V-Ray and 3ds Max Distributed Rendering

I often use Autocad and 3d studio max to represent concepts. These tools are terrific for architectural visualization as well as animating complex software/systems associations.
One thing that has proven difficult for me to do was to bring several of my systems together to become a render farm. I use vray as a renderer, and found when adding a node that the spawner kept unsuccessfully starting the minimized 3ds max instance on a render node. The log simply said it couldn’t read rayrc, but that was just not the problem.
Come to find out, if you have never used 3ds max’s backburner application, citing vray as the renderer, you can’t use vray in a DR mode. Once a single frame has been rendered with backburner, you are all set to use vray from then on.
To be clear, 3ds max can only do a NR (Network Render), which means it sends a complete frame (1 if a still) to a single node at a time. That is, if you are doing a single image, only one computer in your farm will be used. The nice thing is that you can designate that that computer not be the master. Unfortunately, 3ds max does not allow DR (Distributed Render), where multiple computers can collaborate on a
single frame/still.
DR is where vray comes in. Aside from being the renderer of choice for architectural visualization, it has a nifty DR engine built in. All or some of your farm can work together on a single image, or if an animation they all work on each frame of the animation together.
For animations, though, this is not a good idea. Why? Well, the benefits of backburner in an animation are just too good to pass up. It allows you to suspend jobs, run them again, take nodes up/down in situ, and a nice monitor to allow you to monitor the performance of each node. Vray doesn’t do any of that. So for animations, use backburner (which allows you to specify vray as your renderer), but for stills definitely use vray.
This way your farm can work at peak performance regardless of what your jobs look like.

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