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Basic Network Rendering with ScreamerNet lwsn Mac,
Mastering LightWave ScreamerNet (lwsn) for Mac OS X

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Basic Network Rendering with LWSN Mac

Basic network rendering with ScreamerNet lwsn enables you to harness your entire network of powerful Macintosh computers to render your LightWave scenes much faster than would be possible on a single machine. Network rendering with ScreamerNet is very similar to batch rendering, described previously, which you should review before proceeding with the following network rendering tutorial. The primary difference between network and batch rendering is that some of the ScreamerNet nodes run on additional Macs on your network, rather than all on a single Mac.

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Step-by-step ScreamerNet lwsn Mac OS X
Basic Network Rendering Example

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Here’s a step-by-step basic network rendering example using two scenes from DLI_SuperBalls, the sample content folder that is included with the FREE Lite version of DLI_SNUB-Launcher, using ScreamerNet lwsn in batch/network mode (-2) on the Macintosh. After downloading and unzipping DLI_SNUB-Launcher, copy or move the DLI_SuperBalls content folder to an administrator user’s Documents folder. This example uses two ScreamerNet lwsn instances running on two remote Macs across the local area network from a third host Mac that's also running the LightWave built-in ScreamerNet network controller. This basic setup is sufficient for simple network rendering with a few nodes but for best results with more than a few ScreamerNet lwsn nodes I prefer to use the Advanced Network Rendering with Mac ScreamerNet lwsn setup described later.

Setting up the Host Config File

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In this example we will use the default Mac OS X config file location on the host Mac, while logged in as a user with administrator privileges:
/Users/username/Library/Application Support/Newtek/LightWave/11.0/
For more information see Managing LightWave’s All Important Config Files.

  1. Launch /Applications/NewTek/LightWave3D11.0/Layout.
  2. Set the Content Directory with Edit->Set Content Directory...
    Navigate to and select: /Users/username/Documents/DLI_SuperBalls/
    This assumes you have placed the DLI_SuperBalls folder in your user’s Documents folder .
    See Content Directory for more information.
  3. Open the Render->Utilities->Network Render panel.
  4. Click the Command Directory button.
    Navigate to and select: /Users/username/Documents/DLI_SuperBalls/Commands/
    See Command Directory for more information.
    Command Directory button on the Network Rendering panel
  5. When asked to initialize ScreamerNet, click No. (We just want to save a new config.)
  6. Set the Maximum CPU Number to 2. This tells the controller how many nodes to look for.
  7. Open Render->Options->Render Globals and set the Segment Memory Limit to at least 32.
    See Default Segment Memory for more information.
  8. Click Yes when asked if this should be the new default setting, or it won’t be saved.
  9. Click the Render tab and set Multithreading to the number of render threads you would like to use on each render node or set it to Automatic so that each ScreamerNet lwsn node will use all available threads on each remote rendering Mac. See Multithreading for more information.
    Multithreading Setting on Render Options panel
  10. Quit LightWave Layout to save the config file.

Setting up the Mac OS X Network for Rendering

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In order to perform network rendering, you’ll obviously need a functioning network. This tutorial assumes that you have at least a basic peer-to-peer Mac OS X network already up and running which allows you to connect from one Mac to another to share files. You don’t need Mac OS X Server (unless you need to network more than ten Macs), any version of Mac OS X is capable of peer-to-peer networking. If you don’t already have a physical network, you’ll first need to set one up. You can find information about setting up a Mac OS X network with this Google search.

This tutorial was written using Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard and Mac OS X 10.7 Lion running on an Ethernet and WiFi network using LightWave 11.0.1. Other versions of Mac OS X and/or LightWave may have slightly different details, but the basic concepts will remain the same.

When only running a few instances of ScreamerNet lwsn nodes you should be able to run them all from the host Mac across the network. When running more than a few ScreamerNet lwsn nodes however I prefer to install separate copies of ScreamerNet lwsn, shared libraries, plugins and configs on each remote rendering Mac as outlined later in Advanced Network Rendering with LWSN Mac.

Preparing the Hard Drives for Basic Network Rendering

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The simplest way to set up network rendering on Mac OS X entails logging into the host machine (the Mac with the LightWave applications and the Content Directory) as the same administrative user from each remote network machine. Then running the ScreamerNet nodes on the remote rendering machines, from the host machine across the network. This way there is only one set of configs, programs, shared libraries and plug-ins. As the host machine’s administrator you then have full read/write access to everything you need on the host machine. You’ll be logging into the host machine from each remote rendering machine and mounting the host machine’s main hard drive on the desktop of each render machine. It’s a good idea to give all your hard drives unique names, so there’s no possibility of confusion about file paths regarding which volume they refer to, the local drive or the remote drive.

Therefore, the first step to set up your network for rendering is to simply give a unique name to each hard drive on each Mac you wish to use as either a host or render machine. If they don’t already have unique names that is. For example you could name the main hard drives for each machine as follows: HostHD, RenderHD01, RenderHD02, RenderHD03 or anything else that keeps each hard drive name unique.

Sharing the Host Mac on the Local Area Network

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The next step in setting up your network rendering is to make sure the host Mac, which contains your LightWave applications and Content Directory, is shared and available on the network for the other remote rendering Macs to log into.

Simply follow these steps to verify that your host Mac is shared and available:

  1. Launch System Preferences from the Apple menu or the Dock.
  2. Click the Sharing icon under Internet & Wireless.
  3. Select File Sharing and turn on the check mark button, if it’s not already on.
    Starting Personal File Sharing
  4. Click Show All and then Security.
  5. Click the Firewall tab and click Start if the firewall was not already on. It’s a good idea to have the firewall on any time your Mac is networked. This helps keep your Mac secure.
    Starting the Firewall

Mounting the Host Mac from the Remote Render Macs

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Now you need to mount the host Mac’s main hard drive onto each of the remote render Macs. Simply follow these steps on each remote rendering Mac:

  1. On each remote rendering Mac, the host Mac should appear in the sidebar under SHARED.
  2. Locate and select the host Mac in the sidebar.
  3. Once the host Mac is selected, click the Connect As... button that should appear.

Mounting the Host Mac from the Render Macs.

  1. Enter the username and password of the main administrative user of the host Mac, not the remote rendering Mac, unless they are the same. You must log into the host as the host administrator to mount the host Mac’s main hard drive. Click the Connect button when ready.
    Log in with an administrator user.
  2. Once connected you’ll see a list of all available home directories as well as all hard drives connected to the host Mac. double-click on the main hard drive of the host Mac where your LightWave applications and Content Directory are located to mount it.
  3. Repeat this on each remote rendering Mac so that they all have the host Mac’s main hard drive mounted and ready for access.

Setting up the Scenes for ScreamerNet lwsn Batch/Network Rendering

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The output render destination is stored as an absolute path in the scene file, even if the destination is inside the content directory, therefore you need to set the output render destination any time you move a scene to a new Mac. If the output render destination is located on the main startup hard drive of the host Mac, as in this case, then the output path would be written to the scene file without the volume information if set from the host Mac, therefore you should either set the output path from one of the remote rendering Macs or edit the path in the scene file in a text editor. We’ll just set the output path from one of the remote rendering Macs in this example so that it will contain the entire path including the volume.

For more information see Successful Scene File Preparation for ScreamerNet.

  1. From one of the remote rendering Macs, launch LightWave Layout across the network from the host Mac’s HD: HostHD/Applications/NewTek/LightWave3D11.0/Layout.
  2. Use File->Load->Load Scene... to load the first scene:
    HostHD/Users/username/Documents/
    DLI_Superballs/Scenes/DLI_LW11-SuperBalls-Anim.lws

    from the administrator user’s Documents folder from the host Mac.
    1. Click Yes if asked if you’d like to change the Content Directory when loading the scene.
    2. Open Render->Options->Render Globals.
    3. Verify or set the following render range fields on the General tab:
      • Range Type: Single (That’s the only range type compatible with lwsn.)
      • Render First Frame: 1
      • Render Last Frame: 10
      • Render Frame Step: 1
    4. Click the Output tab.
    5. Click the RGB Files button.
    6. Verify that DLI_LW11-SuperBalls-Anim is set in the Save As: field.
    7. Navigate to the Renders folder from the admin user’s Documents folder from the host Mac.
      HostHD/Users/username/Documents/
      DLI_Superballs/DLI_SuperBalls/Renders/
    8. Click the Save button to accept the changes and dismiss the dialog.
    9. Set the RGB Type pop-up menu to LW_TGA32(.tga)
    10. The RGB readout should now read DLI_LW11-SuperBalls-Anim_0001.tg...
    11. Save the scene.
  3. Use File->Load->Load Scene... to load the first scene:
    HostHD/Users/username/Documents/
    DLI_Superballs/Scenes/DLI_LW11-SuperBalls-LowRes.lws

    from the administrator user’s Documents folder from the host Mac.
    1. Click Yes if asked if you’d like to change the Content Directory when loading the scene.
    2. Open Render->Options->Render Globals.
    3. Verify or set the following render range fields on the General tab:
      • Range Type: Single (That’’s the only range type compatible with lwsn.)
      • Render First Frame: 1
      • Render Last Frame: 1
      • Render Frame Step: 1
    4. Click the Output tab.
    5. Click the RGB Files button.
    6. Verify that DLI_LW11-SuperBalls-LowRes is set in the Save As: field.
    7. Navigate to the Renders folder from the admin user’s Documents folder from the host Mac.
      HostHD/Users/username/Documents/
      DLI_Superballs/DLI_SuperBalls/Renders/
    8. Click the Save button to accept the changes and dismiss the dialog.
    9. Set the RGB Type pop-up menu to LW_TGA32(.tga)
    10. The RGB readout should now read DLI_LW11-SuperBalls-LowRes_0001....
    11. Save the scene.
  4. Quit LightWave Layout.

Drag-and-drop Launching the ScreamerNet lwsn Nodes with the FREE DLI_SNUB-Launcher Lite

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Rather than typing ScreamerNet lwsn command lines manually by hand, 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™ interface.

DreamLight Interactive ScreamerNet UB Launcher Update

DLI_SNUB-Launcher™ 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 rendering. Download your copy today!

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  1. 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 for 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 bin/lwsn application.
  2. Drag DLI_SNUB-Launcher to the LightWave folder on the host Mac.
    HostHD/Applications/NewTek/LightWave3D11.0/
  3. On each of the two remote rendering Macs access and run HostHD/Applications/NewTek/
    LightWave3D11.0/DLI_SNUB-Launcher

    across the network from the host Mac’s LightWave3D folder and configure each to use all paths from the host Mac as follows:

    • Drag the LightWave3D11.0 folder from the host Mac’s Applications folder to the lwsn Path button and it’ll find the proper path for lwsn:
      HostHD/Applications/NewTek/LightWave3D11.0/bin/lwsn
    • Drag the Config Folder to the Config Folder button. Note: On Mac OS X 10.7 Lion or later the user’s Library folder is hidden, so you can use the Finder’s Go->Go to Folder... menu command with HostHD/Users/userx/Library in the text field (replacing HostHD with the name of your host Mac’s hard drive and replacing userx with the administrator’s user name) to get to the host Mac’s user’s Library folders:
      HostHD/Users/userx/Library/Application Support/NewTek/LightWave/11.0/
    • Drag the DLI_SuperBalls folder from the host Mac’s administrator user’s Documents folder to the -d Content Folder button so that it reads:
      HostHD/Users/userx/Documents/DLI_SuperBalls/
    • If the bottom drawer is closed, open it with the Open Batch Render Settings -2 button.
    • Drag the DLI_SuperBalls/Commands/ folder from the host Mac’s administrator user’s Documents folder to the Command Folder button:
      HostHD/Users/userx/Documents/DLI_SuperBalls/Commands/
    • Set the First ScreamerNet Node # to 1 on the first remote rendering Mac and set it to 2 on the second remote rendering Mac because we want to run one instance of ScreamerNet lwsn on each remote rendering Mac.
    • Click the Launch ScreamerNetUB Nodes button to launch the ScreamerNet lwsn node on each remote 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 job# 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.

Rendering the Batch with LightWave Layout’s Built-in Controller

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For more information see Using LightWave’s Built-in Network Rendering Controller.

  1. On the host Mac launch /Applications/NewTek/LightWave3D11.0/Layout.
  2. Open the Render->Utilities->Network Render panel.
  3. Verify that the Maximum CPU Number is set to 2.
  4. Click the Screamer Init button.
  5. Click OK when the dialog appears stating: 2 available ScreamerNet CPUs were detected. You should now see both ScreamerNet nodes on the remote rendering Macs write LightWave command: wait. and sendack: Ready to the Terminal windows. You’ll also see two CPU’s of type MachOMac listed in the Network Rendering panel with a status of Ready.
  6. Click the Add Scene to List button and add the scene:
    DLI_SuperBalls/Scenes/DLI_LW11-SuperBalls-Anim.lws
  7. Click the Add Scene to List button again and add the scene:
    DLI_SuperBalls/Scenes/DLI_LW11-SuperBalls-LowRes.lws
  8. Hit the Screamer Render button and the ScreamerNet nodes will begin rendering frames.
    Network Rendering panel ready  for batch render
  9. As each frame is finished, it will be written to the output directory on the host Mac that was set in each scene. DLI_SuperBalls/Renders/
  10. If you wish to stop the rendering before it is finished, press the Escape key while the Network Rendering panel is in the foreground, then hit the Screamer Shutdown button. This will stop rendering new frames and will quit the ScreamerNet nodes once they finish rendering their current frame. If a ScreamerNet node crashes during loading a scene, the Network Rendering panel may remain waiting for the scene to load and may not recover. In such an instance you can force Quit LightWave Layout with Command-Option-Esc. To quit a ScreamerNet lwsn node before it finishes rendering a frame, bring its Terminal window to the foreground and close the window.

Manually Launching the ScreamerNet lwsn Nodes on the Remote Macs

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Another way to configure and launch the ScreamerNet lwsn nodes is to manually type the command lines necessary in Terminal. For a much easier and far less error prone method to configure and launch the ScreamerNet lwsn nodes, just use the drag-and-drop method outlined previously - Drag-and-drop Launching the ScreamerNet lwsn Nodes with the FREE Lite Version of DreamLight Interactive’s SNUB-Launcher.

For more information see Utilizing LightWave’s Mac Command Line Parameters.

  1. On the first remote rendering Mac, launch /Applications/Utilities/Terminal.
  2. Type or copy/paste the following into the terminal command line, all on one line, substituting your actual host hard drive name and administrator user name. Then press the return key.
    "/Volumes/HostHD/Applications/NewTek/LightWave3D11.0/bin/lwsn" -2 -c"/Volumes/HostHD/Users/userx/Library/Application Support/NewTek/LightWave/11.0/" -d"/Volumes/HostHD/Users/userx/Documents/DLI_SuperBalls/" "/Volumes/HostHD/Users/userx/Documents/DLI_SuperBalls/Commands/job1" "/Volumes/HostHD/Users/userx/Documents/DLI_SuperBalls/Commands/ack1"
  3. It should identify itself as CPU number: 1 in the Terminal window.

LWSN Conlose output
  1. On the second remote rendering Mac, launch /Applications/Utilities/Terminal.
  2. Type or copy/paste the following (which uses '2' for the job/ack number) into the terminal command line, all on one line, substituting your actual host hard drive name and username. Then press the return key.
    "/Volumes/HostHD/Applications/NewTek/LightWave3D11.0/bin/lwsn" -2 -c"/Volumes/HostHD/Users/userx/Library/Application Support/NewTek/LightWave/11.0/" -d"/Volumes/HostHD/Users/userx/Documents/DLI_SuperBalls/" "/Volumes/HostHD/Users/userx/Documents/DLI_SuperBalls/Commands/job2" "/Volumes/HostHD/Users/userx/Documents/DLI_SuperBalls/Commands/ack2"
  3. It should identify itself as CPU number: 2 in the console.
  4. They may say:
    Can’t access job file "/Volumes/HostHD/Users/userx/Documents/
    DLI_SuperBalls/Commands/job#"

    This is normal until LightWave’s ScreamerNet controller creates the job communication files.

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