Creating your first render on the farm - Amazon Nimble Studio

Creating your first render on the farm

This artist tutorial will show you how to use your studio’s render farm to create your first rendered images on Amazon Nimble Studio. Since Blender is installed by default on Nimble Studio virtual workstations, this tutorial shows you how to use Blender as the content creation application.

The steps for other applications are similar to Blender, but licensed applications might require your studio administrator to set up a license server before those applications can be used on virtual workstations and render workers. In addition, some software might need your administrator to follow specific steps after installation in order to work properly.

Tutorials for software that requires specific installation instructions can be found in the Software specific installation tips admin tutorial.

Prerequisites

  • Launch a streaming session and be logged in to a virtual workstation, as outlined in Launching a virtual workstation.

  • A basic working knowledge of Blender is also required to complete this tutorial. If you haven’t used Blender before, you can find links to documentation and tutorials on the Blender Support webpage.

  • In addition, your studio administrator must have completed the steps in the Configuring AWS Thinkbox Deadline tutorial in order for you to successfully render your scene.

Step 1: Launch Blender

You’ll start by launching Blender, so that you can create a scene to render.

To launch Blender using Windows

  1. Open File Explorer.

  2. Choose This PC in the navigation pane.

  3. Under Devices and drives, open (double-click) Local Disk (C:).

  4. Navigate to C:\Program Files\Blender Foundation\Blender 2.92\.

    Note

    Your version of Blender might be different.

  5. Open (double-click) blender.

    
                  Windows File Explorer Blender executable
    1. Blender launches and you will see a screen like the following image.

      
                        Windows Blender 2.92 splash screen

To launch Blender using Linux

  1. Launch a file browser by opening (double-clicking) the Home folder on the desktop.

    
                  Linux file browser home folder
  2. In the left navigation pane, choose + Other Locations.

  3. Choose Computer.

  4. Navigate to /opt/blender-2.92.0-linux64.

    Note

    Your version of Blender might be different.

  5. Open (double-click) blender.

    1. Blender launches and you will see a screen similar to the following image.

      
                        Linux Blender 2.92 splash screen

Step 2: Create a Blender scene

Now that you're in Blender, you need a scene to render. You can use the default scene, create your own, or download a demo scene. This tutorial makes use of a demo scene, but the steps for rendering will be the same no matter what kind of scene you use.

To download a demo scene

  1. Launch Mozilla Firefox on your virtual workstation.

  2. Download a demo file of your choosing from the Blender download page.

    1. This tutorial uses one of the files from the “Physics” section.

    2. When prompted to open the file or save it, choose Save File.

  3. Open a file browser (Windows or Linux) and navigate to your Downloads folder.

    1. Windows: C:\Users\ your-user-name \Downloads.

    2. Linux: $Home/Downloads.

  4. Select the Blender scene file from the file browser and enter Ctrl+C to copy it.

Step 3: Save your scene to shared storage

In this step, you will save your Blender scene file to the default shared storage of your studio. We recommend saving your scene file to this shared storage so it’s more easily accessible. For more information about file storage, see the Adding a new Amazon FSx file system tutorial.

To save your Blender scene file to the default shared storage of your studio, use the following steps.

Find the shared storage drive on your virtual workstation

To find shared storage on Windows

  1. In a new File Explorer window, choose This PC from the navigation pane.

  2. Under Network locations, open (double-click) share, also referred to as the Z: drive.

    
                     Windows File Explorer Z: drive

To find shared storage on Linux

  1. In a file browser, choose + Other Locations from the left navigation pane.

  2. Choose Computer.

    
                     Linux file browser other locations
  3. Navigate to /mnt/fsxshare.

Save your Blender file to the shared storage drive

  1. If there is already a folder to store test projects, open it. If not, create a new folder by opening the context menu (right-click) and choosing New and Folder (Windows) or New Folder (Linux).

    1. Name your new folder something that identifies it as a place for test projects, for example: test_projects.

  2. In the test projects folder, open the context menu (right-click) and choose New and Folder (or New Folder) again.

  3. Name the new folder something that identifies it as your folder specifically, for example: your-user-name _blender.

  4. Move your Blender file to the current folder.

    1. If you downloaded a demo file in the last step, paste it or move it from your Downloads folder to this location.

    2. If you created your own file and saved it somewhere else, you should copy and paste it (or move it) to this location.

    3. Here’s an example of what your directory structure might look like (screenshot from Linux, but Windows would be similar):

      
                           Blender file save location in Linux
  5. In Blender, open the file on the shared storage drive by choosing File and Open…​ and navigating to the location of your demo file. For example, Z:\test_projects\martha_blender (Windows) or /mnt/fsxshare/test_projects/martha_blender (Linux).

    
                     Blender file open window
    
                     Blender demo file opened

Step 4: Configure the scene to render on the farm

When you have a scene that you want to render, you must configure the scene so that it will render on the farm.

  1. Verify that a camera is listed in the Outliner. You must have a camera in your Blender scene in order to render it.

    
                  Blender demo file camera selected
    1. If you don’t see a camera in the Outliner, press Shift+A in a viewport to add one.

      
                        Blender demo file add camera menu option
    2. Press T in a viewport to show the tools.

    3. Select a transform tool and move your camera into position.

      
                        Blender demo file camera move tool
  2. In the Properties panel on the right, choose Render Properties (the icon looks like the back of an SLR camera). 
                     Blender render properties icon

  3. For Render Engine, choose Cycles.

    
                  Blender render properties render engine
  4. Choose Output Properties (the icon looks like an inkjet printer). 
                     Blender output properties icon

  5. Under Output, set your output path.

    
                  Blender output properties
    1. Choose the folder icon next to the output field.

    2. In the window that appears, navigate to the location of your Blender file. For example, Z:\test_projects\martha_blender (Windows) or /mnt/fsxshare/test_projects/martha_blender (Linux).

    3. Create a new folder by opening the context menu (right-click) in the file list and choosing New Folder.

      
                        Blender file view window new folder menu option
    4. Name the new folder images and open it.

    5. Choose the gear icon in the top-right corner of the window.

    6. Choose the check box next to Relative Path.

    7. Enter a name for the output files in the entry field at the bottom of the screen. Use the hash sign <#> notation in your name to indicate where you would like frame numbers inserted into the output file names.

      For example:

      demo_file.####
  6. Choose Accept.

    
                  Blender file view window file name
  7. Return to the Output Properties panel. Below the output field, use the File Format dropdown to select the format for your output images. We recommend choosing the OpenEXR format.

  8. Verify that your scene file is located on shared storage and not the local drive of your virtual workstation by checking the scene file path in the title bar at the top of the main Blender window. For example, Z:\test_projects\martha_blender\<file_name> (Windows) or /mnt/fsxshare/test_projects/martha_blender/<file_name> (Linux).

    
                  Blender title bar
  9. Save all the changes that you made to your Blender scene file by choosing File and Save from the main Blender menu.

Step 5: Enable AWS Thinkbox Deadline submitter add-on

To submit your scene file to the render farm, you must enable the Blender submitter add-on for AWS Thinkbox Deadline. Deadline is a compute management toolkit that handles the running of your render farm on Nimble Studio. The submitter add-on allows you to submit a render to your farm directly from within Blender.

  1. Enter Deadline in the search field to search for the Deadline submitter.

  2. Select the check box next to Render: Submit Blender to Deadline to enable the submitter add-on and then close the preferences window.

    
                  Linux Blender preferences Deadline submitter enabled

Step 6: Submit render to Deadline

Now that the Deadline submitter add-on is installed, you're ready to submit your render to the farm.

  1. In Blender, open the Render menu and choose Submit To Deadline.

    1. This will take a minute to open, because Blender has to connect to Deadline.

  2. When the Submission Scripts window opens, look at the Job Name. It will be set to the name of your file by default. You might want to add your user name to the beginning of the name to make your render job easier to identify.

  3. Check that Pool is set to none.

  4. Open the dropdown next to Secondary Pool and choose none.

  5. Open the dropdown next to Group and choose the name of the render fleet that you want to use.

    1. This might be named something like “farm-default”, but your studio administrator might have chosen a different name. If you have questions about what to choose, ask your studio administrator or manager.

    2. If you don’t see any groups listed in the pulldown, check that your studio administrator has completed the Configuring AWS Thinkbox Deadline tutorial, in which they set up Deadline groups.

  6. Review the value of Frame List. By default, this will be set to the start and end frames of your scene, but you might want to change this to just a few frames for your first render.

    
                  Deadline Blender submitter window
  7. Check that all the values that you entered are correct and then choose Submit.

  8. After your render has been submitted, a confirmation window will appear. Choose OK to close the window.

    
                  Deadline Blender submission confirmation

Step 7: Check progress in Deadline Monitor

After you submit your render, you can watch its progress in the Deadline Monitor.

  1. Launch the Deadline Monitor.

    1. Windows: Open the Start menu and choose Thinkbox. Then choose Deadline Monitor.

    2. Linux: Choose Applications. Then choose Other and Deadline Monitor.

  2. Deadline Monitor starts opening, and a window pops up that indicates that a new user account has been created for you. Choose OK to continue.

    
                  New Deadline user created
    1. Now the Deadline Monitor will open.

  3. Your render job will appear in the list in the upper left section of the Deadline Monitor window.

    
                  Deadline Monitor render submitted
    1. If your farm doesn’t currently have any render workers running, or if they are all busy, your job will have a status of “Queued”. It will take a few minutes for new render workers to launch. After they launch and pick up your job, the status will change to “Rendering”.

  4. Choose your render job to see more details about all the tasks for that job. Usually this will be a list of the frames to be rendered.

    
                  Deadline Monitor render rendering
  5. Choose Tools. Then choose Super User Mode.

    
                  Deadline Monitor superuser mode menu item
    1. superuser mode will allow you access to more options, like the ability to check the logs of individual render workers.

  6. Next, choose a render worker from the list at the bottom of the Deadline Monitor window.

  7. Open the context menu (right-click) and choose Connect to Worker Log…​

    
                  Deadline Monitor connect to worker log menu item
    1. A new window will open that displays the log for the worker you connected to. Here you can monitor the status of a particular render worker in your farm.

      
                        Deadline Monitor worker log window
  8. Back in the main Deadline Monitor window, open (double-click) a task to see more details.

    
                  Deadline Monitor task details window
  9. In the task window that appears, choose a report from the list to see the render log for that task. In this case, the render log is displaying the status of the rendering job for a particular frame of your render.

    
                  Deadline Monitor task render log
  10. Back in the main Deadline Monitor window, check the status of your render job. When your render has finished, the status will change to “Completed”.

    
                  Deadline Monitor render completed
  11. In a file browser, navigate to your output directory to view your rendered images.

    1. On Windows, this might be something like: Z:\test_projects\<your user name>_blender\images.

      
                        Windows File Explorer rendered images folder
    2. On Linux, this might be something like: /mnt/fsxshare/test_projects/<your user name>_blender/images.

      
                        Linux file browser rendered images folder
  12. Open (double-click) on an image to open it in the DJV image and movie viewer.

    
                  DJV image and movie viewer rendered image

You've now completed your first render on Amazon Nimble Studio.