6 Tutorials

6.1 Quick start tutorial

This section will provide a tutorial on how to set up SquidNet on a simple all-Windows render farm. This tutorial will demonstrate how to get SquidNet up and going as quickly as possible by guiding you thru some basic installation, configuration, job submission, and render farm management operations. The tutorial will use After Effects, Maya and Modo rendering applications on an all-Windows render farm.

To give you a quick understanding on how to set up SquidNet, the following tasks will be performed:

  • Prepare After Effects, Maya and Modo for network rendering.
  • Setup network shares for scene content and rendered image storage.
  • Copy sample AE, Maya and Modo scene files from the SquidNet installation folder onto network share folders.
  • Create SquidNet SSA account on all Windows nodes (clients, master and slaves).
  • Install SquidNet on all nodes.
  • Configure master, client and slave nodes from GUI and CLI.
  • Setup default configuration path.
  • Setup application profiles that tell SquidNet where rendering applications are located.
  • Submit rendering jobs from GUI and CLI interfaces.
  • Monitor job progress using tools from GUI and CLI interfaces.

For this tutorial, the following assumptions are made:

  • Project folders will be stored on a network share: “\\raid-server00\volume_1\SquidNet”
  • Jobs will be submitted from a SquidNet client node called SQUIDNET-CLIENT.
  • The master node will be named SQUIDNET-MASTER. The master will not be processing jobs.
  • There will be 5 slave nodes. The slaves will be named SQUIDNET-SLAVE[01-05].
  • Rendered images will be saved to “\\raid-server00\volume_1\SquidNet\Tutorial-Images” folder.

6.2 3rd Party Application(s)

SquidNet requires that all 3rd party rendering applications (Maya, After Effects, LightWave, modo, etc…) be installed on every render node. This is necessary because the local SquidNet service must have access to the application’s rendering program. The rendering program is the command line tool that SquidNet calls to process scene renders. Most 3rd party applications provide a separate renderer program that resides in the same folder as the main application GUI. In most cases, the command line renderer program is different than the main application GUI.

The table below shows the renderer programs supplied by various 3D and compositing applications:

3D/Compositing Application WINDOWS RENDERER APP Mac OS RENDERER APP Linux RENDERER APP
After Effects (*) aerender.exe aerender n/a
Autodesk 3DSMAX 3dsmaxcmd.exe n/a n/a
Autodesk Maya (*) render.exe render render
Blender3D blender.exe blender blender
CINEMA 4D CINEMA 4D.exe n/a n/a
LightWave lwsn.exe n/a n/a
Luxology Modo (*) modo_cl.exe n/a n/a
Nuke nuke.exe n/a n/a
Terragen tgdcli.exe “Terragen 2” n/a
V-Ray Standalone vray.exe vray vray
XSI/SoftImage xsibatch.bat n/a n/a

The highlighted renderers above are what SquidNet will use to render job requests in this tutorial. When you get to the application path manager step, you’ll need to tell SquidNet where these applications are installed on your render farm by specifying the paths in your application profile definitions. (More on that in the following sections)

6.3 Setting up a network folder

Make sure all AE, Maya and Modo scene files can be accessible from the network share “\\raid-server00\volume_1\SquidNet” by opening a DOS shell and issuing the following command:

dir \\raid-server00\volume_1\SquidNet

Consult with your IT professional if you’re having problems setting up the network share.

6.4 Setup tutorial scenes

In SquidNet’s installation folder, copy the “Tutorials” folder (including sub-folders) to the network share folder. When the copy is complete, you should have the following folder:

  • \raid-server00volume_1SquidNetTutorials

6.5 Setting up SSA account

On Windows render nodes, create an administrator account (SSA) named “SquidNet” with a password of your choice. Once the account is created, log out of your current Windows session and log in again using the new SSA account. Make sure you can access any network folders on the network share folders. Try creating and removing some files on the network share while logged in under the SSA account. If you can access the network share without issue, you should be good to go !

If you already have an administrator account that can act as the SSA, you’re free to use that account. Just make sure that the account can access your network share and that you use the same account name and password on all Windows farm nodes.

6.6 Installing SquidNet

If SquidNet is not already installed:

  • Installation instructions for Windows
  • Installation instructions for Linux
  • Installation instructions for Mac OS

On Windows nodes, make sure you enter the newly created SSA account when prompted.

6.7 Configure render farm nodes

At this point you should have SquidNet installed on all you render nodes. On the master node, start the main SquidNet GUI and open up the Render Farm Nodes view from the main menu tool bar (Network->Render Farm …).

Make sure you have the columns displayed as shown above. If not, enable any missing columns by right-clicking on the Render Farm view and selecting the “Select Columns…” option from the popup menu.

The next steps will configure each render node. Do the following in order:

  1. Log into the SquidNet GUI on the MASTER node.
_images/tut_peer_nodes.jpg

Render nodes - post-configured

  1. Right-click on SQUIDNET-MASTER node and select “Configuration->Set as Master… menu option.
  2. Right-click on SQUIDNET-CLIENT node and select “Configuration->Set as Client… menu option.
Note: Since we don’t want our client node to render jobs, right-click on SQUIDNET-CLIENT node and select “Configuration->Configure Client…” menu option. Choose “Never” from dropdown menu.
  1. Select all 5 slave nodes, right-click and select “Configuration->Set as Slave…” menu option.
  2. Wait a few seconds for node list to update.
_images/tut_slave_nodes.jpg

Render nodes - pre-configured

  1. At this point all your render nodes should be configured.

If at this point the nodes don’t look like they do in the figure above, please go back to see if you missed a step

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.

Important

Node configuration must be done on the master computer.

6.8 Register license

If you have a SquidNet license, you can register it as follows:

  1. Open GUI on master node.
  2. Open License Manager dialog (Help->License Manager…)
  3. Press “Register New License” button and cut/paste in your SquidNet license(s).

Note: If you have an evaluation license, you’ll need to remove it (right-click “Remove…”) before registering new one.

6.9 Set up default configuration path

The configuration path is where the SquidNet UI will save all your GUI settings (jobs, presets, pools, etc…). To avoid having to duplicate GUI settings on each submission node, make sure you set the configuration path to a network shared folder.

See Setting Config Path section for configuration path setup instructions.

For the sake of this tutorial, set the configuration path as follows:

  • \RAID-SERVER00volume_1SquidnetSquidNetConfig.

Note: Create the “SquidNetConfig” folder if it doesn’t already exist.

6.10 Set up job templates

_images/job-types.jpg

Job Templates

With the SquidNet preferences dialog still open, select the “Job Submission” option on the left side of the dialog and add the After Effects, FFMPEG, Maya and Modo templates to the right side list.

This setting determines which job templates are available in your project window and which applications you’ll be able to submit jobs to.

6.11 Set up application profiles

_images/app_profiles.jpg

Application Path Manager

We’ll need to setup application profiles to tell SquidNet where to find our applications so open up the Application Path Manager and register our AE, Maya and Modo render applications.

On the client node (SQUIDNET-CLIENT) or master (SQUIDNET-MASTER), start the SquidNet GUI and do the following:

  • Open the Application Path Manager dialog (Admin->Path Configuration->Application Path Manager …)
  • Create 3 Application profiles with the following settings (see pics below):
Profile Name Application Render Node Renderer Path
SQUIDNET-TUT-AFX aerender.exe <all> < your app path >
SQUIDNET-TUT-MAYA render.exe <all> < your app path >
SQUIDNET-TUT-MODO modo_cl.exe <all> < your app path >
  • Substitute “< your app path >” with the path that were the application is installed.
_images/tut_profile_ae.jpg

After Effects Application Profile

  • Setup the After Effects profile
_images/tut_profile_maya.jpg

Maya Application Profile

  • Setup the Maya profile
_images/tut_profile_modo.jpg

Modo Application Profile

  • Setup the Modo profile

For the “Render Node” option we’re purposely using the “”<all>”” option but here’s a list of other possible options for the “Render Node” field:

  • <all>: Use the specified application path on all render nodes. Should only be used when all nodes are the same platform AND all nodes have the same application installation path.
  • <windows-only>: The application path only applies to Windows render nodes.
  • <mac-os-only>: The application path only applies to Mac OS render nodes.
  • <linux-only>: The application path only applies to Linux render nodes.
  • <specific-node-name>: The application path is only valid for the specified node name.

Assumptions:

  • The paths above are assumed so if your installation paths are different, update the application path accordingly.
  • It’s also assumed that each slave node has each application installed on its local hard drive. (Note the “<all>” selection for the “Render Node:” field). Note: SquidNet will not submit slices to nodes that are missing render applications.
  • Make sure to “validate” each profile.
  • Press “OK” button to save profile(s)

6.12 Create project folder

_images/tut_project_folder.jpg

New Project “SQUIDNET-TUTORIAL”

All SquidNet render jobs are stored in project folders. So before we can submit our render jobs, we’ll need to create a project folder:

  • Open the Project Manager dialog (Project->Project Manager…)

  • Press the “New Project” button and create a project named “SQUIDNET-TUTORIAL”.

    Note

    Note that the new project folder is created in the configuration path that was previously set.

  • Double-click on the project “SQUIDNET-TUTORIAL” in the Project Manager dialog to open a project view for project “SQUIDNET-TUTORIAL”

6.13 Submit Maya Job

_images/tut_job_maya.jpg

Maya Job Profile

Press the “New Job” button and select the Maya template from the top-left of the job submission form.

On the job submission form, enter or change the following fields:

  1. On left-side of the form:

    1. Set “Job ID” to MAYA-JOB#1
    2. Select the “Use All Available Cores” checkbox.
    3. Select the “Create output folder” checkbox.
  2. On right-side of the form, set the following fields:

    1. Application: $APP(SQUIDNET-TUT-MAYA)
    2. Project Dir: //RAID-SERVER00/Volume_1/SquidNet/Tutorials/Maya
    3. Scene: //RAID-SERVER00/Volume_1/SquidNet/Tutorials/Maya/fluidParticleFalls.ma
    4. Working Directory: //RAID-SERVER00/Volume_1/SquidNet/Tutorials/Maya
    5. Start Frame: 1
    6. Ending Frame: 450
    7. Frame Per Slice: 20
    8. Under “General Purpose” panel:
    1. Renderer to Use: Software
    2. Output Image Path: //RAID-SERVER00/Volume_1/SquidNet/Tutorial-Images/Maya
    3. Format: name#.ext
    4. Type: png
  3. Press the “Submit” button.

  4. When asked to save job, say “yes”

Command Line Example

sqn --submit --template maya --jobId MAYA-JOB#2  --useRenderer Software --appPath $APP(SQUIDNET-TUT-MAYA) --sceneFile //RAID-SERVER00/Volume_1/SquidNet/Tutorials/Maya/fluidParticleFalls.ma  --projectFolder //RAID-SERVER00/Volume_1/SquidNet/Tutorials/Maya --workDir //RAID-SERVER00/Volume_1/SquidNet/Tutorials/Maya --startFrame 1 --endFrame 450 --framePerSlice 20  --imageFilenameFormat name#.ext --priority 12 --outputDir //RAID-SERVER00/Volume_1/SquidNet/Tutorial-Images/Maya --imagePrefix fluidparticles- --imageFormat png --useAllCores --createOutputDir
_images/tutorial_maya.jpg

Rendered Image

6.14 Submit After Effects Job

_images/tut_job_ae.jpg

After Effects Job Profile

We’re now ready to formally submit jobs to the render farm. With the view for project “SQUIDNET-TUTORIAL” open in the GUI client area, press the “New Job” button and select the After Effects template from the top-left of the job submission form.

On the job submission form, enter or change the following fields:

  1. On left-side of the form:
    1. Set the “Job ID” to AFX-JOB#1.
    2. Select the “Create output folder” checkbox.
  2. On right-side of the form, set the following fields:
    1. Application: $APP(SQUIDNET-TUT-AFX)
    2. Project File: //RAID-SERVER00/Volume_1/SquidNet/Tutorials/AfterEffects/fire.aep
    3. Start Frame: 1
    4. Ending Frame: 400
    5. Frames Per Slice: 1
  1. Output Folder: //RAID-SERVER00/Volume_1/SquidNet/Tutorial-Images/AE
    1. Output Filename: fire[####].jpg
    2. Under “Other settings” panel:
    3. Render Queue Index: 1
  1. Press the “Submit” button.
  2. When asked to save job, say “yes”

The AE template settings coincide with the scene settings defined in the After Effects GUI.

Command Line Example

sqn --submit --template AE --appPath $APP(SQUIDNET-TUT-AFX) --jobId AFX-JOB#2  --startFrame 1 --endFrame 400 --priority 12 --framePerSlice 1 --createOutputDir --sceneFile //RAID-SERVER00/Volume_1/SquidNet/Tutorials/AfterEffects/fire.aep --outputDir //RAID-SERVER00/Volume_1/SquidNet/Tutorial-Images/AE --videoFilename "fire[####].jpg" --renderIndex 1 --useAllCores
_images/tutorial_ae.jpg

Rendered Image

6.15 Submit Modo Job

_images/tut_job_modo.jpg

Modo Job Profile

Press the “New Job” button and select the Modo template from the top-left of the job submission form.

On the job submission form, enter or change the following fields:

  1. On left-side of the form:
    1. Set “Job ID” to MODO-JOB#1
    2. Select the “Create output folder” checkbox.
  2. On right-side of the form, set the following fields:
    1. Application: $APP(SQUIDNET-TUT-MODO)
    2. Scene File: //RAID-SERVER00/Volume_1/SquidNet/Tutorials/Modo/racecar.lxo
    3. Important: Press “Scan Modo scene” button to auto-populate some of the fields.
    4. Start Frame: 1
    5. Ending Frame: 300
    6. Frame Per Slice: 10
    7. Output Image Path: //RAID-SERVER00/Volume_1/SquidNet/Tutorial-Images/Modo
    8. Image Prefix: racecar-
    9. Output Image Format: png
    10. Render Camera: OVERHEAD
  3. Press the “Submit” button.
  4. When asked to save job, say “yes”

Command Line Example

sqn --submit --jobId MODO-JOB#2 --template modo --appPath $APP(SQUIDNET-TUT-MODO) --sceneFile //RAID-SERVER00/Volume_1/SquidNet/Tutorials/Modo/racecar.lxo --startFrame 1 --endFrame 300 --framePerSlice 10 --priority 12 --outputDir //RAID-SERVER00/Volume_1/SquidNet/Tutorial-Images/Modo --imagePrefix racecar- --imageFormat png --useAllCores --createOutputDir --camera OVERHEAD
_images/tutorial_modo.jpg

Rendered Image