View Full Version : Advice Please re: Renderfarm

04-09-2007, 12:26 PM
I need to render out a 7050 frame animation for a client. This is the first real animation that we've done. I need to see what you guys think is the best way to go.

The test renders I've done vary between 1m21s and 8m12s. I tested about 30 frames between 0 and 5000 and the average was around 3m45s. All of this on a 2.6Ghz P4 single core with GI and Nodal surfaces.

I need to get this rendered in less than 24 days, so I was thinking of going with screamernet. We have 7 "Office" computers running XP with P4 1.9 - 2.6 Ghz processors with 256-1024 Ram. None of these are powerhouses by any means. My question, Will I get better results using these as nodes only after hours, or buying several P3 800's with 512 Ram and let them render 24/7. This is most likely a one time event, but there is a small chance this may expand into more animations later.

Side note....I am using my own personal Lightwave since I don't want to try to learn animation in AutoDesk Viz....Hopefully, if this works out well, I may be able to get them to invest in Lightwave here at work.

Thanks for any advice

Tom Wood
04-09-2007, 12:53 PM
Just in case you weren't aware of this off-site option:


04-09-2007, 01:14 PM
I had heard about it, but never checked it out. Unfortunately, I'd have better luck getting money out of my toenail than out of the people I work for. The P3 thing will cost them about $30 per node. I've been trying to get money for equipment for the last 2 years, and still no luck.

04-09-2007, 02:44 PM
I'm sure it depends on the exact hardware, but the last time someone here wanted to use old machines it turned out to be slower than 1 new machine for about the same price, partially since ram was more expensive, and you need a lot more.

I keep hearing that this is the best renderfarm controller -
screamernet just makes you scream

04-09-2007, 03:59 PM
If you're using LW 9.0 or lower then Lightnet is a free render manager that works pretty well. Takes some time to set up once, but then it's reasonably good. Certainly better than screamernet, as toby hits that one on the head: argh!.

I'd also go with respower for this, honestly. You are not going to have that animation ready in time otherwise.
Alternatively, you can buy the P3's, which are seriously slow of course, use the office pc's at night too, and see how far you get. One week to go, and send the remainder to respower.

04-09-2007, 04:20 PM
I run screamernet I have 7 nodes, in total the main thing I have found is not use your best machine to control the render. i.e. I have a dual proc dual core machine which I run as two nodes, which alone speeds up the render time compared to rendering direct from LW as it will render 2 framse at once.
I just use an old celeron laptop to run the render control, my last render was approx 48hrs plus on my main machine rendering from LW, with screamer net running 7 nodes all P4 2GHz or more with 1Gb Ram this came down to about 9 hours.
The way I look at it is that even if a machines takes double the time to render as my fastest machine, it's still one frame less for that machine to render and it helps to get the job done quicker.

04-09-2007, 04:41 PM
here's my advice...

you say that you get avaerage of 4 min per frame
60 / 4 = 15 frames per hour
that's...15 x 24 hours =360 per day...
24 days at 360 = 8640 frames all on 1 machine...

you need 7050 so you have a bit of breathig space possibly.
just say 'bye' to your machine for 24 days!

or simply install lightwave on another machine in the office and set off some renders and pull the usb key....shoulud be fine as long as your not using fprime.

then put the key back in your machine and hit render...so you could have it done in 12 days....

04-09-2007, 08:56 PM
Thanks for the advice. The IT guy was the one wanting to get the P3's. I didn't want to say it was a bad idea until I heard from people with more experience.

I am using 9+, so I don't think Lightnet will work. I'll look into the other controllers, but I figured I'd give Screamer a try first.

I talked to my boss today and told him the cost of Respower and he said it was good to have it as a "last resort" if we end up in a bind. According to their guestimator, it will take about 4-6 hours. So if we end up getting changes at the last minute, Respower will be our only choice.

Thanks again for all of the help.

04-11-2007, 12:03 PM
Use the machines you have available, LWSN is a bit of a pain to set up, but once it's going it just chugs away.

There are a few good screamernet tutes out there (pity I can't remember the links) but it boils down to: put all your configs in a seperate folder, share your lightwave folder as a network share, and map this share to a network drive (eg z:\ ) on all your machines, including the workstation you're setting up the scenes on. That way z:\plugins will point to the same place on all your nodes.

04-11-2007, 12:22 PM
7100 frames at 3 minutes = 21300 minutes = 355 hours = 15 days

no sweat man

in 4 nites on your 7 machines you are finished... easily

04-11-2007, 12:50 PM
Thanks guys. I think I will be trying to set up the screamernet stuff on monday. That will give me a week to mess around with it before I have to KNOW what I am doing.

Thanks again

04-11-2007, 03:02 PM
THis is the link you need for the Sreanet Tut http://www.newtek-europe.com/Stuff/LightWave/Misc/MattGorner_ScreamerNet_Tutorial.pdf.

The best tip I can give is to make sure you map all your machines to the same drive letters. for example if all you content is on drive E on your main machine, when you map all the render nodes to that drive make sur they are all mapped as drive E.

drive mapping is a bit of a time consumer but in the long run does save some typing

04-11-2007, 06:32 PM
Really I don't know what all the headaches are for ScreamerNet...

Once you have all machines to be used as nodes set with the same drive mappings it's cake...


*Pats his 6 machine network*

04-11-2007, 07:28 PM
Oh BTW, here's an LScript I made that I use all the time. It makes batch files that you can run on your render machines to start up a LWSN node with the current scene. The good thing is that from layout you can keep adding more jobs to the end of the batch file, and it uses zero CPU and memory, because once the batch files are running they just do their own thing.

NB if you'll have to edit a few of the configs by looking at the code, I've never got around to making a general public version. You'll have to specify a the maximum number of machines in your farm (if it's more than eight).

If anyone wants to give me some suggestions, go sick.

Oh and it probably won't work on mac, but a couple of tweaks to the code by someone with a bit of time should fix that.