This article will guide you through the first steps of RenderPal V2, from its installation, its configuration, to the clients setup, finding rendering errors and more.
For simplicity, we will configure RenderPal V2 with one client to render a simple Maya job (the procedure for other renderers is exactly the same). We won't cover any advanced concepts nor go into great detail here - this article is meant for new users, so we won't confuse you with too much information.
- RenderPal V2 makes heavy use of so-called context menus (those menus that pop up when right-clicking something); just try it out about everywhere in RenderPal! Many very convenient functions can be found by simply right-clicking an item.
- The renderers you want to use must be installed on the various nodes; RenderPal does not include any renderers or licenses for them! When we refer to a renderer in RenderPal, the renderer interface that comes with RenderPal is actually meant.
- You are no longer rendering locally, so be sure to have your scenes and scene-related files available across your network. Submitting, for example, a local scene on your C: drive won't work.
- RenderPal V2 Server This is the main server application and should be installed first (preferably - not necessarily - on a dedicated machine).
- RenderPal V2 Client Once the server has been installed and is running, the clients should be installed on your various rendering nodes.
- RenderPal V2 Remote Controller The remote controller is used to monitor and control your render farm remotely.
- RenderPal V2 Submitter This tool is used to quickly submit new jobs to RenderPal V2, usually from within a host application (like Maya, 3dsMax...).
1.1 Server installationThe first thing is to install the RenderPal V2 Server on your server machine. The Windows setup is quite simple - it's basically just clicking 'Next' a few times (and selecting which components of RenderPal V2 to install). Once installed, launch the server. When started for the first time, the server will ask you to select the renderers you use in your farm. After you've made your selection, the server is ready (don't worry about configuring the server - the default settings will work just fine for most users).
1.2 Client installationNext, it is time to install the RenderPal V2 Client on every computer you want to use for rendering. The Windows client can be installed using the Windows setup, just like the server. The Linux and MacOSX client (as well as the remote controller) do not come as a setup, but are simple archives that can be extracted to any location; be sure to read the included Readme files for full details. You should also disable UAC under Windows, as this will usually cause many problems when rendering across a network.
It is also possible to simply copy an existing client installation to another machine; this can save a lot of work: Install the client on one machine, configure it as needed (especially the server heartbeat address; see 2.1) and copy it to all other machines.
The next section will explain how to setup the clients and add them to the server (so continue reading before launching them).
1.3 Remote Controller and Submitter installationThe Remote Controller and Submitter are not necessary to get your render farm up and running, so you can skip them for now. We will show you how to use the Submitter to submit a job from within Maya shortly; the Remote Controller closely resembles the server interface and can be used to manage your farm remotely.
2.1 Adding clientsClients can either be added manually to your server, or they can add themselves using the so-called Heartbeat feature; we will explain both approaches:
- Manually adding clients First, open the Client management using the corresponding button in the top toolbar:manual. The client will appear in the list of clients:
- Automatically adding clients Clients can be configured to send a so-called Heartbeat to the server, which tells the server "Hey, I am a client so add me to the farm!". These clients will also be automatically assigned to a pool, so they are immediately available for rendering.
For the Windows client, open its options (using the 'Tools' menu) and select the 'Client/Settings' section:
For the Linux and MacOSX, open the 'RpClientCmd.conf' using a text editor, locate the
[Client.Heartbeat]section and set the
BroadcastAddressto the address of your server.
2.2 Organizing your farmA render farm can well consist of several hundreds of clients, so it is indispensable to organize them; this is done via client pools, and in fact, a client has to be assigned to at least one pool in order to be used in your farm. Pools are created in the Client management:
To assign a client to a pool, you can simply drag and drop one or more clients from the right over to the desired pool on the left, or press the button shown below (after selecting the clients and pool):
Scene renderer/2009+. The first one allows you to set executables that will be used for all versions of that renderer (as long as you don't override them in a version); the two other groups allow you to set executables for individual versions of that renderer.
Edit an executable by double-clicking the corresponding entry; a dialog will come up where you can enter the path directly or browse for the executable. For all our renderers, information about which executable to use is shown in the Executables information box; do not use any other executables unless you really know what you are doing! Our renderers depend on the correct executable being used, and using a different one than stated will usually only result in errors.
You can also copy & paste a path by using Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V, respectively; to quickly select all executable entries for the same OS(es) and architecture(s) as the currently selected ones, press Ctrl+Shift+A.
For Windows clients, executables can be found automatically as long as they are installed in their default locations, so it is not always necessary to set them up manually. If you get errors about renderer executables not being configured, be sure to set them up using the described method, though.
A net job is what will be rendered on your farm; it consists of one or more scenes to be rendered with a certain renderer and a multitude of render and job settings. Each job will be splitted into one or more chunks, each representing, for example, a certain range of an animation. It is these chunks that will be dispatched to your nodes for rendering.
4.1 Creating (and editing) jobs using the Server/Remote ControllerWe will now create a simple Maya job using a RenderPal V2 Remote Controller. When started, the Remote Controller will ask you for login information (server address plus user credentials); by default, RenderPal V2 comes with three default accounts:
Output directory. Note that the settings available vary with the selected renderer and version, and some features of RenderPal V2 require certain settings to be filled out (e.g., Frame splitting requires a
Frame listto be provided). Once you've filled out everything needed, click on 'Create net job...':manual. The following screenshot highlights the most important settings:
When you're done, click 'OK' and the job will be added to the farm's job queue, ready to be rendered:
4.2 Creating jobs using the SubmitterThe RenderPal V2 Submitter is used to quickly submit new jobs, usually from within a host application like Maya or After Effects. To use the submitter this way, you will need to install a submitter script for the host application; these scripts come with the setups of the Submitter, along with detailed Install.txt files that explain how to install them properly (the procedure is different for every host application).
Once you have installed the RenderPal V2 Submitter on your artist's machine, take a look at the included Readme.txt file, which will explain how to install the submitter scripts; you will also find an Install.txt file for every host application in the corresponding sub-directory of the SubmitterScripts directory.
It is necessary to run the submitter at least once before being able to use it from within a host application; you might also need to restart your machine beforehand. When starting for the first time, you will be prompted to enter the login information and user credentials for the RenderPal V2 Server (just like when using a Remote Controller, see 4.1):
We will now submit a job directly from within Maya:
5.1 Finding errorsIt is very likely that you will stumble upon some errors with your jobs sooner or later. As long as RenderPal can catch these, they will be reported in various places, and to work efficiently with your farm, you need to know how to find out more about why things didn't go as desired.
Let's say that we suspect that our job isn't working. The first thing to do is to select that job to get its details; we can see in its chunk list that there have indeed been some errors:
When something doesn't go as expected, always take a look at the job's events and output logs! They are also good places to get real-time information about how your job is doing and progressing.
This concludes our Setup & Installation guide. We hope it helped you on your way to using RenderPal V2 as your render farm manager. Do not worry if you feel a bit overwhelmed or lost at first - RenderPal V2 is extremely feature-rich, but also very easy to use once you got the basics. Take your time and play around with RenderPal V2 and its various concepts - this is always the best way to get to know a new piece of software!