Quick Start: Render Farm Best Practices

The following is a step by step best practice workflow tips and tricks to follow to get yourself setup to use the SOA Render Farm while in a class. This step by step assumes you have already installed the necessary render farm plugins for either 3DS Max or Rhino.  Note there may be class specific content such as the Course Share name and location to be aware of. 

If you are working while off campus, be sure to establish a successful connection to the UT VPN first. 

Step 01: Map Network Drive

  1. Right-click on the “Computer” icon, or the “This PC” icon.
  2. Select “Map Network Drive”
  3. In the Drive list, click a drive letter.
    1. You can choose any available letter.
  4. In the Folder box, enter the path below \\arch-data.austin.utexas.edu\<entercoursesharehere>
  5. To connect every time you log on to your computer, select the “Reconnect at logon” checkbox.
  6. Check “Connect using different credentials”.
    1. Enter “Austin\<enter your EID here>” in the first line of the Windows Security box that pops up.
    2. Enter your EID password in the second line of the Windows Security box.
    3. Select “Ok”
  7. Select Finish
  8. Your computer is now connected or mapped, to the network drive.

Step 02: Add a short cut to your desktop

Setting up a shortcut on your desktop helps ensure that you are directing all your file destinations in 3DS Max to the correct path ON the network at all times.

  1. Open Windows Explorer
  2. Click into the Address Bar at the top of Windows Explorer
  3. Enter the Course Share URL ( \\arch-data.austin.utexas.edu\<entercoursesharehere> ) provided by your professor.
    1. Example: \\arch-data.austin.utexas.edu\22-ARC386M-01203
  4. Choose Enter
  5. This will show you all of the folders in your assigned Course Share. 
  6. Find the folder icon in the address bar
  7. Using your mouse, click and hold on the folder icon and drag it on to your desktop.
  8. Verify your short cut looks like the image below.
  9. Right click on the short cut icon, select Properties, and you should see the full path of the shortcut to your course share. 

Step 03: Setup your folder in your Course Share

Some professors may have a different method of setting up the folders for each student such as a standard folder hierarchy. This is generally what is followed.

  1. While in your course share, Right Click, and make a new folder. Name it with your first and last name. 
  2. Copy all of your files associated with your 3D Model (3DS Max, Rhino, textures, maps, etc) to the Course Share on the server. 
  3. Open your 3DS Max file directly from the Course Share. 

Step 04: 3DS Max settings to specify

  1. In 3DS Max: Choose the File Menu > Preferences > Files Tab > Check "Convert file paths to UNC" under File Handling. 
  2. Chose the File Menu > Reference > Asset Tracking Toggle 
    1. Shortcut to the Asset Tracking Toggle: Shift + T
  3. Ensure all file paths are linked to \\arch-data.austin.utexas.edu\<entercoursesharehere> If the the path does not look like this or you see a drive letter, you'll need to specify the correct paths for each file. 

Step 05: Rendering Setup

  1. Chose Render Setup (F10 on your keyboard) and specify the following summary of settings. This will get you to where you need to be for the render farm submission.
    1. Note your professor will likely have more detailed settings and specify which render engine (VRay, Arnold, etc) to include for your class.  
  2. Specify the name and location for your render files by choosing the "Files" button under Render Output. 
  3. in the Render Output File window, navigate to the Desktop (or where you have saved your shortcut to the course share), and choose your course share shortcut. 
  4. While in the course share directory, find your name and specify a location for saving your rendered files. 
    1. Specify a File Name and Save as Type
    2. Save

Step 06: Render Farm Submission

Now that you have your Render Setup settings established, you're ready for a render farm submission. 

  1. In 3DS max, choose the RRender menu > Submit Scene > Save your file
  2. If all goes well, and you have your Render Farm plugin installed, the rrSubmitter window will appear. 
  3. While in the rrSubmitter:
    1. Open Scene Settings > Ensure the Scene Filename and Scene Database specified are using the full path to your course share. 
  4. The "Render Preview First" check box is checked by default. This is the precheck of your 3d model file. 
  5. Note the list of clients at the center of the rrSumitter window. This is the list of farmers.  The green square denotes what farmers are online.

Step 07: Submit

The rrSubmitter tool will have your current Software, Renderer, and Version noted above the Submit button.

  1. Chose the Submit button to submit your render job to the render farm. 
  2. Open rrControl by typing "rrControl" at your start menu, to monitor your own render farm jobs. 
    1. Note: When opening the rrControl tool the scripts window should be grey. If it is black, you have a permissions issue. 
    2. Learn how to use rrControl here: https://utexas.atlassian.net/wiki/display/SOAdigitech/Videos%3A+Render+Farm+How+To%27s#Videos:RenderFarmHowTo's-rrControlPlugin|UTSOARenderFarm

Happy Render Farming!