1 Getting Started

1.1 Initial Configuration

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Main GUI Initial Startup Screen

Before your render farm can become operational, the following configuration items must be set up:

Mandatory:

  1. Software Installation: Install SquidNet on your render farm.
  2. Node configuration: Determine how each SquidNet host will be configured: Master, Client or Slave.
  3. License Registration: Register your SquidNet license.
  4. Squidnet Config path: This is the folder where SquidNet will save all configuration settings to.
  5. Application Profiles: Create links to rendering applications installed on the local render farm.
  6. Job submission types: Determine which 3D and compositing applications will be used.

Optional (may be done at a later time):

  1. Power Management: Determine if and when render nodes are automatically powered down.
  2. Email: Setup email for job activity, reporting, etc …

1.1.1 Softare Installation

Install SquidNet on your render farm. (see Installation section)

1.1.2 Node configuration

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Default node state. All nodes default to PEER state.

A SquidNet render farm consists of 4 major subsystem components:

MASTER - Render farm controller:

  • Oversees all render farm operations (render jobs, transactions, etc…).
  • Manages local and cloud render farm job queue.
  • Monitors render node activity.
  • Distributes job instructions (slices) to rendering nodes.
  • Can optionally be configured to process jobs (although not recommended for heavy workloads).

CLIENT - Submission workstation:

  • Submits job requests to render farm queue.
  • Can optionally be configured to render jobs:
    • Never: Job submission node only.
    • Logged out: When users are logged out.
    • Low Priority: When users are logged in but execute at a low processing priority so as to not disturb desktop performance.
    • Screen Saver: When screen saver is active (Mac OS only).

SLAVE - Rendering engine:

  • Sole purpose is to process rendering requests.

PEER - Default node state:

  • Default SquidNet node type.
  • Provides no functionality.
  • Must be configured to either a master, client or slave node.

Tip

Upon installation, all SquidNet nodes are configured as PEERS. For your render farm to operate correcly, you must configure each node on your farm to be one of either a master, client or slave.

1.1.2.1 Configure Master

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Configure host as a MASTER node.

To configure a SquidNet host as MASTER, open the Render Farm CPU Nodes view then right-click the to-be MASTER node (Configuration->Set As Master) then answer yes to the prompt.

Important

To configure a node as a MASTER, you must be physically logged onto the master node. Also, the MASTER node must be configured before any CLIENTS or SLAVES.

Command Line Example

Sets node THOR to be the SquidNet master:

sqn --masterSet THOR

1.1.2.2 Configure Clients & Slaves

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Configure host(s) as a SLAVE node.

To configure a node to be a CLIENT or SLAVE, right-click the to-be CLIENT/SLAVE node(s) (Configuration->Set As Client/Slave) then answer yes to the prompt.

Tip

If you make a mistake and mis-configuring a node, simply convert the node back to PEER and restart the process. If you want to completely re-configure all nodes, convert all client and slave nodes to PEERS first then convert the master to a PEER. Once all nodes are PEERS, you can then commence to re-configure the new master, client and slave nodes.

Command Line Example

You can set a node to be a CLIENT or SLAVE from the command line:

sqn --nodeTypeSet client --node RENDERNODE01
sqn --clientModeSet never --node RENDERNODE01

or

sqn --nodeTypeSet slave --node RENDERNODE01

1.1.3 License Registration

To register a purchased or evaluation license, (see License Registration section).

1.1.4 Setting Config Path

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SquidNet Configuration Path

By default, the SquidNet UI stores all user configuration settings in the <installation-path>/settings folder. Configuration items stored in this folder include:

  • Project folders and job profiles
  • Path translations
  • Application profiles
  • UI layouts
  • Pool configurations
  • Email/SMS settings
  • etc…

It’s recommended that the default configuration path be changed to an alternate location —– preferably a network shared folder that is periodically backed up.

Open the Master Configuration window, right-click on master node then select (Configuration->Configure Master or from main menu Admin->Master Configuration…). Depending on your render farm nodes, you’ll notice a configuration path for each supported operating system platform. Enter the path to your configuration folder then push the Done button.

Note

Configuration paths fields for specific operation systems are only displayed if nodes of that type are connected to the master node.

1.1.5 Application Profiles

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SquidNet Application Profiles.

Application profiles tell SquidNet where specific 3D rendering applications are installed on your render farm. You’ll need to create one application profile for each 3D application that you want to use with SquidNet.

For example, the following table shows typical application profiles:

Microsoft Windows:

Profile Name Application Renderer Path
SQUIDNET-AFX aerender.exe C:\Program Files\AdobeAdobe After Effects CS6\Support Files
SQUIDNET-MAYA render.exe C:\Program Files\Autodesk\Maya2014\bin
SQUIDNET-MODO modo_cl.exe C:\Program Files\Luxology\modo\701_sp1

Apple Mac OS:

Profile Name Application Renderer Path
SQUIDNET-AFX aerender /Applications/Adobe After Effects CS5
SQUIDNET-MAYA render /Applications/Autodesk/maya2018
SQUIDNET-MODO modo_cl /Applications/modo.app/Contents/MacOS/
SQUIDNET-C4D CINEMA 4D /Applications/MAXON/CINEMA 4D R16/CINEMA 4D.app/Contents/MacOS

The figure above shows an example of the Application Path Manager dialog that contains profiles to each type of application that SquidNet will send requests to. Each profile contains a list of entries that have the following information:

  • Name of the computer that the application is installed on
  • The name of the processing application (modo_cl.exe, render.exe, etc…)
  • The absolute path to that application on that node.

By default, the following applications profiles are automatically created:

Default Application Profiles
Profile Application
3DSMAX_DEF_<year> 3DSMAX
AE_DEF_CS<version> AFTER EFFECTS
MAYA_DEF_<year> MAYA
C4D_DEF_R<version> C4D

To create application profiles, open the Application Path Manager dialog (Admin->Path Configuration->Application Path Manager …).

  1. Press the “Create New Profile Button”.

    _images/app_profile_new.jpg

    Create Application Profiles.

  1. Enter the profile name. Example: 3DSMAX-2017
  2. On the right side, select the application template. Example: “3D Studio Max”
  3. Verify that the “Render Application” field shows the correct render executable.
  4. For the “Render Node” field, select “<all>”.
  5. Enter the path where you have that application installed.
  6. “Validate” the presense of the application. Validation will ensure that the path entered will be found correctly on your farm.
  7. Select “Ok” to save the new application profile.

Note

If the “Render Application” field doesn’t contain the correct application name (or if a specific version is missing from the dropdown list), simply change the name to override the default.

To update an existing application profile, double-click on the selected profile.

Once your application profile(s) are created, you’ll be able to select a specific application from the job submission form (as shown below).

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Selection of application path in job submission window.

1.1.6 Setting Job Types

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SquidNet Enabled Job Types.

Job templates are application-specific data entry forms that contain rendering parameters. SquidNet provides application templates for standard 3D applications.

Open the preferences window (Admin->preferences), select the “Job Submission” item, then select the application templates that your farm will be using.

Tip

The selected application templates determines which job types can be submitted (Maya, 3dsmax, etc…) from the job submission form.

1.1.7 Setting Power Management

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SquidNet Preferences

Open the preferences window (Admin->preferences), select the “Configuration” item then configure the following items:

  • WOL on job submission: Wake up render nodes when a job is added to the job queue.
  • Idle Shutdown: Shutdown timeout for idle clients and render nodes.

Attention

If using power management on client nodes, take care not to have SquidNet automatically shutdown nodes while users are actively logged on.

1.1.8 Setting up email

See Email Setup section.

1.1.9 Tile/Bucket Rendering

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SquidNet Tile Render Viewer

SquidNet provides an interface to render large single-frame images across your render farm nodes. To use the tile rendering interface the following needs to be configured:

  1. Create a special “STITCH” pool that contains the nodes that will “stitch” frames to create the final image:

    • Use the Pool Manager (Admin->Pool Manager …) to create a special pool called “STITCH” and add in any slave nodes that will be used as sititching nodes. Depending on the size of your user’s final image, it’s recommended that you use stitching nodes that have plenty of physical RAM. (see Pool Manager section).
  2. On Mac OS farms, install the *ImageMagick* tools on the master and stitching nodes:

Note

SquidNet assumes that the ImageMagick identify, convert, montage and composite binaries are located in the /usr/local/bin folder.

1.1.10 Farm Check

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SquidNet Farm Check

Use tbe “Farm Check” window (Help->Farm Check …) to verify that each SquidNet node on the farm has the proper permissions to access local and network resources. You can also measure read/write performance to your network storage device to ensure that each node provides expected bandwith.