Deadline Render Farm Manager

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Deadline Render Farm Manager

Deadline Render Farm Manager

Deadline is a hassle-free administration and rendering toolkit for Windows, Linux, and Mac OSX based render farms. It offers a world of flexibility and a wide-range of management options for render farms of all sizes, and supports over 70 different rendering packages out of the box.

Deadline 8.0 is the latest version of Thinkbox Software’s scalable high-volume compute management solution.

For ultimate scalability, Deadline 8 introduces on-demand metered licensing, which will work with both local and cloud-based farms alongside existing permanent and temporary licenses. Usage is tracked per minute, and can be purchased and managed round-the-clock via Thinkbox’s e-commerce portal. Additionally, the store hosts on-demand per-minute licenses for select third party content creation applications and plugins. Visit the Deadline on Demand website for more information.

Deadline 8 also adds a Proxy Server application that allows users to securely connect (SSL) to and interact with remote office and cloud-based render farms over public Internet without the need for a virtual private network (VPN). An updated user interface with enhanced interactivity improves the Monitor experience, while the new sandboxed Python environment facilitates additional rendering and event stability.



Deadline’s unique architecture removes the need for a centralized manager application by using a highly-scalable database and basic file sharing to manage the farm. As long as your Database and File Server are running, Deadline is running.



Built with your creativity in mind, Deadline’s User Interface has evolved in response to extensive feedback from artists. The flexible and intuitive interface provides a unified experience to artists and administrators across all platforms.

For job submission, Deadline offers integrated submission scripts for

  • 3ds Max
  • After Effects
  • AutoCAD
  • Blender
  • Cinema 4D
  • Clarisse iFX
  • Composite
  • Fusion
  • Generation
  • Guerilla
  • Harmony
  • Hiero
  • Houdini
  • Lightwave
  • Maya
  • Messiah
  • Microstation
  • Mocha Pro
  • modo
  • Nuke
  • RealFlow
  • Rhino
  • SketchUp 3D
  • Softimage
  • and Vue

providing a comfortable native environment for cross-application tasks.



Deadline supports over 70 different rendering packages out of the box across various industries, including Media and Entertainment, Broadcasting, Commercial, AEC (Architecture, Engineering, and Construction), and more! See the Supported Software page in the Deadline documentation for more information.



Deadline continues to support the traditional Floating license model, and adds support for a new Usage Based licensing model (UBL) in Deadline 8. These licensing models are not exclusive of each other, which means that they can be used separately or together, across local, remote, or cloud-based render nodes.

The UBL model allows you to pre-pay for on-demand render time by the hour by visiting the Thinkbox Store. After purchasing render time, the render nodes will consume this render time on a per-minute basis, and they will ONLY do so while they are rendering jobs (they will not consume this render time when they are idle or offline). So if you purchased 24 hours of render time, you could render with 1 render node for a day, 2 render nodes for half a day, 12 render nodes for 2 hours, etc.

Deadline 8 also introduces 3rd party usage-based licensing (3PL). 3PL is very similar to UBL, except that it us used to license various 3rd party products when rendering through Deadline. Like UBL, it can be used in conjunction with traditional (permanent) licensing for those products, and Deadline can be configured to always prefer these existing licenses.



With its Python based plug-in API, studios can customize the out of the box plug-ins and scripts to suit their individual pipelines, or create custom plug-ins to support in-house applications. Event plug-ins can be created to trigger events like updating pipeline tools when jobs are submitted or finish rendering, and Cloud plug-ins can be created to control VMs in public and private Cloud providers. Finally, job scripts can be created to setup custom dependencies, as well as perform operations when a job starts, when a job finishes, and before and after each task is rendered.



Use numeric job priorities, machine groups and pools, and job-specific machine lists to explicitly control distribution of rendering resources among multiple departments. Limits allow you to handle both limited license plug-ins and render packages, while job, asset, and script based dependencies allow you to control when your jobs will begin rendering. Stick with the default First-in, First-out scheduling logic, or switch to a Balanced or Weighted system.

Launch and configure an arbitrary number of Slaves on a single machine. Each Slave instance can be given a unique name, and can be assigned its own list of pools and groups, which allows Slaves to work on separate jobs. A single high performance machine can process multiple 3D, compositing, and simulation jobs simultaneously. Slave instances running on the same machine will share a single Deadline license.



Deadline can be configured to notify users of job completion or failure through an automatic e-mail notification or a popup message on the users’ machine.

Administrators can also configure Deadline to notify them with information about Power Management, stalled Slaves, licensing issues, and other issues that may arise on the farm.



Deadline automatically stores job and render farm statistics in the Database. Statistics can be viewed from the Monitor, or retrieved from the Database by custom pipeline tools.



Deadline integrates with Shotgun to enable a seamless render and review data flow. When a render job is submitted, a version is automatically created in Shotgun with key metadata. When the render is complete, Shotgun is updated with a thumbnail image, paths to frames, render stats, and playback links. Deadline can also automatically upload a movie and/or a filmstrip when the render is complete. Shotgun then dispatches targeted notifications with links back to the work. Studios can view versions in various contexts, create reports, and organize work into playlists for review sessions where they can quickly take notes with the Shotgun Note App.

The Deadline/FTrack integration enables a seamless render and review data flow. When Deadline starts a render, an Asset Version is automatically created within FTrack using key metadata. When the render is complete, Deadline automatically updates the created Version appropriately – a thumbnail image is uploaded, components are created from the Job’s output paths (taking advantage of FTrack’s location plugins), and the Version is flagged for Review. In doing so, Deadline provides a seamless transition from Job Submission to Review process, without artists needing to monitor their renders.

Integration with NIM Labs’ NIM pipeline management tool enables the creation of NIM renders, and automates the uploading of thumbnails and movies to NIM when jobs complete. NIM can be chosen as an integration option in the After Effects, Cinema 4D, Hiero, Maya, and Nuke submitters. Support for other applications will be added when NIM supports them.



Draft is a tool that provides simple compositing functionality. It is implemented as a Python library, which exposes functionality for use in python scripts. Draft is designed to be tightly integrated with Deadline, but it can also be used as a standalone tool.

Using the Draft plugin for Deadline, artists can automatically perform simple compositing operations on rendered frames after a render job finishes. They can also convert them to a different image format, or generate Quicktimes for dailies.

Active Deadline subscribers are entitled to Draft licenses at no additional cost. Active Deadline subscribers can request a Draft license by emailing



Install QuickTime on your slaves to create QuickTime movies from your own rendered frames.



Jigsaw is available for 3ds Max, Houdini, Maya, modo, and Rhino, and can be used to split up large frames into arbitrary sized tiles and distribute them over your render farm. When the tiles are finished rendering, they are automatically assembled into the final image using Draft. Specific tiles can be re-rendered and automatically composited on top of the original image.

Regular tile rendering, which supports fixed tile sizes only, is still supported as well, and is available for 3ds Max, Houdini, Maya, modo, Rendition, Rhino, and Softimage.



Deadline has gone through rigorous analysis to make the installation and configuration process smooth and efficient. A detailed document provides easy, step-by-step instructions explaining the various components that will be installed. In addition, Deadline has the ability to auto-upgrade the whole render farm from a centralized deployment – an incredible time-saver for large render farms.

Auto Configuration allows studios to efficiently increase the size of their farm by removing the need to configure each new Slave individually. The Repository Path, License Server, and additional settings can be configured in a single location, and broadcast to the slaves when they start up.



Start and stop the slave based on the time of day to allow workstations to join the render farm overnight. Alternatively, start the slave if the machine has been idle for a certain amount of time, and stop it when the machine is in use again.

Other criteria like CPU usage, memory usage, and running processes can also be checked before starting the slave. Displays a warning message before starting the slave, allowing an artist to choose to delay when the slave starts if they are still using the machine.



Artists can monitor and control the slave application running on their workstation, which is useful if the slave is running as a service. Override the Idle Detection settings for your slave, or change the slave’s Job Dequeuing Mode to control if the slave should render all jobs, jobs submitted from the artist’s machine, or jobs submitted by specific users.



Stream the log from a Slave in real time, or start, stop, and restart Slave instances (as well as the remote machine on which it is running) remotely from within the Monitor. In addition, execute arbitrary command lines (applications, command line operations or batch files) on a single or group of remote machines to rollout software or install updates.

In addition, Deadline integrates seamlessly with VNC, Remote Desktop Connection, Apple Remote Desktop, and Radmin using custom scripts. These scripts can be modified or new scripts can be created to support other remote access software.



While full access is granted for all users to modify their own jobs, the User Group Management System prevents users from inadvertently disrupting other jobs, and allows Administrators to configure the types of actions available to each user group. An optional password protected Super User mode allows for global network administration.

Any command that affects a job or Slave is logged along with the originating user name and machine. This allows everyone, including project managers and supervisors, to track changes and troubleshoot issues with confidence. It also encourages responsibility and cooperation on the part of all users.



Save on energy consumption, power and cooling costs with Power Management, a feature that shuts down idle machines and starts them back up when needed. This feature is available for render farms with machines that support WakeOnLan.






These are the highlighted features in Deadline 8.0. See the Deadline 8.0 User Manual for the complete release notes.



For ultimate scalability, Deadline 8 introduces on-demand metered licensing. The feature will work with both local and cloud-based farms alongside existing permanent and temporary licenses. Usage is tracked per minute while the Slave application is running, and can be purchased and managed round-the-clock via Thinkbox’s e-commerce portal. Additionally, the store also hosts on-demand per-minute licenses for select third party content creation applications and plugins. Visit the Deadline on Demand website for more information.



The new Deadline Proxy Server application allows users to connect to and interact with remote office and cloud-based render farms without the need for a direct connection to the Database or Repository. The Proxy Server implements a standard REST communication protocol, allowing existing systems like Apache and Nginx to be used for SSL security and load balancing.

For example, by using Nginx and SSL security, users can connect to a cloud-based farm over public Internet without the need for a virtual private network (VPN). In addition, multi-location studios can also use the Proxy Server within their VPN to connect to Repositories in other offices without having to mount the Repository server locally. This is especially useful over high-latency network connections.



The Monitor now remains fully interactive while loading and updating tens of thousands of jobs and thousands of slaves and data loading and updating is much quicker as well. This was accomplished by moving a lot of the list processing code to native C++ libraries.

The Monitor also remains fully interactive when processing long operations, like deleting thousands of jobs. Long running operations are queued up and shown in the new Background Operations panel, and can be cancelled or paused to allow other background operations to proceed.



The Launcher and Monitor now have options to launch additional Monitors connected to other Repositories. When launching a Monitor that is connected to another Repository, it won’t change your default Repository unless you choose to, which means that other Deadline applications like the Slave won’t accidentally connect to the wrong Repository when they launch.



The Balancer now performs the main VM balancing operation in a separate thread. This thread can be interrupted if the interval between balancing operations has passed, or if the Balancer is being asked to shut down. This update allows the Balancer cycles to be performed at more regular intervals than before.



Render plugins and events now run in separate processes from the main Deadline applications. This improves stability because crashes or deadlocks that occur in the render plugins and events no longer affect the Deadline applications that are executing them. For example, if the render plugin that the Slave has loaded crashes, only the sandboxed Python process will be affected, and the Slave will detect this and recover by simply starting up a new sandbox process.

When rendering, the sandboxed process’ initial environment will match the environment variables specified for the job (if there are any). In addition, the environment for render plugins is now reset between jobs, and modifications to the render environment no longer affect the Slave application’s environment. This means that environment variables set by the render plugin for one job won’t affect the next job that the Slave picks up.



3rd-party Python APIs that Deadline uses are now installed and synchronized locally to the Client machines. This improves the performance of any plugins (rendering, events, cloud, etc) that rely on 3rd-party libraries because they can now be loaded off the local machine instead of from the Repository. The upgrading of Python APIs is handled by the same system that Deadline uses to perform automatic upgrades of the Client software.



Rendering plugin and event plugin configurations are now stored in the Database instead of the dlinit file (similar to how Cloud plugin configurations are stored). In addition, Rendering plugin icons are now stored in the Database, and can be set via the Plugin Configuration dialog in the Monitor.



Event plugins now support a third “Opt-in” state, in addition to the existing Enabled and Disabled states. When an event is in the Opt-in state, slaves and jobs will only trigger the callbacks if they have “opted in” to the event plugin. Opt-in events can be specified for jobs in the job info file, and these events can also be configured from respective property dialogs for jobs and slaves in the Monitor.

Event plugins also support a new EventCallbacks entry in the plugin configuration that specifies which callback(s) the event triggers for.



Deadline now ships with MongoDB 3.0.6, with version 3.0.0 being the new minimum requirement for Deadline 8. Deadline utilizes MongoDB’s new collection-level locking functionality, which simplifies the data layout because data in the database no longer needs to be split up into separate databases.



While this new version contains many improvements over Mono 3.8 (which is the version that Deadline 7 uses), the main reason for upgrading to Mono 4.2.2 is that it addresses some problems on newer Linux kernels that could cause the Deadline applications to crash.



This update was mainly to bring in new bug fixes made to Python itself, including some issues reported by Deadline users. As part of this update, the Windows version of Python has also been compiled using the MSC v1600 compiler (targets msvcr100), in order to eliminate conflicts with Deadline’s own runtimes.



Support has been added for 3dsMax 2017, Harmony (versions 10, 11, and 12), Katana, Iray for Maya, Mocha Pro, Nuke 10, SketchUp 2016, and UnrealSwarm. A new Batch mode has also been added to the Cinema 4D plugin, which keeps Cinema 4D loaded in memory between tasks.


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