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mark.burton
05-10-2006, 05:31 AM
This is my first post and its quite demanding, so I hope you'll forgive me for such a greedy first intro!

I'm working on a feature film which has found itself with a ballooning VFX requirement. As a result we have decided to dry hire a render farm for the small VFX department (2 people) and get in some extra hands to help them administer the work.

They are working in 'Vue Infinite 5' and 'Lightwave 8.5' with the final comp in 'Shake 4'. The plates they are creating in Vue and Lightwave are 2K (2048x1556).

So far I have an initial booking for a 40 processor render setup, but will probably push it to 60 processors later on.

The main question I have is with regard to the OS we should use on the render machines. Linux is the cheapest (no extra cost) but if we want to use the farm for the Vue renders we would need to have Windows right? The Vue Hypervue network renderer does not work on Linux I don't think.

Secondly its my understanding the Lightwave render is not node locked, is this right? And this could run on either Linux or Windows?

We are going to employ an experienced workflow and setup engineer nearer the time to do the setup, initial testing and admin, but before I start speaking to them I wanted to try and be clear on these points.

Many thanks for any help and advice.
Mark Burton
London, UK

dballesg
05-10-2006, 06:15 AM
Hi,

We have here a really small renderfarm (1 server, 3 nodes), the nodes uses Windows 32 bits, cause as you suspect Vue do not work under linux. I didn't hear anything about executing it under WINE or other Windows emulator.

Lightwave can work on Linux if you download the Linux version of Screamernet, but be aware that the third party plugins will not work, cause they are not compiled under Linux.

On Vue you control the cows from one of your computers with Vue Infinite installed, one workstation or the server for the renderfarm will do it, so you will need windows in the server as well, or as I propose another secondary computer.

The only idea I have to solve that, would be a fileserver with Linux (to avoid the limit of 10 connections on XP pro, and avoid as well to buy the expensive Windows Server), the nodes and workstations with Windows and another computer with windows where you sent from a Vue installed there the scene loaded from the server to the nodes, in that way you avoid to collapse workstation with render scenes, cause Vue will sent a copy of the scene to every node on the network. And Vue scenes are mainly contained one one big file.

Another problem with Vue is that doesn't allow you to use third party render controllers as Butterfly Netrender, or Virtual Muster and that...

Hope this helped you.

Best regards,
David

mark.burton
05-11-2006, 10:22 AM
Hi David,

Thanks so much for that, its given me a lot to chew on. I have a meeting with the company supplying the gear tomorrow and will bring all these points up.

It does seem like we are going to have a job setting up a simple setup due to the fact we need to render both Lightwave and Vue scenes. If it were just Lightwave I would go with Linux.

I'll let you know how it goes.

Thanks again,
Mark

mark.burton
05-18-2006, 04:32 PM
Hi David,

Update time.

We ran a test today with the BNR demo and one Win XP IBM render system - the BNR Controller was set up on an XP machine and we used one node (processor) on the IBM Athalon system. This was a 2K Lightwave render test. We were all very, very impressed with the BNR setup and execute procedure as first we tried Screamernet on its own and found the setup difficult and unhelpful. BNR really shone and we are definitely going to use it!!

However the Athalon horsepower was not impressive. As a result we wondered if perhaps the Lightwave render system was more optimized for Intel processors?

We're now looking to perhaps set up our own farm based on Pentium D Dual Core processors - we can buy a setup with 40 or 50 processors for almost the same as it would cost to hire the IBM Athalon systems, so we're going to run some tests on those machines first to see if its really worth it.

The Vue side of things will have to be handled by HyperVue and the RenderCow node installations as you said, but we are yet to test this.

We will also setup a Linux server for the shares as you suggested.

Thanks again for your continued support and advice, its hugely appreciated and making a big difference at our end.

Best
Mark

dballesg
05-19-2006, 03:14 AM
Hi Mark,

The diferences on render times between an Athlon and a Pentium, if you do a search on the forums, I think they are subjective, depends on what you are rendering.

But Lightwave is compiled with the Intel Compiler, I think was an user called Matt Clary that started a really interesting thread on the subjet.

As worksations, we have this:

http://www.azken.com/privado/Workstation.asp?IDC=&idWs=67

and the same people sold us the render nodes:

http://www.azken.com/privado/Workstation.asp?IDC=&idWs=64

We love those workstations, and we would loved to get the new nodes with dual opteron dual core, but they were not fully tested when we bought the xeon ones, anf those were cheaper. Here we do not have your luxury of 40 processors :)

And for Vue, there is a new update that claims it speed up the transfer of the scenes on the network. The nice thing about the rendercow is how easy are to setup, the BAD, that is not controllable for third party controllers as BNR.

Thanks for the comments about BNR, cause I setup the network here with Screamernet, following an excellent tutorial of Matt Gorner. You can find links here to a few ones , included that one, here:

http://www.newtek.com/forums/showthread.php?t=26572&page=2&highlight=Screamernet+Tutorials

And I've been convicing my boss that we need a proper controller, and I readed and you confirmed to me that BNR is really good.

I am a bit nerd with Linux, so if the guy that install the file server on your company want to describe the process on a tutorial, i think all the Lightwave community would thanks that.

And you are welcome with any other questions you have! :)

Best regards,
David

trentonia
05-19-2006, 03:50 PM
Mark,
Try http://www.respower.com They render all versions of LightWave and Vue.
Trentonia

mark.burton
05-20-2006, 02:19 AM
Hi Trentonia,

We have been using them for earlier parts of the project, but we have over 30,000 2K frames to render, so its worth our while to setup something here in the UK and on site.

Thanks
Mark

mark.burton
10-20-2006, 10:39 AM
Well its been months since I first posted this thread. Since then the project got very bogged down with complex VFX work and the usual UK film industry financial pleasantries! However its back on course and we just ordered an 80 node render farm which is going in next week.

In the end we have gone with Dual, Dual-Core AMD Opteron systems with 4GB RAM, Win XP for the nodes. A Linux (possible Windows server) file server. Butterfly Net Render will control and manage the Lightwave Renders, lots of Vue RenderCow license's for the Vue renders and Windows workstation setup as the render Controller system.

We have gone over it do many times I'm fairly confident its going to be OK, but I expect a few early teething issues as well as the usual "we've never seen this bug before" moments!

Anyway, I'll post back when its up and running.
Mark

mark.burton
10-27-2006, 02:45 AM
Started installing yesterday. Typical couriers all arrived late, so we didn't get as far as we would have liked, but today we can really get stuck into the setup.

mark.burton
10-30-2006, 05:06 PM
After some hairy power shorts when we set the whole system off to render, we seem to be up and running.

Although the system is in a proper machine room environment, it seems the power strips they had provided for us were not ready for the suction these puppies were going to exert on them!

Blew the whole grid on the first attempt, but now they have split everything up and its working fine.