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Ringling Render Tools
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Disclaimer: This document (and package) has been designed with our (Ringling's) needs in mind. The installation/deployment is outrageously specific to our architecture and overall infrastructure. Use with caution!

ringling-render-tools is a suite of python packages and scripts (under the rrt namespace) to ease the submission of Maya and 3dsmax render jobs to a Windows HPC cluster.


  • Compute Node: a node that will be doing rendering (usually, but not always, running windows hpc).
  • Submit Client: a workstation that can submit new jobs to a hpc cluster - these workstations can also be compute nodes.
  • hpc-spool: An IronPython script that parses a short ini-style file to submit a job to a hpc cluster.
  • ringling-render-tools (rrt): This python package (provides modules and scripts that deal with an assortment of render tasks).
  • hpcSubmit: A mel command (provided by our maya plugin) that presents the submission UI to the user. It is really just a wrapper for code inside ringling-render-tools.

Compute Node Installation Notes

Python Installation

new in rc17 with the move to maya 2011, we're now using the matching python version: 2.6.4

  1. Download and install Python 2.6.4 (x64)
  2. Add the following directories to the PATH: C:\Python26;C:\Ringling\Python26\Scripts;C:\Python26\Scripts (These need to be at the front of the list - - and absolutely need to be before the path to Maya's bin dir)
  3. Add a new environment variable called PYTHONPATH: C:\Ringling\Python26\Lib\site-packages
  4. Verify these steps completed properly by starting a fresh cmd (so the env is updated)

Create the Ringling Python dirs by running at a cmd prompt:

mkdir C:\Ringling\Python26\Lib\site-packages & mkdir C:\Ringling\Python26\Scripts & mkdir C:\Ringling\Python26\Data

Verify the python installation:

python --version
Python 2.6.4

To verify the PYTHONPATH was set correctly:

python -c "import sys; print 'Ringling' in ''.join(sys.path)"

Setuptools Installation

  1. Download and extract
  2. Once extracted, you should see a file called -- shift-right-click in the window and do open command prompt here. Then type:

    python install --prefix C:\Ringling\Python26

To confirm this step worked:

python -c "import setuptools;print setuptools.__version__"

Setup Render command line tools

Ensure that the Maya bin and 3dsmax directories are in the PATH (probably place these at the back): C:\Program Files\Autodesk\Maya2010\bin;C:\Program Files\Autodesk\3ds Max Design 2010

To confirm:

mayabatch -v
Maya 2010 x64, Cut Number 200907280308


3dsmaxcmd foo
7/29/2010 10:14:05 AM; Error opening scene file: "D:\foo"

Deploy the ringling-render-tools python package

  1. Add C:\Ringling\HPC\maya\plugins to the MAYA_PLUG_IN_PATH environment variable
  2. Add C:\Ringling\HPC\maya\scripts to both MAYA_SCRIPT_PATH and MAYA_SHELF_PATH

Run the following:

easy_install -U --prefix C:\Ringling\Python26 ringling-render-tools

Since this package is not available on pypi or any other index, you'll need to supply a location to download from. I have a dist directory where I'm dumping developemnt snapshots here on campus, so contact me for the current location.

The usage would be like:

easy_install -U --prefix C:\Ringling\Python26 --find-links <OUR DIST LOCATION> ringling-render-tools

New in 0.0.1rc15 The code that drives the maya plugin relies on pymel. Maya 2010 needs pymel to be installed, whereas in Maya 2011, it is bundled with mayapy.

I've added pymel as an optional dependency, which means installing ringling-render-tools by default will not install pymel for you. If you are installing rrt for Maya <2011, then use ringling-render-tools[pymel] instead of just ringling-render-tools on the easy_install command line. Like so:

easy_install -U --prefix C:\Ringling\Python26 --find-links <OUR DIST LOCATION> ringling-render-tools[pymel]

If it finished cleanly, the following should work:

mayapy -c "import pymel;print pymel.__version__"

mayapy -c "import rrt;print rrt.get_version()"
rrt 0.0.1

python -c "import rrt;print rrt.get_version()"
rrt 0.0.1

Submit Client Installation Notes

General Notes

The client will follow the same procedure as the compute node, but with one addition: the "extras".

The extras include:

  • the hpc-spool script(s)
  • the hpc-submit maya plugin
  • a Ringling maya shelf with a button to load/launch the plugin

All of this stuff should just work once deployed, so long as the environment variables mentioned in the steps above have all been set correctly.

The hpc-spool application is built with the dot net HPC library, and requires dot net 4, and IronPython.

If they are not installed yet, get them and install them: (dot net 4) (IronPython: must be version 2.6.1 for dot net 4)

Once dot net 4 and IronPython are installed run hpc-deploy-extras in a cmd prompt.

hpc-deploy-extras is a command that is a part of the ringling-render-tools package. It uncompresses files inside the package and copies them to C:\Ringling\HPC. Verify the installation by opening a cmd prompt and typing the following:


Output should look like:

Must specify an ini file.

If you get an error saying file not found, or something like that, it probably means you don't have IronPython installed. The batch file passes arguments directly to our scripts, called with the IronPython interpreter - if the interpreter not there, you'll see an error like that.

If instead, you get an error about dot net, a reboot might be required. Reboot the machine and run the command again. If your output still doesn't match find me.

3dsmax Notes

The submission tool for 3dsmax is built with PyQt4 (which needs to be installed). I built the UI for the tool with PyQt 4.7.7 (built against Qt 4.6.2).

Since this package needs to be built from source, I've prepared a binary installer for win x64 (to make our lives easier). The installer has been modified (I think it was made for the 32bit version of the package), so it's a little buggy. Press on with the installation and ignore it when it says it can't find python 2.6 installed on the system. Also make sure you install it using the default paths - we want PyQt installed with the C:\Python26 prefix not the C:\Ringling\Python26 prefix we use for most of our custom scripts.

To confirm the install worked correctly, run hpc-submit-max.exe to launch the tool (requires the rrt package to be installed already).

Client Configuration

hpc-spool will not function if the environment variable HEAD_NODE has not been set to a windows name, ip, or dns name of a valid Windows HPC cluster head node.

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