About LightNet: Cloud

LightNet: Watcher interface

The traditional idea of a network render controller involves having multiple PCs on a local network... Each PC then receives instructions to load and render frames.

LightNet: Cloud is a FTP server based networking rendering controller for Lightwave3D.

The traditional idea of a network render controller involves having multiple PCs on a local network with shared locations such as content directories and output directories. The render controller resided on one of the networked PCs and sends instructions to the others. Each PC then receives instructions to load and render frames.

LightNet: Cloud operates differently.

LightNet: Cloud operates differently. While onsite, local network rendering is still part of the system, it also adds the possibility for offsite PCs to connect via the internet to render content. This is accomplished by using the FTP server to store scene information while the individual PCs operate as their own render controller, so the all scene infromation is centralized on the FTP server, but render controls are localized on each PC.

Offsite PCs connect to the FTP server, gather scene information then downloads and localizes the content into a temporary working directory. From there, the offsite PC, updates the server as to what frames it is rendering, renders the frames and then uploads the output back to the server. Once finished, the user can then download the frames to making into a video format.

Philosophically the reason the system uses an FTP server is because it is designed with the idea of being self controlled with only data being centralized, not control being centralized.

Content is sent to the server via a Watch Folder. A separate application, LightNet: Watcher, checks the watch folder and uploades any scenes and content in the folder to the server, so that putting scenes on the server is as simple as dropping it to the watch folder.

With LightNet: Cloud a studio can render scenes across a network or a group of artists from all over the world can pool their resources easily. Or both can happen at the same time, with onsite and offsite systems working together to form a personal rendering cloud.

Let's say a scene is a big bag of kibble and a bunch of little puppies are the render drones.

Philosophically, the reason the system uses an FTP server is because it is designed with the idea of being self controlled with only data being centralized, not control being centralized. It has pros and cons, but for my money the pros outweigh the cons. For example, a con is that you never really know exactly how many computers are working or what they are working on at a given time because they're each independent. It's not a client/server relationship. That in and of itself is a pro as well, the independent systems just download the information they need and then get to work.

So let's do an analogy (everyone loves those). Let's say a scene is a big bag of kibble and a bunch of little puppies (again, everyone loves those) are the render drones.

With LightNet: Cloud, all you have to do, at any given point, is walk into the kitchen and dump a big bag of kibble on the ground.

The traditional concept of a render farm control would be like all of the puppies coming into the kitchen, lining up and you handing them each a piece of kibble. They take the kibble, and go to the corner to eat it. When they're done, they get back in line and wait for another piece. This goes on until the kibble is all gone. Works great, but it requires you to train all the puppies to get in single file, wait, eat in the corner and then get back in line. And, oh yeah, they all have to be in the house too.

LightNet:Cloud is totally different. With it, your puppies walk into the kitchen every five minutes or so and check for new kibble. All you have to do, at any given point, is walk into the kitchen and dump a big bag of kibble on the ground. When a puppy wonders in, it sees the kibble, grabs it and takes it to another room to eat it. When it finishes it comes back to get another piece. Pretty soon you have all of the puppies all coming in an grabbing pieces of kibble. Well it might only take them a minute to eat it, so they're grabbing five pieces at a time and happily eating it. It's not being parceled out or managed, they're just coming in and getting it.

Of course the only problem with this analogy is if the scene files are kibble, what does that make the final rendered frames?

Now you got a whole bunch of kibble you need eaten? Well you call your friends and tell them you need their dog to help you out. Some have great danes some have chiwawa, not big deal because every little bit helps. They say "okay", let them outside and point them to your back yard. You dump another big bag of kibble outside and all of your friends dogs come and grab a few pieces and head back home to eat them. Now when your kitchen is all cleaned out, all of your puppies wonder outside too and start grabbing kibble. Dump another bag in the kitchen and your puppies come back in and get to work on that while your neighbors puppies are still working on the pile outside.

Of course the only problem with this analogy is if the scene files are kibble, what does that make the final rendered frames?