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LightWave ScreamerNet’s controller communicates with the
lwsn rendering nodes by simply reading and writing commands to and
from a pair of job and ack text files. As long as the controller
and the render nodes have read/write access to the job and ack command
files as well as to the content directory and the output directory
they can participate in the render farm, no matter where they are
located, even if they are located anywhere across the Internet.
This can be quite useful for small scale independent filmmakers
who may wish to harness the rendering power of any extra computers
that may be available in multiple locations such as between work
and home studios.
Dropbox provides a very simple way to securely share content across
the Internet and may be used to share the content directory, command
directory and output directory for ScreamerNet.
- Go to Dropbox.com,
download and install the FREE Dropbox on the
host and remote Macs.
- Follow the Dropbox instructions to set up a FREE account if
you don’t already have one.
- Install and set Dropbox to place the
folder in the home folder of the same user on all the Macs. If
you normally use different users on all the Macs you can create
a new common user on each Mac with a common name like Render.
This way all the file paths to the
will be the same on all the rendering Macs:
- Download & unzip the FREE
Lite version of DLI_SNUB-Launcher
to the host Mac.
- Copy the included
DLI_SuperBalls content folder
Dropbox folder in the host Mac’s home
folder to make it accessible via Dropbox and rename it
a common name is used for this content folder so that you can
leave it in the Dropbox and simply put content inside it that
you wish to share with all your Dropbox connected Macs.
- You can simply log into the same Dropbox account from each remote
rendering Mac or if you need to have different Dropbox users access
the content folder then you can right-click the
folder and select Dropbox->Share This Folder...
from the popup menu. Then enter the email addresses of everyone
you’d like to share the content folder with to invite them
to share the
- Copy the included DLI_SNUB-Launcher to the
- Download OSX
- Unzip and install OSX ScreamerNet Controller
As in the previous
example we will set up a custom ScreamerNet Preferences folder
specifically for use with ScreamerNet so that it doesn’t interfere
with LightWave Layout’s own config files.
For more information about config files see Managing
LightWave’s All Important Config Files.
- Open the LightWave folder on the host Mac:
- Create a new folder inside this
folder and name it
Preferences, if there’s
not already a
Preferences folder there.
- If you would like to change the default segment memory limit
and/or the default render threads you may do so in the Render
Globals panel as
- Quit LightWave Layout to save the updated config files.
- Duplicate the
Preferences folder inside the
and rename the copy
SNPreferences. We’ll later
SNPreferences folder as the config folder
for all of the ScreamerNet lwsn instances.
- Then copy the LightWave3D folder from the host Mac to each of
the remote rendering Macs. You can do this by copying the LightWave3D
folder to the
NetContent folder as well. Then it
will be sent to each remote rendering Mac where it can be copied
out of the
NetContent folder to a
folder you can create in each Remote Rendering Mac’s
than typing ScreamerNet lwsn command lines manually, you may use the
Aqua GUI utility, DreamLight
SNUB-Launcher, to interactively build the command lines
and launch ScreamerNet lwsn with a Mac friendly drag-and-drop-dead-easy™
Interactive ScreamerNet UB Launcher Update
is an XCode Aqua GUI front end to interactively configure and launch LightWave
9, 10 & 11+ ScreamerNet UB lwsn instances for standalone, batch and network
your copy today!
Created by the author of Creating
a 3D Animated CGI Short
LightWave ScreamerNet for Mac OS X
Michael Scaramozzino - LightWave
3D Artist Profile.
- If you haven’t already, download the FREE
Lite version of DLI_SNUB-Launcher to your host Mac
and unzip it, but don’t launch it yet. It defaults to look
bin/lwsn in the same folder it’s located
in, the first time DLI_SNUB-Launcher is run. If you do run it
before placing it in the proper folder, then you can launch it
and just click on the lwsn Path button to choose
the correct path to the
- Drag DLI_SNUB-Launcher to the LightWave3D folder on the host
Mac and also copy it to the LightWave3D folder on each of the
remote rendering Macs if you haven’t already.
- On each of the remote rendering Macs log in as the Render
user, launch DLI_SNUB-Launcher and configure
each as follows:
- Drag the LightWave3D11.0 folder to the lwsn Path
button and it’ll find the proper path for lwsn:
- Drag the
SNPreferences Folder from the LightWave3D
folder to the Config Folder button:
- Drag the shared
NetContent folder to the -d
Content Folder button so that it reads:
If the bottom drawer is closed, open it with the Open
Batch Render Settings -2 button.
- Drag the
NetContent/Commands/ folder to the Command
- Set the First ScreamerNet Node # to 1 on the first
remote rendering Mac and set it to 2 on the second
remote rendering Mac, etc. because we want to run one instance
of ScreamerNet lwsn on each remote rendering Mac and one instance
on the host Mac as well. Each node must have a unique number.
- Click the Launch ScreamerNetUB Nodes button
to launch the ScreamerNet lwsn node on each rendering Mac. DLI_SNUB-Launcher
will launch ScreamerNet lwsn in Terminal. The nodes will start
outputting: Can't access job file. repeatedly. This is normal
because the network controller has not yet created the
files to communicate with the nodes. If you see a DVView error
about it being a wrong architecture, you can ignore it. It’s
a known 64-bit issue that should not interfere with your rendering.
we did in the previous
advanced network rendering example, we will use Jonathan Baker’s
ScreamerNet Controller to manage the render queue and control
all the remote rendering Macs. Jon recently updated OSX ScreamerNet
Controller specifically to allow using Dropbox [NOTE: Version 4.2.2
or later]. While we’ll be using OSX ScreamerNet Controller
in this example, LightWave Layout’s built-in ScreamerNet controller
also works with Dropbox.
ScreamerNet Controller for OS X is easy to setup and use. Just
follow these simple steps:
the latest version of OSX ScreamerNet Controller to the host Mac.
- Double-click it to expand the ".zip" archive.
- Double-click the ScreamerNet Controller.pkg file and follow
the installation instructions.
- Run the ScreamerNet Controller Application.
- Select the ScreamerNet Controller for OS X -> Registration…
menu item and enter your registration info. A professional license
is needed to run more than five render nodes.
- Next select the menu CPUs -> Set Max CPUs…
and enter the number of ScreamerNet instances you are running.
In this case we’re using
3. You’ll then
see 3 CPUs listed in the top window pane.
- Select the menu CPUs -> Set Command Directory…
and navigate to the
Commands folder inside the
folder and click the choose button. Now each of the CPUs should
initialize and finally change to a status of
- Select the men CPUs->Global CPU Options...
and set the For missing rendered frames, wait: __ seconds
before crashing the CPU text field to 10. This is how
many seconds that the controller will wait for frames to be copied
into the local dropbox once it is informed that a node finished
a frame. You may need to experiment with this setting if you notice
any of the nodes being re-initialized at random times during the
rendering for no apparent reason.
- Now go down the CPU list and double-click on each one to open
the CPU options.
- Turn OFF the Use Remote Mounting Path
(Mac Only) option for all the rendering nodes because
we are using the same user name render and
location on each Mac so all the file paths are the same. While
you are doing this, you may also give each CPU a name that makes
it easier for you to keep track of which Mac is running which
Add the first scene to the render queue.
- Select the menu Scenes -> Add Scene…,
locate and load the first scene:
- Set the settings for Start Frame to 1,
End Frame to 10 and Step
- Set the RGB Output File Path by click
on the corresponding Change button.
- Navigate to the
DLI_LW11-SuperBalls-Anim as the Save
As: name and click the Save button.
- Set the Files will be saved as: pop-up
- Click the OK button and the scene will
be added to the render queue where it will be loaded by
the nodes and they will begin rendering.
Add the second scene to the render queue.
- Select the menu Scenes -> Add Scene…,
locate and load the second scene:
- Set the settings for Start Frame to 1, End
Frame to 1 and Step to 1.
- Set the RGB Output File Path by clicking on
the Change button.
- Navigate to the
DLI_LW11-SuperBalls-LowRes as the Save
As: name and click the Save button.
- Set the Files will be saved as: pop-up to LW_JPEG(.jpg)
- Click the OK button and the scene will be added
to the render queue where it will be loaded by the nodes and they
will begin rendering.
- As each frame is rendered, it appears in the
- When finished rendering all scenes select CPUs ->
Select All Active CPUs. Then select CPUs ->
Remove CPUs. This will quit all the running ScreamerNet
instances on all the remote rendering nodes.
- Quit ScreamerNet Controller on the host Mac.
- You may then Quit all the Terminal apps on
each remote Mac.
It can be extremely useful when setting up and managing network
rendering over the Internet to use screen sharing so that you can
directly access any available Macs in off-site locations. Mac OSX
has built-in screen sharing software that may be used on a local
area network or across the Internet. For added security and easier
routing through any firewalls you may first set up a Secure Shell
(ssh) tunnel through which you can run the VNC connection. Once
the tunnel is open you may also direct Mac OS X’s standard
file sharing through the same secure tunnel if you’d rather
connect your lwsn nodes through the tunnel rather than using Dropbox.
While Dropbox is a very easy way to set up secure sharing it could
be somewhat inefficient if you are running many nodes on the local
area network as well as a few remotely over the Internet because
it has to send everything, text command files, scenes, assets and
rendered frames, out to the central Dropbox server even when transferring
files between nodes on the local area network.
More information and specific examples of setting up a secure ssh
tunnel for ScreamerNet lwsn rendering across the Internet is covered
in the network rendering chapter of my book: Creating
a 3D Animated CGI Short. The chapter includes
information about secure vnc screen sharing and port forwarding
through your router and firewall as well as using Mac OS X’s
built-in spaces to help manage a complex network rendering workflow.
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