Blender

Blender Guide

1. Download and install

Log in to Web Manager (web dashboard) at https://app.garagefarm.net and download our renderBeamer app for you operating system. 

Web Manager downloads panel

Install the renderBeamer app and start it. Once renderBeamer is done with the installation process, you need to choose the default download directory. This path will be used as the main output place for all your renders. Next, just log in using the account ID you received or your account email. Please keep in mind that the app should always be running in the background whenever uploading a project or downloading rendered frames.

renderBeamer startup windows - default download directory on the left, and login panel on the right

Once renderBeamer is installed and you’re logged in, you’ll see the Plugins panel. Plugins installation panel should automatically open after the first renderBeamer startup. You can also open it anytime you need to install additional plugins for your 3D apps.

renderBeamer 3D app plugins installation panel

Here in the plugins panel, you can install plugins that allow you to work with our farm. Once you installed the plugin for your 3D app, you can proceed to the next step.

Note

Please keep in mind that each 3D app (DCC) you use needs to have a plugin installed to properly connect to and render on our farm. 

After launching renderBeamer, launch Blender and navigate to Preferences. In the addons tab, search for “renderbeamer”. Once renderBeamer is added to Blender UI you can continue with the scene preparation.

Enabling 3d app plugin & renderBeamer menu

2. Prepare the scene

Open your scene in Blender and prepare it for rendering on a render farm.

  • Scene files should be saved in .blend format - version 2.68 and above.
  • All assets used by the scene should be accessible for Blender and properly linked. We recommend using relative paths (Assets\Asset.png) instead of absolute paths (like C:\Project1\Assets\Assets.png), but both should work fine.
  • Scene should be free of missing assets when submitting to render farm
  • Please always remember to check the % bar under the resolution setting. It has to be set to 100% unless you are sure other settings are appropriate.
  • Please set the Threads option to Auto-detect to use 100% of CPU power.
  • If there are dynamics features / physics simulations used in the scene, you should create a cache file for them and properly link it in the scene. Some physics types can work without external cache, meaning the cache can be saved directly in the scene. Here are general guidelines https://docs.blender.org/manual/en/latest/physics/baking.html.
  • Plugins - we support a lot of Blender plugins & addons, however, if you are using some extra add ons, please send us the info. We will check for the plugin availability and purchase options.
  • V-Ray for Blender - GI setup should be prepared for multiple machines rendering. If you are not sure about the GI setup - please contact us
  • Cycles - Please set the tile size to 16x16 / 32x32 for CPU rendering or 128x128 / 256x256 for GPU rendering. A value that is too high will increase the render time. 
  • Eevee - we do not support Eevee currently (actually Blender does not support rendering Eevee in headless mode).
  • Output - Please set a proper file format for rendered frames and set the output path as relative or absolute. Output path for the main output cannot be empty or set as default (tmp). Please select the folder icon and put a path for saving outputs. Otherwise, it won't work with our plugin.
Settings for Output
  • Please check the Metadata setting, so that a stamp will not be added to frames unless it should be there.
  • We do not support the “Auto Run Python Scripts” option. If you need this enabled, please contact our wranglers before launching your job.
  • Optix denoiser is not supported on our render farm. We support all other CPU-based denoisers available in Blender.

3. Use the plugin

If you haven’t activated our plugin yet, please go to Preferences > Add-ons and look for “renderBeamer”. 

Once your project is prepared, please locate the renderBeamer menu in Blender (in the main "Render" tab). Depending on the project you are going to render, there are two modes to choose from:

  • Animation - If you are going to render an Animation, the ideal solution is to select the "Beam it up Animation" mode. Our plugin will prepare your project based on the frame range you have set in your scene settings. 
Forwarding scene to renderBeamer by using Animation mode - one button solution
  • Still frame - If you need to render one single frame in high resolution, select the option: "Beam it up Still Frame". By using this mode, our plugin will prepare your scene and use the active frame in the timeline.
Forwarding scene to renderBeamer by using Still Frame mode - one button solution

For both modes, our Blender plugin is a “one button” solution. You don't need any additional setup to render your scene on the farm. Everything - including frame range, resolution, quality settings and output format will be rendered just like the settings you have in the scene.

4. Upload the project

Once our plugin completes the scene export, your project will be redirected to renderBeamer to be uploaded. In a nutshell, renderBeamer is a standalone uploader/downloader application that works in conjunction with our plugins. Simply put, it takes care of the file transfers. 

After the scene has been fully uploaded, the app will show you a window with a direct link to your scene on Web Manager (web dashboard). To continue use the click here to submit job button. If for some reason you closed the window with the link or it didn’t work, don’t worry, you can locate your project in the web dashboard and submit your scene by clicking on the scene file any time (more on that in the next step). You can also copy the link to clipboard and manually paste it into your web browser.

renderBeamer window with options to add job to render farm

5. Submit the job (add the job to the render queue)

Now that your project is uploaded you will need to follow the final step - creating and submitting a job to render farm. Web Manager is a home to all your projects and render jobs. 

If you followed the link generated earlier by renderBeamer, you will now see the job submission window with several fields and settings. If you didn’t follow the link or it didn’t work, you can do it manually by locating your project in the projects panel, finding the scene file within the project folder (in your folder structure look for the folder called “data”, i.e. Project_name/data/SceneName.blend), and clicking on it to open the job window. 

adding a scene to rendering directly from Web Manager file browser

Basically, our Blender plugin automatically detects your settings in the scene and based on them automatically puts the relevant details needed to render your project. Beforeh adding a scene to the render queue, please make sure that all settings are correct and adjust them if necessary.

settings before adding a scene to the render queue: frame range, resolution, aspect ratio, bucket size

Frame range -  in this field put the range of frames you need to render. For animation, this will range from the first frame of the animation to the last one set in your project. For example, 1to780s1 - this means that the full sequence of 780 frames for the range 1 to 780 will be rendered. The parameter "s1" means that every subsequent frame in your range will be rendered. If you need to test the scene first, then we suggest you set a higher value, eg "s20", then every twentieth frame in the animation range will be rendered. So if you set the range to 1to780s20, then frames 1,21,41,61,81,101,...,741,761 will be rendered.

If you only want to render a single shot (still image), the range should always be one frame, for example: 1. Then you will render one frame number 1.

Resolution - here you can set the resolution (in pixels) for your project.

Aspect ratio lock - if you need to change the resolution and want to keep the aspect ratio, you can use one of the available options: 4:3; 16:9; 16:10; 21 9; 1:1. Leaving the option as "none" means that you can modify the values for the "Resolution" field without the aspect ratio.

Bucket X/Y - in this field, you will find options relative to the "Tiles" settings in Blender. The values are automatically set by our system based on your chosen render device and resolution. If you assume that changing these settings will be more optimal for rendering your scene, you can set a different value.

Note

If you are going to render an animation or a still image, we always recommend that you perform a test before the final rendering:

- For animations, the best way to get a cost estimate is to run a test of the scene on the farm with around 20 frames spread evenly across the range. For example, a frame range 1to200s20 will render every 20th frame as a test and based on that our system will produce a cost estimate for the full render.

- For stills, please render the image in 1/5 resolution or any other smaller resolution. In the case of 1/5 resolution test, the cost of full resolution render will be 25 times bigger than the cost of a test. For example, if you want to render an image in resolution 5000x6000, run a test in 1000x1200 res first. If your test costs $1, then the estimated cost for the full res image should be around $25 (5 x 5 = 25). For a 1/4 test it would be $16 (4 x 4 = 16) and so on.

There's more information about running tests and estimating the cost on our forum: (points 5 - 9).

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If you are going to render a still image in high resolution and your scene does not contain any post-production effects, then you can use the "Strips" option (see the description of this option this Guide) to render your scene on several nodes simultaneously.

settings before adding a scene to the render queue: output path/name, file extension

Output path - here you can find the default save path for rendered frames from your project. The default output path is based on the name of your project and scene. You can edit this path if you clone your job and need to render a different range in that project.

Output file (w/o ext) - by default, the frames file name is set based on the name of your scene. If you want to create a unique name and/or you need to customize naming for the output according to your pipeline, you can set your own name for the output file.

Extension - a format for the output file(s) is the same as in your settings in the scene. However, if you want to change the extension to a different one, you can choose from the available options, i.e: BMP, IRIS, PNG, JPEG, TGA, RAW TGA, CINEON, DPX, MULTILAYER, EXR, HDR, TIFF

settings before adding a scene to the render queue: priority, version, retries

Priority - before adding your scene to the render queue, please decide how you want to prioritize your job. Depending on the queue and traffic, a higher priority may allow your job to quickly acquire nodes to render your project faster. Each priority has a different rate and gives you a different number of nodes - a detailed list can be found here:https://garagefarm.net/pricing 

Version - by default, the version of Blender is set as the same one you have used on your PC to upload your project via our plugin. However, if you need to use a different version of Blender than the one detected, then you can choose a specific version available in the list.

Retries - the value for this option is set to 2 by default. This means that if a rendering process fails or the software crashes, our system will perform two additional rendering attempts. We recommend leaving this option set to default (value 2) as this is the optimal setting to retry rendering in case of random 3d party software errors.

settings before adding a scene to the render queue: group of render nodes

Node groups - depending on the priority you choose for your job, you have two options:

  • 62 GB RAM - these are CPU node type 1 or GPU node
  • 121 GB RAM - these are CPU node type 4; CPU node type 2 or GPU node

The full technical specification of nodes can be found here: https://garagefarm.net/pricing 

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If you know that your scene requires more than 62 GB RAM, then when adding a scene to the queue select only the group with 121 GB RAM to render your project optimally only on nodes with more RAM. If you need to use other node types, please contact our support.

settings before adding a scene to the render queue: advances settings

Advanced settings

  • Job dependencies - if you want to start rendering this job after finishing another job that is in the queue, you can select it in this field. As a result, the current job will not start until the selected dependency job has finished.
  • Custom node version - if you need a different setup (e.g. custom software version), put here the value you received from our support. Note that inputting a wrong number may cause errors. 
  • Custom script - if your job requires modification of the environment or adding a custom script (prepared by our support team), e.g. plugin installation, select the available .bat script from the list.

NOTE

These advanced settings are empty by default, please do not modify them without consulting support first.

settings before adding a scene to the render queue: render device, rendering engine, path tracing, camera, strips, fpe (frames per execution)

Render device - depending on your preferences and the specifics of the project, you can use one of two options: CPU or GPU.

Rendering engine - our plugin automatically detects the render engine that you have used in your project. If you need to change this setting, you can do it without sending the project again by changing the engine to one available from the list.

Supported renderers: Cycles, Blender Internal, Blender game, V-Ray, LuxCoreRender.

Cycles path tracing samples - if you need to increase or decrease these settings, you can do it by changing the value in this field.

By default, the option available in Web Manager is only for Path Tracing because it's more popular. Please note that if you use Branched Path Tracing in your scene, your Branched Path Tracing samples will remain unchanged and will be used on the farm accordingly.

Camera - if you use several cameras in your scene, you can select the one you want to use to render your project. Moreover, if you want to render several cameras using the same scene, you do not need to send your scene again, just clone your job and select a different camera from your project. Then set the proper settings for the next job based on the same scene.

Strips - this is our custom distributed rendering system. It’s designed especially for high-resolution still shots. It works with all rendering engines and for both render devices (CPU and GPU). Depending on which settings you choose, submitting your scene with this mode creates two jobs: render and merge. 

This option allows you to choose the number of strips that will be used when rendering your job. You can choose from options: 4 (2x2); 16 (4x4); 25 (5x5); 64 (8x8). If you leave the value set to 1, then your job/frame will be rendered on one node. Otherwise, each strip (part of your frame) will be assigned to one node. You have to remember that the number of strips is strictly dependent on the resolution you have set. If your resolution does not have many divisors, please try to modify the height/width values of the resolution.

Frames per execution - this option is only available for animations. By default, the value for this option is set to 1. This means that each frame will be rendered as a new execution (the scene will be loaded every time on each node).

The FPE (Frames Per Execution) option allows you to render several frames (the value you put in) in a row without a need to reload the scene on a render node, and potentially may improve rendering efficiency. If your scene has a long loading time but a short rendering time, you can set FPE to a higher value (for example 4). If the loading time is not long but the rendering time is long, leave this value as default or set it to 1.

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If you are rendering single-shot/one frame in high resolution, we recommend using the "Strips" option - this is our custom distributed rendering system that allows you to render one frame on several nodes at the same time!

settings before adding a scene to the render queue: job node limit, paused state, submit & cancel button

Job node limit - by default, the value for this option is empty and so the nodes are assigned automatically depending on the priority set for your job and depending on the nodes availability on the farm. Nevertheless, if you want to limit the number of nodes for a given job, please put here the value of the maximum number of nodes you want to be used while rendering.

Add job as paused - if you tick this option and then submit your job, it will be added with the status “paused”. This means that it will not start rendering automatically. It is worth using this option if you intend to add your scene to the queue, but you do not intend to render it at the moment - after adding a "paused" job, you can resume it at any time by selecting the "resume job" option (right-click on the job).

Submit - selecting this button will immediately add your scene to the render queue. Please remember to check all settings before choosing this option!

Cancel - if you do not want to add a scene to the render queue or you want to reset your settings and add the scene again, you can use this option. The submission window with the settings for the given job will be closed and all changes will be cancelled.

6. Monitor render progress

After giving your render settings a final check and choosing your preferred priority hit Submit to add your job to the render queue. If you’re a first time user, you will have received $25 worth of credit to test out our service. The credits should be enough to run a few test jobs and get you familiar with the service. 

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You can right click on the job to get additional options: change priority, pause job, kill job, clone job, and archive job.

NOTE

The estimate is based on the currently finished frames, and is an approximation at that point. Rendering a test as prompted in the plugin (using a step i.e. 1to100s10) is highly recommended for more accurate estimates and for detecting potential errors.

jobs added to render queue and options available under right mouse button

When the job has started rendering, you can check the real-time progress of currently processed frames. To do that, just select the render job from the main project list and then click the arrow on the top right side to open the progress panel.

Web Manager progress panel showing currently rendering frames

The Progress Panel (the panel on the right side of the screen) will show its content only when any of the jobs is selected. The panel is divided into 3 sections. 

Active frames - it shows currently rendering frames. When a frame finishes, it is moved to the second section Done frames. If you select any frame in the Done frames list, you can then access the render output process log in the bottom section called Process results

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When you’re in the Progress Panel and right click on any of the currently rendering frames in the “Active frames” section, you can access the real-time render log from our nodes.

NOTE

Please keep in mind that if a job has finished rendering, the frames list in the “Active frames” section will be empty because all frames are already rendered and the list is moved to “Done frames”.

real-time render log from our node accessible in the “Active frames” section under RMB

7. Download and review frames

Each frame that has completed rendering is downloaded automatically to your local drive to a directory you selected in the renderBeamer application. If you’re not sure where your download folder is located, you can double check it or change it in renderBeamer’s settings (click on the cogwheel). Also, make sure you have auto download turned on to get the frames downloaded as soon as they are available. If this box is unchecked, you will have to click on each job in Beamer's "downloads" tab, and manually download the frames. 

renderBeamer default settings with auto download ON

If you prefer more control over what to download and when, you can also download your frames manually. To do that, just turn off auto download switch in renderBeamer settings and go to the “downloads” tab. Next, select the desired render output using a checkbox, and click the download button. 

renderBeamer downloading frames for a selected render job

This kind of workflow will download all rendered frames for the selected job or jobs. However, renderBeamer also gives you an option to download individual frames. To do that, you need to use the list files function under RMB. 

renderBeamer listing files option for selected render job

Once files for the selected job are listed, just roll down the list and select the files you’d like to download using checkboxes. Next, use the same download button.

renderBeamer downloading only selected frames from a render job

Once your frames are downloaded, you can use open directory option under RMB to open the folder where frames are saved. 

Note

Please make sure you keep renderBeamer running whenever you have jobs rendering to get the frames downloaded right away. It may happen, however, that your frames aren’t downloading in the given moment, and most likely that’s because our application checks for the files on the server in 15 minute cycles and it is currently in between the cycles. You can click refresh list to force the check without waiting for the next cycle.

8. Purchase credits

When you use up all your trial credits, you’ll need to charge your account to continue using the service. Please note that when your balance goes below $0, you won’t be able to download rendered frames or start new render jobs. You can make payments in the Billing panel in Web Manager. We accept debit cards, credit cards, PayPal and DotPay payments.

If your rendering needs are high or you plan to render regularly, please make sure to check out our volume discounts.

billing panel where you can buy credits, view cost & payment history, and view discounts

9. Contact us anytime

You can talk to the GarageFarm.NET’s tech team any time of the day, any day of the week. We’re here to help you get started, answer your questions, and assist you in any way. Don’t hesitate to give us a shout.

You can contact us through our live chat accessible in the web dashboard or our desktop app when you log in to your account or message us here through the guest chat.

We also recommend checking out our FAQ page which answers most of the questions new users have.

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