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AromaKat

x-particles on render farm?

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Sorry if this has been asked before...

 

I am about to buy x-particles but can't find any information on how it works on a render farm. Do I need to buy a license for each render farm node? Or if I bake the emitter, will it work just as well for rendering purposes on a machine that doesn't have x-particles installed? Or does it allow command line rendering without a serial?

 

Another tricky thing is that I have to use floating licenses for everything. Node-locked activations won't work in my case because the render farms are Amazon AWS instances that look like new hardware each time they are started up.

Edited by AromaKat

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I use it with Team Render on a single license. You will need Xparticles installed on the render nodes if you want fast renders with massive particle counts.

 

Probably best to contact them directly at their website. They are super fast and helpful.

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Thanks. I'd probably be using it via command line renderer for the most part but I'm sure its the same deal.

 

I sent them an email earlier this morning but haven't heard back, likely due to the weekend.

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This sounds awesome! Aromakat -- Are there any good resources for turning the Amazon machines into render nodes that see your network?

 

Unfortunately, there isn't any good info out there. It was something I had been trying to get working for a long, long time. There is a website out there, somewhere of a 3DsMax guy getting an Amazon farm to work, but its not much help after showing how to get the Windows instance started. The way two 3d packages work are far different in this manner.

 

I had no luck through nearly a year of intermittant dabbles. Maybe, the new team render server will be easier in that manner, but the primary issue I had was with Team Render. Even though there is a port option within the TR settings, it apparently used some other undocumented port or something for authentication. I went mad trying.

 

After giving up for a while, Renderfeed stole about $700 from me. And yes, I mean straight up stole. I won't get into the specifics, but the experience revived my desire to get the Amazon EC2 farm working. With Thinkbox Deadline and command line rendering licenses, I got it to work.

 

The gist of it is this:

  • Thinkbox Deadline is required for my solution. Again, maybe the new team render server would work, but because of the specific issue I had with team render, I kind of doubt it will work. I was able to get the machines to see eachother but it gave an odd authentication error.
  • You must be using a c4d license server environment for Windows. I don't know if you need the primary application to be a floating license configuration, but it definitely helped to get the installs going on the EC2 instances. The Command Line renderer, however, requires the Maxon License server, which we already had since all our workstations use floating license C4D. Command Line renderer is under $200 for every hundred machines.
  • Being very comfortable with a Windows environment (especially Windows 8) is highly recommended. There are a bit of under the hood stuff that needs to be done to Windows Server 2012 to make it more like a desktop environment, and to punch holes through the firewalls, etc.
  • You will need to have a maticulous map of your office network, have a static IP address, and be able to do a bunch of port forwarding within all your routers and switches.
  • A really beefy synched drive solution, like Google Drive or Dropbox. Something with a really good amount of space there. I use Dropbox, but if the render is too fast it trips over itself constantly. Usually, this isn't a problem because if it were that fast, I'd just render locally. But if you have a really long sequence thats fast to render each frame, it won't work. Its a matter of synching time between Deadline's repository and the Deadline Monitor application.

 

Its a beast of an undertaking, but in the end, its really rewarding. SUPER fast renders for much less than buying an equivalent render farm. I spent about $8k on a local farm that didn't get the money's worth of use, and after 2 years, it was pointless to use it. My workstation rebuild alone rendered 3x faster than one of those nodes. There were power, heat, and maintenance issues that I wanted to avoid. I priced out how much it would cost to build a local version Amazons farm, and it came out to be just under $20k. (2x 16 core Xeon processors each node). Paying the $5 / hr per node to use the EC2 is much, much cheaper and easier in the long run.

 

Even if the machines are never turned on, it currently costs me $2.13 per day to have 5x 32-core 3.2ghz machines for storage of the OS images, etc. To turn them on, it's about $5 per machine per hour. Each machine has a cinebench score of 2,200. I opted to go with a cluster of 5 nodes, but you can deploy more whenever you want. The only issue is that since each computer must have a unique machine ID, each time you deploy a new machine you have to remote destop into it, change the computer name and restart, which automatically costs an hour each instance.

 

Using Spot Instances, you can bring the cost down to as low as $1.30 per machine, per hour. But.... that requires a bit of configuring after you turn the machines on and you can only get 2 or 3 instances on at a time. That, and spot instances are prone to just turning off on you without warning because a higher bid came in, since the pricing is in auction format. I didn't want to deal with it so I just pay the higher, albeit still reasonable, per hour and storage fees that come with on-demand.

 

As an example, I had a render that would have taken my machine (12 thread 3930k OCed @ 4.7) 14 hours to render. I used the Amazon farm instead, which took under an hour and cost a total of $18.

 

 

 

While building it, I was doing a tutorial type screen recording and was talking though the process, planning on sharing it after it was done. I hit a few technical snags with deadline licensing and ended up not recording after that point. Maybe I can pick it up where it left off and show the rest if enough people care.

Edited by AromaKat

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I think some people would care :D

 

also have you tried gpu rendering with like octane or thea? over the amazon instances?

 

follow up suggestion: if this could be automated and web interfaced with the help of a developer, i think this would both be a great service to the community and might even make some moneys for you =)

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I would definitely care! any more info you are willing to share/post would be amazing.

 

Dose anyone else out there have experience baking Xpartilces? Maybe using something like NitroBake?

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also have you tried gpu rendering with like octane or thea? over the amazon instances?

follow up suggestion: if this could be automated and web interfaced with the help of a developer, i think this would both be a great service to the community and might even make some moneys for you =)

 

I haven't tried GPU renders, but Amazon does support GPU enabled instances. Each has 2 GPUs. I don't know much about how those renderers work, but if whatever software renders them is supported by Deadline, it will work.

 

As to the web interface / service thing... I have given it great thought. I would like to get something going that is beneficial for the community, but I have no interest in becoming everyone's tech support. Someone was interested and asked for help, but in the end I had to basically build it for them. Now they don't understand how it works at all because they didn't go through the steps first hand, and I constantly get calls asking this or that.

 

There are 2 ways I could go about it:

 

Option A is to go about it the RenderFeed OnDemand way. I suspect this is exactly what they are doing. Even if I doubled the cost of the EC2 instances, the profit margin after the level of web / plugin development, maintenance, support, and marketing required isn't too appealing. Plus, the huge benefit of this system is that the nodes are configured exactly to your needs. You can install your own plugins, etc. Plus, making a clone of an existing service isn't too exciting. Making it worthwhile for me would just make it yet another ho-dum render service, and not really save customers money over already existing services.

 

Option B would be more of a scripted web service that basically uses Amazon's API to set your EC2 settings up for you. You would still need to drop about $2k to start for deadline, C4D command line render licenses, and C4D license server. There are a number of problems with this approach, mainly in software licensing and configuration of the local network.

 

Neither are really ideal.

 

 

 

 

I would definitely care! any more info you are willing to share/post would be amazing.

 

I will see what I can do. I'll jump back into the camtasia project, see where I just dropped off and how I could possibly pick it back up since I didn't record the software setup stuff.

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I would definitely care! any more info you are willing to share/post would be amazing.

 

Dose anyone else out there have experience baking Xpartilces? Maybe using something like NitroBake?

 

 

Depending on what kind of particles you are baking. You can export Alembic. That does a pretty solid bake of geometry based particles.

 

otherwise, whats wrong with the inbuilt baking solution they have?

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Depending on what kind of particles you are baking. You can export Alembic. That does a pretty solid bake of geometry based particles.

 

otherwise, whats wrong with the inbuilt baking solution they have?

 

 

Nothing at all I guess. Just getting up and running with it for a project and had no idea that it could go out to alembic files or bake from within the plugin itself. Guess I have a lot to learn. Thanks

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