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3djab
10-20-2004, 12:32 AM
I need to get an animation done by Thursday at 3pm. I have my scene complete. (About 180 motion paths, Dosch cars, RPC trees and static cars) Ready to render! I tried to render the other night and it rendered about 8 seconds worth in about 14 hours! NOT GOOD! I'm doing this at work, and I explained my situation with the IT person, so we decided to set up a Screamernet Render Farm over the network. We are so close to get it working. We have 5 nodes set up and we see the nodes working but, unfortunately, no saved frames. I downloaded Matt Gorner's PDF tutorial (we used it to set it up along with the Inside Lightwave 8 manual) and I just downloaded the video tutorial as well. Saw some things that I may need to change, but here's a question: Matt has listed the config files as LW3...shouldn't it be LW8? (I know, kind of a newbie question, but I never set up Screamernet before so forgive me.) Also, my path is , for example, c:/program files/lightwave [8]/programs...(notice the spaces and the different path.) How should my Target path be written to take into consideration the spaces? I used quotation marks to isolate the line with spaces.
Also, my content is scattered. Not too scattered, and I am able to path everything. Is it worth it to spend some time to reorganize my files into the Lightwave folder and then set everything up again? Also, since I am using the Archvision RPC content, where should that be? Archvision installation of the content manager placed the plu-ins correctly in the plug-ins folder, but my content of vehicles/trees is on the c:/ drive. Should I place it in my Lightwave folder for organizational purposes? Thanks in advance for any insight or recommendations. Hope to hear from Matt or someone soon. Thanks!

BeeVee
10-20-2004, 03:27 AM
1. lw8.cfg is a LightWave 8 config file, lw3 is all versions before (don't ask me why it was 3!)

2. If you have spaces in your path name, you have to enclose the path in quotes. They make it so that anything between the quotes is treated as a whole. For instance:

C:\test expression -d won't work
"C:\test expression" -d will work

but

"C:\test expression -d" won't work because the command line will treat the whole phrase as one thing.

3. You should absolutely use LightWave's Content Directory. It's a simple way to organise everything to do with LightWave content and is nicely explained in the PDF and online HTML manual...

4. I don't know about the Archvision stuff. Sorry! :)

B

3djab
10-20-2004, 07:53 AM
Thanks Ben. So should I use lw3 or should I use lw8? Will it make a big difference? I am assuming it would. I'll retry everything. I'll be at work pretty soon and I'll post my results. Thanks.

BeeVee
10-20-2004, 07:57 AM
That depends on whether you are using LightWave 8, or a previous version? :) Matt Gorner only has 7.5, so he's put lw3... but I presume from your post that you have 8, so use lw8...

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3djab
10-20-2004, 02:05 PM
Okay, I got Screamernet to work, and it's sending files to my screamer_save folder, but all of the files are black. Why? Any ideas?

BeeVee
10-20-2004, 04:06 PM
What file format are you using?

B

3djab
10-20-2004, 04:29 PM
Just logged on again. (So busy trying to figure this out.) Anyways, I'm saving as LW_JPEG....should I be saving as something else? Here's my status:
If I render a scene from "Lightwave normal" it spits out the proper file format and frame and places it in the screamer_save folder, following the network path. When I go through Screamnet, the machines act as if they're processing something, and it's placing frames in the screamer_save folder, but the final frames are 6kb and black.
Also, this scene uses a lot of Archvision Trees and cars. I've been corresponding back and forth with Archvision, and there may or may not be a bug with using the rpc items over screamernet. They did recommend me installing the Archvision installation program which places the rpc plug-ins on each node in the c:/lightwave/programs folder and accessing the content manager through the network. That works fine too...everything is pathed out correctly, I re-organized my files so that all of the content is in the Lightwave 8 folder on my c: drive. Everything looks like it's in place, but alas, no final frames. Ieven tried one of the sample scenes that came with Ligthwave (boxxbott), but still nothing over the network. Help! :(

BeeVee
10-20-2004, 04:38 PM
Okay, first thing, rendering Jpg images to later compile into an animation is not a good idea. Because they are compressed individually, there is no guarantee that colour is going to be consistent over the course of the animation. It's better to stick with either an uncompressed format like TGA, or use one that compresses losslessly, like PNG.

Now, onto the crux of the problem you are having. I asked what format you were using to give me more info on what sort of images you were getting. LightWave's only native image formats are FLX and JPG, which goes some way to confirming to me that your plug-ins are not being found by your Screamernet nodes. You need to check your configs again. It may be worth looking at the lwext8.cfg file in a text editor - you'll probably find that the paths for the plug-ins are not network-safe, that's to say they are using local paths. The reason I say this? Because all other LightWave image formats are actually plug-ins... :)

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3djab
10-20-2004, 05:27 PM
Well, good news...we got it to work. We did a sample scene with one object over ten frames and moving camera motion. We tried both Targa and Jpeg formats and they both rendered.) The Targa files were about double the size of the Jpegs, and we're in crunch mode, so we're probaly going to go with Jpeg. Now, that was with a simple LW scene. We going to try my large scene now with all of the rpc objects. We'll see. Here's a sample of what the finished product is supposed to look like...
Will keep you posted. Thanks for the help.

BeeVee
10-21-2004, 09:39 AM
Although TGAs are bigger on-disk they still take the same amount of memory as the same image saved as a JPG, only they load faster and don't have problems with colour like I mentioned before. You can also render TGA files with a built-in alpha channel, meaning that they are also better suited to compositing work, just so you know. Other than that, your scene looks very nice! You're using the Tuff Little Unit RPC plug-in? How are you finding it?

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kevman3d
10-25-2004, 01:18 AM
Great looking stuff BTW!

Just my 2c worth...

We never use TGA or JPG in production - Instead, we always render to PNG - Its got a lossless compression, so while the files are small, they don't have any issues with artifacting like JPG can.

They also support low bit colour (making them great for smaller texture maps) and high 32 bit formats (embedded Alpha) and can be loaded in most compositing and editing software. Bonus is that they don't eat up the drive space as quickly as TGA's do.

BeeVee
10-25-2004, 04:54 AM
Quite agree Kev - I personally use PNGs for almost everything - however I was going for Lowest Common Denominator, there are still some godforsaken apps that don't like PNGs... :)

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3djab
10-25-2004, 11:32 AM
Good morning! Well, our presentation went well. We couldn't produce the animation that we wanted to, but what we did show was enough. Everyone was excited about what we are now capable of doing in terms of visualization. Our only drawback is the fact that Archvision RPC objects will not render over Screamernet due to the plug-in not being able to work in DOS mode. (Setting up the nodes with the batch file on each machine is a DOS command, hence, not being able to work. It took us about 5 hours of trying 'til we finally found out via email to Archvision that they verified our findings. But they're working on it. Quick responses and very nice organization to work with. And their product is making our life and end results a lot easier.) Thanks for the nice comments and the additional info as far as file formats are concerned. Here's a question: We now have everyone fired up about Lightwave and everyone wants me to work on their project and make it look "real". The problem is that I need a new machine. We would like to set up a small "dedicated" renderfarm (assuming that Archvision will have their product workable over a network in the near future.) Our IT person will be ordering products from Dell. Any recommendations in regards to what kind of system to set up for a small render farm? I see on Dells website that they have a system that they recommend for Lightwave, which we'll probably get. Should we get servers? Or duals with lots of RAM? Any info would be great. Thanks!

3djab
12-02-2004, 12:04 AM
Got a new system at work. Set up ScreamerNet...my old system as node 2 and my new system as node1. I have the new Archvision RPC plug-in. Installed it and now running as a service over the network. (It works great.) Here's the problem: All of the RPC objects are rendering and being saved as separate frames; the rest of my scene is not. I re-saved the config files into my "config" and "config_sn" folders, and I'm getting closer now. It's rendering everything in my scene (RPC cars and trees, Lightwave objects), the only thing that missing now are the image maps on the buildings I created. (jpeg's and tifs) When I open up the models indvidually in Modeler, everything is mapped correctly. Is there a plug-in the I need to be aware of when I scan my directory for plug-ins? I'm so close to having this work properly and I'm sure I'll figure it out tomorrow, but I thought I would throw this out to see if I could get a head start for the morning. Thanks.

BeeVee
12-02-2004, 02:50 AM
The problem you are having is almost certainly because there's a problem in your config and the other machines can't see the images. Make sure you use LightWave's Content Directory system to work with your scene, and the fact that you are only getting still images instead of animations is perfectly correct with Screamernet - it doesn't know when it will be getting each frame and they might arrive out of sequence because of a mix of speeds of machine rendering each frame, so it won't save an animation. However, you can make an anim in LightWave in extremely rapid time (and quite flexibly) by following this route:

1. Load your first image into Image Editor and tell it that there's a sequence. Image Editor will go and find the rest of the images itself;
2. Assign the image to be the camera backdrop;
3. Turn on view Camera Backdrop in Display Options if you want to see how the anim will turn out, but this step is completely irrelevant to actually creating an animation;
4. Set your camera properties to the same size as the rendered images and make sure there's no anti-aliasing;
5. Set Render options to render in the animation format of your choice and hit F10. Each frame (depending on the size) will probably take less than a second to add to an animation.

For more flexibility you can repeat the process and change the camera view size to make a smaller animation, perhaps for the website, or change the format, to DiVX or Quicktime for example.

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kevman3d
12-02-2004, 03:31 AM
the only thing that missing now are the image maps on the buildings I created. (jpeg's and tifs) When I open up the models indvidually in Modeler, everything is mapped correctly.

I'm going to assume that your content directory is not set up properly, and that you probably have the images linked with the wrong path.

Best thing to do is run the 'Content Manager' tool and see what it says (It'll quickly tell you about external files in the second screen where you can set the 'output' directories for content)

I tend to always use it to do a clean export of my projects to our render farm. Keeps things clean too - Gets rid of all those 'old' versions of models/images/scenes, and gives you just the files for that scene. :o

Note that you will need to manually move any other files like mdd, pfx, etc manually as content manager is really in need of an overhaul

If LScript had a 'copy' or 'move' file function (it doesn't appear to have either!), I would have added some of that missing functionality into LCSM since it does a few local content tests internally... I had code there - Then I found no LScript command to do the task I needed! :confused:

ned
12-02-2004, 05:01 AM
3djab regarding your question about a good Dell PC for LW. We have 20 dells that I have installed in a school where I teach LW. They are wonderful machines.

My recomendations buy some in the 4700 series. They have room in the case for a 2nd HD. Get the fastest machine they have, buy a nother HD from 3rd party. Get cheap video card and minimum everything else since they are going to be just render machines.

3djab
12-02-2004, 10:58 AM
Quote: (Kevman wrote)
I'm going to assume that your content directory is not set up properly, and that you probably have the images linked with the wrong path.

Best thing to do is run the 'Content Manager' tool and see what it says (It'll quickly tell you about external files in the second screen where you can set the 'output' directories for content)

I tend to always use it to do a clean export of my projects to our render farm. Keeps things clean too - Gets rid of all those 'old' versions of models/images/scenes, and gives you just the files for that scene.

Thanks Kevman, BeeVee and Ned. I appreciate the input and the fast responses.
I'm at work now, and I'm looking at my content manager and, yes, my images are still being pathed locally instead of through the network. Can I change this setting directly within Content Manager? I think this is the final piece of the puzzle. I'm working in the Screamernet version of Layout currently.

(Ned, since I was a good boy at work, they upgraded my system to a Dell Dual Xeon 3.6gHz machine with 4 gigs of RAM. Strictly for Lightwave! Lovin' it!) Now if I can get this ScreamerNet working, we'll all be happy campers here. Thanks.

Matt
12-03-2004, 08:47 AM
Ooops! Just seen this thread! Sorry for not replying but thanks to Ben for stepping in for me! :)

So, let me get this right - everything is rendering and working except the image maps aren't loading?

That's odd, if ScreamerNet can find your objects and scenes (assuming all your content is in the same directory) then it should be able to find your image maps.

Can you tell us more about your directory structure for your content, are all your image, object and scene folders in one folder?

Also, what format are your image maps?

Cheers
Matt

3djab
12-03-2004, 03:22 PM
I actually got it to work last night. I kept working at it and my work around was to open up my scene and repath everything that has an image map for a texture. I opened up the Surface Editor and loaded the texture for my individual surfaces through the network. From Kevmans response I was able to see where everything was pathed via the Content Manager. But I'm not sure how to use that correctly so that it repaths my images to the correct path (through the network. Consolidate feature?). Also, I ahve a question in regards to how I use Layout from this point on. When I start "regular" layout, my content directory still sees my network path. Is this correct or should it see my local? (I'm assuming local.) And when I work on a scene, (in regular Layout), do I load objects and attach my images locally or through the network? My guess is that since they're both saving with different config files, that it should retain separate paths, correct? Anyways, the main thing is that I got it to work, and it worked beautifully with the RPC objects. I wish I had more time to work on all of the little details, but it's crunch time, and there's been a lot of trial and error this week, so now I just need to produce. Here's a sample frame of the project. (Trust me, I've critiqued it quite a bit. I'm kinda hard on myself, but everyone else seems to like the end result.) Thanks!

kevman3d
12-05-2004, 01:38 AM
From Kevmans response I was able to see where everything was pathed via the Content Manager. But I'm not sure how to use that correctly so that it repaths my images to the correct path (through the network. Consolidate feature?).

...

Also, I have a question in regards to how I use Layout from this point on. When I start "regular" layout, my content directory still sees my network path. Is this correct or should it see my local? (I'm assuming local.) And when I work on a scene, (in regular Layout), do I load objects and attach my images locally or through the network?

Great to see you fixed the problems...

To set the correct path for images (or any external file) in Content manager, just select all the problem files (images), and then click the 'Set Path' button - This should bring up the path 'images'. You can individually repath the files this way - But don't get too 'creative' with path naming... :D Try and keep them in the 'images' folder... You can add a second folder, such as 'images/buildings/' if you wish.

As for content, its important that you keep your project in ONE content folder when working on a project. If you need image maps - Copy them to the images folder in the content directory WHERE YOU ARE WORKING and not remotely or from another part of the hard drive... This is where things start to get messy.

Once you have the scene finished - Just make sure you synch up the remote and local directories cleanly. Usually just copy one back on top of the other is the quick-n-dirty method...

As for where to work from - I tend to work locally - Because there still seems to be a small issue if LW gets a network read error and it can crash for no reason... Locally doesn't seem to have problems.

Try LCSM from NewTek Europe's web site (http://www.newtek-europe.com/uk/community/lightwave/phillips/3.html) and use the 'Optimise' feature for 'Production (SN)' - It will check for most problems for you, but unfortunately not for external image maps... These are stored in the objects, and LCSM just looks at scenes.