If you are not familiar with Vue network rendering in general, and with how the RANCH works in particular, you may find the following information useful.
On the RANCH, Vue (9.x/10.x/11.x/2014.x/2015.x/2016.x) animations are processed with Vue xStream using the RenderNodes technology. Each node on the RANCH Runner renders one full frame, then goes on to the next. The % done, displayed in the waiting list, is refreshed when a new frame is created.
So if each frame takes one hour to render, the waiting list will stay at 0% for an hour because no frame would be rendered before one hour. In an animation, render times are often similar among frames, or they increase or decrease progressively across the whole sequence (unless there are very fast camera moves).
Vue 11.x/2014.x/2015.x/2016.x still images are processed with our exclusive MultiBand technology (see appendix C for further information). It is more efficient than the HyperVue/RenderCows system, offer superior performance and a real-time preview while rendering.
In the past we supported Vue 9.x and 10.x still images with the HyperVue system (there were no alternatives), but this is no longer the case for efficiency reasons.
The RANCH offers you a very handy feature for checking visually your animation project when it is being rendered. It displays 256-pixel wide thumbnails of a large sample of rendered frames on a web page specific to your inprogress project. To access this page, you just have to click on the Preview button which appears when your project is being rendered (and of course if there is something to preview: if each frame of your animation takes 30 minutes to render, obviously there will be nothing to see during the first 30 minutes :)
Below is an example of what you will be able to see when you click on Preview (the preview image is always around 1900 pixels wide, its height depends on the number of thumbnails).
Vue 11.5, 2014, 2015 and 2016 have some new features that we could use to implement our MultiBand rendering for Vue 11.x/2014/2015 still images. This technology, that we also use for 3ds Max and Terragen still images, has several decisive advantages over the HyperVue system:
Before sending a Vue still image to the RANCH, two essential things to know:
1. Make sure that you have saved the scene with Auto-Exposure OFF (unchecked)
If it is checked, you'll get bands on the image, as each node will add its own exposure correction, and you don't want that to happen. You have been warned! (see below)
2. You must choose a bitmap output format compatible with our reconstruction technique: it has to be PNG, TIF, TGA, BMP, JPG, or HDR. If you choose another format for the main image, the project will be rejected. If you choose another format for either the alpha or Z-depth (but a good format for the main image), the project won't be rejected but you will not get back an alpha and/or Z-depth file.
Note: although using the EXR format may work, we do not recommend it. There are so many variations in the EXR format that some elements (layers, alpha, etc.) may be missing when recombining the final image. In any case it will only work - when it works - with a 16 bits/channel encoding.
If your project use a lighting system which needs a prepass (Ambient Occlusion, Global Illumination or Global Radiosity), the key is to render the illumination prepass first as a file and then deploy it across all the RANCH Runner nodes, so that every node will use the same lighting solution. It is essential, otherwise discontinuities (bands) will appear on the final image and ruin it. Basically there are two ways to render such a project on the RANCH.
You can easily see if the prepass is going to take a long time or not; just launch a render on your system, at full resolution and check how much time the “Prepass” phase needs:
A time limit has been implemented on the RANCH to avoid excessive render times for the prepass: if it is reached, the project will be stopped and an error message will be sent to you.
If you prefer to render the prepass yourself, you must use the Vue 11.5, 2014, 2015 or 2016 RenderNode (previous versions do not have this functionality). To generate the prepass, use a command line such as this one (of course you must change the paths to adapt it to your system):
“C:\Vue2015\Application\RenderNode.exe” -file “C:\MyScene.vue” -rendersize 1024 768 -gi_output_file “C:\MyScene.vgi” -gi_only
This will generate only the prepass as a .vgi file (which must have the same name as your scene). Then send the .vgi file it to us, either by e-mail if it is small (it can be compressed) or by sending us a download link. We can also create a ftp account for you to upload it. In any case, wait for our confirmation by e-mail that we have received the .vgi file before uploading your .vue project. Otherwise the prepass will be rendered by the RANCH and you will have to pay for it.