I’m using Farmerjoe for rendering The Beast. The three elements about the software that have lead me to choose it are:
- I was able to get it working with minimal grief. It comes with Perl sources, plus compiled binaries for Windows, OSX and Linux, as well as a Python script for Blender for job submission.
- It allows you to run a heterogeneous farm: 1 Mac (Dual G5), 2 Linux (Dual Xeon), and 3 Windows (2 are Dual PIII, and one is a Quad Xeon, which, incidentally, chews up the renders like crazy)
- The ability to quickly use custom builds. No binaries are stored on any of the slave computers — you just plop your binaries on the master and set your paths correctly. This means that if you want to use updated builds, you just drop them in the ./bin folder on the master machine and all the slaves run with the updated binaries.
Adding slaves is as simple as mounting an SMB (Windows) share from the master host and typing a command. It also has a simple web interface that lets you track your jobs. Not as fancy as what the Peachers are using, but I don’t have Sun Microsystems as a donor on my project.
I’ve also finally identified the correct lighting setup for the renders. Of course, as the preliminary renders are being returned, I’m tweaking things (animation, materials, lighting, etc.) for the final high-quality renders. I’ve been looking for just the right interior lighting setup that will allow me minimize overall render times while keeping the quality of the interiors high and retaining controllability over the key lighting on the characters. It took me several iterations and some dead ends, but I’ve finally figured it out.
So, good news all around. By the way, I just passed the half-way point on the book this week.