Ever tried to render a scene file on your machine via the command line using the 3dsmaxcmd.exe program, just to save some time loading up the entire program only to hit F9 for a single frame, but then the program fails at frame 0, prior to any rendering?
The reason might be you might be missing Backburner on your machine.
Even though you’re not actually network rendering and you have everything installed properly, if Backburner is missing, this error will surely pop up.
I spent quite a few hours figuring this one out when it worked just fine on my company machines, but it wasn’t rendering on my home workstation.
So, simply run the 3ds Max installation and add Backburner only. Nothing else is needed. You should be fine afterwards.