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Using any version of Bryce 5.0-7.0, is there a way to network render a scene, instead of having to render an animation?
Oh yes, there is. I'm using it often and do only stills. Important thing here is to enable Tile Optimization (which is not necessary for animation because each frame is a tile). Tiles are 100 x 100 pixels. Lightning 2 works a bit differently than v1 that came with Bryce 5.
The older version rendered automatically on the host (where the scene is), this is not the case anymore. You have to start Lightning on this machine as well. There is no priority setting in Lightning. The Priority setting on the machine with the scene is taken by all clients running Lightning.
So then we are talking about Bryce 6- Up?
Yes. Bryce 5.0 had v1.0, Bryce 5.5 v2.0, Bryce 6.0 v2.0b and Bryce 6.1 v2.0c. We're still at 2.0c in Bryce 7.1 Pro.
Other than selecting Tile Optimization, what else do I need to do?
1. Start Lightning on all clients you wish to use and on the rendering machine
2. Set priority as appropriate, usually high. High uses up to 8 cores, Normal half of all cores, max 8, and Low 1 core.
3. File > Render Animation (even though it's a still).
4. In the pop-up, select Entire Duration
a. Output Module (down arrow) BMP Sequence
b. Quality 100%
c. Set File Location and give the resulting file a name
d. Enable Render on Network
e. Click on Configure
5. The Network Render Settings opens
a. Click on Search. This may take a moment until all clients running Lightning on the network are found. They are filled in the Client List.
b. select the ones you want to use. This would usually be all. However, if you have a second instance of Bryce open with another network render job, you can select only a part of the clients in the list and on the second instance, select the others. In this manner, you can render more than one project over the network at the same time.
c. Enable Use Tile Optimization.
d. You can Save Client List by ticking the option. Next time you open the Network Render Settings, the Client List is already populated and you can click on Update to get the status of the clients. Grey is not selected, white question mark in black dot means status of client unknown, green means ready, orange busy (rendering) and red no response from client.
6. Accept to leave the Network Render Settings dialogue
7. Accept to leave Render Animation dialogue
8. The Network Render Manager opens. Usually, there's only one job and it starts. You can Pause or Cancel a job. Clock on Settings ... to open the Network Render Settings and observe which client does what.
TIP: Run Lightning only on the machine with the scene. The only client is on the same machine, there's no unconnected network cable. Make this work first with a test scene.
If that works, use the other clients. You may get issues with the firewall, which you have to resolve by opening the appropriate TCP and UDP ports.
The source file (br7) is sent to each client, one after the other, and each client that has got it starts rendering a tile. the manager distributes the tiles, gathers the rendered ones and assembles the image.
If a client doesn't have enough memory to hold the source file, you get unexpected results.
Always use the fastest machine for the role of the manager. The slowest machine ends last, chewing on the last tile it got. If the render manager runs on a PC (Windoze), only PCs can be used in the network. If the manager runs on a Mac, Mac and PC can be mixed in the network (never tried, but been told).
Now give it a whorl and if you have specific questions, I'll try to answer them.