Cinema 4D Team Render, Part 10: Team Render Debugging Techniques

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Instructor Rick Barrett

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In this tutorial you’ll learn some basic debugging techniques to further troubleshoot failed Team Render jobs.

In this tutorial you’ll learn some basic debugging techniques to further troubleshoot failed Team Render jobs. You’ll learn how to display the diagnostic dialog for each machine instance. You’ll see how to use Show Bucket Color to see what machines are rendering each portion of a still render and the Watermark Post Effect to see which machines rendered each frame of an animation. You’ll learn how to trigger additional debug information within the Cinema 4D console, and easily copy the contents of the console to the clipboard. You’ll also see the location of various Server, Client and Job logs within the Team Render Server Web Interface.



- Next, we'll look at some ways to troubleshoot rendering issues, when Team Render is not producing the frames that you would expect. The first thing is to make sure that you're using Team Render client instead of a Broadcast or Visualize instance of Cinema 4D. Broadcast and Visualize have specific feature limitations, and those can cause issues if you're rendering scenes that utilize those features. If you use Team Render client, you can render anything that is supported in Cinema 4D Studio. So, it's a good idea to simply use the Team Render client any time you have Broadcast or Visualize, to make sure that the limitations of those additions aren't going to cause issues with your rendering. Next it to make sure that all of your plugins are installed on all clients, and you can do this by putting all of your plugins inside the plugins folder of a central application install, or simply copying the plugins to the plugin folder on each machine. Missing plugins can cause clients to be excluded from rendering, or can even cause the clients to return the results of the frame without the plugin applied. Another thing you want to do is to make sure QuickTime is installed on all the clients or not used in any textures, and I'd actually recommend both. I'd go ahead and install QuickTime on all the clients, but make it a policy not to use it in any textures. QuickTime can be generally problematic, and so we want to avoid it, if at all possible. But, having it installed is sort of a fail safe, just in case it is necessary. Next, you want to make sure to prepare your scenes properly, and I've done a whole other tutorial on how to prepare your scenes properly for network rendering. There's specific considerations with regards to textures, dynamics, caching, and xrefs, so you'll want to refer to that tutorial for more information. Next is a general rule when you're contacting tech support especially. It's great if you can determine if the issue is isolated to specific clients. If some clients render properly and others don't, then you can look at what the difference is between those clients. Often, it drills down to one of the previous four bullet points. But any time we need to explore further, it's good to know which specific clients are exhibiting the issue. And also, it's good to determine if the issue is isolated to specific jobs. A lot of times in tech support, we'll send a job that's just a simple spinning cube with no texture, just to see if that renders properly, and then we can start looking at the differences between jobs that render properly and jobs that don't, to determine if plugins or textures or specific features are the cause of the rendering issue. Finally, let's go over some specific debugging techniques that you can use when you're trying to figure out what might have gone wrong with Team Render. The first is to enable show bucket color if you're doing a team render to the picture viewer. Show bucket color is really the only way that you can determine which machines rendered which portions of a still image rendering. And even then, you can only tell while the rendering is actually occurring. Nonetheless, this is still a good tool to determine what clients might be problematic when certain buckets of a still image rendering don't match the rest. When I'm doing a multi-frame render, I often use the watermark post effect to see which machine rendered each frame. To add a watermark, simply go into the render settings and choose watermark from the effects pull down. And you can choose which information you want to show here. Typically, I'll replace this text with a system computer name, which you can find by choosing it from the pull down menu here. And this inserts a token for the computer name text within the watermark. There's lots of other information here as well, such as the OS type and version, CPU information, machine information, memory, and you can choose which information you want to actually put into the watermark, and the watermark will display the information from each client that rendered that frame. Now by default, the watermark will be burned into your image, and in many cases, if I'm rendering a multi-pass image where I've already got the RGB image in the multi-pass, I'll simply allow it to burn into the regular image and set my saved format on the regular image to JPEG, because I can easily preview that within the Team Render server web interface. Otherwise, what you can do is output a multi-pass specifically for the watermark, which you can do by choosing the post effects multi-pass from the multi-pass menu. When you do this, the watermark will be rendered to a separate pass and not burned into the actual regular image as it's being saved. And you can refer to this separate pass any time you need the watermark information. Another important thing when you're doing team rendering from Cinema 4D, either team rendering to picture viewer or through the render queue, is to add the C4D_net_debug.txt to your Cinema 4D application directory. You don't always need this but if you are having issues, it's good because it allows you to see all of the debugging information that you would normally see under Team Render server or client. That information is suppressed by default in Cinema 4D in order to keep the console more clean. But to have it be shown, simply add any file with this exact file name into your application directory, and restart Cinema 4D. When you do that, the presence of the file triggers Cinema 4D to print all of the Team Render debugging information into the console, and you'll be able to find that information within Cinema 4D in the console, which you can find from the script menu. Here, you can see that information is showing up. Now, the next point would be how to copy the console input, and this mostly comes into play when you're trying to contact tech support. However, it can also be useful for you to pull that console input into a text editor, where it might be a little bit easier to read. So, to copy the console input, simply right-click on the console and choose copy all. And that'll copy all the console information to the clipboard, so you can paste it directly into an email or into a text document. The console for Team Render server works the same way. If we choose the console tab here, we can simply right-click and choose copy all, and we'll then be able to paste that information into a text document or an email. Next, you can refer to the server client in job logs for specific debug information. The server and client logs are basically a mirror of the information that appears in the server and client consoles, but they appear within the web interface. If we go ahead and log in here, we'll find them in the network tab under each client. And in this case, these clients have just started up, so their logs are all empty. But, you can simply click the download log option in order to download the complete log from each of these clients. Here we see the log for the server as well, and you can see that it basically mirrors the information that we saw on the console. And here, you can just click the download log button to download all of that information into a text file. There's also a log specific to each job that provides some detailed information about the rendering of that job. And you access it by choosing the log tab within the job details pane. Here we can see all of the progress of this job, all of the downloading of assets and which machines did the rendering, and the job log will also contain information about any missing textures or plugins. So, it's a good place to look any time you're experiencing a rendering issue. There's currently no way to download the job log, but you can simply copy and paste it out of the field. So, I hope with these specific techniques, you'll be able to troubleshoot issues that might arise with Team Render. And of course if you do have any issues, please don't hesitate to contact Maxon technical support. They're there to help.
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