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Render Farm


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I have been using VW and Renderworks primarily on a powerbook fo the last couple of years. Many times when i have many views of the same model to render. I put the rendering up on my imac G4. Recently i was traveling to another country and where i needed to make a presentation. The average render time was 15 Mins. During that time i did not do any thing on the powerbook to conserve CPU cycles. This set me thinking. What if i buy a couple of mac mins (primarily for their size) and apple's remote desktop(so that i do not have to attach displays) and make a small network on the GO. The other option is that i could go for a 1U apple xserve with dual G5s. The only problem is that renderwroks does not support network rendering...has anyone tried some thing like this. If not renderworks, which other rendering apps would be advisable for such a setup.

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I'm not sure if you were doing a dynamic presentation (making changes to the model in front of the client), but if you were just presenting previouly prepared drawings this may help. In VW 11.5 check the "save viewport cache" box in document preferences. Viewports will then retain the rendering even after re-launching the application.

Your wish for a more powerful system may be fulfilled when Apple releases its Intel based powerbooks - if you can wait that long....

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Actually, i had finished modelling a residential complex and then i needed about 8-10 views of the same. Of which i made a slide show in iphoto. The point is not so much about speed. The idea is to off load rendering job to another processor while one can do other work on the main machine.

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My (very loose) understanding is that the apps not only have to be modified to suit, they have to run as terminal applications to use Xgrid.

This would be a major effort for NNA I think, plus; only accessible to the few of the tiny minority of users who would be happy working in raw UNIX code(or whatever)

Personally, I hope I'm completely wrong here, cos setting off the office machines on friday afternoon to render out a high res Final Quality VR or fly through and coming back monday morning to have it done would be a blast.

Definitely count my vote in. (but I fear we're a long way off yet)


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Though netwrok rendering would be great, but VW uses lightworks rendering engine which itself is not designed for multiple CPUs, so i guess putting in this feature isn't in Nemetschek's hands anyway. I did checked out the details of apple remote desktop on the net. And from the documentation it seems that you can control another mac from your machine. so to begin with Nemetshek could sell independant licenses for renderworks, to work with the "vectorworks viewer application". And they can also link the model being view in the viewer to the main application running on a different computer ,so that any changes made in the model can reflect in the viewer. In my opinion this could be a good stop gap arrangement, which would enable a single user to offload rendering to another machine, without investing in a complete vw+renderworks license. Could we also have people sharing their experiences with other rendering application with VW. And if some of those are network capable. I know strata is. But these days the vw-strata export is very sad.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Cinema 4d supports network rendering, and there's an exchange plug-in for VW.

I used it for one project and it was quite successful and easy. I can't quite remember the workflow, but I think you upload the project to the server, (via web browser), then hit go. The server distributes individual frames to the other networked machines with the client software installed. So a slow machine might do one frame while a faster machine might do 6.

Cinema 4d is easy to learn and produces a superior render to renderworks.

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In the space of this office it seems that we've got more processing power than the Apollo Moon Program with multiple versions of many different CAD programs and it's a shame not to be able to apply this technology to a simple rendering job... and ... then having to tie-up a dedicated workstation is insulting. What we really need is a rendering app with networkable Bit Torrent-Xgrid multi-app / multi-processor capabilities useable by all CAD programs. All the technologies exist except the coordinator app.

My nephew , John, has developed code for PrintMe & PrintGate that controls print jobs and usage over the net ... why not something similar for rendering jobs ?

When it comes to Rendering, it's like we are adrift in a life raft surrounded by a sea of unuseable processors ... 'water water everywhere; but not a drop to drink'

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It's really the one missing piece of the puzzle in our office with regard to producing BIM-derived documents. I'm producing some planning application drawings at the moment and in the lead up to the week before we make the application I've been doing a render of each elevation on four separate machines overnight each night. This is not a good way to work but the results are good enough to convince people to put up with it. Well implemented render farm capability would put an end to this need to "convince" people and finish the puzzle with regard to BIM for us.

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I think, cetainly with Cinema you'll find the rendering over several machines relates to animated scenes.

In Cinema for example Advanced Renderer will allocate the frames to the machines and then bring it all together as one animation, so still images won't benefit.

Of course there are ways around it and although I've not looked into it a great deal you can in effect slice your image up and then send it off for to multi machine renders, bringing it together again in Photoshop. It's a workround rather than a push this button solution.

The short term solution is to have a multi processor aware rendering program and a multicore multi processor machine running it. Cinema will for example recognise up to 14 processors in its program.

I think closer examination of your set up would help in most instances, I know I'm starting to examine just how I create my work closely to see how I can speed up the processes.

Faster machines have made me sloppy, back in the days of much slower machines and hugely expensive ram I worked differently to get the desired results.

Do you really need to render out at the highest resolution and at the image size you are specifing.

I"ve been rendering at high res to large sizes, only to end up reducing both in Photoshop without noticing a great drop in image quality. But again this is my experience and requirements, for others this may not be possible.


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Originally posted by alanmac:

Do you really need to render out at the highest resolution and at the image size you are specifing.

I"ve been rendering at high res to large sizes, only to end up reducing both in Photoshop without noticing a great drop in image quality. But again this is my experience and requirements, for others this may not be possible.

Yeap, it's a good tip but when you're rendering an elevation of a 10 storey building at 1:100 for an A1 sheet brute processing power is what you need and only render farming I think will ever stay out ahead of the ability to make an ever more detailed models.

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The FWR for my cathedral took many hours day after day using the batch render which is not at all intuitive because it doesn't show you what will be eventually rendered or effects of the lighting parameters.

I agree with Alanmac about limited resolutions to the output but even with limited resolutions large jobs take too long.

The only viable solution is a Render Farm using all available networked processors, and around here we've got tons of processors laying all over the place sucking up fan juice and laughing behind our backs.

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  • 3 weeks later...

From what i read on their website, Cinema 4D seems to be the best option for VW users. But again it quite an expensive option. Going for CD4 would set you back by more than $2000. Basically you are paying for so many features of CD4 which you do not need. But yes if you really want, it seems to be the only solution right now. I also came across the render drive and the pure PCI card. http://www.art-render.com/. Basically this has some propriety chips which are designed to run only raytracing algorithms, thereby giving a 10x performance for rendering as compared to the mainstream processors. But it works for Maya only as far as mac users are concerned. And on the PC side also the only addition is MAX. Nemetschek or, lightworks for that matter could talk to them and work something out.

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Here's a weird one for you ... recently I installed 2@512mb RAM modules but then realized that the first DIMM in my system was a 256mb. So I switched the 512's to the first DIMM Slots... now for the bizarre...

I ran XBench to test the system ... the results were astonishing ...

2.25 times faster over all system performance !!! Normally my set-up rates a modest but respectable 69 ... for that brief moment in time this old G5 was doing 1.62 ! A second test to confirm this extraordinary result ... back to 69!

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I noticed you have a quad G5. 4 processors right? Do you notice a significant decrease in rendering times over say a single or dual processor G5? I am thinking of purchasing a new G5 and was wondering if the quad was overkill compared to say the dual processor versions. So as BiplabNNA said renderworks ray trace is multithreaded then it should be ripping a long with 4 processors working together, right? And Biplab NNA, is radiosity multithreaded too and by multithreaded do you mean VWKS will take advantage of all the processors on board including the new G5 quad? Or does multithreading mean only multiple apps not one app will be benifit? hmmm Mac mini renderfarm?

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  • 1 month later...

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