3D ScreamerNet LWSN may be used for network rendering with LWSN in batch/network mode (-2) to render multiple scenes independent of LightWave itself. Network rendering enables you to queue up multiple scenes all at once and render them on all available computers across your network unattended. Network rendering is similar to batch rendering except multiple render computers are used across your network. If using DreamLight Constellation as your render controller you may even include cross-platform render nodes to harness the power of all the Mac OS X or Windows PCs on your network. In the case of multi-CPU/core/thread computers, you can easily run a ScreamerNet lwsn render node on the same computer that you may also continue working on with LightWave 3D Layout or while performing other functions.
In this step by step network rendering tutorial we’ll be using two computers, both Mac OS X Macs or both Windows PCs. LightWave’s built-in Network Render controller does not remap Mac/Win paths so all computers must be the same platform when using LightWave’s built-in network controller, so we’ll start there. When using the new DreamLight Constellation network controller, which does remap Mac/Win paths, you can add cross-platform render nodes after completing this tutorial as detailed in the DreamLight Constellation Cross-platform DreamLight Constellation tutorial.
In this example tutorial the first computer will serve as the host computer which will have the Content Folder located on it. It will run the DreamLight Constellation network rendering controller and it will also run one LWSN rendering node with DLI_SNUB-Launcher. The second computer will be a remote rendering computer that will run a second LWSN rendering node with a second copy of DLI_SNUB-Launcher and it will access the Content Folder from host computer remotely across the network.
There are two ways to run ScreamerNet LWSN applications on a network. You can install it on each render node (computer) and run it locally, only sharing content over the network, or you can install it only on the host computer and run it all over the network in addition to the shared content. In order to keep this tutorial simple and avoid additional possible network problems we’ll install ScreamerNet LWSN on each render node so that it can run locally on each node. So before beginning be sure to first install LightWave 3D on each computer that will be performing rendering. After installing, launch and quit LightWave Layout on each computer so that it will create a new config file on each computer. After it’s installed on each computer, we’ll only be running LightWave Layout itself on the host computer and just using the ScreamerNet LWSN (and plugins, etc.) components on each render computer.
Network Rendering with LightWave 3D ScreamerNet LWSN
Step by Step How To Tutorial Contents
- Download and Install the FREE LITE DreamLight Constellation, DLI_SNUB-Launcher & DLI SuperBalls Content
- Setting up the ScreamerNet lwsn Config File
- Sharing the Content Folder from the Host Computer to the Remote Render Node(s)
- Drag-and-drop Launching LWSN Nodes with DLI_SNUB-Launcher
- Drag-and-drop Network Rendering with DreamLight Constellation
- Manual Setup for Stock Built-in LightWave 3D ScreamerNet LWSN Rendering
Download and Install the FREE LITE DreamLight Constellation, DLI_SNUB-Launcher & DLI SuperBalls Content
The following step-by-step Network Rendering with LightWave 3D ScreamerNet LWSN tutorial shows how to render DLI_SuperBalls, the sample scene (and prebuilt content folder) that is included with the FREE Lite version of DreamLight Constellation & DLI_SNUB-Launcher, using LightWave 3D ScreamerNet LWSN in batch/network mode (-2) on Mac OS X or Windows. We’ll be using two LWSN render nodes with the STD 5-Node registered version of DreamLight Constellation and DLI_SNUB-Launcher because the FREE LITE version is limited to only one LWSN render node. You may test each type of network render node (local, remote and cross-platform) with the FREE LITE version by testing each type individually one at a time as Node #1.
- Download the DreamLight Constellation bundle which includes the FREE LITE versions of DreamLight Constellation, DLI_SNUB-Launcher and DLI_SuperBalls pre-built sample content folder.
- After downloading the DreamLight Constellation.zip file, unzip the file by double-clicking it on Mac OS X or by right-clicking on it and selecting Extract All…
- Drag the DreamLight Constellation application & DLI_SNUB-Launcher application files from the unzipped folder to your LightWave 3D applications folder where Layout and Modeler are found:
/Applications/NewTek/LightWave3D_2015.2/on Mac OS X or
C:\Program Files\NewTek\LightWave_2015.2on Windows. Enter an administrator’s username and password if prompted. You may then create an alias/shortcut to place on your desktop or elsewhere if desired. While DreamLight Constellation & DLI_SNUB-Launcher can actually be run from anywhere, they will automatically locate the default settings from LightWave Layout’s config file more easily when run from the LightWave3D folder.
- Copy DLI_SNUB-Launcher to the LightWave folder on each render node as well. Because we’ll only be running DreamLight Constellation on the host computer you don’t need to copy DreamLight Constellation to each render node, but it won’t hurt anything if you do.
- Drag the prebuilt sample Content Folder, the DLI_SuperBalls folder, into your user’s Documents folder which will be used in the following tutorials.
There are a few settings that are stored in the LightWave 3D Layout config file that are used by ScreamerNet LWSN for batch/network mode -2 rendering. The first is the Content Directory which ScreamerNet LWSN will read from the config file if not overridden in the command line or by drag and drop in DreamLight Constellation at the time of rendering. Another config setting that may be used by ScreamerNet LWSN is the Command Directory, but we’ll be using the defaults in DreamLight Constellation and DLI_SNUB-Launcher which automatically default to the Commands folder inside the Content Folder which we just set. The other two settings are the Segment Memory Limit and the Multithreading settings. The defaults for these are, Segment Memory Limit: 1024 MB and Multithreading: Automatic. Those defaults are usually fine so changes to those two are optional. For more information see Managing LightWave 3D ScreamerNet LWSN Config Files.
- Launch LightWave 3D Layout.
- Set the Content Directory with Edit->Set Content Directory… Navigate to and select:
Documents/DLI_SuperBalls/Or you may simply load any of the DLI_SuperBalls scenes and answer Yes when asked if you’d like to change the Content Directory to the detected Content Directory. This assumes you have already placed the DLI_SuperBalls folder in your user’s
Documentsfolder. See Content Directory for more information.
- OPTIONAL: Open Render->Options->Render Globals and set the Segment Memory Limit to at least 32 MB or leave it set to the default of 1024 MB. See Default Segment Memory for more information.
- Click yes when asked if this should be the new default setting, or it won’t be saved in the config file.
- OPTIONAL: Click the Render tab and set Multithreading to the number of cores/threads that you would like to use up to the maximum number of threads on your computer. This can be useful if you want to reserve some horsepower so that you can perform other work on the same computer while it’s rendering in the background. Or simply leave it set to the default of Automatic to have it use the maximum available threads. See Multithreading for more information.
- Quit LightWave to save the config file to disk.
Mac OS X default Config Folder path:
Windows default Config Folder path:
- Repeat this process on each computer that will be rendering to create a config file on each computer.
In order to perform network rendering, you’ll obviously need a functioning network. This tutorial assumes that you have at least a basic peer-to-peer Mac OS X or Windows network already up and running which allows you to connect from one computer to another to share files. LightWave 3D ScreamerNet LWSN communicates with the network controller by reading/writing commands into simple text files, so simple file sharing is all that is needed. You don’t necessarily need a dedicated server (unless you need to network a large number of computers), any version of Mac OS X or Windows is capable of peer-to-peer networking. If you don’t already have a physical network with Ethernet or Wi-Fi, you’ll first need to set one up. You can find information about setting up a Mac OS X network with this Google search or setting up a Windows network with this Google search.[NOTE: Be sure your local area network is behind a router with a firewall so it’s not directly exposed to the Internet.]
- Install LightWave 3D on both the host and remote computers if not already installed. Launch and quit Layout on both computers to create a valid config file on each computer.
- Place the DLI_SuperBalls content folder in the Documents folder on the host computer if not already there.
- Place a copy of the DLI_SNUB-Launcher 2 and DreamLight Constellation applications in the Lightwave 3D folder on each computer if not already there.
- Set up sharing on the host computer. [NOTE: Again, verify that your local area network is behind a router with a firewall so it’s not directly exposed to the wider Internet.]
Mac OS X users activate File Sharing in System Preferences on the Mac that will be used as host to share the content folder and will run the network controller. Drag the DLI_SuperBalls content folder from the Documents folder to the Shared Folders list and set the a user to have read/write permissions that you’ll use to log in from the remote Mac.
Windows 7 users activate File Sharing in the Network and Sharing Center in the Control Panel’s Network and Internet section on the computer that will be used as host to share the DLI_SuperBalls content folder and run the network controller. Go to Sharing Options, and then Advanced Sharing Settings. Click: Turn on file and printer sharing. and Use user accounts and passwords to connect to other computers. Then click Save Changes.
Select DLI_SuperBalls folder in My Documents and right click. Select Share with -> Specific people…
- Mount the host computer’s DLI_SuperBalls content folder on the remote rendering computer.
On the remote rendering Mac, select the host Mac in the Finder’s sidebar under Shared. Click the Connect As… button and log in as a user that has permission to read/write to the shared DLI_SuperBalls content folder. Once connected you will see a list of available volumes and folders to mount. Double-click on DLI_SuperBalls to mount the shared content folder.
Rather than typing ScreamerNet LWSN command lines manually by hand, you may use our drag-and-drop GUI utility, DreamLight SNUB-Launcher, to interactively build the command lines and launch ScreamerNet LWSN with a Mac friendly drag-and-drop-dead-easy™ interface, even on Windows.
- Launch DLI_SNUB-Launcher on each computer. Check and set the lwsn Path field and Config Folder field if necessary, as outlined in the Batch Render Quick Tutorial.
- Click on the Registration checkbox or readout to enter your registration license to enable more than one LWSN render node, or you may test the local and remote render nodes in the tutorial individually one at a time, each set up as node #1 using the FREE LITE version instead.
- In DLI_SNUB-Launcher on the host computer, turn on the Content Folder checkmark and drag the
Documents/DLI_SuperBalls/folder to the Content Folder button or field.
[NOTE: LightWave 3D ScreamerNet requires content to be in a properly structured Content Folder according to very specific rules. If you are having problems getting your own scenes to render across the network please verify that you have a properly structured Content Folder.]
- Also Open Batch Render Settings and drag the
Documents/DLI_SuperBalls/Commands/folder to the Command Folder button or field. Set the First ScreamerNet Node # field to 1 and click the Launch ScreamerNet lwsn Nodes button to launch LWSN in Terminal/Command.
[NOTE: For best results the Command Folder should be located within the Content Folder so all nodes have access to it and it gets remapped properly if you wish to use any of the Content Folder remapping features for remote or cross-platform render nodes.]
Host Mac OS X Content Folder:
Host Mac OS X Command Folder:
Host Windows Content Folder:
Host Windows Command Folder:
- In DLI_SNUB-Launcher on the remote computer, turn on the Content Folder checkmark and drag the shared
/Volumes/DLI_SuperBalls/folder to the Content Folder button or field. Also Open Batch Render Settings and drag the shared
/Volumes/DLI_SuperBalls/Commands/folder to the Command Folder button or field. Set the First ScreamerNet Node # field to 2 and click the Launch ScreamerNet lwsn Nodes button to launch LWSN in Terminal/Command.
Remote Mac OS X Content Folder:
Remote Mac OS X Command Folder:
Remote Windows Content Folder:
Remote Windows Command Folder:
Rather than using the somewhat limited options built-into LightWave Layout (Network Render panel or Render-Q), you may use our drag-and-drop network render controller, DreamLight Constellation, to interactively configure and manage ScreamerNet LWSN rendering with a Mac friendly drag-and-drop-dead-easy™ interface, even on Windows.
- Back on the host computer launch DreamLight Constellation. Open the Preferences Panel. Drag the
Documents/DLI_SuperBalls/Commands/folder to the Command Folder button or field. Turn on the Content Folder checkmark and drag the
Documents/DLI_SuperBalls/folder to the Content Folder button or field. Turn on the Remap Remote checkmark and type the remote path to the shared DLI_SuperBalls folder as seen in DLI_SNUB-Launcher on the remote rendering computer. Click the OK button.
Mac OS X Command Folder:
Mac OS X Content Folder & Remap Folder:
Mac OS X Remap to Remote Path:
Windows Command Folder:
Windows Content Folder & Remap Folder:
Windows Remap to Remote Path:
- This will initialize the nodes which should both show up in the Node Queue. Set Node 1 to Local by turning off the Remote checkmark and set Node 2 to Remote by turning on the Remote checkmark. This will reinitialize the nodes each to use the proper content folder path for each of the local and remote nodes.
- Drag the DLI_SuperBalls-Anim.lws scene file onto the Add Scene button or the Scene Queue to open the Scene Panel. Then drag the
DLI_SuperBalls/Renders/folder to the RGB Output Folder button or field and click OK.
[NOTE: For best results the RGB Output Folder should be located within the Content Folder so all nodes have access to it and it gets remapped properly if you wish to use any of the Content Folder remapping features for remote or cross-platform render nodes.]
- This will add the scene to the scene queue and begin rendering.
- Once you have the render nodes running on the remote computers of the same platform you may then add cross-platform render nodes as outlined in the DreamLight Constellation Cross-Platform Network Rendering Tutorial.
The easiest and most streamlined way to set up and run LightWave 3D ScreamerNet LWSN is with the FREE LITE versions of the drag-and-drop utilities we built to facilitate the process, DLI_SNUB-Launcher and DreamLight Constellation as outlined above. However, sometimes it’s useful to still run ScreamerNet manually using the stock built-in tools. This can be especially useful if you run into a problem getting ScreamerNet running with your own custom content in DLI_SNUB-Launcher and DreamLight Constellation in which case testing your content manually with the built-in tools can help isolate the problem. This can help determine if if the problem is in our utilities or your content, your network setup or LightWave 3D ScreamerNet LWSN itself. The following sections deal with rendering directly in LightWave 3D ScreamerNet LWSN manually and may be skipped if using DLI_SNUB-Launcher and DreamLight Constellation.
The RGB output render destination is stored as an absolute path in the scene file, even if the destination is inside the Content Directory, therefore you need to set the RGB output render destination any time you move a scene to a new computer when using LightWave 3D’s stock built-in ScreamerNet network rendering. For stock ScreamerNet LWSN rendering this RGB output path must be exactly the same on all render nodes. If you use Drag-and-drop Rendering with DreamLight Constellation which can override the scene settings when the scene is opened for rendering, and can automatically remap remote paths that may be different than host paths when communicating with remote render nodes, its not necessary to preset the RGB output destination in the scene file first.
- Launch LightWave Layout.
- Use File->Load->Load Scene… to load:
from the current user’s Documents folder.
- Click Yes if asked if you’d like to change the Content Directory when loading the scene.
- Open Render->Options->Render Globals.
- Verify or set the following render range fields on the General tab:
- Range Type: Single (That’s the only range type compatible with LWSN.)
- Render First Frame:
- Render Last Frame:
- Render Frame Step:
- Click the Output tab.
- Click the RGB Files button.
- Click the Output tab.
- Click the RGB Files button.
- Verify that
DLI_SuperBalls-Animis set in the Save As: field.
- Navigate to the
- Click the Save button to dismiss the dialog and accept the changes.
- Set the RGB Type pop-up menu to
- The RGB readout should now read
- Save the scene.
- Quit LightWave Layout.
Another way to configure and launch ScreamerNet LWSN is to manually type the command line to launch it in Terminal/Command. For a much easier and far less error prone method to configure and launch ScreamerNet LWSN, just use the previous interactive method – Drag-and-drop Rendering using the FREE Lite Version of DreamLight SNUB-Launcher as a Droplet.
For an in-depth discussion and explanation of each of LightWave’s available command line parameters, please review LightWave 3D ScreamerNet LWSN Command Line Parameters.
- On the host computer, launch
/Applications/Utilities/Terminal/on Mac OS X or Start->Command Prompt on Windows.
- Type the following into the command line, all on one line, substituting your actual username for userx. Then press the return key.
Command Line on Mac OS X
"/Applications/NewTek/LightWave3D_2015.2/bin/lwsn" -2 -c"/Users/userx/Library/Application Support/NewTek/LightWave/2015.2/" -d"/Users/userx/Documents/DLI_SuperBalls/" "/Users/userx/Documents/DLI_SuperBalls/Commands/job1" "/Users/userx/Documents/DLI_SuperBalls/Commands/ack1"
Command Line on Windows
"C:\Program Files\NewTek\LightWave_2015.2\bin\lwsn" -2 -c"C:\Users\userx\.NewTek\LightWave\2015.2" -d"C:\Users\userx\Documents\DLI_SuperBalls" "C:\Users\userx\Documents\DLI_SuperBalls\Scenes\Commands\job1" "C:\Users\userx\Documents\DLI_SuperBalls\Scenes\Commands\ack1"
- It should identify itself as “CPU number: 1” in the terminal/command window and start reporting “Can’t access job file.” because the job file has not yet been created.
- Repeat this process on the remote render node. But keep in mind that when using plain ScreamerNet LWSN all paths must be exactly the same on all nodes. You can not use different paths on different nodes unless you are using a render controller that can remap local/remote (Mac/Win) paths, such as DreamLight Constellation. On each subsequent LWSN node you also need to increment the job and ack numbers. For more information see LightWave 3D ScreamerNet LWSN Command Line Parameters.
Another way to network render scenes with ScreamerNet LWSN is to use the built-in Network Render panel. This only works if all nodes can access all content across your network using the exact same paths. The built-in controller can not use different paths on different nodes. For a much easier and more flexible method to network render scenes in ScreamerNet LWSN, especially with local/remote and Mac/Win path remapping, just use the previous interactive method – Drag and Drop Batch Rendering with DreamLight Constellation.
If you wish to stop the rendering before it is finished, press the Escape key while the Network Rendering panel is in the foreground, then hit the Screamer Shutdown button. This will stop rendering new frames and will quit the ScreamerNet nodes once they finish rendering their current frame. If a ScreamerNet node crashes during loading a scene, or reports “ignoring duplicate command”, the Network Rendering panel may get stuck and may not recover. In such an instance you can force Quit LightWave Layout with Command-Option-Esc on Mac OS X or Command-Alt-Delete on Windows. To quit a ScreamerNet lwsn node before it finishes rendering a frame, bring its Terminal/Command window to the foreground and close the window.
When using LightWave 3D Layout’s built-in Network Render panel, once rendering starts you can no longer make changes to the scene queue or use LightWave 3D Layout for anything else. For more flexible batch/network rendering use the FREE LITE version of DreamLight Constellation instead.
- Launch LightWave 3D Layout on the host computer.
- Open the Render->Utilities->Network Render panel.
- Click the Command Directory button and set it to the
Commandsfolder inside the shared DLI_SuperBalls prebuilt sample content folder.
- Set the Maximum CPU Number to
- Click the Screamer Init button.
- Click OK when the dialog appears stating: “2 available ScreamerNet CPUs were detected.” You should now see the ScreamerNet node write “LightWave command: wait.” and “sendack: Ready” to the Terminal/Command window. You’ll also see 2 CPUs listed in the Network Rendering panel with a status of “Ready.”
- Click the Add Scene to List button and add the scene:
- Hit the Screamer Render button and the ScreamerNet node will begin rendering frames.
- As each frame is finished, it will be written to the RGB output directory that was set in the scene.