View Full Version : ScreamerNet Challenge

12-20-2006, 05:14 AM
Hello everyone,

Well, I am new at this posting stuff, but so far it got me all the way to "almost" getting this render farm up and running by just reading all your comments.

I am trying to setup ScreamerNet. I actually dance of joy because I thought it was working fine. Sad surprise wa wa wa!!!, only one of the Nodes was actually writting to disk. My Nodes are able communicate with my host machine. They are being initialized and when I load a scene onto ScreamerNet II and Screamer Render it, all my Nodes pick up their individuals frames and seem as if it all is going to work out.
For some reason, even though all my nodes go through the render process, they do not or cannot write to the shared folder the rendered images. I have been trying to figure this out for the past two days, but no luck :( . I checked:

Permissions on the shared drive (everyone has full control)
Config files and they seem to have the right extensions but am skeptical about my BAT files

Here are PrintScreens of my BAT files and render process

40059 40060 40061

Any help will be appreciated

Thanks and happy holidays!!!

Tom Wood
12-20-2006, 05:51 AM
I used Matt Gorner's tutorial to set up Screamernet. Maybe take a look at his setup and see if it helps debug.


12-20-2006, 05:53 PM
A couple of people have had this problem (me included)
The reason may be that your nodes arent finding your plugins, because as we know, all image writing is done via plugins (image loaders and savers).

This is where it gets tricky, cos all the plugin directory info is listed in the config files, and if your config files are saying C:\lightwave\plugins, then the nodes are going to look on C:\lightwave\plugins, instead of J:\plugins

I got around this by just copying the config files and editing the plugin paths in the plugin list cfg files.. I made another dir called SNConfig and copied the configs there (if you were to do the same, you would direct the SN node to find the config files at J:\SNConfig)

Personally I dont allow my nodes to save images to a shared directory since I've had some bad experiences with this in the past, so I have on each node an identical directory (C:\Render), and have the same on my main LW comp, so when I set up a scene for the farm to render, i set the save dir as C:\Render so each machine saves it's own images in it's local dir. Then I use a batch file on the main machine to copy all images with a specific name to one directory on the main machine.. Works good :D

12-21-2006, 08:46 AM
Yep, he's right you know! :)


12-22-2006, 11:48 AM
It is better to do a find and replace then it is to do a scan. I tried it (I must admit I didn't erase my config file 1st) and it kept the C:\blah blah blah instead of the proper drive.

12-23-2006, 06:57 PM

What problems have you had when saving images to a shared drive? I have been lucky so far saving to a shared drive. What does your bat file look like to move redered files in on directory? I'm really curious if I should do the same.

01-03-2007, 09:37 AM
Try changing the type of image file that LightWave is saving out and see if it makes a difference could be that its not finding that plugin like voriax suggested.

01-03-2007, 07:40 PM

What problems have you had when saving images to a shared drive? I have been lucky so far saving to a shared drive. What does your bat file look like to move redered files in on directory? I'm really curious if I should do the same.

I think when I first set up the farm, I had 8 computers trying to write files to a single directory all at the same time, and since WinXP Pro can only handle 10 network inputs simultaneously, it was a bit iffy at times.
I ended up with a 16-node farm a few months later and fixed the 10-connection limit by setting up a 17th computer running windows server software (that can take unlimited connections), and ghosting my LW directories onto that. Started getting complex :)

The batch file is simple and easy to make, using network names..
Filename is framecopy.bat, and it's set up so i type "framecopy anim1" and it will copy all files with the prefix anim1*.* to the current directory.

batch file contains this:

copy \\r1\render\%1*.*
copy \\r2\render\%1*.*
copy \\r3\render\%1*.*
copy \\r4\render\%1*.*

(r1 - r4 being the computer names)
Easy :D

01-03-2007, 07:47 PM
Forgot to mention (and cant edit the post because it's been more than 5 minutes grr.), that you put the batch file into the windows directory so it is globally accessible from all directories in dos. Then you just go to the destination dir and type the "framecopy blahblah" and it'll copy all files to that dir.

01-07-2007, 02:04 AM
I have just set up a render farm using 5 of our rental laptops (hey they're easy to take home. ;) ).

Anyway, the issue I had was that everything seemed to be working, but no files were being written to my directory that I had chose. (I set mine up via Newtek style, but with multiple drive mappings). What I figured out was that running Layout from the shortcut set up through the C: drive meant that no matter how many times I changed the config files for the plug-ins to load up through the mapped drive ( N: ) it always changed it back to C: ... grrr.

So I ended up modifying the approach by making a new layout shortcut and running through the mapped drive N: and also making a new directory structure for the config files, one for normal and one for network rendering, taking a page from Matt's tutorial.

This solved the problem and it has been running fairly well now. I am controlling it all with a MacBookPro (running XP). Now my only issues is getting the laptops to stop freezing up (lowering the segment mem to 16 helped).

All computers are networked via a Gigabit hub and I am using a router to act as a dummy server for IP numbers. All the computers have Core2 chips, so it is pretty fast. I wish I had more memory on the laptops, since I was goofing around and was able to run 2 nodes on each one. :D

I am curious about the 10 computer limit in XP, since ScreamerNet II does not use TCP/IP, is that restriction really true? If so that is quite lame.


01-07-2007, 07:06 AM
I used to have my main computer running all LW-related stuff running through a mapped drive as you have done - made it much easier for SN to work.

I haven't tested it lately, but I would assume the 10-computer limit applies regardless of which controller you use - since all render nodes are attempting to access files from the one machine and therefore are taking up a network connection.

I may be wrong, so someone feel free to correct me if I'm mistaken.

01-07-2007, 09:32 AM
That is interesting what you've done in regards to images saving. On another note, do your nodes like to lock up freeing the frame buffer often?

It may be due to the fact that my latest render (finally done after 30 or so hours) used about 3-4 4096x2048 image maps also, it was probably barely able to load on the nodes which only have 1GB of RAM.


01-08-2007, 09:24 AM
LightWave 9.0 has a Autoscan Plugins feature which would cause the always loading plugins from the C: path.