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Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Error Code Adventures: Setting up (and making it work) a Render Farm with Maya, Mental Ray, and Backburner


Very recently I was contacted by a producer who is working on a feature animated movie that wanted me to act as a consultant for the creation of the Production Trailer for the film. Apparently I am one of few people in Nevada with the technical knowledge/ experience for setting up reliable, fast performing Render Farms (within a reasonable budget as far as Render Farm standards go.) 

For this project I was also given the lead on creating lighting, acting as quality control for texturing, and for optimizing rendering preferences/ executing rendering. 

While I do have extensive knowledge in building and maintaining render farms (refer to post: http://jonathankaplan.blogspot.com/2012/04/tutorial-using-backburner-and-vray.html ) the last and most recent render farm I built was constructed with 3ds Max, Vray Distributed Rendering, and Backburner. 

Crossing over to a Maya/ Mental Ray model took some getting used to. First I would like to warn anyone attempting this: Maya & Mental Ray's Network Render is a little more complex than the setup and execution of a 3ds Max with Vray Render Network. There are subtle differences that if not properly understood will make the process take several hours more than it should.

Despite the differences and deficiencies of the en-devour, ultimately within a few hours I was able to get all of the Render Farm Slaves to communicate properly with the Render Manager and actually bump out some fantastic render speed results. Throughout this process I had to troubleshoot several error codes from Maya/ Backburner that were very obscure and for which I found little support online. Each error made me permanently, slightly more insane. The feeling I got after conquering the errors is equatable to the feeling you get after a 12 hour day of manual labor in the desert sun (a great feeling of accomplishment and exhaustion.)

For a little background on the setup: The International Academy of Design and Technology, Las Vegas partnered with the producer of the film and supplied us with about 24 Alien Ware computers with Intel i7 Processors with a second room in the process of being upgraded and networked.

With 24 computers acting as slaves, at 1920x1080p we were able to finish about 120 frames in 40 minutes, averaging 3 minutes per render. This was with optimal rendering preferences (with the exception of motion blur and depth of field) and some pretty complex textures and lighting.

I just wanted to give an update and some insight to setting up a Maya, Mental Ray, Backburner render farm and I might put up a tutorial at a later time but for now if you are attempting such an adventure, my best piece of advice is:
1) to be patient with the error codes (don't pull your hair out, you will overcome)
2) refer to Autodesks documentation and make sure you go through each step like a checklist http://download.autodesk.com/global/docs/maya2014/en_us/index.html?url=files/GUID-788EB610-5A7E-41C4-BD0C-1099FB9E72AF.htm,topicNumber=d30e681735,
3) and make sure the same version of Backburner is on all machines!

If you need further assistance, you can contact me at jonakap1@gmail.com

By donating you make it easier for me to post more often on more topics and give me the ability to spend more time answering your questions. If you enjoy reading or have found any of my posts valuable feel free to let me know.



Donate to the Blog

By donating you make it easier for me to post more often on more topics and give me the ability to spend more time answering your questions. If you enjoy reading or have found any of my posts valuable feel free to let me know.