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Animation Blender 3D Tutorials and Resources

Blender Network Rendering: Revisited – Prism

Almost 10 years ago I built a small basement render farm with a few spare PCs to speed up renders. However, planning and pre-production ended up being far more difficult than rendering. Since I’ve returned to animation I’ve mostly been working in 2D, which is far less render intensive, but a recent 3D project revived my research into ways to use multiple systems to speed up Blender output. The first option I tried, Prism, ended up not being a system manager, as Blender’s previous Network Render panel was, but an entire pipeline manager with some helpful render options built in.

Installing Prism on Windows 10 was mostly straightforward, download from the site, run the .exe install, add your name when it asks, start a project, and in Prism Settings -> DCC apps add Blender. (Reading the manual is definitely recommended.) A few important notes:

  1. Read the manual, saying it again. This is an entire pipeline manager, by it’s nature, it can’t be simple.
  2. When setting up a project, put it in a syncing app such as Dropbox, Creative Cloud Files, or a Network Drive. You probably already have project files syncing but having the pipelines open right away on 2 systems was immediately satisfying.
  3. I had trouble with the Blender 2.8.3 connection not installing a Python Library. I installed Prism to Program Files (x86) instead of the default /prism directory which may cause permissions issues. To remedy this, I manually downloaded the install .zip and copied the Python 3.7 libs into the /prism/pythonlibs/python37. It will still probably bring up the install prompt in Blender, let it run, after that should work. (The auto-install prompted in Blender would present a permissions error.)
  4. Speaking of permissions, Windows smartshield complains from install to each run. Not much to do here but be aware.

After adding a project, the power comes in when going into the assets, or shots, adding a scene, then creating multiple render or playblast tasks. From there the render tasks can run on the machine of choice. While it’s helpful to have multiple CPUs or GPUs tied in together handing off tasks, this management immediately can help even single shot projects by allowing for multiple output settings and a tracker for those tasks.

Oh, and the same folks have a Renderfarm Manager named Pandora. I think that’s what I meant to download.

Categories
Animation Blender 3D

Blender 2.5 Network Rendering: Part 02 Windows

Windows is a solid platform for animation as all of the major 3D platforms support it; however, making it remote render friendly require it to have command line support. Being able to do remote command line for a machine is essential to keep render maintenance to a minimum. First I will go over the SSH (Secure SHell) setup for Windows then get into the a few changes to add better network and Blender support.

Categories
Blender 3D

Blender Transparency Map Shadows Quick Fix

Over the weekend I was working out how to tear a piece of paper in Blender and stumbled on the annoying but easily solvable issue of transparency shadows.

By default a material will not receive shadows based on the texture but on the geometry of an object. As seen here:

 

To fix this, go to the receiving material’s proprieties and click “Receive Transparent.”

 

Now the shadows are based on the texture:

 

A simple fix, but if you are coming from a 3d software using clip maps or settings on the texture this can be a bit difficult to find. I will be taking a closer look on how this effect is best used and if it affects render times in a later post.

Categories
Animation Blender 3D

Blender 2.5 Network Rendering: Part 01 Systems

This post is an outline for setting up an offsite render network mainly for Blender Rendering but also for After Effects and possibly Premiere. I had started a series on this before but ran into a number of problems, which have now been sorted out. The network has been in use for a few weeks now and consists of all of the major platforms; Linux (Ubuntu,) Windows (XP/7,) and OS X.

The main objective with this setup is to have a remote render farm where work is offloaded from the main workstation and left to work without constant management; however, variations based on individual needs this setup should be easy to do. I will be covering everything from the OS setup for easy remote management to Blender install and setup to terminal commands. I won’t be covering hardware setup, OS installation or general use for each program; there are any number of guides these so no sense going over them again, I’ll be sticking to what you need to manage renders in Blender.

Categories
Animation Blender 3D

Blender Network Rendering: Quick Update

I’ve noticed in the past few weeks the site getting more traffic and most of it to the Blender Network Rendering post, there will be an update on this soon. I wanted to point out that the tutorial series isn’t dead but it did end up going though major revisions when put into practice; the changes are mainly due to LuxRender being a bit too heavy for animation use and my workflow switching to Blender 2.5.