Mistika VR has an "Add to render queue" button in the render panel, which permits to send a batch of Mistika render jobs ( .rnd files ) to external render farms, or to pass those files to user defined scripts.
Please note that this tool require some preparation and it is not really necessary for simple cases. If what you want is to just render a batch of shots then you can simply drag & drop the next camera files to the Timeline to create new shots. Then, activate the All Shots option when you are going to render and it will render all of them.
But if you need more powerful render management, then the Add to render queue is the right tool to use:
- To integrate with external batch manager tools and external render managers. These are specialized applications that permit to organise your render jobs in different ways. For example, render jobs can be added to render queues for posterior execution (for example during the night), change their priorities on the fly, stop / resume jobs as needed, etc.
- To use a external render manager to render in parallel a single enumerated sequence (.dpx, .tiff, .jpg) in multiple computers (with each node rendering different frames of the same clip)
- To use a external render manager to render a different movie file (.mov, .avi...) on each render node. Movie files can not be rendered by parts (only enumerated sequences can), but movie files can still be distributed by ordering one movie file to each render node.
- To execute user scripts to automate production workflows (for example, to deliver VR stitchs that are already finished to a Mistika Ultima system )
Configuration in the Mistika VR side:
The Add to render queue button works both in Current shot and All shots modes. In the second case, the whole batch of Mistika render jobs ( .rnd files) is created first, and then the commands are executed independently for each of the .rnd files in that batch.
The command lines are stored in a configuration file, runBatch.cfg, which can be configured in the File->Options menu. In this file, the user can put all the command lines that he wants to be executed, passing the path to the .rnd file to them and also any parameters requiring variable substitution (the full list of available variables is given in the configuration file as a reference). Example command lines are provided for submitting jobs to some applications ( Smedge, Mistika BatchManager, and more to come )
Supported render managers:
A render manager is an application that provides batch processing for render jobs, and the capability to distribute render jobs between multiple computers, monitoring their progress and managing all aspects of the render nodes.
Most of these applications are agnostic about the actual render software, which needs to be installed separately. In this context, the actual renderer (Mistika VR in this case) can be connected to them by providing a description of its command line interface (CLI), which requires a different configuration process for each of those applications.
From that point the render jobs can be submitted by calling to the render manager with a command line, and that is exactly the purpose of the Add to render queue button in Mistika VR: to automatically submit render jobs to a external render manager. With this button, the user does not need to type the command line each time. Once the commands are defined in the configuration file the Add to render queue button will execute them.
In addition to user defined scripts, the runBatch.cfg configuration file comes with example commands to connect with two models of render managers that are directly supported (more to be added in the future), which are Mistika Ultima BatchManager and Uberware Smedge:
- Mistika BatchManager and Mistika Ultima:
It is the usual render manager that is available in all Mistika Ultima environments (these render farms are linux only, but you can still submit rnd jobs to it from any other platform ).
Once it is configured, the Add to render queue button will copy the rnd files to a Mistika Ultima folder (either to render them with Mistika BatchManager or to open them in Mistika Ultima). The configuration file also offer parameters for path translation, so it can replace local paths for the corresponding paths in Mistika Ultima systems (the complete instructions are in the configuration file)
Note: Another usage of this mode (another example in the configuration file) is to send rnd jobs to a folder accessible to a Mistika Ultima system in order to be opened on it (rather than rendering them directly) while producing path translation as necessary. This workflow is equivalent to opening a Mistika VR sequence in a Mistika Ultima system, but without the need to relink the media files, as the path translation is made on the fly during the copy process.
- Uberware Smedge:
It is a third party multi-platform render manager, developed by Uberware. It works on Windows, Mac, and Linux. It is probably the easiest render manager to setup, as it provides a lot of automated configuration. For that reason we have also tried to simplify our side of the integration as much as possible. It should work as follows:
1 - First thing, make sure that all the computers are sharing a common storage volume for the source files and rendered files. Check that Mistika VR can read the media files from those volumes and also render on them, otherwise nothing is going to work properly on the next steps (except if you only plan to use Smedge in the local computer only , which also makes sense as a simple Batch processor ).
2 - In all the render nodes, install both Mistika VR and Smedge (you can find Smedge at http://www.uberware.net/ ).
Make sure that all nodes have the corresponding licenses, and test that they can render using Mistika VR as usual, without using the Add to render queue function yet (obviously ,it does not make sense to try the integration functions with Smedge until MistikaVR is rendering correctly by itself).
3 - (Optional, only for old Smedge 2016 installations): Latest version of Smedge (Smedge 2018) already comes with Mistika VR support. But if you are using an earlier version of Smedge you can add MistikaVR to it by simply copying the attached module file ( MistikaVR.psx) to the "Modules" folder of the Smedge installation ( for example: C:\Program FIles\Smedge\Modules ). Then start Smedge (or restart it if it was active, to refresh the modules list).
From that point, Smedge should already offer "Mistika VR" as an available job type. (for more details please read the Smedge documentation about creating jobs).
NOTE: The .psx module file is the same for Windows, Mac, and Linux, only the Modules folder location will change.
4 - In the render panel of MisitkaVR, press Add to render queue. First time it will offer several configuration options, just choose the one to Send .rnd jobs to Smedge.
From that point, every time you execute the Add to render queue button it will submit the render jobs to Smedge (one per shot), rather than rendering them directly.
Later, if you want to use a different render manager or add user scripts you can change it in the File->Options menu.
Note: In the case of Smedge, it provides its own system for path translation, in case that the file paths are different on each of your systems. For more details please search for "Path Translation" on the Smedge documentation.
- Thinkbox Deadline:
The integration with Thinkbox Deadline is currently under final testings. If you need anticipated access please contact support.
Compatibility with other render managers and workflow automation tools:
In principle, the Add to render queue function should be compatible with any render manager that permits to submit jobs by command line. This is because this tool can execute one or more user defined command lines for each rnd job, also passing the path to the rnd file as a parameter and performing variable substitution for other common parameters in the command line (start frame, end frame, media paths, etc).
However, in the other side of the connection many render managers also require a plugin or a configuration file to describe the command line interface (CLI) of each product that they support. If your render manager does not have your Mistika product on the list or if you are integrating with your own workflow tools then you will need to make that missing piece, for which you can find the necessary information in the Mistika CLI document.
Support services and trouble shooting:
A characteristic of most render farms is that they are based on a combination of products from different manufacturers. Then, in the case of problems the first thing is to isolate which product is creating the problem (logically, each of the providers can only help you with the configuration of their own products). We recommend the following procedure to find where the problem comes from and which support services need to be contacted:
Recommended support procedure:
- First thing check that all your network and shared storage volumes are working correctly on all computers before installing any render farm management software , as network and permission issues are the most common source of problems in a render farm.
Specifically, test that you can can access all source files and overwrite render folders from all the computers without any permission problems. If you detect problems on these tests then please contact your system administrator, and do not continue with the next points until this part works perfectly. It is highly recommended to start with a working network and fully operational network drives before installing any render farm manager software on it, otherwise they may fail to execute any automated configuration provided by their installer tools, and when you finally fix your network then you may end with a configuration mess that may need manual tweaking for everything.
- If the problem has appeared later, then a useful test is to configure your local system as the only render node, and test the connectivity between Mistika VR and Smedge (or any other render manager you use) on that single node. If the integration works well on each computer but not when you add them together then the cause of the problem is probably a network issue. In particular, check that all your computers are discoverable in the network, as the render managers will probably use that function. (in the case of Windows, make sure to activate Network Settings->SharingOptions->Turn on Network Discovery). And make sure that the firewalls and antivirus software are not blocking any necessary connection (if possible, deactivate them for a while and reactivate them when it works)
- Once the above problems are discarded, check if Mistika VR can render normally on each render node using the shared network drives (without using Add to render queue or any render manager yet).
- Once that Mistika VR standalone render is working well in all computers using the shared volumes then the only piece that is left is the render manager configuration. That should be the last piece to be installed and configured, and their documentation and support services will be the ones to be used for this purpose.