Mental Ray Satellite Setup OS X

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  07 July 2007
Mental Ray Satellite Setup OS X

I spent a half of a day trying to setup Mental Ray Satellite and finally figured it out so I thought I would share the process to anyone that is searching for information the way I was. This setup is specific to OS X and Maya 8.5 (running SP1).

Install MR Satellite on all the "slave" machines that you will be using. You can confirm the installation through the terminal -- check the documentation that comes with the install for the specifics (it's pretty simple.)

Make sure you disable the software firewall (if it's running) in "System Preferences/Sharing" on ALL of the machines.

Next create a plain text document called "maya.rayhosts" and place it in your "/Users/user/Library/Preferences/Autodesk/maya/8.5/prefs". The document should list the machines and the ports they are using. In my case I used the IP address associated with them (though I think you can also use the Machine Name.) It should look something like this:

If you are using a router (in my case its a linksys wireless router -- though I'm not using the wireless connection) make sure to open the correct ports to the machines listed in the "maya.rayhosts" document. The default port for 8.5 is "7106" -- its different for older versions of Maya so be aware. If you plan to change it to something else you need to alter some other files -- check the documentation that came with the MR Satellite install for details.

Make sure your "slave" machines are running and not set to sleep. Launch Maya and choose the Batch Render options tab. Click the "Render on Network Machines" tab at the bottom and then select "Batch Render."

I've noticed that the first frame always takes the longest and then after that once the rendering starts, the subsequent frames seem to go much faster. You have to account for the initialization of MR on all the "slave" machines, but once that has finished the processing is pretty fast.

In my situation (and configuration), I honestly don't think it's a ton faster than just rendering directly from and to the "master" machine but I do notice a small jump in speed -- especially when I choose to render on both the "local" and "network machines" at the same time. Overall I think it's worth it especially if you want to be rendering and free up all the processing power on the "master" machine to continue working.

On another note...

I've also been trying to get Qmaster to work and I've discovered that it doesn't support MR Satellite -- you need to have a licensed version of Maya on every "cluster" machine for Qmaster to do distributed MR processing.

The other thing I cant seem to sort out with Qmaster (and if anyone knows the answer please post a reply) is that when I do a Mental Ray batch it's as if the shaders on the geometry aren't being recognized for some reason. The frames that are rendered are black. The weird thing is that the background (a layered shader network using a sky tile texture) and a particle system using the default particle shader shows up in the final render but the main object in the scene (along with the ground plane) both using "normal" file textures show up black. I'm using Global Illumination and Final Gather. I have default lights turned off and I'm illuminating with an HDRI image. The frame renders fine when I do it using Maya Batch Render (solo or network), but for some reason using Qmaster/Compressor gives me these incomplete frames! It's really driving me crazy trying to figure out why it's doing this.

Anyway, I hope this information can help someone else out there.
  07 July 2007
welcome cty71
Nice summery. Its nice to have this info all in one place.
the only correction I would make is that the firewall does not have to be turned off, just add a service opening port 7106, or whatever port you are using.

  07 July 2007
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