duber.cz is 8 today!

loocas | miscellaneous | Sunday, August 7th, 2011

07th of August, 2003 at 23:26:00, I registered the domain name duber.cz, the home of duber studio. :)

So, happy birth day, duber.cz!

Shotgun, a really powerful tool

loocas | miscellaneous,opinions,software | Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

I’ve been really lucky to have been able to use Shotgun as a developer for some time now (getting to know the API, integrating it into 3ds Max pipelines, etc…).

Now, for the first time, I’ve actually tried to use it on a production we’re working on here at duber studio. The reason is the sheer amount of shots needed to be done, even though they are not very complicated.

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Transformers 3

loocas | miscellaneous,opinions | Tuesday, June 28th, 2011

Transformers 3

I think I jizzed in my pants…

Go see this VFX miracle. It’s the holy grail for VFX enthusiasts and artists.

How much RAM is “enough”?

loocas | hardware,miscellaneous,opinions,technical | Monday, June 27th, 2011

RAM usage

I’m actually scared by the fact that even 24GB of RAM isn’t enough for a high-end workstation these days. And I’m talking about projects up to a maximum of full HD resolution! I don’t even consider 2K or, hell, 4K projects at the moment as I primarily work on TV commercials etc…

This is very interesting as I remember every time I upgraded the amount of RAM of my workstation, I was very pleased with the performance and the amounts of available memory every time I worked on something. But then, not long after, I started to reach the limits of the system’s resources.

The thing is, when you reach the cap of your CPU, or GPU for that matter, your renders just take a bit longer to finish. But as soon as you reach the RAM limit, your apps start crashing and the entire system becomes unstable! So, it is a bit of a problem.

I started reaching the limits not long ago when I had tons of apps open at the same time. Especially Nuke, Max, VMWare Workstation and Photoshop. But on recent projects I started reaching the cap with Nuke and Photoshop alone! It’s terrifying as it suggests that no matter how much RAM I put in the system, it will never be enough!

So, it seems that my next workstation upgrade will, indeed, be a RAM boost. Not sure I’ll be able to buy the full 96GB of ECC RAM at once, but, I’m certain I’ll get there very soon.

Creating 3ds Max deployments

loocas | 3ds Max,miscellaneous,software,technical | Monday, June 27th, 2011

A very informative post on the Autodesk forums about making 3ds Max deployments.

I planned to do a similar how-to here, on this blog, in the future. Possibly a videotutorial, so, stay tuned… ;)

Virtualizing the render farm

loocas | miscellaneous,opinions,software,technical | Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

So far I haven’t had much luck transforming my render farm to a fully virtualized environment for easier management of the render nodes’ software config.

I’ve tried Microsoft’s Hyper-V technology at first as it seemed like the easiest path, but I couldn’t have achieved what I’ve wanted from the setup:

  • Startup of the render nodes
  • Have all the render nodes boot up to a centralized virtual OS
  • Render tasks
  • Shutdown

I’ve even tried the SCVMM, but it was way too complex and complicated so I didn’t actually spend too much time fiddling with it.

I’m currently looking at my #2 option (mainly due to added cost and software layers), VMWare. Especially the VMWare View and vSphere products.

So, no virtualization tips from me right now, all is still one big work in progress, but I’ll be posting updates as soon as I have them.

Deadline’s Power Management not waking slaves properly

loocas | deadline,miscellaneous,software,technical | Sunday, May 29th, 2011

I recently had a problem with Deadline 5 and its (awesome) Power Management setup. The issue was that the server that was running the Pulse on wasn’t waking my machines up from their shutdown states (WOL).

The weirdest thing was that I was able to wake those machines up from any of my workstations via the Deadline Monitor app, but Pulse wasn’t able to. So, after speaking to the Thinkbox Software support (which is also top-notch and very helpful, by the way), they recommended me a few network traffic sniffing apps to monitor what is going on on the NICs.

The problem was that the NIC connected to the network was not actually sending the magic packet, so, no machines were, obviously, able to receive it. After a bit of further investigation, I found out that the WOL packet was actually being sent through the secondary NIC on the server, which wasn’t physically connected to the switch (mainly because the server also acts as a DC). So, the simplest solution seemed to disable the secondary NIC in Windows and have the primary NIC take care of the whole business.

This, however, presented a lot of trouble. By disabling the secondary adapter, you completely disable the NIC (in Windows, that is), so, with that you also disable any licenses that are bound to that particular adapter’s MAC! After that I wasn’t able to start Nuke, Mari, or even Deadline Slaves!

So, I had to dig deeper. The answer was Interface Metrics. In the Advanced tab under the IP properties, you can manually override Interface Matrics. See the link for more details, but basically, any lower value has higher priority. In my case, the secondary NIC (not physically connected to the switch), got automatically assigned a higher priority matric (a lower value), than the primary NIC. I manually overrode those and voila!, all traffic was being directed through the primary NIC.

To check what settings you’re at, use this command in the command prompt:

netsh interface ip show address

Hope this helps… :)

duber studio buys Mari

loocas | Mari,miscellaneous,software | Thursday, May 12th, 2011

Mari

That’s right, I bought my first license of Mari a week or so ago and have been toying with it since. :)

I’ve been looking for a usable and flexible texture painting app aside from Cinema 4D or Deep Paint (is it still being developed?) that can take on really complex projections and meshes. The way Mari handles its project data and the textures is absolutely fabulous! Oh, and did I mention Mari also sports Python? ;)

Originally I wanted to buy Mari prior to buying a license of Nuke X and Furnace, but then the job I would have needed Mari extensively for got cancelled, unfortunately, so I put it on hold. Then, recently, I saw Frank Rueter’s Nuke/Mari workflow video and immediately fell in love with the idea of software interoperability!

So, after playing with Mari for a few days and bugging the support team at The Foundry (about one undocumented feature of Mari’s command port), I now have everything I need to make Mari and 3ds Max communicate the same way as Frank demos with Nuke in his video.

Anyways, expect at least a preview of the things I’m about to do with Max and Mari in the near future. Stay tuned!

Virtualization, the future for small businesses

loocas | miscellaneous,opinions,technical | Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

After having a very interesting discussion with a friend and collegue of mine, Michal Mocňák, on the topic of IT infrastructure virtualization, I realized that this is something I’ve needed even for my small, but growing “data center”!

The “data center” is still currently offline (except for the license server), so, I’ve been thinking of how to improve upon my previous setup with the future in mind. With a semi-constant grow of my render farm, the management, upgrades, installations and maintenance of the individual machines from the software point of view is becoming more and more problematic. I’ve written a few tools to help me automate the process, but still, managing the actual OS, the actual installed applications, the updates, hotfixes and service packs etc… is a hassle. I currently only have nine nodes in my farm, but being able to abstract from any number of physical machines and be able to easily manage my nodes from a one-person point of view (yeah, I am the only TD/IT guy here :D ) would be a bless!

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studio’s IT infrastructure failure

loocas | hardware,miscellaneous,technical | Thursday, April 28th, 2011

Unfortunately, on tuesday, this week, the primary file server acting also as a domain controller at the studio, failed. The issue was caused by an error on the primary RAID array where the OS was installed. This lead to a complete loss of the OS and the entire studio setup.

I don’t know what caused the problem, but when I returned to the studio, all my machines were restarted, running, but restarted. The Internet Router I used for external access was also down. I had to manually start up some services and buy a new router. Then, when Windows Update popped up on the file server and I hit “Install Updates”, since I figured when it was all down anyways, I may as well update the system. That was the biggest mistake! The server crashed into a BSOD and I had to restart it manually which resulted in the failed RAID array and the complete loss of the OS.

The other issue was with the MD1000 DAS with all the company and projects data on. Since I configured it as a software RAID I lost the complete array with the OS. The data is still on the drives, but I can’t access them, since the OS is down.

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