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Faculty are requesting tools to manage the rendering crunch during finals week. Currently the status quo is a free-for-all in the computer lab during project deadlines. People end up "reserving" computers for rendering with signs threatening curses, mutilation, or death if disturbed, so we need something to manage renders. Campus closes at midnight, so something that can queue up enough work overnight without intervention is best.

I'm having trouble finding any other local animation education departments, so I'm putting this out to ServerFault: what tools do you use to manage a desktop renderfarm and notify students when batch renders finish?

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4 Answers 4

What platforms and apps are you using?

I can't speak for university setups in particular (I work for a VFX studio), but maybe this is helpful... if you have more specific questions I can probably answer them.

drqueue is supposed to be pretty good for free/open source render queues. My current job uses Pixar's Alfred which is another option if you have Renderman licenses. I've used Rush in the past as well. I've also worked in places that have used proprietary/in house systems as well as more generic job scheduling systems such as LSF or Gridengine - there's lots of different ways to skin this cat.

As far as notifications go, you could hookup a simple post-render script to email users when jobs finish. Pretty much every system will let you run pre/post/etc scripts as part of a job.

StudioSysadmins might be a useful resource for you as well...

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We use Sun Grid Engine and have just a few specified queues. A good example would be limiting half the cluster for long jobs, then have the cluster available for 1~2 hour jobs. This creates queues that people can get lots of work done on, and no one will be able to hog the whole thing.

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I use Thinkbox Deadline. It can notify you by email when render job is finished. You can also monitoring render job status in real time using mobile device like Android or iOS.

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Management selected a fairly silly app called Smedge that does render management P2P style. It's a little crashy, and uses UDP networking, so reliability isn't a priority for this one =/

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