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General info

1. Basic trouble-shooting steps

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  • Make sure firewalls do not interfere with the network communication by first running a job with firewalls disabled. Network uses by default the TCP and UDP port range of 45454- 45474. You can change this port range but it is very important in that case to change the range in the preferences of Manager/Monitor and all Nodes running on all computers. The port range can be changed from File>Preferences in the Manager/Monitor/Node.
  • Make sure the same version of Maxwell Render (and thus Network) is running on all your nodes. If an older version is running in one of the Nodes, the MXI merging process may fail. You can check the Manager log for any warnings of different versions running - it will also inform you which Node(s) is running a different version. The "Minimum Log Verbosity" setting in Manager preferences must be set to at least "Warnings" level to see both errors and warnings logged. You can also check the version number in the title window of the Manager/Monitor/nodes.
  • When rendering at high resolution and especially with Multilight turned on, each MXI file can grow to several gigabytes - ensure you have enough disc space available in the final output paths when Manager transfers the MXI files of each node there to begin the final merging process. The Manager will give you an error message in the log window if there is insufficient disc space.
  • Do not run several Managers on the network. If you want to check the jobs running from several computers, you can run several Monitors on the network and add jobs from each one.

2. Setting up the network for optimum performance

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  • Make sure that all the machines in the network have the same version of Maxwell Render installed. Many transference problems in the network are caused by having different Maxwell Render versions all over the network. Updating to the last version on all machines will
    ensure the best communication between nodes.

  • Make sure that all the nodes have the same network card or cards with similar transfer capabilities. This will ensure a good transfer speed between all nodes. We recommend gigabit network.

  • Keep your network as homogeneous as possible. Similar computing powers and transference ratios will make the communication between all the machines much easier.

  • Remember to turn off your firewall if you are getting issues detecting nodes in the network.
  • DO NOT set the temp files folder for Manager/Nodes/Monitor to point to the same networked folder as this will have two very negative consequences:
    • each node will write their MXI files to the same folder - overwriting each others contribution to the render process
    • for each SL increment, all the nodes are writing to this network folder causing much slower write speeds than writing to a local folder, which will also result in a slower render.

You should always set local temp folders. Or you can leave the settings at default in which case the temp files will be saved in the systems temp folder. The temp folder location can be customized from File>Preferences (in Manager/Monitor and each Node).

3. Antivirus can interfere with Network rendering

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We have had reports of Network behaving strangely, eventually a Node stops communicating with the Manager and seems frozen but it is in fact still rendering. The node cannot be stopped from the Monitor either. The solution was to prevent the Anti Virus application (Avast in this case but other AV software may also cause problems) from monitoring the activity of the Maxwell install folder and the temporary folder that mxnetwork uses for network rendering. You can find out where the temporary folder is on a particular node by going to the Node UI and choosing File>Open temp folder.

So please make sure in the AV software to exclude monitoring of the network temp folder and the Maxwell install folder.

 

OSX

4. File path problems when submitting a job

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For multi-platform compatibility reasons, all the network paths in Maxwell Render are in UNC format by default. Mac OSX cannot handle UNC paths natively and so some transformations are needed. These transformations cannot always be done automatically, so keep the following tips in mind to make network rendering much easier when using Mac OSX. 

  • Checking the “send dependencies” option will be faster and more reliable in most cases.

  • In a multi-platform environment, it’s preferable to use Mac OSX machines only as render nodes.

  • When launching the render from a Mac OSX machine (and if the Manager is not in the same machine as the Monitor), the output path must be understandable and accessible from the Manager machine. 

  • If the Manager is running on a Mac OSX machine, selecting a local path will save the file in the same local path (if it exists) as where the Manager is running. Using the "Retry" button of the local path warning dialog will convert this local path to a network path. This means the files will be saved in the referring path, but the selected local path must still be located in your user folder (or in any of its subfolders) or in any secondary drive. 

  • If the Manager is running on a Windows machine, you must specify a network UNC path to the MXS file, or a Windows shared folder must be selected in the dialog, which all nodes must have direct access to. If you are saving the MXI/Image output on the same computer that the Manager is running on, you can specify the MXI/Image output paths as local paths. Otherwise, if the output is ment to be saved to a different networked computer, use UNC paths for the output paths. The Manager must have access to this networked path/folder in order to save the final output. If it doesn't, the Manager log window will output a warning that it couldn't save the files to that location, and you can instead find the output in a local path specified in the Manager log window.

  • When "Send Dependencies" is not selected, you must specify a UNC path to the folder where the scene dependencies (textures, IOR, HDR, IES etc. files) are located, which all nodes must have access to. A second option would be that when you create your scenes and load textures for materials, specify HDR maps for environment lighting etc. that you load these files from a networked folder using UNC paths. So all the dependencies paths for all scene assets would already have UNC paths, in which case you don't have to specify a networked folder for these assets in the Add job wizard.

TIP: To quickly gather all the scenes dependencies into one folder, you can use the Pack & Go feature found in Maxwell Studio, and also many of the plugins. In case of Studio, simply open the MXS file, go to File>Pack & Go, and choose a folder where all the files will be copied, including the MXS file. It works in the exact same way in the plugins, please read the plugins documentation to see where this feature is located.

5. Launching a network render in a mixed (PC/ Mac) network fails

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You should have all the files necessary for the render in a Windows shared folder on your PC, as Mac can't handle Windows network paths automatically, but not vice versa.

6. Files location on OSX

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All the files for a network render must be located in your user folder (or any of its subfolders) or in any secondary drive.

 

 

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