emanating from its lair tells me that it's feeding time, and that's where you come in...
We're ready to enter the public Beta phase of this project, which is open to all paid
Bungie Pro subscribers *up through yesterday morning*. We need to have a limited-size audience for the beta, so if you're reading this now and haven't previously subscribed, doing so now won't get you access to the beta, sorry. However, early Pro members whose subscriptions might have lapsed are included, as a thank-you for being an early adopter of our premium service. (Also note that I said "paid" - people who only
have Bungie Pro via the Legendary or Mythic DLC promotional offers
are not eligible for the beta.)
Q. How do I create a video?
A. When a saved film or clip is in your File Share (or someone else's) and you want to turn it into a computer-playable video file, you can click "Render Film" on Bungie.net and it will tell you the cost in "Bungie(R) Points (tm)", based on the length of the file and the resolution you want to render to. If you have enough points, you can confirm your purchase, and a little while later your video will be available for you to view and download. Simple! (Well, simple for you. We have to deal with storing 500GB/day of new content!) There are currently two resolutions you can choose from. Standard definition is 640x360 WMV at about 1Mbps. High def is 1280x720 WMV at 6Mbps. That's full 720p resolution!
Rendered for all of our Visual Learners
Q. How do I get Bungie Points?
A. We expect to make points available in a couple different ways: for light usage (say, one short clip a month), Bungie Pro members with active subscriptions (or, currently, beta testers as described above) will get one or more points dropped into their Bungie Pro account each month at no additional charge over the current Pro plan. You can think of a point like a rollover minute on a phone plan- you can redeem it for your short clip, or save it for a longer one. For more dedicated render users, we plan to offer a pay-as-you-go model where you can buy "point packs".
Q. How do Points work during the beta?
A. We'll start off beta users with 2 points each. For now, standard-def video will be set to cost 1 point per minute, and HD will cost 5. After we make sure that things have spun up smoothly in the SD world, we'll start topping off users' accounts to 5 points so that you can try out HD. Don't worry about saving up points right now, go ahead and use them as you get them.
Q. How do I watch my rendered videos?
A. After the video render is complete, you'll see a video player appear in the web page for your saved film. You can watch the video right there, or download the WMV to your computer. Currently, all Beta users can see the videos of other Beta users, but other users cannot. We're looking into getting enough bandwidth to enable public embedding of the player in the future.
Q. How long is the Beta?
A. We expect for the beta to run until sometime in July, and we plan that real post-beta points will start to accumulate on Bungie Day (7/7). So if you're planning to buy Bungie Pro for the video feature, mark your calendars, since that's the first date that will give you a full year of video service with your subscription!
Q. What's the fine print?
A. Render-to-Video isn't currently a paid service, it's a free Beta being offered to a limited set of testers. So, we can't guarantee any particular level of service, and we reserve the right to change any of the details we're mentioning, or to turn off the service entirely if we have to. (Though we certainly expect that everything will go smoothly, and lead to a great public launch in several months!)
For a few examples of the quality you can expect from the Render-to-Video service, we've prepared three Film Clips so you can get a good look for yourselves. We recommend you save them to your local hard drive for best results. If that sounds like a lot of work, we'll also throw in a Standard Definition streaming video for you.
HD 1280x720, Foundry Contraption - 39MB (Right Click, Save As)
SD 640x360 Nightfall Custom Game - 32MB (Right Click, Save As)