Submitting Jobs

Below is the most recent video overview discussing how to submit render jobs on Pixel Plow.  The text below the video may be more up to date with current options and features.

Click the Pixel Plow icon in your Systray, Finder, or Dock and choose “Submit Job”.  A simple GUI should appear.  The first thing you should select is the rendering application from the drop-down list.  After you chose an application, a window will appear asking for the scene file that you wish to submit.  It should be noted that it’s always a good idea to save your scene files with relative pathing to any external assets or resources.  Placing those resources in the same directory as your scene or in any subdirectory of the latter enables our software to collect them and deliver them to our farm correctly.  External assets that lie outside of this directory *will not* be detected or transferred, which will typically lead to rendering errors or unwanted output.  Upon your choosing of a scene file, the agent will return to the main window with the name of your scene file displayed below the render application drop-down menu.

Depending on the application selected, there may be additional information needed from you to submit the job.  Application-specific fields will appear if needed.  The Frame List field can contain a single frame number, a frame range separated by a “:”, “-“, or “to”, or any combination of the two separated by commas as displayed in the image above.  If you desire to render every N frames in a range, you may specify that by using any of the following notation: “1:100 by 5”, “1-100-5”, “1 to 100 by 5”, and similar.  We’ll be handling scenarios containing only a single frame as tile renders if either resolution is greater than 1,900 pixels and tiling is available for your chosen render application.  We make an effort not to tile render scenes that have any kind of additional output, multi-pass, or render elements enabled, as our tile stitcher can not stitch those additional files together.

Pick your job power level by moving the slider to your desired value.  The power level controls how many CPU’s we expose to your job at any given time.  When the farm is not burdened, the lowest power level corresponds to a handful of CPU’s, and the highest power level corresponds to all of the CPU’s in the farm.  When the combination of the power levels of all jobs running on the farm exceeds the number of CPU’s in the farm, the power level of each job is proportionally reduced.  That means the power setting also functions like a priority setting when the farm is heavily loaded.  Please keep this in mind when choosing a power level.  Another item worthy of note is that we will only schedule the number of jobs that match the whole number power level of those jobs.  You may upload as many jobs as you wish, but we will only actively schedule 2 jobs when their power levels are 2.x, 3 jobs when their power levels are 3.x, and so on.

If you’d like to specify a rendering budget, please enter that amount in whole US dollars.  Basically, the budget feature allows you to define a monetary limit for your job.  We will run your job up to the budget you specified, then your job will be suspended and you will be notified by email.  The budget feature is quite useful if you wish to automatically prevent the job from exceeding your defined threshold.  Also of note, rendering frames or tiles in Random order will increase the effectiveness of the cost estimate feature.  That is why it is the default Rendering Order.  You may choose Sequential if you desire the frames to be rendered in numerical order starting with the lowest number in the range.  When you are notified by email of a job going over budget, and you elect to cancel the job, you will only be charged the amount you budgeted.

Checking Auto-Power will cause our system to automatically adjust the Power level of your job up or down to complete the job as quickly as possible based on your budget.  Use of Auto-Power requires a budget to be defined as well as the random frame render order.  The Power setting chosen on the slider will be the initial Power level of the job, and Auto-Power will only adjust the Power setting once our system begins generating a Cost Expected.  More information about Auto-Power is discussed below in the “Managing your job queue” section.

Choose an output folder for the rendered frames to be delivered to when they complete.  We advise picking a folder on a local drive to your machine, but UNC paths are also an option.  We strongly advise against the use of virtual folders made available via services like Dropbox, Google Drive, and similar.  Such software interferes with our agents ability to correctly detect when output has been written to a virtual folder, and that often results in missing frames.

Enter your e-mail address so we can send you notifications pertaining to your job and click submit.  If you’d like to have multiple e-mail addresses notified, enter them all in the e-mail address field separated by a semicolon.  Go have a beer, water, tea, coffee, whiskey…name your poison.  You should see an OK button when the job has been submitted.  Clicking OK will display the queue viewer window.  It’s not necessary to keep those windows open for our service to work.  Rendered frames will be silently delivered back to your machine as they are completed.

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