Render Farm – Frequently Asked Questions

Overview

We get a lot of questions. Here are some of the more common ones.


How do I use the ResPower Super/Farm?

 

It depends on which 3d software you use:


What is your billing model?

There are two at this time, subscription, and metered:

  • Subscriptions allow you to submit an unlimited amount of renders during the subscription period for a flat fee. Each task (frame, bucket, etc) must complete in a per-task time limit. The length of this limit, and the subscription period depend on the subscription you purchase. For full pricing details, see the Unlimited Render Farm subscription page [requires login].
  • Metered Service measures the amount of time it takes to render your work and charges you accordingly.

Should I get a Subscription or use the Metered Service?

Nine times out of ten, the answer is that you should get a subscription. The only real exceptions are when your renders are ridiculously short, or when they will not complete in the per-task render time allotted for subscription-based rendering (currently 24 hours per frame).

Subscriptions can last as little as a day, all the way to as long as a year.


How does the render farm calculate the time utilized for Metered Service?

The ResPower render farm calculates the time utilized in the following manner:

  • A render node selects a frame for render, and stores the “Start Time”
  • The render node tells rendering software to render selected frame
  • The rendering Software (e.g., Lightwave, Maya, Max) renders frame
  • The rendering Software notifies the render node that the frame is complete
  • The render node stores the \”End Time\”
  • The farm then calculates the Credits utilized according to this formula:
    Credits = (End Time – Start Time) * (Speed of Computer in GHz) * (Software Factor)

What happens to the render time when I abort my scene?

When you abort a render, each node terminates the rendering software and then stores the “End Time.” The normal formula is then used to calculate the Credits utilized.

Note that aborting a scene is not an instantaneous process. When you abort, a command is issued to all nodes rendering your scene. It can take several seconds for the nodes to receive this command, terminate the render process, and store the “End Time.”


Why does my scene take a different amount of time per frame on ResPower’s computers than on my computer?

There are a number of factors that affect the actual render times on a render farm, including:

  • CPU speed
  • CPU type – e.g., Intel vs. AMD
  • Operating System – e.g., Mac OSX vs. Windows XP
  • Time to download the scene and its auxilliary files via the network
  • Time to load the scene. When you render in your application, the scene is typically already loaded. On our system, each node will have to load your scene at least once.
  • Time required to save the output back to the file server
  • Amount of RAM required to render
  • Threading issues
  • RAM speed (PC133/PC100/PC2100)
  • Disk speed
  • Frame distribution
  • Retries (Note: The ResPower Render Farm does not charge you for failed render attempts)

ResPower does everything it can to minimize the overhead caused by the network. We also do whatever we can to remove that overhead from the dollars you spend. For example, we store the start time after downloading your scene to each render node, and if possible after the render engine loads your scene. We also store the end time before uploading your output to the FTP server. By making the cost to you indirect, we are given as much incentive as possible to reduce that overhead.


What are all of these folders in my FTP directory?

The ResPower Render Farm creates a few folders in your FTP directory.

The first of these is the “source” directory. The source directory is where all of the .zip files you upload get unpacked and becomes the base location for your content or project directory when it comes time to render a scene.

During a render, the ResPower Render Farm will create a directory called “renders/[some-dir]” where it will place all of the raw frames as they are generated by the render slaves.


I’m getting “Permission Denied” errors when I try to download my output.

The most likely cause of this is that you have not used the “Pay for Output” command on the Job Status page to, well, pay for the output. This is required if you use our Metered Service billing model.

It is possible to purchase [login required] bulk hours ahead of time in order to get a discount, but you will still need to apply those hours to your render using the “Pay for Output” command. In other words, when you purchase bulk hours, you are buying store credit that you can use in the future to pay for your renders.


I can’t delete or overwrite my files!

Short Answer: Follow the “Files: Take Access” link at the top of any Render Farm page.

Long, Techno-Geek Answer: When the Render Farm processes tasks on your behalf, it does so as a different user. The result is that any files created by the Render Farm are owned by that user rather than by you. As a result, the FTP server doesn’t let you delete them. We are working on a cleaner mechanism so that the need for the “Take Access” page is removed. Should be done “Real Soon Now”.

Note: You will not be able to delete your rendered output, even if you use the “Take Access” page. There are a number of reasons for this, but the primary one is that it isn’t necessary; ResPower’s software automatically scans the FTP server for old renders and deletes them to recapture disk space. At the time of this writing, renders older than 5 days are deleted, although ResPower reserves the right to shorten that time should the need arise. (I.e., download your files as soon as possible and do not rely on ResPower as a backup of your renders.)

Another reason is that, unfortunately, deleting files has been used to attempt to commit fraud. A “customer” was deleting files via FTP and then claiming that they had not appeared, and demanded a refund. After hours of debugging, we determined that the files had rendered and had even been placed on the FTP server. From there, it wasn’t long to scan the FTP logs and discover that the user had downloaded and deleted the files! Not providing delete access to the /renders/ folder protects us from this possibility.


I’m getting an error 530 on the FTP saying that there are too many open connections from my IP address.

If you’re seeing this error:

530-There are too many open connections from your
530-IP Address.
530 Login incorrect.

It’s because you have too many connections open. If you believe you do not have any open, it is possible that there are stale connections on this end that haven’t realised you disconnected yet, or that a router in between is incorrectly holding the connections open. Use the “Kill FTP Connections” command on the Green Menu to kill them, and try again.


Can I render without inputting a payment method?

No.


I have multiple cameras in my scene. Can I render different frame ranges with different cameras?

Absolutely. Simply submit each set of frames separately, and tell the render wizard which camera to render for each set of frames.


I uploaded my scene but it’s not showing up under “Render Wizard”!

There are a few things we can think of right off the bat:

  • When you uploaded, you didn’t place your scene file somewhere under /source/ in your FTP folder.
  • When the Render Farm lists your files, it lists only the files under /source/ so that it doesn’t take forever-and-a-day searching your /renders/ or other folders.
  • You uploaded a .zip file with your scene in it, but didn’t go to Unpack Files to unzip it. When the Render Farm lists your files, it doesn’t search inside of .zip files.
  • You went to Unpack files to unzip it but didn’t allow enough time for one of the nodes to actually unzip it for you. When the Render Farm unpacks your files, it does so with high-priority tasks that are actually executed by render nodes. There is always at least one node that is running in a mode where it will do nothing but execute tasks for the web server. You can tell if your pack/unpack is finished by going to “Jobs”.
  • There’s a bug in the web site! If you suspect that this is the case, please don’t hesitate to Contact us!

Is my intellectual property (IP) safe with ResPower?

Your FTP folder is password protected and hidden from all other users. We take every reasonable precaution to prevent unauthorized access to your account.

ResPower’s official policy is that we do not look at your scenes or rendered output unless directed to do so by you; from a practical standpoint, the volume of work we produce is simply too great for us to look at it even if we wanted to.

We do not hand out passwords or usernames via telephone or email other than through our automated “forgotten password” page, which only sends your password to the email address that the account is registered with.

In addition, we are prepared to sign any reasonably crafted nondisclosure agreement (NDA). Things that would make your NDA unreasonable in our view would be things like clauses that restrict us from working with your competitors. Obviously clauses that prevent us from sharing information we learn about your project with your competitors are reasonable, we just cannot restrict ourselves from processing your competitors’ work. Even if we wanted to agree to such restrictions, we wouldn’t be able to keep promises like that, since our system is highly self-service.


How long can I keep my source and renders at ResPower? Can I treat my FTP space at ResPower as a remote backup service?

In order to make sure we have the disk space necessary to produce rendered output and accept active customers, we run a disk space recovery tool that deletes rendered output older than 5 days. It also deletes source content older than 15 days. Please note that ResPower reserves the right to reduce either of these times without warning or notice. It is possible, for example, for severely heavy demand to cause us to have to clear disk space immediately to allow current renders to process, in which case, our first line of defense is to reduce this retention period.

If you are actively using the service, you may prevent the recovery tool from deleting a folder by placing a new file in that folder. For example, if you have a texture map directory, say /source/maps, that you do not want the recovery tool to delete, then upload a new text file into /source/maps each day. The contents of this file do not matter – only that the file is there.

If you have a job running, the recovery tool will skip your /source/ folder, but will continue to scan your /renders/ folder. We reserve the right to shorten these periods without notice, so you should not treat your FTP space as a remote backup – only as a “cache” to be used for rendering purposes.

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