How-To use LightNet: Watcher

LightNet: Watcher is a separate application used for sending commands to the server, managing the server and viewing it's state. It is configured on the Watcher tab in LightNet: Cloud.

LightNet: Watcher interface

The first time you run LightNet: Watcher you will need to initialize the FTP server, which will upload the configuration files. You do this by selecting Server -> Initialize Server on a Watcher that is set to manage the server. You can also toggle Manage The Server on and off via the Server menu.

By simply dropping a scene and/or content archive into the Watched Folder, the managing Watcher will upload the scene and add it into the render queue.

A Watch Folder is designed to be the method for getting scenes onto the server. By simply dropping a scene and/or content archive (zip file) into the Watched Folder, the managing Watcher will upload the scene and add it into the render queue. The Watch folder and check interval are set in LightNet: Cloud. This means you should leave a Watcher set to "Manage the server" running at all times, but should only have one managing Watcher per Watch Folder.

When minimized, LightNet: Watcher becomes a tray icon. Double clicking that icon will re-open it.

Do not make the check interval too short, the more often it checks, the more pressure it puts on the server.

If you have a work network and a home network you can have a Watch Folder at home and a Watch Folder at work. You could also have multiple Watch Folders at home or at work with different managing Watchers. Any computer can be a Watcher and any folder can be a Watched folder.

The simplest and ideal configuration is to have one Watched Folder on the onsite network that all workstations can see... And a Watched Folder should be on offsite networks only if necessary. The fewer Watched Folders and fewer managing Watcher, the better.

The Watcher uses the watched folder to save commands, check the server, upload scene data, remove completed scenes from the queue and manage the order of scenes. All commands and stored locally in the watch folder until the managing Watcher checks the sever, then it executes the commands. Any Watcher can submit a command, but only the managing watcher will execute the command.

The simplest and ideal configuration is to have one Watched Folder on the onsite network that all workstations can see. All LightNet: Cloud systems should be set to view this watched folder, but only one should be set to manage the folder. This way, anyone one the local network can drop scenes into the Watch Folder and the scene will get rendered. And a Watched Folder should be on offsite networks only if necessary. The fewer Watched Folders and fewer managing Watcher, the better.

Commands

Watcher has several tools for manipulating the render queue and the files on the FTP server. All of these tools work the same way. Commands are stored in simple text files in the Watch Folder. When a manging Watcher checks the server, it reads these commands and executes them. This way any computer that has access to that Watch Folder can send commands but only the managing Watcher will execute them.

The commands can be written manually by editing _off_site.txt for the offsite queue or _on_site.txt for the onsite queue. After adding the command simply safe the text file and the next time a managing Watcher checks the server it will execute the commands.

Manually Entering Commands

There are three commands; add, remove and top.

Add adds frames, it does not add a scene. To add a scene you must drop the scene and it's content into the watch folder, from there the Watcher will upload it and add it to the queue automatically. By default it will use the scene's current start and end frames. If you want to add more frames or render a different set of frames you would use the "add" command as fallows:

add
(scene name).lws
(content directory - path or zip file)
(startframe)
(endframe)

 

To remove a scene from the queue, use the remove command. This will remove a scene that is already in the queue from the queue. It applies to all of the queue listings of that scene. So if you have a scene in the queue multiple times, with different frame ranges for example, all of the scenes will be removed. Again, this does not "remove" the scene from the sever, only from the rendering queue. It works as follows:

remove
(scene name).lws

 

To organize the queue you can use the top command. The "top" command will push the named scene to the top of the queue. This will move a scene that is already in the queue to the top of the queue. It applies to all of the queue listings of that scene. So if you have a scene in the queue multiple times, with different frame ranges for example, all of the scenes will be sent to the top.To use it type:

top
(scene name).lws

 

GUI Tools

Starting with v1.8, there are now GUI tools that build the commands for you. The work-flow of these tools are all the same.

Starting with v1.8, there are now GUI tools that build the commands for you. The work-flow of these tools are all the same. When you first click one, it will get a list of available scenes from the server and then present them in a drop-down box. Select the scene you'd like to execute the command on and clicked “Get Info” or “Go” depending on the tool. This will get all of the scene information from the server and populate the tool with that information, which you can then manipulate. Once you have all of the setting the way you want them click OK and it will generate the command in the appropriate command file or execute the command depending on the tool. If you are using the tool from a Watcher that is set to manage the server, then it will automatically execute all commands once you press OK. If you press Cancel, nothing with happen, even if you have clicked “Get Info” or “Go” and fields have been populated. Nothing happens if you press Cancel.

Bellow is a detailed breakdown of each of the GUI tools. Please read the above paragraph to understand the work-flow of the tools.

Add frames for a scene to the render queue (Render Queue -> Add Scene to Queue)

LightNet: Watcher interface

This will add frames to the queue for a scene that is already on the server. To add a scene to the server, you must drop it in the Watch Folder and have the managing Watcher upload it.

Select a scene from the list and click Go. This will populate the form with all of the default settings found in the scene. You can then make any alterations to the defaults settings.

Send a scene to the top of the render queue (Render Queue -> Send Scene to Top)

LightNet: Watcher interface

To organize the queue you can use the top command. This will move a scene that is already in the queue to the top of the queue. It applies to all of the queue listings of that scene. So if you have a scene in the queue multiple times, with different frame ranges for example, all of the scenes will be sent to the top.To use it type:

Select the scene from the list and click Go. The only option here is onsite or offsite; these are two different command files so be sure to select the correct one. Clicking Go will get the default setting from the scene file, but if you have moved the scene to the offsite queue after you have uploaded it, you must select offsite to move it to the top and vice versa.

Delete a scene from the render queue (Render Queue -> Remove Scene from Queue)

LightNet: Watcher interface

This will remove a scene that is already in the queue from the queue. It applies to all of the queue listings of that scene. So if you have a scene in the queue multiple times, with different frame ranges for example, all of the scenes will be removed.

This only removes the frames from the queue, the files are still left on the server. To remove a scene from the queue, use the Purge Scene tool (discussed bellow).

Select the scene from the list and click Go. The only option here is onsite or offsite; these are two different command files so be sure to select the correct one. Clicking Go will get the default setting from the scene file, but if you have moved the scene to the offsite queue after you have uploaded it, you must select offsite to remove the scene and vice versa.

Purge a scene from the server (Server -> Purge a Scene)

LightNet: Watcher interface

This will completely remove the scene and all associated files from the server, including all output files and log files, but not the content zip file. This will not remove a scene listing from the queue. If the scene is still rendering, remove the scene from the queue using the Remove Scene command before purging it.

Select the scene from the list and click Go. This will go through a series of steps to generate a list of actions for the Watcher to execute. Any Watcher, whether it is set to manage the server or not, will execute these actions. Do not manipulate the list of actions unless you understand what they represent. Unless you have a specific reason to do otherwise, you can simply click OK to purge the scene and it's files from the server.

The actions for the Purge command format is as follows:

(dir or file)|FTPpath

Notice the entries are separated by a |

If the first entry is dir, it means the location is a directory. If it is file, it means the entry is a file. Directories can only be deleted if they are empty, so the dir entry in the list must be after all the files in that directory.

The FTPpath has to be the full path from the root of the FTP server.

A useful technique you can use to purge multiple scene files at once is to copy the actions list from one scene into an open Notepad file. Get the listing for another scene and copy and paste that at the bottom of the Notepad file. Do this for all the scenes you wish to purge. Finally copy and paste the entire list from Notepad to the Purge action list and then click OK. This will execute the commands to purge all the scene files you have copied and pasted to the Notepad file.

You can also delete lines from the action list to prevent files from being removed from the server. If you want to keep the log files on the server, but remove everything else, just delete the lines that have the log files from the action list and they will not be removed from the server.

Download Output (Server -> Download a Scene)

LightNet: Watcher interface

This will download all of the output from a scene to a local folder. When you first click Download Output, you will be presented with a folder selection dialog. All of the output on the server will be download to the folder you select.

Select the scene from the list and click Go. This will go through a series of steps to generate a list of actions for the Watcher to execute. Any Watcher, whether it is set to manage the server or not, will execute these actions. Do not manipulate the list of actions unless you understand what they represent. Unless you have a specific reason to do otherwise, you can simply click OK to download the scene and it's files from the server to a local directory.

The actions for the Download command format is as follows:

LocalPath|FTPpath

Notice the entries are separated by a |

The first entry is the full path from the root of your local computer and the second entry is the full path from the root of the FTP server.

Only download one scene at a time, do not attempt to download multiple scenes in a way similar to purging multiple scenes described above.

Check for frame Gaps (Server -> Check for Frame Gaps)

LightNet: Watcher interface

This will get a list of output RGB files from server and see if there are any numerical gaps. If there are frame gaps, it will create a series of commands to add the missing frames to the queue.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The gap checker only works if there is a non numeric number between the file name and the frame number on the final RGB file output. So if a scene is set to render out frames named Scene01, then the output will be Scene010001.tga, Scene010002.tga, Scene010002.tga, etc. This will confuse the gap checking tool. So put a non-numeric character like _ at the end of your output if you have Preserve Output Prefix; Scene01_ rather than Scene01.

Select the scene from the list and click Go. The gap checker will then get a list of output files and strip the scene number from the file names. It will report The start frame and the last frame it found then it will check to see if there are any frames missing in that range. If there are frames missing, it will build a series of add commands based on the default settings found in the scene file to add the missing frames to the queue and send them to the top. You can modify this list of commands if you wish before you click OK.