View Full Version : Screamernet... beyond just getting it to run

05-03-2003, 10:51 AM
I almost always have problems with Screamernet that make it pretty much a hit or miss (usually miss) solution for rendering. While getting all the nodes recognized and initialized is a pain, a little patience and perseverence usually wins out, and I'm on my way. No, the real problems arise when expecting scenes to render the way they do out of Layout. 9 times out of 10, errors occur while loading, plugins and lscripts don't load, or strange, incomprehensible errors occur ("LW interface info 3 - Error: can't get global" - what the hell is that?). On my current project, third party plug-ins like Sasquatch and G2 work just fine, while the built-in 'Sliders' plug-in refuses to load. The results are quite amusing - but not terribly useful. Of course, when you do complex character animation (or even simple character animation), you expect problems, but in a previous project that simply involved a contact lens tumbling through space, eveything rendered fine out of Layout, but Screamernet yielded only empty black frames. Why? I dunno.

I primarily use Screamernet Controller v.3.2.3, which works great - with LW's plain vanilla Screamernet, I couldn't get past the first frame to see just where the real problems are. I guess the only real solution for my current problem is to bake all the motion before network rendering (a workaround - not a solution). With the contact lens thing... your guess is as good as mine.

What I think we need is some sort of preflight checklist before running Screamernet - something that will flag trouble spots that don't show up in Layout (along with options for countermeasures). At the very least, we need a database of plug-ins, lscripts, etc. with known networking problems. Something. Throw us a bone here.

Rant off. Thanks for listening. :-)

05-03-2003, 09:27 PM
When LWSN nodes start to load thes cenes, they just freeze and when i force quit and restart the LWSN app u see they start to process.. I have given up on network rendering, its just too clunky.. being a mac guy I expect smoothness.

05-04-2003, 10:34 AM
I was hoping that if I used the Screamernet Tutorial from Worms of Art that I would be able to nail it first try. No such Luck. I don't fault the tutorial at all, but I kept getting errors that I could not find explanations for.:confused: Things got pretty wonky after that, so I reverted back to the default configs.

I hope Newtek does something in LW8 to simplify this process a bit.

05-04-2003, 12:57 PM
Well, Ade, let's not be too hasty. Network rendering is far too important to give up on it altogether. I have a DP 533mhz G4 and a 733mhz G4. When a separate screamernet node is assigned to each processor, render times are effectively cut by almost 2/3 over rendering the entire scene out of Layout on the DP G4 alone. When time is an issue, I'll do whatever it takes to make it work. The point is, it shouldn't be so extremely flakey. At the very least, I'd highly recommend Screamernet Controller to ease your pain:


There's a great tutorial that helps getting the network nodes up and running (more or less) reliably. How it allows you to manage the scene and render queue once rendering has started is far more important. Never let one crashed node disrupt or freeze your render again. This is what Screamernet 1.0 should have been.

Of course, as was my original point, that's only half the battle. How Screamernet decides to render scenes is another situation altogether.

05-04-2003, 07:50 PM
I have tried all the best tutorials around...
and LW controller doesnt allow for dual cpu and another cpu unless u pay..
Unless Im wrong?

05-05-2003, 07:46 AM
ade... ditto
screamernet is a partial solution. To say otherwise is an insult to LW users. I do not use it because it does not work.

Even the most staunch Screamernet user that insists it works just fine, adds conditions and clauses to that statement, that effectively makes the statement worthless.

Newtek tried to write a new version of the program what... 2 years ago(stealthnet)? so Newtek Knows that screamernet is bad, and they dont like it either.

I agree that network rendering is dammed important, but screamernet does not do the job.

05-05-2003, 07:53 AM
Exactly, I read all these great tutes for SN and sure maybe some of them work, but if there is even a small "X" factor that was overlooked the whole thing is useless and doesnt work. Personally im sick of trying... It shouldnt be this hard, Macs rule, Lightwave rules, Newtek rules, screamernet pulls....
Screamernet controller is said to work, I dont trust it, like im sure the programmer is a gun, but how come he can get it to work but newtek cant?
Sounds hit and miss to me, besides why i should I pay for something that I have already paid for that doesnt work... Grrrrr.

Can anyone vouch for a 100% success rate with SN controller?

05-05-2003, 09:00 AM
I can vouch for 100% success getting the network up and rendering with SN controller, but then (qualifier:-)I can get it up and running under plain SN. If you can't get the network running under plain SN (all nodes detected), SN Controller won't help - that's not what it's for - it's a network render manager, and it does that very well.

Generally, as it says in all the tutorials, if you have your paths, preferences and permissions set right, it should all go swimmingly. The only bit of alchemy I regularly come across is that if the host machine is already connected to the renderslave when the Screamernet node (on the slave) is launched, then Screamernet (or SN controller) on the host machine most likely won't detect it. If the host and slave are not connected when the SN node is launched from the slave and the node then initiates the connection (and the controller on the host is already running), then the slave node is detected and initialized immediately. Don't know if this happens to you, but this is how it is on my system. Don't know why it has to be that way, but those are (my particular) rules, so I follow them and it works. As the saying goes, 'Your mileage may vary'.

Hey I'm not saying everything is great and you shouldn't complain. Screamernet sucks and SN Controller only helps to ease the pain - it's not a cure. As was my point at the beginning of the thread, getting the network render up and running is the EASY part (sadly enough). It's what Screamernet chooses to or not to render that will really get you tearing your hair out as there seems to be no perceptible logic to it.

05-05-2003, 09:04 AM
Im all for LW...
See I have all SN setup properly, when I add my scene each node loads it up but just sits there saying "loading".....
I could leave it for a day and it just stays like that.. Until I force quit that node and restarted it did I see it start to process... This is wrong, and I cant find out why...

05-05-2003, 09:32 AM
This is exactly the kind of situation where SN Controller is helpful. SN Controller loads frames to each node independently. If frame #1 chokes, then frame #2,3, etc. will load regardless (unless there's something SN doesn't like about the scene overall). Then you can just crash and re-initialize node #1 without effecting the other nodes/frames. If a node crashes/freezes in the middle of the render, the whole process doesn't come to a screeching halt as it does with plain vanilla SN. No more checking a render the next morning only to find that it crashed 10 minutes after you left the night before.

05-05-2003, 09:38 AM
It does it for all nodes.
Can I use Controller for free for a dual mac and 1 g3?

05-05-2003, 10:25 AM
Unfortunately, no, I don't think so. At least, not in its' intended form. Whether or not to spend the money is of course, up to you. I don't think it would be cheating, though, to use the free version separately on each machine to render separate frame ranges (A-B on machine #1, B-C on machine #2). You could even render a range of frames in the background with SN controller while rendering another range in the foreground with LW on the DP machine - while the G3 renders range C-D on its' own. The advantage of doing this is to ensure that all processors are running at full tilt at all times and no processor cycles are wasted. On DP machines, even though LW's renderer is multi threaded , not all aspects of the render take advantage of that (judging by your avatar, I'm sure you're well aware of that ;-) That's why I assign a separate SN node to each processor.

I haven't actually tried this (with SN Controller), but I can't see why it wouldn't work. While it's not network rendering in the strictest sense, it does aim to utilize every processor to the fullest extent in order to render as many frames simultaneously as possible.

05-05-2003, 10:32 AM
Sounds too complicated...

05-05-2003, 11:19 AM
... or not.

05-05-2003, 11:56 AM
its certainly unnecessarily complictated.
but if it did work, I would not be so frustrated.
the bottom line is that screamer net does not render some scenes, and while most problems are easily explained, not one person at newtek could explain the problems i had.
sceamernet would inexplicably stop rendering at random frames. It would not crash, it would not hiccup, it would not die. It would act like it had rendered every frame, when it had only rendered for instance the first 61 frames of an animation of 120 frames. This was duplicated many times on my machine (1 machine setup) using a very simple scene file (1 object, 1 surface, no textures, 2 keyframes). And this was after banging my head against the wall over all of the other gotchas inherent in the poorly implemented network rendering system (screamernet). so I learned my lesson, screamernet is not a time saver at all.

05-05-2003, 12:03 PM
Getting back to the original post, I've had the same "error:can't get global LW interface info 3" then "can't load plug-in Sliders" when trying to run LWSN using both the Lightwave and the Scremernet controller from Catalyst Productions. I have no idea what the first one means, and I assume the second is a problem with the sliders plug-in, which I believe is Lightwave native. I'm wondering if this is a known issue, and if there's any work-around. I only have one machine (TiBook, 667), but I do use ScreamerNet for batch renders. It does me little good with my current project, though, because of the Sliders problem.

Thanks for any input.

05-05-2003, 12:06 PM
this is a stupid question... have you renamed your Lightwave 7 folder?

05-05-2003, 12:55 PM
Eblu, I totally agree - I've been there. The aforementioned (first post) contact lens animation. One object - one simple texture - fine in Layout - blank screens in Screamernet. I didn't even try to diagnose it. Deadline dictated the whole thing be rendered from Layout. On the character animation with the 'sliders not loading' problem, I baked the animation (in a 'save as' file) on the affected bones and was able to render just fine. Sure, it was a pain in the ***, and any changes to the animation means going back to the original and then baking again. The point is, the added aggravation allowed me to enjoy a 8hr render instead of enduring a 25hr render. You have to weigh the pros and cons on a case by case basis. Doesn't make Screamernet suck any less, of course.

05-05-2003, 04:06 PM
eblu, I had recently renamed my hard-drive which caused all sorts of problems, but I got that all worked out.

NigelH, thanks for the baking tip. I was going to explore that route, but I don't have too much time for troubleshooting right now. I might mess with it a bit this evening and see what happens.

Kind of screwy, but I try not to let it bug me all that much 'cause I like Lightwave an awful lot overall....

05-06-2003, 08:08 AM
good to hear you have a choice nigel,
for me screamernet has not successfully rendered ANYTHING... and since we know it was setup properly, (based on the fact that it Would render a random number of frames correctly) and Newtek was NO help, well... I'm pissed. Screamernet should be recalled as far as I'm concerned. check out some of my rants in this forum, I go into some detail as to what Newtek has done wrong.

I once renamed my LW main directory, it broke quite alot of tools in LW, which are Hard-coded to that rediculous name with spaces and periods. so I'm guessing that renaming anything in any path that screamernet relys upon could seriously degrade your experience. But i'm a little confused here... did renaming your hard drive fix the screamernet error?

05-06-2003, 08:12 AM
Maybe screamernet being inbuilt into LW is its failing.. maybe screamernet should be a seperate application developed by a specific team? maybe it should sort for beta testers so it can regularly be tested?

05-06-2003, 11:11 AM
in other words scremernet should be in active development? yeah, I think you're right Ade, somebody in The Lightwave team should be working on this. preferrably someone who is not afraid to learn Modern file sharing techniques, someone who can leverage the best tools for the job based on platform, and still maintain cross platform compatibility. perhaps someone who isnt afraid to ask somebody who knows how. But at least someone who understands that Force quitting an application is not acceptable, as an SOP.

it really is very basic stuff.

05-06-2003, 05:39 PM
Nah, my renaming the hard drive had nothing to do with LW or Screamernet. I just got tired of the default "Macintosh HD" name. I really haven't noticed any other apps even remotely effected by it. I got Lightwave all patched back together a while ago...... I was just throwing it out there. I've had some luck with LWSN on one machine, but still haven't tried it over a network.


05-10-2003, 10:04 AM
This used to be so much easier back before 10. It was screwy, but I got it to work consistantly. Now, with 10, I can't get it to work on just the host, let alone a node. LWSN mocks me by repeating that "init" over and over yet Layout sees no nodes.


10 has made me a newbie all over again.

05-10-2003, 11:01 AM
Originally posted by Zarathustra
....10 has made me a newbie all over again.

I know how you feel!:rolleyes: ;)

05-11-2003, 09:52 PM

for me screamernet (sounds like i'm repeating here but i'm simply expanding) Never worked, not on 1 machine, not under os 8.5 all the way up to 10.2.6. I have had Tons of help. I have had experts in these forums, a co-worker who runs a pc screamernet network, many... many tutorials, the occasional render controller controller, random people off the street, etc... try to help. the bottom line is, either my machine has a serious hardware problem that only screamernet can see (and somehow jumps to whatever machine i am currently using) or screamernet is a steaming pile of hacked code.

I know, i know... the critical observer might say it was me, that was/is the problem with screamernet, I have only one thing to say in my defense... i have made every sacrifice to see that this software works, I have followed every piece of advice, even if some pieces contradict each other. I have done everything suggested short of sacrificing a live chicken over my keyboard. I have done every humiliating thing the tutorials suggest, and you know what i have found? Its all Voodoo. what works for some does not in fact work for others.

Theres just a point where you have to draw a line in the sand. ScreamerNet is not up to code. I will not debase myself before it any longer. If that means I must find a different 3d package, that Can network render... I have options. As of right now, I let my co-worker do all the rendering i need, and I try to come up with helpfull suggestions as his Screamernet PC based rendering system fails inexplicably, time and time again.

oh, and dont use particles with screamernet, or motion designer, or quicktime movies, hypervoxels are out of the question... as are any plug-ins that you cant put on all of your render nodes. real time saver, that.

05-12-2003, 08:05 AM
Originally posted by eblu
oh, and dont use particles with screamernet, or motion designer, or quicktime movies, hypervoxels are out of the question... as are any plug-ins that you cant put on all of your render nodes. real time saver, that.

eblu, I have followed your screamernet difficulties, and I can honestly say I feel for you. However, most of the above items can be used with screamernet under certain rules.

Those rules have to do with the technology behind the concepts, not with screamernet itself. Particles, MD and HV all use dynamic calcuations to create a particular effect. To enable that effect to be maintained through multiple playback sessions, the effect has to be saved or recorded or baked. That isn't a limitation of SN, it's a limitation of the technology behind those features. By saving your particle motions, or baking your motions from MD, you enable these features to be rendered in a networked rendering environment. As far as QT movies, I've never tried to use one (I'm assuming as a surface) in any scene because I'm too old fashioned. I've also never tried to render to a QT movie in LW, but I know the technology allows it, since I can network render my AE projects to QT files.

As far as plug-ins, that's also not true, unless you are in a network environment where you cannot connect your computers with network administrative access. Plug-ins don't need to be installed on render nodes (unless they are cross-platform nodes) if you have full access to the source drive for the Lightwave application you develop on. I won't get into details here.

05-12-2003, 08:22 AM
Well, in the old days all I had to do was this:
1) Connect the node(s) to the host and mount the host's drives on the node(s)
2) Have a copy of the Programs folder on the node(s)
3) Copy all the LW prefs from the host's prefs folder to the node(s)
4) Fire up LWSN on the Host and node(s)
5) Fire up Layout, hit "Screamernet init" and all cpus would be detected.
6) Load scene(s), hit render and fire up the Playstation.

I don't know why I can't make it work with X. Obviously, the steps are different now, but after reading several tuts and threads I believe I see how it should be done, yet it doesn't work for me. I dunno. All I know is in the past, if you got that damn "init" repeating in LWSN, then you were home free. Now, that's nothing since Layout doesn't see it.

I've said it before here: it's easier to find a kracked copy of LW and just install that on a node and render then it is to make SN work. That's ridiculous! Of course that little "workaround" is useless when it comes to things like Sasquatch or G2.

05-12-2003, 10:06 AM
great points... I hope you dont mind if i try to tackle a few of em, for the sake of Netwek guys that might be following along.

Originally posted by mlinde
under certain rules.

right, but thats the point isn't it? it should just work. lightwave just works, isn't screamernet simply Lightwave with no UI? so why have these unnatural constricting rules been applied?

...Those rules have to do with the technology behind the concepts, not with screamernet itself. Particles, MD and HV all use dynamic calcuations to create a particular effect...
...That isn't a limitation of SN, it's a limitation of the technology behind those features.... [/B]

your absolutely right. My question here is Why isnt this done Automatically? Why doesnt Lightwave automatically save out a baked channel when it ramps up a particle animation? Why did Newtek decide to hobble us, and cost us man hours (the work is already done, just not saved, so we have to do the work again, and then save it )? Aren't computers supposed to do the hard work? Make things easier?

...As far as QT movies, I've never tried to use one (I'm assuming as a surface) in any scene because I'm too old fashioned...I've also never tried to render to a QT movie in LW, but I know the technology allows it, since I can network render my AE projects to QT files.[/B]

nice! I do this sort of thing too. New features in Lightwave go untouched, because I have learned that for the first few generations, They dont work. Its now a mind set with me. I am always amazed when i read about a problem I have never run accross only to find that I don't come accross it because Lightwave has conditioned me to automatically work around the problem. Its a bad way to work. I should be able to expect Every feature of the program to Just work And the way I expect it to work. If it doesnt, then We have a problem with UI/ and or documentation.

...As far as plug-ins, that's also not true, unless you are in a network environment where you cannot connect your computers with network administrative access....[/B]

hrmm... I've said it before, all these details are "gotchas". There are literally hundreds of programmers who have it all figured out to the point where there just dont have to be gotchas in network rendering. Newtek hasn't hired one of them. Instead they try to pull a sad ancient and out-of-date pile of code into the 21st century, when all It wants to do is die.

i have been enjoying this thread immensely... I hope it helps drive the development of screamernet.

have a nice day gents,

05-13-2003, 10:40 AM
I'm having a ****load of trouble with netrendering under OSX aswell, but i can tell you one thing....

ON THE ROOT HD (Macintosh HD by default)
You will never ever be able to get it working like this (if it's in the standard Applications folder) because the annoying user/priviledge system Apple/Unix/whoeveristoblame has incorporated....

Move it to a second HD that you know is shared, has all the priviledges right (come to think, you might even want to change the Lightwave folder priviledges to work correct))

05-13-2003, 08:22 PM
Well, I think I moved an inch closer to getting LWSN to work. LWSN reads the job file and writes the ack file, but LW doesn't see any cpus.

Anyone get LWSN to work? What does your ack file say?

05-14-2003, 02:20 AM
You should see my network render...

It recognises all nodes, and when i start to render the first node (on the Screamernet Host) says it's loading...But on the Screamernet client, that according to the host is loading, doesn't do jack, it just keeps on letting me know it's waiting....waiting for what? For hell to freeze over?

05-14-2003, 08:33 AM
Ok, how's this for strange:

To see if there was some permission issue (what the hell?) I thought, "let's see if it works on another, fresh Mac. One that just has an OS, LW 7.5 and 2 partitions."
I checked out Dirk's tut again and followed it exactly (http://homepage.mac.com/nonplanar/)
and guess what? IT WORKED!!!! Didn't try any plugs, but it rendered a basic scene which I haven't been able to do for almost a year.

So, with this encouragement I went back to my main Mac and did the same thing there. Guess what? Here's what LWSN mocks me with now:
Lightwave command: Initializing.
(same as previous command - ignoring)


Before, they couldn't see each other. Now, LWSN is playing hard to get. What a *****!

05-14-2003, 08:45 AM
i havent been following zar,
and frankly my advice in this arena has to be suspect, but... try deleting the job and ack files before you try again.

05-14-2003, 08:54 AM

I'm a fool! I wrote job1 twice instead of ack1!

Ok, it works! Now, on to nodes and plugs.....

05-15-2003, 01:19 PM
As the author of the ScreamerNet Controller I wanted to reply to this thread. Unfortunately, LWSN is a pain to get working and keep alive within Layout, which is why I initially developed the Controller for myself. There were a couple of comments in this thread about LWSN freezing on loading, the only instance I have seen that happen is if there is the Spreadsheet plugin duplicated in the scene. (This is something that my controller checks for and automatically removes before sending the scene). That's easy enough to deal with, even without my controller - open the scene in a text editor and delete the blocks of code that reference the spreadsheet. (Make sure that you have an editor that will save as a plaine text file and don't ever do this to your only copy of the scene!) (I say "easy enough", of course it should not be an issue at all, but I am going to concede the "it shouldn't be an issue" point for the rest of this message, because I could say that after every sentence. I shouldn't be selling the ScreamerNet Controller because it shouldn't be an issue, but it is, so I wrote it, and I hope it has been helpful to all who have used it, with or with out a multi-node licence.)

Most of the time problems with LWSN arise from errors in the command line. Either, as Zarathustra mentioned, an error in the job/ack files (such as making all the nodes job1/ack1), or something misspelled or misplaced in the other path info. Getting the network and command lines set up correctly is the biggest challenge with getting LWSN to work as well as it can.

I use LWSN for all my renders, even if it's only two nodes on my dual processor host computer, and have never had any problems, except for Psunami that wouldn't render across the network. But, Psunami is the only 3rd party plugin I have used, and my animations usually consist mostly of particles and hypervoxels.

05-15-2003, 03:29 PM
My problem all along was not the lack of "ack". That was a recent thing. I just want to set that straight.
What I think was the problem (I should have saved all the cmdlines sequentially so I could chart my progress) was not giving a specific pathway for job1 and ack1. For instance, I would do this:
(2 Partition drive, let's call 'em 'Jeckyl' and 'Hyde'. I moved the config files to the Programs folder)
-2 -c"Jeckyl:Applications:Lightwave 3D 7.5:Programs:Configs:" -d"Hyde:Project:" job1 ack1
This didn't work, despite many tutorials saying it would. THIS worked:
-2 -c"Jeckyl:Applications:Lightwave 3D 7.5:Programs:Configs:" -d"Hyde:Project:" "Hyde:Project:job1" "Hyde:Project:ack1"

Notice the difference? Rather then ASSUMING the damn things would know where the job and ack files should be, I specifically spelled it out. I never had to do that before OSX.

So now EVERYTHING works. Multiple nodes, 3rd party plugs, you name it. Yeah, it shouldn't be this hard. I also shouldn't have to tell LW where to find it's plugins when I install it, but that's another issue....

05-16-2003, 02:16 AM
Just like with the PC version....i never had to do that with the PC version aswell until recently...I think it happenes with the 7.5 update, and maybe Newtek forgot to tell us (or none of us read the readme file:o )