We have been working for the past month on bringing a new set of features, some of them are ready and others are still under development.

Here’s what we have done so far:

Backend Improvement

Revamped the processing code on our backend to allow us to process the 3ds max scenes and detect before processing what version of max should be used for this step. We chose to get the max version from the 3ds max file meta to have this process automatically without the user input requirement. We have limited the max versions from 2015 to 2017 so far, scenes done with max earlier than 2015 will be processed with 3ds max 2015. We plan on supporting 3ds max 2018 by the end of this month, but it’s not a priority right now, as scenes can be saved for 2017 and they will render properly. If there will be a client that cannot render on 2017 a 3ds max 2018, we might speed up the process for that.

We have improved our scene preload and post-load scripts, we chose to use pre-load scripts to set the project folder before opening the 3ds max scene, as some corona materials were missing materials when the relative paths have been used. The post-load improvement will allow us to set the scene on the fly with custom settings, allowing us to offer new features to clients, such as setting file resolution, number of passes, noise limit and other quick settings which will help saving the time of re-uploading a package and get it through the processing step.

We do not aim to reproduce all the settings from 3ds max, as that will be quite some labor and can make the web interface quite complex. We have planned a different approach to allow people to quickly test different settings on the farm which I will keep a secret for now, as I think that it will be a great surprise for anyone if we manage to pull it off, so fingers crossed. I can say that’s quite complex to implement and it might take a few weeks till you see it up and running, but it’s aimed to simplify the render-farm interaction, making it almost instantaneous changing settings on your scene and making different versions of your scenes. I will come with more details on this after we have something to show.

As a main feature, the Single frame Distributed Rendering is implemented. There are certain things that must be still implemented, but these are mainly on the web interface.

 

3DS Max Plugin improvement

This plugin have been a wild ride for us but it started to get a bit smoother, choosing to use .NET instead of Max Script writing this plugin had it’s challenges due to poor Autodesk documentation on this topic and the limited .NET interaction with other plugins that must still be done through max script.

Long story short, we managed to get this working properly, but we still have a great deal of features to add, the plugin being the key to interact with our farm as easy as possible without hunting untracked assets on your drive and manually creating your archives.

 

A few things that we worked on the plugin aside from bug fixing are these:

  1. Added the ability to export a zip archive similar to the one that’s getting uploaded on our server. This will come in useful if you want to share your project with other users or you want to upload the zip archive using the web-dashboard. Or use it to send the files to other farms that still use a manual submission and files must be uploaded via FTP : ) .. No offense “other farms” if you are reading this!
  2. Added the ability to cancel the upload via plugin, “cancel” button have been added to the desktop sync application for each package that’s upload in progress. This will be added to the next release (0.7.6.3).
  3. Improved the installer as it was failing to deploy the max plugin on some systems. The plugins are also being kept as a zip archive inside the CGIFarm Sync install folder.

The short term plan for max plugin:

  • One important feature would be to allow users to customize the package that’s being sent to the farm and see all the files that are getting uploaded. You will be able to add additional scenes to this package, making it faster to create jobs on the web platform without having to upload multiple packages, were the assets are the same and just scene setup changes.

 

Web Dashboard

This have been neglected for a while as we are a small team and we must work on one thing at a time, but July should bring new updates to the dashboard as well.

Single frame distributed render option has been added to the https://dashboard.cgifarm.com web interface and it’s still to be implemented on the version 2 of the dashboard which can still be found on http://dashboard.cgifarm.org . At some point there will be just version 2 of the dashboard available, but there is still work to be done to get that up to date.

The Single frame distributed is set to use 5 nodes as default, in the near future we will allow users to set the number of distributed nodes manually depending on the priority plan that’s selected.

 

That’s mostly what happens with CGIFarm at this point, I wish things would’ve moved a bit faster, but it’s quite hard to get this type of service started and making it usable for various scenes setup. We are doing our best to get a great and affordable service in hands of all 3D Artists that are doing HQ work and need lots of processing power. There are lots of render farms around, but we try to avoid the pattern of becoming “just another render farm”. If you are interested to see more ideas coming to live, we need your support! We showed what we can do so far with limited resources, imagine how fast things can move on if we start getting more people using this system.

If you did not had the chance to try our farm so far, you can start by creating an account and watching the quick start video:

>>Create and Account<<

>>Watch Quick Start video<<

 

You all get $20 worth of credits to try our system right away, there’s no review process and anyone can submit a scene. Don’t wait until you feel like you need to use a renderfarm, you are just delaying your workflow upgrade if you are not already outsourcing this matter, if you are already using other services, try us out for free and leave your feedback on the process that we put together, you might have the pleasant surprise (like all users that are using our service claimed) that you will be able render much faster using our service.

We don’t have the computing resources like other well established farms have, but this is a matter of time and it is very easy to scale in a short period of time. The main focus is to achieve (and I believe that we partially done it so far through the words of people that are using our service) a simple and efficient workflow to get your scenes rendered, without fighting with errors that seem not to end.

So go ahead and create an account right now, it will take you a few minutes to watch the quick start video and understand what’s going on with our service.

>>Create and Account<<

 

I wish you the best and I will keep you updated.

Alexandru Gradea