October 22, 2009

Two weeks ago tomorrow…

By Andrew at 10:50 PM
Well, I somehow forgot to post a blog two weeks ago for this MentalRay study.  Looking back, that was a fairly busy weekend because of Fall Work Day, the Lake Sno-Tip birthday party (and helicopter entrance!), and so on.  Regardless, I have now the opportunity to remedy the situation!
Generally, I did much of the same tasks that I had been doing.  However, I was finally able to render to and from the servers, but I was unable to increment the filename for successive frames.  The files just kept getting overwritten.  I tried many different output options, changing the filename, output location, file type, and so on, but nothing seemed to help.  Although I got output, I could only get one frame.  I did try re-exporting the Maya file, but I used a complex project that ended up having many shader issues.  There is nothing like being sidetracked by additional issues.
More to come based on the following week’s endeavors…
4 hours

October 8, 2009

Changing Directions (or maintaining the same direction currently traveled?)

By Andrew at 6:29 PM
So I was able to obtain images from MentalRay directly last week.  This was encouraging, because I was starting to wonder if that was even possible anymore.  The downside is that I was doing this fairly manually since RenderPAL does not seem to be fully configured.  Anyhow, I have learned quite a bit about working with MentalRay directly, which could definitely come in handy with future configurations.
My time was essentially spent working from the ground on up with MentalRay.  I started with just running the ray command.  After this worked, I tried rendering a scene locally.  When this worked, I tried rendering a project that was hosted on the server.  When THAT worked, I tried rendering a file OUT to the server.  I had some issues with this, but I was finally able to render out to a different server.  I also found that RenderPAL was outputting an improper string to initiate the rendering, but I have not figured out how that can be fixed yet.
Supposedly I will be getting a project soon that needs to be rendered out, but we will have to see how far I can get with the back-end programs.
2 hours

September 28, 2009


By Andrew at 11:57 PM
Instead of working on my independent study last Friday, I spent a good part of the day helping troubleshoot the wireless internet in Wright Hall.  Fortunately, I was able to continue some of the work today.  I was finally able to get back to the point where RenderPAL was actually claiming to render, but I was still unable to obtain any sort of output images.  I followed the discoveries that we made about Deep Freeze and usernames last week, and that seems to have helped with the whole situation.
For this next week, I will be looking at permissions, actual MentalRay errors, and things like that.  Things are really going slowly still, but I am hoping that I can get to the point soon where I can be working more with MentalQueue.
2 hours

September 22, 2009

Deep Freeze: Repeating Mistakes?

By Andrew at 11:09 PM
Well, after fixing some of the problems last week, I went in and tried to render this week.  However, I found out that the same issues were coming up again!  In the process of troubleshooting, we found that Deep Freeze had reset the changes made last week.  I should have known about Deep Freeze!  Anyhow, we also realized that a couple of the passwords were different this year, so several processes required the new passwords to run properly.  Sadly enough, troubleshooting took pretty much the entire time this week.
I also found out that I may be limited on my reporting of what I find with MentalQueue.  This has to do with non-disclosure agreements, so I will have to be careful with my posts.  I hope that I will still be able to talk about what happens in general, but we will have to see.
Until next week!
2 Hours

September 12, 2009

Second Week: More Challenges!

By Andrew at 10:16 PM

I hope that I do not sound like I am complaining too much, but things were somewhat frustrating again this week.  Last weekend, I was able to activate the render clients on quite a few of the computers in the Loew-Brenn lab remotely.  I was consistently able to submit remote jobs, but the renderers kept saying that there were errors.  On Friday, I spent several hours working with Bob to determine what was causing the issue.  We went over many of the configuration settings, starting with attempting to render on the individual local machines.  The clients seemed to work individually, so we started looking at the network permissions for the several shares which files were pulled from.  Permissions were incorrect for one of the shares, so that resolved part of the issue, but it was still quite some time before we were able to get any successful output due to additional cross-referencing of permissions and such.

One of the other fixes that I had to try was re-exporting my Maya scene as a MentalRay binary file, changing some of the options to be more compatible with the current render farm setup.  This did seem to help eliminates several errors that were being returned.  And while I cannot identify the exact fix, just as I was finishing up for the day, I was able to get a successful render.  Well, that is only half true, I guess.  The status on the remote client indicated that the render was finished, but I was unable to find an output image on the network share.  So, I still have some testing to do to actually find the output…

Because of the different surprises I have encountered so far, I am somewhat behind in actually getting to the MentalQueue part of the independent study.  Within the next week, I need to re-assess the timeline I had specified, and I may need to revise my schedule accordingly.

Until next week,

4 hours spent this week

September 7, 2009

First Week Challenges

By Andrew at 12:55 PM

For the first week of my independent study, Bob Landon and I spent around two hours trying to install the RenderPAL software and getting the school’s router to allow communication between my machine and the render server.  Although I did not spend much time on the actual render farm, I did learn quite a bit about routing rules, IP address ranges, permission lists, and the headaches of general networking issues.

The installation of the RenderPAL remote client was as simple as a straightforward installer.  There were no major surprises, and it seems to work just fine on Windows 7 even.  Bob had to set up a user account for me so that I will be able to manage render jobs once I start working with the jobs.  I also had to configure the server that I would be managing.  Since the ports were the default ports, this setup essentially consisted of inputting the server name.  But this was the point where I ran into the block on the wireless VLAN.  Once these blocks were resolved, I was able to access the render clients that are in the Loew-Brenn classroom.

The plan for next week is to finish my introduction to the current render farm setup and move on to MentalQueue from there.

2 hours spent this week

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