FAQ

General

Supported Software

What 3rd party software does Deadline support?

Deadline efficiently manages network processing from a variety of sources - see the complete listing of Supported Software for more information.

Do I have to install the rendering software on all the render nodes?

Strictly speaking, yes. Deadline simply controls the render applications when network rendering, so the applications must already be installed. However, in the case of Linux, many VFX studios choose to install their software to a network location. See here for more information on Network Installed Applications.

Can we create our own plug-ins for Deadline?

Yes, and the Deadline team encourages you to do so. You can create your own plug-ins and scripts and we initially refer you to our SDK Scripting Overview for more information.

Do I have to license the rendering software on all the render nodes?

This depends on the rendering software. Some renderers require licenses for network rendering (VRay for Maya), while others do not (Mental Ray for 3ds Max). It is best to confirm with each application’s Support or Sales team to confirm what the licensing requirements are for network rendering.

Note that Deadline does not control the licensing for any of the applications it supports, so the licensing must be in place prior to network rendering.

Which Remoting Software is Supported By Deadline?

Deadline currently supports VNC, Radmin, Apple Remote Desktop and Remote Desktop Connection via Python scripts in the Deadline Monitor. Additionally, we have a Mobile application for remote viewing, which is available on iPhone, Android, and Windows Phone devices.

Licensing

How much does Deadline cost?

If you are running two slaves or less, Deadline is free. If you are running more than two slaves, the license fee per operating system [not per CPU] is required, and includes 1 year of support, maintenance and upgrades. See our Product Pricing for more information, or contact Thinkbox Sales for a custom quote. Note, you can run multiple slaves on an operating system (on a physical or virtual machine) and it will use a total of 1 x slave license.

Usage Based Licensing is also available for purchase from the Thinkbox Store.

Is annual renewal of Deadline Maintenance & Support required?

The Deadline Sales team encourages the purchase of an up-to-date Maintenance & Support contract which includes access to software updates and beta programs. A support contract is not required for the continued use of Deadline after the first year. Note, Draft (Image Process Automation Toolkit) & Balancer applications are licensed against your active annual support contract.

What is Usage Based Licensing?

Usage Based Licensing is a new on-demand licensing model that was introduced in Deadline 8. It can be used as an alternative to traditional floating licenses, or as supplemental licensing to cover temporary increases in render nodes (cloud burst compute, rentals, artist machines overnight, etc). Note that at this time, Usage Based Licensing is only available for Deadline Slave licensing. It is NOT currently available for the Balancer, or for Draft, Quick Draft, and Jigsaw.

Not only is Usage Based Licensing available to license Deadline, is can also be used to license select 3rd party products when using Deadline to render them. See the Usage Based Licensing documentation for more information.

See the Usage Based Licensing FAQ below for additional questions.

What is LICENSE-FREE MODE?

LICENSE-FREE MODE allows you to run up to two Deadline Slaves without purchasing a license, and is intended for anyone that has one or two machines that they would like to utilize for rendering without purchasing a license for a whole render farm.

In other words, this means two Deadline render nodes are completely free of charge!

IMPORTANT!

The two free render nodes of the License-Free Mode DO NOT COUNT towards a purchase of Deadline! In other words, if you need three licenses, you must purchase three, not one!

If you decide to run more than two Slave instances, you must purchase one or more licenses - one for each OS instance you will be running Deadline Slaves on.

License-Free Mode counts the Deadline Slave instances registered with the Repository. Commercial licenses are counted per physical/virtual machine (anything running an operating system), allowing you to launch multiple Deadline Slave instances on a single computer and share a single Deadline license.

However, in License-Free Mode you can connect only up to two Deadline Slave instances to the Repository before a license is required. It does not matter where these Deadline Slave instances are running. In other words, if you attempt to launch three Deadline Slave instances from a single physical machine, a license will be required. Once a license is purchased, only ONE license will be used by these three Deadline Slave instances if running on the same physical machine.

What Is Not Supported In License-Free Mode?

The following advanced features are included only with a FULL commercial license and are dependent on an active Support And Maintenance contact:

  • VMX/Balancer - the Virtual Machine Extension can be used to spin up and shut down Virtual Machine instances in multiple Cloud regions depending on demand.
  • Draft/QuickDraft - the command-line compositing application can be used for file format conversion, image resizing, creation of slates, templates, videos etc.
  • JIGSAW - multi-region rendering for 3ds Max, Maya, Modo and Rhino allows the splitting of a large image or animation into arbitrary regions, or the re-rendering of multiple changed regions without rendering the whole image again. This feature depends on DRAFT.

Which Deadline applications require a license?

Only the Deadline Slave and Balancer applications require a license, so you can submit and monitor your render jobs from as many machines as you like without additional licenses.

Note that multiple Deadline Slave licenses running on the same operating system (physical or virtual) will share a single license, making the licensing per operating system.

How many Deadline licenses do I need to purchase?

Licensing is per operating system. Thus, the number of licenses required depends directly on the number of operating systems (on Physical or Virtual Machines) that will be running Deadline Slaves, not on the number of Deadline Slave instances. The License-Free Mode though is still dependent on the number of Deadline Slaves registered with the Repository. If more than two Deadline Slaves are connected to the Repository, the License-Free Mode will be turned off and the Deadline Slaves will start looking for commercial licenses. At that point, the number of operating systems comes into play.

Here are some examples:

Operating Systems Slave Instances Per OS Total Slave Instances Total Licenses Required
1 1 1 0 (License-Free Mode)
1 2 2 0 (License-Free Mode)
2 1 2 0 (License-Free Mode)
1 3 3 1
2 2/1 3 2
2 2 4 2
3 1 3 3
3 2 6 3
3 3 9 3
3 4 12 3
10 4 40 10

In short, when rendering on 10 operating systems with 4 Deadline Slave instances on each operating system, 10 licenses are required.

Does the FLEXlm license server need to run on the same machine that the Deadline Repository is installed on?

No. The FLEXlm license server can run on any machine in your network. For instructions on setting up the license server, please read our License Server Configuration Documentation.

What happens if the Deadline license server goes down?

The Deadline Slave will continue to run if the license server goes down. However, it will be unable to pick up render jobs until the license server comes back online. The Slave can also start up if the license server is down, but again, it will be unable to pick up render jobs until the license server comes back online.

Does a Deadline Slave license always get used when Deadline Slave is running?

No. A Deadline Slave only “holds” its license during rendering. When idle, it will first try to check out a license before it looks for a task. If no task is found, it returns the license until the next check. So, you can potentially have more Slaves running “idle” then Slave licenses you may own.

Usage Based Licensing

Do I have to use Usage Based Licensing with Deadline 8?

No. Usage Based Licensing is an alternative licensing model. You can choose to use traditional floating licenses, usage based licensing, or a combination of the two. Check out the Licensing Documentation to determine which licensing model is right for you!

How do I purchase render time?

Usage Based Licensing is available for purchase from the Thinkbox Store.

Why do I have to pre-pay for render time?

Pre-paying for render time has its advantages:

  • You can budget a specific amount for your render time usage. If you need to purchase more render time later, you can determine ahead of time if it will still fit your budget.
  • It ensures that you never go over budget. You have the peace of mind of knowing that you’ll never rack up an expensive bill when leaving the render farm unattended for an extended period of time (overnight or weekends).
  • It means that Thinkbox doesn’t need to run financial checks for clients that want to use usage-based render time, which would be required for a monthly billing system.

We will likely offer a monthly billing system in the future, but for now, you must pre-pay for render time.

How do I monitor the render time usage?

Render time usage can be monitored from the Thinkbox Customer Portal. Your Customer Portal account will automatically be created when you make your first purchase from the Thinkbox Store. You can then log into the Customer Portal to view render time usage.

What are the “enable_usage” and “auto_provisioning” entitlements for?

When your Thinkbox Customer Portal account is first created, it will have entitlements for “enable_usage” and “auto_provisioning” created automatically.

The “enable_usage” entitlement is important because it’s what allows remote machines (the Deadline render nodes in this case) to connect to your Cloud License Server and consume render time minutes. This entitlement will contain the Activation Code that is required when configuring Deadline to use UBL.

When your Thinkbox Portal account was created, the “auto_provisioning” entitlement was created to automatically trigger the creation of your Cloud License Server. It serves no other purpose, and can simply be ignored.

See the Usage Based Licensing documentation for more information.

Installation

What are the system requirements for Deadline?

See the System Requirements documentation for more information.

What is the Deadline Repository?

The Deadline Repository is a collection of files and folders that stores various Deadline information which is accessed via a shared network path. It is NOT a program.

The Repository stores the plugins, scripts, logs, and any auxiliary files (like scene files) that are submitted with the jobs. The jobs, settings, and slave configurations are all stored in the Database.

** What is the Deadline Database?**

The MongoDB Database component allows Deadline to easily manage tens of thousands of jobs and scale across thousands of nodes, while also offering asynchronous access for efficient work even over remote connections.

All frequently accessed data, like jobs, settings, and Slave configurations, are now stored in the Database. This makes accessing this data much faster and more reliable, while placing a much smaller load on your network.

How many machines do I install the Deadline Repository and Database on?

The Repository and Database only need to be installed on one machine, preferably running a server operating system. Note that they are separate components though, and can be installed on separate machines if desired.

If you choose to have the Repository installer install the Database for you, then they will be placed on the same machine. If preferred, you can manually install the MongoDB Database on a separate machine, and then point the Repository installer to it during the installation.

How many machines do I install the Deadline Client on?

The Deadline Client includes all the applications required for submitting, monitoring, and rendering jobs. So it should be installed on all of your workstations and render nodes.

If you decide to run Pulse, Balancer, Web Service, Proxy Server, or License Forwarder, you need to install the Client on the chosen machine as well. If you choose to run Pulse or Balancer on the Repository machine, you’ll need to install the client on the Repository machine.

Do I have to install the Deadline Client on the Repository machine?

This is only necessary if you plan to run Pulse, Balancer, Web Service, Proxy Server, or License Forwarder, on the Repository machine, or if you wish for the Repository machine to participate in rendering or job submission. It is never recommended to render on the repository/database machine as this machine should be dedicated to controlling your queue.

Is it possible to install the repository share on a NAS drive?

Yes. See the Database and Repository Installation section of the manual for more details on how to do this.

When installing or upgrading the Deadline Repository, do I have to run the installer on the Repository machine itself?

While it’s recommended that you run the installer from the Repository machine, it is possible to run the installer from a remote machine providing that the destination path is network accessible.

Note that if you choose to have the Repository installer install the Database, be aware that it will install the Database to the machine that you are running the installer on (even if you are pointing to a network share for the Repository installation).

Do I have to reinstall the Deadline Client, Repository, or Database to upgrade the software?

This depends on if you’re installing a major or minor upgrade. Major upgrades (Deadline 7 to Deadline 8) require reinstallations of the Repository and Clients. Minor upgrades (Deadline 7.0 to 7.1) can be performed by simply upgrading the Repository. See the Upgrading documentation for more information.

Is there any benefit to running more than one instance of Pulse or Balancer?

Multiple Pulses or Balancers can be run for redundancy.

Client Connection Issues

The Deadline applications are unable to connect to the Database.

Check that the MongoDB database is running, and that a firewall isn’t blocking communication.

Also, check the host name or IP address that the Client is using to connect, and check to make sure it can access the Database machine using that host name or IP address.

On Mac OS X, the Deadline applications can’t connect to the Repository, and are instead complaining that the ‘bin’ folder cannot be found.

If the repository volume isn’t unmounted properly, it will stay listed in your /Volumes folder. Then the next time you mount the repository, it will append a ‘-1’ to the volume name. For example, instead of being mounted to /Volumes/DeadlineRepository, it will be mounted to /Volumes/DeadlineRepository-1. When this problem occurs, you need to unmount the volume, get rid of the folder it created in /Volumes and then remount it. Volumes can be found in Finder by selecting Go -> Go To Folder (shift, apple, g) and typing in /Volumes. You can do this in terminal as well.

My Slave shows it’s MAC address as FF:FF:FF:FF:FF:FF. What’s wrong?

The issue here has to do with which physical adapter the Slave choses to use as its default at startup. Traditionally, it should make use of the first network adapter that has a usable IP address.

If that address in this case belongs to an adapter with a physical address that has more than six bytes, our parsing mechanism fails and we default to FF:FF:FF:FF:FF:FF. A prime example of this is on Windows, when the Slave chooses the Teredo interface or some other tunnel.

The fix, at least for Teredo, is to disable it. Toredo is used to tunnel IPv4 traffic over an IPv6 address, so if your network is currently IPv4 only, disabling it will have no negative effect. You can do so with the following command:

c:\> netsh interface teredo set state

and re-enable it with:

c:\> netsh interface teredo set state client teredo.ipv6.microsoft.com 60 34567

A restart of the Slave application will be needed for these changes to take effect.

Rendering

Can Deadline split up a sequence of images across multiple machines?

Yes. For a render job, image sequences can be split up into one or more frames per task, and each task can be rendered concurrently by one or more Slaves.

Can Deadline create movies from rendered frame sequences?

Yes. Movies can be generated using Deadline’s Quicktime plugin, or through Draft, which is a compositing and video processing tool designed to automate typical post-render tasks.

Can Deadline split up a single image across multiple machines? In other words, can Deadline do distributed rendering?

Yes. Jigsaw Standalone is a flexible multi-region rendering system for Deadline for 3ds Max, Houdini Maya, modo, and Rhino. It can be used to render regions of various sizes for a single frame, and in 3ds Max, it can be used to track and render specific objects over an animation.

Draft can then be used to automatically assemble the regions into the final frame or frames. It can also be used to automatically composite re-rendered regions onto the original frame.

Jigsaw is built into the 3ds Max, Houdini, Maya, modo, and Rhino submitters, and with the exception of 3ds Max, Jigsaw viewport will be displayed in a separate window.

Original ‘Tile Rendering’ support is still present in Deadline and for applications which are unable to utilize the advanced functionality of Jigsaw.

My job gets picked up, but the job is turning red and no frames are being saved.

When your job starts to turn red, it’s a sign that errors are accumulating for the job. You can take a look at the job’s errors from the right-click menu in the Job List in the Deadline Monitor. Usually, the error reports will contain useful information explaining what the error is.

If you aren’t sure what an error report means, you can email it to our support team and we’ll be more than happy to take a look!

Why isn’t my job getting picked up at all?

There can be many reasons for this:

  • The job has a lower priority than other jobs in the queue.
  • The job has been assigned to a Pool or Group that no Slaves are assigned to.
  • The job has a Whitelist or a Blacklist that prevents it from rendering on available Slaves.
  • The job has been assigned to one or more Limits, and a Limit is either maxed out, or a Limit has a Whitelist or a Blacklist that prevents it from rendering on available Slaves.

To determine which Slaves a job can render on (based on Pools, Groups, Limits, etc), you can enable the Job Candidate Filter in the Slave List in the Monitor. When enabled, the Slave list will automatically be filtered to show which Slaves can render the selected job.