Network Render Worth It? [Revisited]

vitamin_D wrote on 5/27/2004, 1:28 PM
I just took the plunge today -- the last of my "days off" this week that still falls within the $199 upgrade timeframe. I'm really looking forward to mastering DVDA-2, but also wanted to take a peek at Magic Bullet's "Filmic" plugin and the new network rendering of Vegas 5.

Initial net render observations:

As it stands, the network rendering doesn't suit my needs -- maybe I'm doing things wrong, but -- I'd hoped that the net render would allow me to set a job to render in the background while I continue working (ala rendering from one instance in Vegas, while working in another.)

Instead what I get is a sputtery machine and a cursor that lags significantly between placing it over a button, and the button responding, making it all but impossible to continue editing or do other tasks while net rendering is going on. Depending on the specifics of how the render job is setup, other adverse effects include serious window redraw lag, and problems with windows resizing and changing their placement.

I tried breaking the jobs down to smaller bits -- from 150 frames, to 100 and now 75. Overall this has helped, but the difference in lag among them simply being how long and how frequently my machine gets hung up.

For the record I'm on a dual 1.6ghz AMD rig with a gig of RAM, and most drives are WD 7200rpm 8mb cache. WindowsXP SP2. I defrag often, and run little other than Vegas when rendering.

Is there a way to remedy this? Aside from the obvious answer (get more RAM/faster processors...)

On the positive side -- distributing a job across multiple nodes on the same machine cuts the time of my first test from 8:42 to about 6:17. It'd be helpful if the log screen reported how long a render takes from start of the job to finish of stitching...

As a further annoyance -- for some reason the distributed networking window is now very small, and the only way to choose render nodes and stitching hosts is to maximize the window. There's no middle-ground -- I can either see only the uppermost pulldown box in the window, or it has to cover my entire screen :/ Any way to get it back to its original size? (for some reason I can't just grab the edge of the window and resize it myself)

Here's what it looks like:

Question for BJ_M and others: how do you setup a job to a delayed queue? In other words, say I just want to move along a timeline, selecting multiple regions, and sending them to a render queue, without rendering at this moment in time? Is that possible? I'm looking over the docs and I just don't see it...

Also, as an aside -- Magic Bullet render times are ridiculous. I had a 37 second avi take about thirty minutes net-rendered today. Contrast that with the above 6:17, which is for the same footage with Color Curves, Color Corrector and Zenote's Glow stacked to imitiate the look of MB's "Filmic" filter. I'll probably put a tutorial up with comparisons of the final images soon.

- jim


vitamin_D wrote on 5/27/2004, 8:18 PM

Still having some problems, issues -- would appreciate some advice:

After some time with distributed rendering on the same machine, I've just come to accept the chugga-chugga lag -- I guess that's the trade-off for shorter render times.

Non-distributed net rendering keeps my machine free to do other tasks, though not without issues -- there's still the annoyance of the network rendering window looking like this, and now I've noticed that, when doing a non-distributed net render, the cursor gets sent back to the beginning of the project, and open windows (video preview, video FX) get really messed up (resized, moved, or closed altogether.)

edit: Ok, just "fixed" the issue with the net render dialogue window. I set a project to render non-distributed, then the second instance of Vegas that opened minimized for the net render -- I adjusted the dimensions of that window. Let it finish rendering, and tried another render -- it seems that Vegas is swapping the dimensions of the non-distributed Vegas instance for those of the settings dialogue. Now I can see the settings window just fine, but the Vegas instance that launches now appears in the same dimensions as the dialogue box (and not the thin strip it appeared as the first time.)

On an upnote, I followed BJ_M's advice and took his batch file a step further. Now, I have a batch file that launches both network render nodes on the same machine, and allows Vegas to render across three. As I've said before, this really hammers the processors, so other tasks are out of the question when rendering this way, but render times shrink noticably.

This is what the batch file reads:

cd "c:\Program Files\Sony\Vegas 5.0\"
start VegSrv50.exe -nosave -config NetRenderService2.config
start VegSrv50.exe -nosave -config NetRenderService3.config

Provided you've made the proper config files, put it in the startup folder, or just make it an icon on the quicklaunch area and you're set. Now, if only I could get someone to write a script that would do the same thing :D

Note to Sony: it'd be nice if Vegas didn't feel the need to warn me about saving projects prior to net renders -- I know it has to save the project, I'm even supportive of this -- why the obnoxious warning? :) Am I missing the pref I can use to turn this off?

- jim
shogo wrote on 5/27/2004, 11:51 PM
What type of network are you running on you never did say switch, hub speed of connections 10, 10/100, 10/100/1000 are there other computers on the network? Also what speed is the render node that you are using? One other thing SP2 for XP is still beta the official SP is not supposed to be release until July last I heard. This SP is really making some serious changes to the OS primarily aimed at security and network related code this could also be something that may be slowing down the network rendering. Maybe it was a typo about the version of the service pack you are running but if not I wouldn't be doing anything production related with a beta Microsoft SP especially one that is going to be making such drastic changes to the OS.

Good luck.
vitamin_D wrote on 5/28/2004, 8:11 AM
That's the thing -- I'm technically not on a network -- I'm doing a distributed render on the same machine, which has multiple renderers running.

A non-distributed render seems to work in the background just fine, so I'm just assuming the distributed route really hammers the machine (as well it should, I guess -- that's the whole point...)

Now, if only I could get other, minor annoyances addressed, that'd be great. Like the net render window being too small to make choices, and not allowing me to resize it.

Or, for instance -- if I open a video FX window, and dock my video preview in the FX window so that color curves are right beside the preview (for instance), when I then send out a segment to a non-distrbuted net render (background render), I lose my video preview window. What actually happens is that the FX window closes, the cursor is sent back to the beginning of the project, and to make my preview window re-appear, I have to re-open the FX window, where it's tabbed (not docked). If I drag the preview window from the FX window, the FX window jumps a bit -- half of it off-screen.

It's little annoyances like this that never existed in Vegas 4...

- jim
db wrote on 5/28/2004, 5:17 PM
NRS need you to SAVE because it is going to make a copy of the saved veg to use for NRS rendering .. this allows you to keep working on your current project while it renders using the copy veg ...
Dr_Z wrote on 6/1/2004, 12:51 PM
Did you test if Magic Bullet renders faster with network render distributed over 2 PCs? It would be very interesting to know the benefit, if there is one.