3Ds Max guide: How to start with cloud rendering?

1. Download and install

Log in to Web Manager (our web dashboard) at https://garage.farm and our renderBeamer app for 3ds Max. The download link can be found in the Support panel on the left-hand side of the dashboard.

Support panel where you can download our software and check out tutorials

Install the renderBeamer app and start it. Use the account user ID you received or the email you used to register for your account to log in. Please keep in mind that the app should always be running in the background whenever uploading a project or downloading rendered frames.

2. Prepare the scene (global setup for all 3ds Max render engines)

Open your scene in 3ds Max and prepare it for rendering on a render farm.

  • Set the right resolution, file format with output path and cameras to render.
  • Set required render range. You can select between all available options (single, active time segment, range or selected frames). If you are using multi-camera scene you can set different frame ranges for each camera.
  • Make sure that your scene does not contain any missing assets and caches.
  • Animated textures — animation files (avi/mp4/etc) are not a valid option, also .mov files cannot be used. Please make it a frame sequence (jpg\png or so) and connect as an image sequence. You can use “.ifl” sequence in 3ds Max.
  • External plugins — we support quite a lot of 3ds Max plugins, however, if you are using some untypical add-on, we may need some time to run a test with the plugin & our network rendering system. Also, we check for plugins used in the scene and compare them with our system. In the case when we don’t support some plugins, you will be informed about it automatically upon sending project.
  • Outputs — they need to be configured the same way as rendering on a local machine. This includes 3ds Max main output, V-Ray frame buffer, V-Ray RAW image, Corona & Mental Ray outputs and render elements.
  • Render region should be off.
  • Multiple cameras in one scene — our plugin supports this setup for stills, camera animation and full animation
  • Scene name and output paths should not contain any non-standard system characters like / \ ” % # ? or language specific non-ASCII characters like Cyrillic or Korean alphabet. If your scene contains such characters, it’s always best to change them. If our plugin detects any special characters, it will convert them to “_” including output paths.

Note: Each render engine operates on different render options and features. Therefore, our plugin opens appropriate GUI for you based on the render engine selected as “Production”. cycle.

3. Use the plugin — setting the mode (V-Ray)

Once project is prepared, please locate the renderBeamermenu and hit Beam it up to open the plugin window. In the plugin GUI you’ll need to finalize the scene setup using one of available render modes (Render as is, Full animation, Camera animation, Brute force animation, Still image).Each render mode is specifically designed for a different kind of scene setup, so please make sure that you select a mode suitable for the type of scene you’re going to render. This is crucial because each mode uses different GI and different render settings and so selecting an inadequate mode will result in incorrect rendering

Plugin UI for V-Ray render engine. On the top — mode selection box, in the middle — camera and render range setup, bottom — output and render settings

Plugin render modes for V-ray render engine:

  • Render as is — In this mode your scene renders “as it is”. It’s useful for scenes with already pre-cached GI or for shots which do not need GI caching. Also, it can be used for scene testing purposes or for atypical GI setups like Brute Force with Brute Force, or Brute Force with Light Cache. We do not provide any GI caching options in this mode. Render as is doesn’t have any additional settings either.
  • Full Animation — bake and render — This mode should be used for fully animated scenes which include objects animations, materials changes, camera or light movement. Generally, if your scene contains more than an animated camera, you should use Full Animation mode. Our plugin creates two jobs in this mode. The first one for the GI caching — called the “bake” scene. The second job is the rendering scene. The rendering scene uses pre-cached GI maps from the first job. With full animation mode, GI is cached for each frame in the selected render range so if your scene is starting at 0 and ending at frame 100, you will receive 101 GI map files. Each GI map is calculated on a separate node, so the process is very fast and stable. Full animation mode works only with Irradiance map & Light Cache. Before using Full Animation mode please make sure that your GI setup is set to Irradiance Map & Light cache! Otherwise please use Render as is mode.
  • With Full Animation mode you have some additional settings you can use — turn on/off Store direct light and set Interpolation frames (for GI caching/bake job). By default, Store direct light is always on. This kind of setup is recommended by Chaos Group. Turning it off will force V-Ray to save separate files for Irradiance map and Light cache. Interpolation frames (by default set to 2) is an option for GI blending between frames. We strongly recommend leaving both settings at default values.
Additional settings for Full Animation mode
  • Camera Animation — bake and render — This mode should be used for scenes where camera is the only animated object.Camera Animation mode works only with Irradiance map & Light Cache. Depending on which settings you choose, this mode will create 2 or 3 jobs — a GI cache, a merge and a render job. The first job is for the GI caching — called the “bake” scene. The GI cache is calculated using the selected “bake step” parameter. For the GI cache job, we switch your current Irradiance map mode type to “add to current map” and Light cache mode type to “flythrough”. For render jobs, we use both GI engines in the “from file” mode. GI caching is done using the bake step and bake jobs parameters. The default baking step value is 10, so if your scene is starting at 0 and ending at frame 100, you will receive 11 frames cached (including the first and last frame) into one .vrmap (Irradiance Map cache) file. Before using Camera Animation please make sure that your GI setup is set to Irradiance Map & Light cache! Otherwise please use “Render as is” mode.
  • GI (IR+LC) cache can be calculated using one of two methods — single node or multi-node. With a single node setup, GI will be calculated on one machine. With a multi node setup, your frame range will be split over several render nodes. Each of the “split” jobs will be cached with the selected bake step parameter. So, for example, if your scene is starting at frame 0 and ending at frame 100, you can make GI cache with the bake jobs parameter at 5. Our plugin will create 5 GI caching jobs using the 0 to 100 range, and each of them will be cached with the selected bake step parameter. After successful GI caching with multi node setup, our software will merge the parts of the Irradiance map into one big file and use it for rendering. Multi node GI caching set-up is recommended for scenes with render ranges more than 500 frames.
  • With Camera Animation mode you also have some additional settings. First, you can select between single and multi node GI caching. Next, you can set baking step value. Please keep in mind that baking step will be used as scene timeline calculation step — but only for GI caching job! Render step can be set directly in camera settings boxes. You can also turn on and off Store direct light switch.
Additional settings for Camera Animation mode
  • Brute Force Animation — bake and render — This mode can be used for camera animated scenes as well as fully animated shots. It uses Irradiance Map and Brute Force GI setup. Depending on which settings you choose, this mode will create 2 or 3 jobs — GI cache, a merge and a render job. For GI cache, we change your current selected Irradiance Map mode to “add to current map”. GI caching is done using bake step and bake jobs parameters. By default the baking step value is 10, so if your scene is starting at 0 and ending at frame 100 you will receive 11 frames cached (including the first and last frames) saved in one Irradiance map. Brute Force animation GI cache works just like the camera animation mode. You can set it up with one node or multi node GI caching. The only difference is that the secondary GI engine is set to Brute Force, and can be turned on/off for a GI caching job.
  • On mode settings you can also set up direct Brute Force parameters like the number of subdivisions and the number of secondary bounces. These options work the same way as the standard 3d Max GI setup. Before using Brute Force Animation mode please make sure that your GI setup is set to Irradiance Map & Brute Force! Otherwise please use Render as is mode.
  • Additional settings for Brute Force Animation mode are again the GI caching options (single and multi node) — witch work in conjunction with baking step value. Those settings work exactly the same way like they do with Camera Animation mode. Same thing goes for Store direct light switch. Special options for Brute Force Animation are direct Brute Force settings. This setup works just like the internal V-Ray render setup window. Also, we read your current Brute Force setup and just forwardit to our plugin GUI. The switch Use Brute Force for bake turns on and off Brute Force as secondary engine for GI caching job. By default it’s always on. Depending on your scene setup, you can change this setting.
Additional settings for Camera Animation mode

NOTE: You should always run a test job first prior to rendering a full range animation or full resolution still image to check for potential issues and to get an estimated job cost. For animations, try to render a shorter range or use step. For still images, you should render a smaller resolution job (i.e. ⅕ res). This is a very important step to follow which will help you fully test the service without potentially overspending your credits. To get a preliminary cost estimation, use our Cost Calculator. While this is only a rough number and it shouldn’t replace the actual testing, it’s a quick way to get a cost and render time estimate for animations (it doesn’t work for stills).

You can read more about the importance of testing and ways to estimate the render cost and time in our FAQ.

4. Use the plugin — camera settings (V-Ray)

Once you selected the plugin mode, you can now continue the workflow to the second part of the setup window — the camera and frame range setup. When you have multi camera scenes, you can set multiple frame ranges for each camera all at once. Same kind of workflow goes for Still Image mode. Each camera in the scene will be rendered as a separate render job including GI caching procedure, scene rendering and merge job (applies to strip mode). If you want to test your scene, you should just put some render step value in the camera frame ranges. For example, if a scene timeline is 0 to 100 frames, you can test it by putting s10 at the end of time value — 0to100s10. Once the test is rendered, you can then resume the job to render full range in web dashboard without the need to upload the scene again.

Camera and range settings

NOTE:Our 3ds Max plugin automatically checks your scene’s time setting and will not allow you to put in any frame number other than the scene timeline. For example, if your timeline starts at frame 10, you won’t be able to input frame 0 in the plugin. Also, please keep in mind that Camera Animation mode with GI caching enabled will not allow you to change (or resume) the full range after the rendering. That’s because the GI is calculated for full range and it cannot be updated when re-rendering the scene with a different render frame range.

5. Use the plugin — render settings (V-Ray)

Once you set all yours cameras and frame ranges, you can proceed to the last part of the plugin settings. This settings group is mostly a reflection of what you see in V-Ray settings plus output formats from 3ds Max render setup.

Render settings — universal for each render mode

Dynamic memory limit — This option allows you to set RAM utilization border for V-Ray geometry and pre-process. By default it’s set to 28GB (28000). We strongly suggest leaving this setting at a default value unless your scene is really big with tons of additional xrefs or V-Ray proxies.

Bucket size –It’s set to 32×32 by default. If you are using 4k+ resolution, you can increase the size of render buckets (to something like 64×64), but please keep in mind that if a scene contains a lot of reflection or refraction materials, and the bucket size is too big, some buckets may “hang” on calculating the most reflective (or transparent) objects. That’s why we strongly suggest leaving 32×32 setting as buckets with 32×32 size are the most common for 1080p and similar resolutions.

User Frame Buffer / User Raw Image / Use Split Channels — these 3 switches are just on/off settings for 3ds Max + V-Ray outputs. By default, Use Frame Buffer should always be turned on. That’s because when using V-Ray the main output, format is saved from V-Ray frame buffer and not the 3ds Max main output. You can use Use Raw Image to turn on multi-layer exr (or .vrimg) saving option. Use split channels switch works in juncuncion with Use frame buffer. It forces V-Ray to save main outputs with its default setting — separated main RGB channel and Alpha.

Use camera path Irradiance map/Light Cache — This switch is just reflection from GI settings. Our plugin reads those switches from your current render setup, so if you don’t want to change them, just leave this setting as it is.

Below that you can select output formats for V-Ray output and 3ds Max main output. By default selection lists are off. That’s because plugin reads those settings and just forwards them with the scene. If you want to change V-Ray or 3ds Max output format, you need to turn on Overwrite extension switch.

Please keep in mind that turning on “Overwrite extension” will force both outputs modules to save them in a default setup. So, for example. if you are using some internal settings for output (like TIFF48Bit with alpha or similar setups for .exr outputs) we strongly suggest leaving “Overwrite extension” switch off. Otherwise, just turn it on and select something like “PNG” for V-Ray image file format and “JPG” for Max image file format.

V-Ray buffer gamma override — It’s off by default. This switch should be used ONLY if you need different gamma for V-Ray frame buffer and V-Ray RAW image outputs.

Below all the main output formats configuration you can find V-Ray scene image file output. This selection list works along with the send .vrscene switch. You won’t be able to select output format from this list until send as .vrscene is on. This selection list is dedicated for rendering 3ds Max scenes as .vrscenes. You can do that by turning on send as .vrscene switch. This option forces V-Ray to export the scene to V-Ray standalone. This can be used in various situations. For instance, when 3ds Max scene is really big, or when most of scene are some V-Ray objects, or V-Ray proxies and similar solution. Also, what’s more important, in most cases rendering a .vrscene (V-Ray standalone scene) is significantly faster than rendering a .max file.

Some of 3ds Max plugins may not be compatible with V-Ray standalone rendering. Especially plugins like scatters, or deformers/generators. Ideally, please change that kind of objects to geometry before using “send as .vrscene” switch!

merge XRef — This switch works similarly to 3ds Max “merge object” function. Once it’s on, it will force 3ds Max to merge all external objects into one scene. This switch can be used when your scene contains many external x-refs scenes in different directories and network paths. Also, using .max scene with merged x-refs makes the rendering on the farm faster and more stable because there’s no need for loading & reloading those assets.

New project name — This option should be used only when you working with new scene (with new assets) from same project directory. Otherwise, please always leave this switch OFF.

Our plugin automatically checks assets connected to the scene, so as long as you keep your scenes in one Project directory (e.g. C:\MyProject\Scene_1.max & \Scene_2.max and so on) your assets will be uploaded only once. If you move your .max scene to a parent folder — our plugin will treat it as new project and so will upload all assets as if they were new.

Once you’re done with the mode selection, camera range settings and render setup, just click Send to farm button. Our plugin will create a temporary directory next to your .max file and will start preparing your project. Then, it will copy all connected assets and relink them. Due to some network drive limitations of Windows and copy/move/rename operations on them with advice against using network drives. Next, our 3ds Max plugin will check the farm .dll list with what you have locally. If there are any incompatible .dlls (3ds Max plugins) you will see a prompt with Continue and Cancel options. If those missing plugins (.dlls) can be skipped, just continue with the process. If those missing plugins are crucial in your project (and are not installed on the farm), please contact us. After the complete project preparation process (depending on scene and assets size it can take several minutes) our 3ds Max plugin will redirect all data to renderBeamer application which will take care of files compression and upload process.

6. Upload the project

Once our plugin completed the scene export, your project will be redirected to renderBeamer to be uploaded. renderBeamer is a standalone uploader/downloader application that works in conjunction with our plugins. Simply put, it takes care of the file transfers.

After the scene has been fully uploaded, the app will generate a link for you to submit your scene online in Web Manager (web dashboard). If for some reason you closed the window with the link or it didn’t work, don’t worry, you can locate your project in the web dashboard and submit your scene by clicking on the scene file later (more on that in Step 7).

RenderBeamer application generates a scene submission link after completed upload

7. Submit the job

Now that your project is uploaded you will need to follow the final step — creating and submitting a job to render farm. Web Manager is where all your projects and render jobs reside.

If you followed the link generated earlier by renderBeamer, you will now see the job submission window with several fields and settings. If you didn’t follow the link or it didn’t work, you can do it manually by locating your project in the Projects panel, finding the scene file within the project folder (in your folder structure look for the folder called “data”, i.e. Project_name/data/SceneName.max), and clicking on it to open the job window.

Job submission window in Web Manager

You can choose between three priorities when submitting a job: High, Medium, and Low (more info on Pricing page and FAQ page). You can also view the current queue on the farm, which should help you inform your decision about selecting the priority.

After giving your render settings a final check and choosing your preferred priority hit Submit to add your job to the render queue. If you’re a first time user, you will have received $25 worth of credit to test out our service. The credits should be enough to run a few test jobs and get you familiar with the service.

Jobs added to render queue which are waiting for the nodes

When the job starts rendering and the progress has been made, you’ll be able to see the Estimated Cost for the full range of that job. Unfortunately, this won’t work for single frame jobs. You can also right click on the job to get additional functionality: change priority, pause job, kill job, archive job, and check job details (breakdown of each frame rendered with the respective render logs).

8. Download and review frames

Each frame that has completed rendering is downloaded automatically to your local drive to a directory you selected in the renderBeamer application. If you’re not sure where your download folder is located, you can double check it or change it in renderBeamer’s settings (click on the cogwheel). Also, make sure you have auto download checked to get the frames downloaded as soon as they are available. If this box is unchecked, you will have to click on each job and manually download the frames.

NOTE: Please make sure you keep renderBeamer running whenever you have jobs rendering to get the frames downloaded right away. It may happen, however, that your frames aren’t downloading in the given moment, and most likely that’s because our application checks for the files on the server in 15 minute cycles and it is currently in between the cycles. You can click refresh list to force the check without waiting for the next cycle.

9. Pay for renders

If you have used up all your trial credits, you’ll need to charge your account to either continue rendering the current job if it got paused due to negative balance or to start a new one. Please note that when your balance goes below $0, you won’t be able to download frames anymore. You can make payments in the Billing panel in Web Manager. We accept debit cards, credit cards, PayPal and DotPay payments.

We offer discounts on all payments above $250 so please make sure to take a closer look at our discounts table.

Billing panel where you can make payments, view cost & payment history and check out discounts

10. Get help

You can talk to the GarageFarm.NET tech team any time of the day, any day of the week. We’re there to help you get started and to assist you along the way to rendering your projects. Don’t hesitate to give us a shout. We mean it.

You can contact us through our live chat in the web dashboard or in our app when you log in to your account or message us here through the guest chat.

We also recommend checking out our FAQ page which answers most of the questions new users have.

We provide the fastest and most powerful rendering technology that anyone around the globe can afford and use with ease. Try us out for free!