Planetside Software Forums

News => Announcements => Topic started by: Oshyan on August 22, 2014, 09:46:04 PM

Title: Planetside partners with Pixel Plow as Official Render Farm
Post by: Oshyan on August 22, 2014, 09:46:04 PM
We're excited to announce Pixel Plow as our new Official Render Farm. We've spent some time with their platform and have been really impressed by its features and usability. Best of all, their prices are the lowest in the industry, making animation (or high resolution still image) rendering finally affordable for all. If you can afford to buy a beer, you can render yourself a nice little animation for about the same price. :) 

We've done some render tests showing speed and pricing, and written up more details here: http://www.planetside.co.uk/pixelplow-official-renderfarm (http://www.planetside.co.uk/pixelplow-official-renderfarm)

- Oshyan
Title: Re: Planetside partners with Pixel Plow as Official Render Farm
Post by: Dune on August 23, 2014, 06:30:09 AM
I can surely recommend them myself, having worked with them as a tester for a while; tremendously efficient workflow. 
Title: Re: Planetside partners with Pixel Plow as Official Render Farm
Post by: TheBadger on August 23, 2014, 07:49:25 AM
Does sound good! And Im glad for the example in the link.

Can I ask what happened to the other venders?
Title: Re: Planetside partners with Pixel Plow as Official Render Farm
Post by: cyphyr on August 23, 2014, 07:58:41 AM
Great news, time to start a little render fund :)
Title: Re: Planetside partners with Pixel Plow as Official Render Farm
Post by: digitalis99 on August 23, 2014, 03:03:35 PM
...Can I ask what happened to the other venders?

While I can't speak for Oshyan or any Planetside staff, our internal comparison of Pixel Plow vs. The Ranch showed Pixel Plow as the clear winner in every category (workflow, performance, completion time, efficiency, cost...).  Sure, you can say we're biased, but run a test yourself and see.

The Pixel Plow crew has been looking forward to partnering with Planetside for quite a while.  After all, it was my use of Terragen that got me interested in building a public render farm service in the first place.  Sure, we support lots of other render apps, but Terragen is still my personal favorite.
Title: Re: Planetside partners with Pixel Plow as Official Render Farm
Post by: Hannes on August 23, 2014, 03:48:17 PM
This sounds extremely interesting!
Since I've never used a renderfarm service before, how does this work if you have a file with loads of objects and maybe a GI cache file? Just upload your stuff and off you go? :)
Title: Re: Planetside partners with Pixel Plow as Official Render Farm
Post by: Kadri on August 23, 2014, 04:01:33 PM

Nice news and it looks usable.
Say i have a 1920x1080 still image and want it to render faster. İn how many tiles can it be rendered in your farm? Is there any limit and is there any control to it? I haven't found a price calculator in your site. Is there a way for this?
Title: Re: Planetside partners with Pixel Plow as Official Render Farm
Post by: digitalis99 on August 23, 2014, 05:09:06 PM
This sounds extremely interesting!
Since I've never used a renderfarm service before, how does this work if you have a file with loads of objects and maybe a GI cache file? Just upload your stuff and off you go? :)

Pretty much.  Make the pathing to your objects and cache file(s) relative to the scene file in the same folder or lower in the folder tree.  Our client application automatically zips up everything in the project folder you select, pushes it up to our farm, puts it in the queue, and delivers results as they complete back to the local folder you select.
Title: Re: Planetside partners with Pixel Plow as Official Render Farm
Post by: digitalis99 on August 23, 2014, 05:20:42 PM

Nice news and it looks usable.
Say i have a 1920x1080 still image and want it to render faster. İn how many tiles can it be rendered in your farm? Is there any limit and is there any control to it? I haven't found a price calculator in your site. Is there a way for this?

You don't have control of the tile count.  We automatically determine tile size based on final output resolution and what we've found to work well with TG.  The number of tiles rendering at any time is determined by the job priority you select.

Personally, I've always found price calculators to be a bit gimmicky.  After all, to have any idea of final price, you actually have to render the entire scene/animation yourself to know how much processing power and time you used.  At that point, for what do you need a render service?   ;)

We can do a price calculation for you if you have a specific example, though.

Our real-time, per-job budget limit and cost estimator are more powerful tools than a price calculator, because they allow you to define limits or watch estimates based on the actual job as it renders.  Since we allow our users to change priority or cancel a job at any time as well as have the fully automated budget limit monitor, unlike many other services, you don't have to worry about overruns or unexpected bills.
Title: Re: Planetside partners with Pixel Plow as Official Render Farm
Post by: Kadri on August 23, 2014, 05:33:48 PM

Thanks for the reply.

"We automatically determine tile size based on final output resolution and what we've found to work well with TG. 
The number of tiles rendering at any time is determined by the job priority you select."

Are there any round numbers you could give? This is still a little vague :)
For example for a HD size still image if the low priority uses minimum 8 tiles i could estimate myself that it would render probably 8 times faster.
Title: Re: Planetside partners with Pixel Plow as Official Render Farm
Post by: digitalis99 on August 23, 2014, 07:34:31 PM

Thanks for the reply.

"We automatically determine tile size based on final output resolution and what we've found to work well with TG. 
The number of tiles rendering at any time is determined by the job priority you select."

Are there any round numbers you could give? This is still a little vague :)
For example for a HD size still image if the low priority uses minimum 8 tiles i could estimate myself that it would render probably 8 times faster.

Priority level has no influence on the number of tiles selected.  Only final output resolution is used to determine tile size.  The total job time is going to be affected by the priority level chosen, not the tile size.  If the tiles were X by Y, and it took Z seconds to render a tile, tiles 2X by 2Y would take 4Z seconds to render.  The net effect is the compute time spent and cost are the same regardless of tile size.  The total job completion time is still tied only to priority level chosen.  That's why tile size is not too relevant, provided it is generally what the render application can optimally compute.

Since you wanted an example, a 1920 x 1080 still is usually split to around 100 tiles.  Again, tile count and size doesn't have any bearing on cost or delivery time.
Title: Re: Planetside partners with Pixel Plow as Official Render Farm
Post by: Kadri on August 23, 2014, 10:44:24 PM

Thanks :)
Title: Re: Planetside partners with Pixel Plow as Official Render Farm
Post by: Oshyan on August 24, 2014, 11:02:23 PM
Ranch Computing is still doing good work and still supports Terragen. We're grateful to them for being the first major render farm to support Terragen and for the partnership we had with them. But as Ty mentions, Pixel Plow was basically built with Terragen in mind and as a result it's simply a nicer, smoother, more flexible system to work with than any other currently available option.

Pixel Plow is also much more cost-effective, and with our animation-capable versions of Terragen starting at only $349 (Creative + Animation), we saw rendering costs becoming far more expensive than the initial software investment and that's rather discouraging to people actually wanting to take advantage of their animation features. We knew we had to find a way to make animation rendering more affordable for everyone. Pixel Plow is an excellent partner for realizing that goal.

You're going to see more Terragen animation from Planetside as a result of this, but the real hope is that we see more from *you*! The great thing is that even a simple camera move can really make a scene come alive, and so many of you have scenes that are animation-worthy. It doesn't take much. If you can get your render time down to 20 minutes or so per frame (at 1080p or 720p), you can render a nice 10 seconds of HD animation for $10-$15! Test renders at lower resolution to check motion, etc. will be just a couple of dollars. Getting a full-motion view of your favorite scene for under $20 seems like a pretty worthwhile investment, no?

We're working on other ways to make animating more affordable too...

Kadri, I did a quick test of a 1080p image that takes 4 hours and 45 minutes to render on my i7 3.4Ghz quad core here (I intentionally chose a long-rendering, demanding scene). I rendered it at low priority on Pixel Plow just to get a baseline and it took a little under 45 minutes, about 6.5 times faster. Total cost was $1.42. :D At that price you could easily render at Medium or High priority (cost would be ~$7 at High priority) and it would deliver about 3x faster at High (tiled rendering is not as efficient with resources as as distributed animation frames, and you will see greater advantages on higher resolution images too). So you can choose how important speed is to you and pay accordingly, and even at High priority the pricing is still very competitive. Also you can of course be rendering or building something else on your local machine while something is going on the farm, which is a handy way to experiment and keep your workflow going while rendering a high resolution still or animation.

- Oshyan
Title: Re: Planetside partners with Pixel Plow as Official Render Farm
Post by: Kadri on August 25, 2014, 04:05:57 AM

With a standard animation it is so or so clearer what and when you will get mostly.
I especially asked because some still renders with transparency and raytracing are taking very long (30-40 hours) you know Osyhan.
With those prices it might be more reasonable to use Pixel Plow to get faster results.

It looks encouraging indeed. I think i will try at least a control test of an animation and see how it gets.
I spend more money on smoking ;) (i will quit...ones again)
Title: Re: Planetside partners with Pixel Plow as Official Render Farm
Post by: Dune on August 25, 2014, 06:25:55 AM
I don't know if it has changed, but you might need to make and upload a GIcache file for stills. Have you had any progress with that, Ty?
Title: Re: Planetside partners with Pixel Plow as Official Render Farm
Post by: Hannes on August 25, 2014, 11:20:17 AM
Another question: as far as I understood the rendered files are directly saved on the customer's computer. So far so good. What if for some reason the customer's internet connection (or the power supply) goes down in the middle of the render progress? Will there be everything gone from this moment on?

Btw are there any intentions to include Paypal as payment method, since I'm one of those dinosaurs who don't have (or want) any credit card :)?
Title: Re: Planetside partners with Pixel Plow as Official Render Farm
Post by: Dune on August 25, 2014, 11:55:21 AM
Last question is quite crucial for me as well. Regarding shutdown, in my experience files will be kept on hold until downloaded completely (I wasn't online all the time, though never shut down while downloading a file), but I may be wrong.
Title: Re: Planetside partners with Pixel Plow as Official Render Farm
Post by: digitalis99 on August 25, 2014, 02:02:34 PM
I don't know if it has changed, but you might need to make and upload a GIcache file for stills. Have you had any progress with that, Ty?

The only support for GI caches is if you render them yourself and upload them with the scene file.  We can't do anything about that until TG has CLI options for rendering just the GI pass and telling TG where to store it.
Title: Re: Planetside partners with Pixel Plow as Official Render Farm
Post by: digitalis99 on August 25, 2014, 02:07:57 PM
Another question: as far as I understood the rendered files are directly saved on the customer's computer. So far so good. What if for some reason the customer's internet connection (or the power supply) goes down in the middle of the render progress? Will there be everything gone from this moment on?

Btw are there any intentions to include Paypal as payment method, since I'm one of those dinosaurs who don't have (or want) any credit card :)?

Anything not transferred to the customer is stored on our end until the customer system is back online.  No need to worry there.  We even send automated email notification if you have a job with completed frames that haven't been delivered to your machine.

There are no plans to support other payment methods at this time.  We can only support payment methods that allow us to charge immediately for the job cost upon completion.  Paypal wouldn't work for that.  Sorry.
Title: Re: Planetside partners with Pixel Plow as Official Render Farm
Post by: Oshyan on August 26, 2014, 03:15:41 AM
Actually I think Paypal does now have a pre-authorization option. Not positive though. Something to look into.

I will revisit the question of whether TG can have a GI cache generation option for the CLI...

- Oshyan
Title: Re: Planetside partners with Pixel Plow as Official Render Farm
Post by: digitalis99 on August 29, 2014, 03:04:24 AM
Actually I think Paypal does now have a pre-authorization option. Not positive though. Something to look into....

Oshyan prompted me to look at this again, and I have.  In theory, our billing software supports PayPal Reference payments, but the full ramifications of this are unclear to me.  I would be willing to beta test this with a client who wishes to pay by this method.  Does anyone want to volunteer?  I can't discount the farm rates any, but I can promise we will refund anything that is charged in error.

PM me if interested.
Title: Re: Planetside partners with Pixel Plow as Official Render Farm
Post by: Oshyan on August 29, 2014, 06:08:51 AM
Go Hannes, go! I would *love* to see some of your scenes animated (more, hehe). :)

- Oshyan
Title: Re: Planetside partners with Pixel Plow as Official Render Farm
Post by: Hannes on August 29, 2014, 06:28:44 AM
OK, I sent a PM. Looking forward to try your service.
Title: Re: Planetside partners with Pixel Plow as Official Render Farm
Post by: digitalis99 on September 08, 2014, 05:45:07 PM
Hey guys and gals, we have much fuller support for GI handling in Terragen scenes now.

I haven't updated our online manual yet, but will be shortly.  Artists no longer need to pre-render GI passes for frame ranges or stills, as we automatically detect if GI is used in the scene.  If GI is detected, we automatically render and store a cache prior to the final render pass.  After completion of the cache (single node if still and multiple nodes governed by job priority if a frame range), the job is re-submitted to the farm for the final pass.  We deliver GI pass completion percentage to our client GUI, so you know how far along the job is.  GI caches for a tiled still are rendered by only one node, so keep that in mind if you're concerned about performance.

We still allow (and automatically detect) if you pre-render a GI cache for your scene and submit it with the job.  We only create a GI cache if your scene uses GI but was uploaded without a cache.  All artist controls remain untouched, so you still control how many frames to blend across a range.

The only GI feature we don't currently support is the automatic creation of a sparse cache.  Don't worry, that's next on the list.

Using our new automated GI handling is easy...just submit your Terragen job as normal, we take care of the rest.

More news as it comes.  Oh yeah...I'll post a video soon that shows off an animated scene that uses our new GI handling.
Title: Re: Planetside partners with Pixel Plow as Official Render Farm
Post by: Dune on September 09, 2014, 06:38:03 AM
That's great news, Ty.
Title: Re: Planetside partners with Pixel Plow as Official Render Farm
Post by: Oshyan on September 12, 2014, 06:25:42 AM
Once again the easiest and fastest workflow for Terragen. A great improvement. :)

- Oshyan
Title: Re: Planetside partners with Pixel Plow as Official Render Farm
Post by: JP-RANCH on October 14, 2014, 02:38:58 PM
Does sound good! And Im glad for the example in the link.

Can I ask what happened to the other venders?

Hi TheBadger,

be assured we keep going to support the Terragen software. By the way, feel free to have a try thanks to our free 50 € trial offer, if this is not already done! I take this opportunity to let you know that the RANCH is more affordable than ever during all the October month! Price starts from 0.09c GHz-H instead of 0.15 cent!
Title: Re: Planetside partners with Pixel Plow as Official Render Farm
Post by: JP-RANCH on October 14, 2014, 03:05:02 PM
...Can I ask what happened to the other venders?

While I can't speak for Oshyan or any Planetside staff, our internal comparison of Pixel Plow vs. The Ranch showed Pixel Plow as the clear winner in every category (workflow, performance, completion time, efficiency, cost...).  Sure, you can say we're biased, but run a test yourself and see.


We are really shocked and feel insulted to read such words about our service knowing all the work and efforts we have done for Terragen, during the past years.

You are talking about an internal comparison but to my knowledge no tests have been done by you on the RANCH so far.
So could you be more specific?
For instance, the efficiency of the service is clearly subjective! Customers should indeed try both to see for themselves, starting by navigating on both websites…

Now regarding the most wrong and dishonest information: the completion time. Could you could clarify how a few dozen of servers can be faster than several hundreds!?
As a reminder the RANCH is currently running with almost 500 Dual Xeon 12 core/24 thread – 48 GB RAM each.
Thus, the cost for running our Renderfarm has nothing to do with yours.
I’m wondering how long would it take to render the nice Ponte Salario Sunrise movie (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J8fdPGb5PWA) from Planet Side on your farm?

After all, customers using Renderfarms are in a hurry and have regularly tight deadlines...

JP-RANCH.
Title: Re: Planetside partners with Pixel Plow as Official Render Farm
Post by: digitalis99 on October 14, 2014, 03:20:32 PM
We are really shocked and feel insulted to read such words about our service knowing all the work and efforts we have done for Terragen, during the past years.

While I can't address how you feel, my comments were not insulting.  They were a statement of facts.  We've never criticized you or even posted in your threads when you were the official render farm for Planetside.  I request the same courtesy from you, even though you seem to be upset and nervous.

You are talking about an internal comparison but to my knowledge no tests have been done by you on the RANCH so far.
So could you be more specific?
For instance, the efficiency of the service is clearly subjective! Customers should indeed try both to see for themselves, starting by navigating on both websites…

If you were looking for an account that seemed to come directly from us, you won't find the jobs we ran through your farm.  Efficiency is not at all subjective.  The mere fact that you state efficiency is subjective means we can't really have a logical discussion about it.

Now regarding the most wrong and dishonest information: the completion time. Could you could clarify how a few dozen of servers can be faster than several hundreds!?
As a reminder the RANCH is currently running with almost 500 Dual Xeon 12 core/24 thread – 48 GB RAM each.
Thus, the cost for running our Renderfarm has nothing to do with yours.
I’m wondering how long would it take to render the nice Ponte Salario Sunrise movie (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J8fdPGb5PWA) from Planet Side on your farm?

After all, customers using Renderfarms are in a hurry and have regularly tight deadlines...

JP-RANCH.

Job completion time does NOT equal job render time when it comes to discussions about how your service works.  That's really all the farther I need to take that discussion.
Title: Re: Planetside partners with Pixel Plow as Official Render Farm
Post by: Oshyan on October 14, 2014, 10:33:37 PM
Folks, please keep things things civil. I don't think much good is going to come from 2 competitors trying to outdo each other here, let your services stand on their own merits.

Both Pixel Plow and The Ranch support Terragen and both offer great services. We've chosen to partner with Pixel Plow going forward for reasons we've outlined on our partnership page and we encourage everyone to try their service. But every customer needs to make up their own minds which platform works best for their needs. There are no "bad" choices here, we respect and appreciate both of these valuable contributors to the Terragen ecosystem.

- Oshyan
Title: Re: Planetside partners with Pixel Plow as Official Render Farm
Post by: JP-RANCH on October 15, 2014, 03:35:54 PM
Quote from: digitalis99
While I can't address how you feel, my comments were not insulting.  They were a statement of facts.  We've never criticized you or even posted in your threads when you were the official render farm for Planetside.  I request the same courtesy from you, even though you seem to be upset and nervous.

You simply mentioned our company name whereas nobody did that before. We obviously cannot let this post without answer. Those ‘statement facts’ are your opinion but clearly not ours.
We had the ‘courtesy’ to never mention our competitors names in our thread(s) so you never had to intervene.

Quote from: digitalis99
If you were looking for an account that seemed to come directly from us, you won't find the jobs we ran through your farm.  Efficiency is not at all subjective.  The mere fact that you state efficiency is subjective means we can't really have a logical discussion about it.
Job completion time does NOT equal job render time when it comes to discussions about how your service works.  That's really all the farther I need to take that discussion.

We did not directly look for a Pixel Plow account: we know our Terragen users.
I now assume you compared the old RANCH (176 servers). Because the waiting time in the queue is now shorter than ever. At this point, I cannot see how the completion time can be faster on your farm, at least for quite significant projects.

Regarding efficiency, I insist: it is vague and subjective in most cases as it depends on customer’s needs. Well once again we disagree.
What is the most efficient between a wonderful sports car and a great off-road car? They are both cars but the ‘efficiency’ completely depends on one’s needs.

For instance, the Pixel Plow farm cannot be more efficient than the RANCH farm for a customer who has a big project with a very tight deadline. Everybody should agree that the major value for a renderfarm is the speed. We hope it clarify our point of view.

Anyway you were right on one thing: customers may try for themselves.

Good luck for the future.

JP-RANCH.

Title: Re: Planetside partners with Pixel Plow as Official Render Farm
Post by: JP-RANCH on October 15, 2014, 03:38:56 PM
Folks, please keep things things civil. I don't think much good is going to come from 2 competitors trying to outdo each other here, let your services stand on their own merits.

Both Pixel Plow and The Ranch support Terragen and both offer great services. We've chosen to partner with Pixel Plow going forward for reasons we've outlined on our partnership page and we encourage everyone to try their service. But every customer needs to make up their own minds which platform works best for their needs. There are no "bad" choices here, we respect and appreciate both of these valuable contributors to the Terragen ecosystem.

- Oshyan

Thanks Oshyan for your diplomatic post. As people can logically understand we just had to intervene by defending ourselves: PixelPlow publicly (and wrongly in our opinion) compared their service to ours.
We just want to make sure that everyone is aware of both opinions.

Cheers.

JP-RANCH.

Title: Re: Planetside partners with Pixel Plow as Official Render Farm
Post by: digitalis99 on October 28, 2014, 07:28:48 PM
Hey folks, we have an agent for all you Mac fans now!  No need for a Windows box, VM, or bootcamp install any more...our client-side software runs directly on your Mac.  This has been the most asked-for feature since we launched our service.  It was unfortunate that it took us this long to implement it, but we wanted to take the time to do it right.  You can read a bit more here:
http://www.pixelplow.net/#!/fruit-fans-find-fabulous-fips-for-frames/

We're making every effort to keep the feature set identical between both OS builds.  The only significant difference we've seen is that Apple makes it (possibly) impossible to allow our application to self-update.  While we are still looking into that, the Mac agent will now simply display a "Download Update" menu option when it detects we've released something.  Both installation and updating is as simple as downloading the 1 file and copying it to your Applications directory.  Safari automatically unzips it for you when it lands in your Downloads folder.

We've tested this extensively in Yosemite, with less testing in earlier OSX builds.  It does what we expect it to do in all of the OSX versions tested.  I'll make another post a bit later today to tell you about all of the other changes we've made to our agent, on both platforms.  Let me know if you have questions about the Mac agent.
Title: Re: Planetside partners with Pixel Plow as Official Render Farm
Post by: digitalis99 on October 28, 2014, 09:12:26 PM
We have a number of improvements to our agent software, both Windows and Mac.  The summary version:

    Automatic sub-accounts (multi-computer use)
    Single executable
    All compression is now internal
    Job size calculation and display
    More remembered settings and fewer clicks to submit a job
    Queue viewer updates

You can read more about them here:
http://www.pixelplow.net/#!/new-agent-improves-workflow-and-capabilities/
Title: Re: Planetside partners with Pixel Plow as Official Render Farm
Post by: Oshyan on October 28, 2014, 11:40:42 PM
Awesome! That kind of continuous improvement is great to see.

- Oshyan
Title: Re: Planetside partners with Pixel Plow as Official Render Farm
Post by: digitalis99 on October 29, 2014, 09:22:11 PM
I've updated our online User Guide with information about how things work now, along with pictures of the new GUI.  It actually shortened up a bit, since overall the agent is easier to use.  In case anyone wants to go directly there, it's an option in our agent application menus and available to everyone here:
http://www.pixelplow.net/#!/user-guide/
Title: Re: Planetside partners with Pixel Plow as Official Render Farm
Post by: digitalis99 on October 31, 2014, 12:34:20 AM
1.59 is out for both platforms.  The most significant improvement being all jobs submitted by one agent ID are now viewable/controllable from any machine's queue viewer.  Jobs submitted from the viewing machine are in black, but jobs submitted by other machines are in grey.  We display the submitting machine in the queue viewer as well, just for information's sake.
(http://www.pixelplow.net/queue.png)
Title: Re: Planetside partners with Pixel Plow as Official Render Farm
Post by: digitalis99 on November 26, 2014, 03:04:05 AM
Wow, has it really been that long since I updated this thread?  Yikes!  Several improvements and features for our agent since the last post.  The most notable for TG users is external asset file path check/warning prior to job submission.  We now also display "Cost Consumed" in the queue viewer while the job is running.  Even if a job slice hasn't completed yet, you can have some indication that things are running and a clear understanding of how much time (and time is money) you've burned thus far.

The biggest news of this agent release, though, is Multi-Session File Transfer:
http://www.pixelplow.net/#!/who-says-agents-cant-multitask/

Version 1.65 has been approved for automatic release on Windows and notification on the Mac.  Do yourself a favor, save yourself some time, and make sure your agent is updated before you submit your next render job.
Title: Re: Planetside partners with Pixel Plow as Official Render Farm
Post by: Dune on January 06, 2015, 06:59:30 AM
Hey Hannes, Ty, did you ever work out the Paypal paying method?
Title: Re: Planetside partners with Pixel Plow as Official Render Farm
Post by: digitalis99 on January 06, 2015, 03:13:34 PM
Hey Hannes, Ty, did you ever work out the Paypal paying method?

Unfortunately, no.  I'd be willing to give it another try with someone else, though.  Hannes was busy with other stuff shortly after we started trying the PayPal route.
Title: Re: Planetside partners with Pixel Plow as Official Render Farm
Post by: Hannes on January 06, 2015, 03:55:06 PM
Sorry, I couldn't get on with that. I was really busy (and still am), but I'd love to try that again, once I have something to render on the farm.
Title: Re: Planetside partners with Pixel Plow as Official Render Farm
Post by: Simius Strabus on January 07, 2015, 12:08:47 AM
I'm trying to get this job done at the Pixel Plow render farm, but right now its status is "Suspended" at 3% and exceptions says "No Output". Is something wrong?
Title: Re: Planetside partners with Pixel Plow as Official Render Farm
Post by: Oshyan on January 07, 2015, 01:34:46 AM
Sounds like there's an issue with the project file(s) you submitted and it is rendering out black/blank frames (that's partly a guess, I've run into similar things before). Best to email them directly about any problems that come up (though they'll probably be in touch with you about it soon anyway).

- Oshyan
Title: Re: Planetside partners with Pixel Plow as Official Render Farm
Post by: Simius Strabus on January 07, 2015, 07:46:11 AM
Left it for a night. Just looked at the project. Its working:). And fast too. Incredible. Pixel plow is the way to go:)
Title: Re: Planetside partners with Pixel Plow as Official Render Farm
Post by: digitalis99 on January 07, 2015, 02:54:34 PM
Left it for a night. Just looked at the project. Its working:). And fast too. Incredible. Pixel plow is the way to go:)

Oshyan is right, it's best to contact us directly.  We actually emailed you why it didn't work, but your email server rejected our messages to you.   ::)

FYI, the problem was that you specified an %04d in the output file name you created.  You actually don't need to do that (because we insert it automatically), and our farm management software threw a rod when the final pass hit the farm.  We saw it and fixed it, which allowed the job to complete normally.  We have added a check for this particular naming convention in our agent and one other that would cause problems.  It will be released with the next agent version on both platforms.

Thanks for helping us find that bug!  ;)
Title: Re: Planetside partners with Pixel Plow as Official Render Farm
Post by: Simius Strabus on January 07, 2015, 04:42:30 PM
I'll be using a straight forward file name for the output next time.
My test animation is done now. I'm a happy person :D Looks fantastic, and only at around $30....
Setting up a new render job right now.... might become addicted  :o
Title: Re: Planetside partners with Pixel Plow as Official Render Farm
Post by: digitalis99 on January 07, 2015, 05:06:59 PM
I'll be using a straight forward file name for the output next time.
My test animation is done now. I'm a happy person :D Looks fantastic, and only at around $30....
Setting up a new render job right now.... might become addicted  :o

We're all very glad you're happy.  Feel free to become addicted.  We might even form a support group for you.   8)
Title: Re: Planetside partners with Pixel Plow as Official Render Farm
Post by: Oshyan on January 07, 2015, 08:44:48 PM
I had the same feelings when I was first doing those render time/cost tests for our partnership promo materials some months back. I would submit a job, start getting frames back quite quickly, and expected to have accumulated a sizable bill by the end. But I was always pleasantly surprised by how affordable it ended up being and how smooth the process was. It really is something that needs to just be tried, it's tremendously satisfying. :D

- Oshyan
Title: Re: Planetside partners with Pixel Plow as Official Render Farm
Post by: digitalis99 on January 08, 2015, 03:57:11 AM
New agent released just now (1.70).  There's lots of little cool stuff, but this describes the big change:
http://www.pixelplow.net/sliders-are-yummy/

The summary version is we have expanded our price range for all users, all the time.  We've also given them much more fine-grained control over power/cost settings on a per-job basis through the implementation of a Power slider.

Thanks for the continued support from this community.  You guys and gals are great.
Title: Re: Planetside partners with Pixel Plow as Official Render Farm
Post by: digitalis99 on February 17, 2015, 01:45:24 AM
More Power!

http://www.pixelplow.net/more-power-to-ya/

Lots of software improvements for other apps, but of key importance to TG users is the additional compute capacity.  Rubber, meet road.
Title: Re: Planetside partners with Pixel Plow as Official Render Farm
Post by: digitalis99 on March 09, 2015, 10:23:55 PM
Yes, yes...we FINALLY have a render cost estimator on our site.   :-[

Give it a spin: http://www.pixelplow.net/pricing/

It should give you a rough idea of total job cost based on our new-ish power settings.  It's only labeled for frame ranges, but you could substitute tiles in as frames if you like.
Title: Re: Planetside partners with Pixel Plow as Official Render Farm
Post by: Oshyan on March 11, 2015, 05:13:40 AM
Handy! I know they're difficult to make accurate and hence not very appealing to implement, but there's something quite frustrating about really not having any sense how much a render might cost. So even if it's not spot-on all the time, in combination with the ongoing render cost report in the client, it's a great thing to have.

- Oshyan
Title: Re: Planetside partners with Pixel Plow as Official Render Farm
Post by: zaxxon on March 13, 2015, 10:49:53 PM
Cool! I just used the estimator to calculate a 300 frame animation where each frame on my 6 core (12 virtual) used 8 hours per frame: estimated cost $290. Not bad. I was guessing at least twice that. So the estimator has been a big help in setting some plans in motion. While I know it's just a 'ball park' cost estimate, there's no doubt that 300 times 8 hours is 2400 hours (10 days at least)! This is a nice addition and was a pleasant surprise, thanks!
Title: Re: Planetside partners with Pixel Plow as Official Render Farm
Post by: digitalis99 on April 26, 2015, 05:09:17 PM
A new agent released yesterday (v1.85) with Project Cache support.  Use of this new feature should enable you to upload a common set of data once and run multiple jobs that refer to it.  Our user guide has usage details, otherwise hit the highlights on our blog post:

http://www.pixelplow.net/cache-for-cash/
Title: Re: Planetside partners with Pixel Plow as Official Render Farm
Post by: Dune on April 27, 2015, 07:30:19 AM
Ah, very nice. And you know what, Ty, I just noticed the extra line, so it installed without being stopped by my antivirus!
Title: Re: Planetside partners with Pixel Plow as Official Render Farm
Post by: digitalis99 on April 27, 2015, 02:03:23 PM
Yeah...annoying AV software guys.  We've submitted (and re-submitted in some cases) our installers and agents to various vendors over the last several months.  They have still flip-flopped a few times, sometimes blocking it, sometimes not.  I'm glad at least yours isn't misbehaving.
Title: Re: Planetside partners with Pixel Plow as Official Render Farm
Post by: digitalis99 on May 30, 2015, 11:37:26 PM
We've made some progress on the whole AV software front.  McAfee is the only "reputable" (if there even is such a thing in the anti-malware software world) vendor that is still dragging their feet.   ::)  Come on guys...6 submissions to both of your lab departments and still no response?   >:(

We did recently release a new agent with some astounding data transfer capabilities: http://www.pixelplow.net/a-torrent-of-bits/

In other news, we support more software than any other public render farm on the planet.  I think there's only one TG function left for us to support, and we'll be doing that soon (creation of sparse GI caches farm-side).
Title: Re: Planetside partners with Pixel Plow as Official Render Farm
Post by: Dune on May 31, 2015, 06:44:26 AM
I noticed, I've got 1.94 now, without trouble.
Title: Re: Planetside partners with Pixel Plow as Official Render Farm
Post by: digitalis99 on July 11, 2015, 10:08:49 PM
Agent 2.00 is here.  Auto-Power is stealing the show.  Less babysitting, faster output, and within budget.  It's hard to not like that.

http://www.pixelplow.net/let-the-robots-do-the-work-2-0-is-here/
Title: Re: Planetside partners with Pixel Plow as Official Render Farm
Post by: Dune on July 12, 2015, 06:05:31 AM
That's super, Ty!
Title: Re: Planetside partners with Pixel Plow as Official Render Farm
Post by: digitalis99 on September 14, 2015, 09:13:07 PM
A victim of our own success...yeah, maybe a bit.  No need to worry, though.  Our farm size just doubled:

http://www.pixelplow.net/more-power-to-ya-2/
Title: Re: Planetside partners with Pixel Plow as Official Render Farm
Post by: Dune on September 15, 2015, 07:00:29 AM
Congratulations, Ty. Sounds really good!
Title: Re: Planetside partners with Pixel Plow as Official Render Farm
Post by: digitalis99 on November 09, 2015, 05:38:39 PM
Finally...some new features for TG users.   :o

http://www.pixelplow.net/enhanced-frame-lists/

In a nutshell, we now support rendering sparse GI caches farm-side.
Title: Re: Planetside partners with Pixel Plow as Official Render Farm
Post by: Oshyan on November 09, 2015, 05:56:54 PM
This is a great new addition, saving render time and making it easier to get smooth GI on the farm! Here's our documentation on GI caching, which references the 'sparse cache' approach:
http://www.planetside.co.uk/wiki/index.php?title=Terragen_3_Global_Illumination#Rendering_with_GI_cache_files

You may want to add the link to your blog post Ty?

- Oshyan
Title: Re: Planetside partners with Pixel Plow as Official Render Farm
Post by: digitalis99 on November 09, 2015, 05:58:33 PM
I'll do that.  Thanks for the link.
Title: Re: Planetside partners with Pixel Plow as Official Render Farm
Post by: digitalis99 on December 02, 2015, 07:53:24 PM
With Oshyan's help, we've dug into TG a bit more to automatically correct some issues with scene files.  Now, when the job is a single frame job that our system has decided to tile render, we're making sure the ray detail region and padding settings are such that TG will behave more like the user expects.  There were problems with missing shadows and the like when a scene file is tile rendered but those values aren't set appropriately.  This could also result in a blocky output image if not set correctly, since each tiles light setup would disregard the lighting in the adjacent tiles.  As you can imagine, that produced some unexpected (and difficult to troubleshoot) results.  Those should no longer be a problem, as our system will automatically correct those values in the main and any GI pre-pass scene files.

Additionally, we've had issues in the past with the tile stitcher that was native to the render farm management software we use internally.  It developed a painfully bad habit of reporting it was done stitching the tiles together when it hadn't actually completed...or would ever complete.  We switched to ignoring what that software thought it was doing to using ImageMagick, controlled by our software.  There were some ridiculous defaults in ImageMagick as regards EXR handling that had to be found and overcome, but that has been done.  The result is reliable and accurate tile stitching for Terragen still image jobs (and the other apps that support tile rendering) no matter what output format you've defined in your scene file.

Phew!  Lots of little issues circumvented.  We're hoping this makes TG users happier.
Title: Re: Planetside partners with Pixel Plow as Official Render Farm
Post by: Dune on December 03, 2015, 10:19:48 AM
Ah, you've got that solved; great work!
Title: Re: Planetside partners with Pixel Plow as Official Render Farm
Post by: Oshyan on December 03, 2015, 10:46:10 PM
You guys are truly the best in the business when it comes to really digging in to the details of software capabilities and needs and making everything work as smoothly as possible on the farm. At this point I think working with Terragen on PixelPlow is a "near-native" experience, equivalent to rendering on your desktop machine, but a whole lot faster! :D

That's really quite an achievement. No other render farm has this level of Terragen-specific capability.

- Oshyan
Title: Re: Planetside partners with Pixel Plow as Official Render Farm
Post by: digitalis99 on January 08, 2016, 10:09:35 PM
Agent update today brings background zipping to the foreground.  Is that like combining matter and anti-matter?

Anyway, that's a small perk for TG users (since your scene datasets are typically quite small), but notable when you have a larger chunk of data you need to send to us.  If you care to, read a bit more about it here:
http://www.pixelplow.net/your-zippers-in-the-background/
Title: Re: Planetside partners with Pixel Plow as Official Render Farm
Post by: digitalis99 on February 17, 2016, 09:40:19 PM
More power is always good, right?  We've expanded compute throughput again.

http://www.pixelplow.net/now-with-50-more-compute-power/
Title: Re: Planetside partners with Pixel Plow as Official Render Farm
Post by: digitalis99 on March 16, 2016, 05:55:36 PM
Our TG3 instances are running 3.4 now:
http://www.pixelplow.net/updates-for-terragen-and-3d-studio-max/
Title: Re: Planetside partners with Pixel Plow as Official Render Farm
Post by: digitalis99 on March 24, 2016, 11:45:45 PM
We just released 2 major features to our service today, render time estimates and command line job submission.  If you're interested, you can read more here:

http://www.pixelplow.net/two-major-new-features-and-a-few-little-ones/

Also, the display name for Terragen in our agent now correctly reflects version 3.4, but we've been running that internally since it was released.
Title: Re: Planetside partners with Pixel Plow as Official Render Farm
Post by: edlo on July 11, 2016, 03:10:45 PM
*Update:
I was contacted by support and they have managed to track the issue through their AVS provider down to what seems to be a difference in how Canadian banks report the AVS information; so as soon as I have some time I will try again changing the data and hopefully matching what the bank reports so that the payment can go through. For now it seems Canadian cards have issues going through.
BTW The invoice was deleted to keep the system from retrying automatically.
Thanks to the support person that handled this all the way through.

So I decided to try pixelplow; signed in added my CC and failed, I contacted support and I was told that the address should be exactly the same as the account, so I went into my bank account and copied the address and name exactly as it is. No luck; so then I was told Canadian cards have issues with AVS as they say they provide this feature, yet they dont. I talked to my bank and they do  offer AVS and of course I have used the card elsewhere several times without issue.
Long story short, the invoice was deleted from my account and no further effort to get me up and rendering was done, and no further communication, or help from PP.
You seem to be on top of things so you might be able to help further.
Thanks in advance.
Title: Re: Planetside partners with Pixel Plow as Official Render Farm
Post by: Oshyan on July 14, 2016, 09:50:29 PM
Thanks for the update Edlo, I'm glad you got the support you needed and I hope the payment issue can be resolved soon. We've had our own share of frustrations with credit card processing for Terragen purchases as well.

- Oshyan
Title: Re: Planetside partners with Pixel Plow as Official Render Farm
Post by: digitalis99 on October 19, 2016, 07:04:28 PM
It's been a while since I've posted here.  We've been deep in the development trenches on multiple projects.

Since last posting, there's certainly a couple of improvements for Terragen users on the Pixel Plow farm.  Namely:


For the relevant blog/support portal posts on our site:
http://www.pixelplow.net/terragen-4-now-supported/
http://www.pixelplow.net/single-frame-job-updates/
http://www.pixelplow.net/support/still-image-renders-a-k-a-tile-render-jobs/

We hope both of these additions help the TG community.
Title: Re: Planetside partners with Pixel Plow as Official Render Farm
Post by: digitalis99 on October 19, 2016, 07:10:22 PM
*Update:
I was contacted by support and they have managed to track the issue through their AVS provider down to what seems to be a difference in how Canadian banks report the AVS information; so as soon as I have some time I will try again changing the data and hopefully matching what the bank reports so that the payment can go through. For now it seems Canadian cards have issues going through.
BTW The invoice was deleted to keep the system from retrying automatically.
Thanks to the support person that handled this all the way through.

So I decided to try pixelplow; signed in added my CC and failed, I contacted support and I was told that the address should be exactly the same as the account, so I went into my bank account and copied the address and name exactly as it is. No luck; so then I was told Canadian cards have issues with AVS as they say they provide this feature, yet they dont. I talked to my bank and they do  offer AVS and of course I have used the card elsewhere several times without issue.
Long story short, the invoice was deleted from my account and no further effort to get me up and rendering was done, and no further communication, or help from PP.
You seem to be on top of things so you might be able to help further.
Thanks in advance.

Edlo, sorry I didn't see this sooner.  We've had almost no end of AVS-related problems from customers in Canada and the UK, but it's actually due to their lack of consistency in formatting of their postal codes.  We even wrote up a whole page on the topic:

http://www.pixelplow.net/support/why-did-my-credit-card-payment-fail/

Due to the level of problems Canadian and UK customers were having, we were able to soften the AVS checks that our gateway provider makes.  They recommended against the changes, but they were impeding progress...so we opted for the nuclear option.

Long story cut short, if you never had anything resolved, it is far more likely to work now than it was a few months back.
Title: Re: Planetside partners with Pixel Plow as Official Render Farm
Post by: digitalis99 on January 24, 2017, 09:34:09 PM
It's been a while since I posted here, but there have been improvements to our handling of Terragen scene files.  Since the last post:


The last two checks are designed to prevent incorrect still image renders as those features aren't compatible with tile rendering in Terragen.  Thanks to the customers who have helped us work through those issues.  We continue progressing to being as "fire and forget" as possible...at least in support of Terragen.

Of course, our hardware footprint continues to expand to meet the customer demand.
Title: Re: Planetside partners with Pixel Plow as Official Render Farm
Post by: digitalis99 on August 10, 2017, 05:27:21 PM
Quite a while since the last post, but here we are again.  In case you all hadn't seen via our social media channels, we updated our TG4 instance to 4.1.11. 

It was fun sharing a booth with Planetside at Siggraph this year.  Lot's of "Terragen still exists?!?!" kind of comments, but it was great to see people light up when they saw movies in which Terragen was used.  I don't know about you, but we still think Terragen is the best outdoor modelling/rendering application.
Title: Re: Planetside partners with Pixel Plow as Official Render Farm
Post by: Dune on August 11, 2017, 06:55:06 AM
Agreed!
Title: Re: Planetside partners with Pixel Plow as Official Render Farm
Post by: Oshyan on August 11, 2017, 07:13:29 PM
Yes, it was a great experience sharing a booth with Pixel Plow, and meeting Terragen enthusiasts old and new. And Pixel Plow generously donated a Terragen 4 Professional license for us to gift to a lucky SIGGRAPH attendee. We're tallying our opinions on who the lucky winner will be, announcement soon (so yes, there are sometimes other benefits to coming to SIGGRAPH besides just getting to meet us. :D).

- Oshyan
Title: Re: Planetside partners with Pixel Plow as Official Render Farm
Post by: digitalis99 on September 21, 2017, 02:46:07 AM
In case you guys hadn't already seen it, our TG4 instances are all running 4.1.14 as of a few days ago.