Cinema 4D Team Render, Part 07: Using the Team Render Server Browser Interface

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Instructor Rick Barrett

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In this tutorial you’ll learn how to manage Team Render Server via the browser-based (web) user interface.

In this tutorial you’ll learn how to manage Team Render Server via the browser-based (web) user interface. You’ll learn how to manually add jobs and upload assets, as well as how to easily create jobs by simply copying or using Save Project into the repository folder. You’ll learn how to set the master file for projects that utilize Xrefs. You’ll see how the Monitor and Network views provide a quick overview of your render jobs and render clients, as well as options in the Network view to restart the server and clients. You’ll also learn how to create additional users to add or manage jobs in the Team Render Web Interface.

Finally, you’ll learn a trick for previewing the results of a Team Render Server job within the Cinema 4D Picture Viewer.

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Transcript

- In this tutorial, we're going to look at how to manage Team Render jobs using the web interface. All of your management of jobs for Team Render Server is done through the web interface, and you can access it by clicking this globe icon here as the second icon in the Team Render Server dialog. Or you can access it from any computer simply by typing the DNS name of that computer, followed by a colon and the web server port that you set in the Team Render Server preferences. By default, it's 8080. When you open the web interface, you're going to be asked for your username and password, and Team Render Server does have the ability to set up multiple users and user management so that different users can actually add jobs versus change the priority of jobs. The default username and password is "admin". So I'm just going to type "admin", "admin", and click Login. I already have some jobs here in the Team Render Server, because I dragged them straight into the repository folder in the previous tutorial. To add a job manually, you just click the Add Job button here, at the top-left of the screen. It's going to ask you for the name of the new job. I'm going to call this one "Abstract Wavy" and hit Okay. Now, here in the job details side of the screen, you're going to need to add the files for the job. So we'll hit Add Files, and I'm going to choose this Abstract Wavy Lines file that came from the Broadcast section of the Cinema 4D preset library. I just hit Open, and this particular file doesn't require any textures. So that's the only scene file I need. I can just go ahead and hit Upload. It'll take a second to upload, and I'll see a preview here of the scene file. So this job is ready to start now. Let's look at a job that has a texture as well. Here we'll go ahead and do "Abstract Twirlers", and this is a scene that actually was created by Mike Winkelmann, better known as Beeple. It's also available in the Broadcast section of the Cinema 4D preset libraries. So here we'll go ahead and hit Add Files, and I'm going to go ahead and go into the folder here. We'll grab the C4D file, and we'll also grab the texture file here. Now, with multiple files here, I can just hit Upload All and it will upload both of those files immediately. So the key here is that you need to make sure that any assets needed to render the job are uploaded into the repository. Let's add one more job here that includes Xrefs, and I'm going to call this "Helicopter". We'll click Add Files and go out here to our desktop again. I'm going to load the Steampunk Helicopter, and this one also has several textures. I'm going to select all of those, and it also has a couple of Cinema 4D files that are used as Xrefs in the main file, so I'm going to open those. So I have all of these files here now, and I can upload all of them by clicking Upload All. That'll take a second, and once it's done you'll see one little special thing here with Xrefs is that it has automatically chosen the large gear pile and put a star next to it. That means that it is assuming that that is the master file. In fact, in this case it's not. The Steampunk-Helicopter.c4d is the master file. So I need to click the Set as Master button here, next to the Steampunk Helicopter scene file. Just confirm that that is the scene we want to use as the master, and now we see the preview is updated to show that this is in fact the scene file that we want to render. So now that you've seen the manual way of adding jobs to your Team Render, I'll show you the way that I always use, which is to simply save a project straight out of Cinema 4D. So here I have a Cinema 4D scene file. You can see here that it has some Xrefs, and if I open the Texture Manager there are some textures involved. If I choose the Save Project with Assets command in Cinema 4D, that command is set up to detect all of the Xrefs, Alembic caches, texture files that are referenced in the scene, and copy all of those to a new folder. So if we choose that command and direct it into our Cinema 4D Team repository inside Users, inside my username, and just type here the name that I want for the job, so I'll call this "Collision Anvil", this is going to copy all of those files at once straight into my repository. Because that acts as a watch folder, it's going to show up immediately in the Team Render web interface. So if I switch now over to the web interface, you'll see here's my Collision Anvil scene. Now, again, you do want to make sure that the proper scene file is set as the master, and in this case it is. This is the master file that's starred and the preview looks good, so we are ready to go. So now that we have our jobs added into the Team Render queue, we're ready to start them. You can start a job easily by clicking the Start button here, next to the job in the list, or by selecting the job and clicking the Start button in the job details. You can also select multiple jobs, and choose Start Selected from the gear menu in the upper left-hand corner to start multiple jobs all at once. You'll have a dialog to confirm this. You hit Okay, and now all those jobs will be started. It'll take a second for the web interface to update sometimes. Now, once all the jobs are in here, you can simply click and drag a job to reorder it. However, at this point there are some issues with reordering jobs. So I would recommend avoiding reordering if possible. Hopefully, those issues will be taken care of with the next incremental update of Team Render. Once jobs begin to complete frames, you'll see the progress bar update, and if you select the job you can get more information in the Details tab. Here we can see that the Wavy scene has already rendered the one frame that it was set up to render. It took 1 minute and 35 seconds, and we can see the result right here in the Results tab. If your results are in the JPEG or PNG format, there will be an icon here that you can click to immediately view them. Otherwise, you can click this icon here to download the file and review it on your computer. The log file provides a lot of information about how the job was actually rendered, and you'll want to refer to that especially when we get into the debugging section. But for now, just know that it's there. Now, as jobs are rendering, you can also view the information about them in the Monitor tab. So here we can see the jobs that are currently active and when they were created and started, and how many clients are currently working on them. You can see the current status of each job, as well as a progress bar. You can stop and start jobs from this page as well, with the icon right here. You can get more information about your network on the Network tab, and here we can see all of the clients that are currently in our network and what they're working on. So if you click on one of these you'll see that Puffer is currently rendering frame 88, Chupacabra is working on frame 497, and so on. Also on this page, you can restart the server remotely, or you can restart all the clients. You can also select an individual client and restart the client with this button here, or you can select multiple clients and restart the selected clients from the gear menu. Restarting the clients can come in handy sometimes when things aren't working as you'd expect. So sometimes clients will just sit idle and won't be taking a job, and that's a good time to try restarting them. Let's select Platypus here, and try restarting it. On the User tab, you can add additional users or change the password for existing users. So here we have the Admin user. You can see that it is Admin, it's currently set to use the English language, and you can click here to change the password. I can also click Add User, and we'll add a user for me. So I'll say "Rick", and a password for Rick, I'm going to say "Rick" again. It asked if I want Rick to be an admin. Of course I want Rick to be an admin, so I'll click Okay and now we can see that Rick is here as an admin as well. Non-admin users can add, view, and start their own jobs, but they can't view any of the jobs created by other users. They obviously can't reprioritize jobs of other users and they also can't delete any jobs, even their own. So let's jump back to our Jobs tab and see how our jobs are doing. So far, our Abstract Twirlers job is making some pretty good progress through the 601 frames of the animation. It's rendered 506 so far. I'm going to show you one more cool trick that you can use with the Team Render repository. So here we've got all of our result frames. But they're TIFs and it's going to be kind of hard to preview how this is going. Once everything's done rendering, I can prepare a ZIP file to easily download all of those frames. But because my repository path is accessible over the network, I'm just going to switch back into Cinema 4D and I'm going to open the Picture Viewer here from the Window menu. In the Picture Viewer, I can simply go to File, Open, and I'm going to navigate to my repo path. Within my repo path, I'm going to navigate into Users, Admin, and the job that I want to look at, which is the Twirlers job. I'm going to go into the results folder here, and I'm just going to choose the first file. This is going to go ahead and load the first continuous frame range that is already been rendered by the Team Render Server. So you can see that from frame 0 to 599 has been completely rendered. I can hit Okay. Now, I can fit this to screen, and we can scrub through or play our animation to see what the results are looking like. In this case, it looks a little weird simply because Straight Alpha is enabled in the scene file. But you can get a basic idea of whether your frames are looking right and preview your frames while they're still being rendered. You can also use the trick of loading the sequence directly into After Effects and beginning to work on it before your frames are completely rendered. Just remember that all of your assets are still in that repository path. So that's an overview of how to use Team Render Server. In the next couple tutorials, we're going to look at how to prepare scenes for Team Rendering and how to troubleshoot your Team Renders when things go wrong.
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