Sunday, December 13, 2015

3DS Max Backburner error "3dsmax.exe no response" - 3DS Max 2016 SP2

Geeze, what a journey!

So, on submitting a job through backburner after the update to 3DS Max 2016 SP2 (but see later!) I was getting an error from all 3 of my network machines, saying "3dsmax.exe no response" with an error code of -2 unexpected error.

This had me scratching my head. A message would have been something like "Mismatched version" as the update had NOT run on those 3 machines.

Some way of knowing what version was installed would be good (anyone know of one?) 3DS Max only runs direct as an expired trial on the servers, so I have no way to run it there and click on About to see what version is installed.

Anyway, turns out the update program had not run. Not sure why. It ran, then vanished from my remote access screens, and I shut everything done thinking "Success!" So today I deleted the "Autodesk" folder on the C drive of every machine (just installation files, redundant once install is done) as I noticed they were all old and not from the recent run of updates.

Then I re-ran the update... only this time I noticed a "Do you want this program to make changes on this machine?" dialog that I hadn't seen before. Had I not noticed as I'd minimized or closed out the remote access and it had vamoosed down to the task bar? Not sure, can't say how I missed it THREE times, once on every machine.

So this time I confirmed yes, of course I bloody do, that's why I ran the program. Big clue is that it takes about an hour to run the update, and if it finishes pretty quickly, something is wrong!

Documentation on Backburner and it's problems are a bit scant, along with the error messages being unhelpful - "Wrong version" would have told me straight away what was up.

Anyway, this seems to have resolved it - now to see if Scanline and MentalRay are working at normal speeds over the network! UPDATE - they do! Thank goodness!

Friday, December 11, 2015


Now those are a good combination of letters and numbers! The accompanying entry in the 3DS Max 2016 SP2 release notes is "3ds Max 2016 Render from command line adds 9 seconds to a 1 second frame" (I swear that is the wording I used when reporting the problem!)

This was causing me to be unable to use MentalRay or Scanline rendering on the network, as submitting through Backburner is basically the same, and the upshot was it was slower to render using the four machines than to just kick off the render on the one main one!

I am glad that is resolved - I love the Corona Renderer and will be using it in most of my renders still, but, there are times when quick and simple is all I need, no GI etc, and now I have the option back to use the native Max renderers when they are best suited. And the weekend is a good time to get it installed on all four machines, perfect!


I recently relocated, and as it happens all four of my machines are now nicely in one location! My little creative corner where 3D, video and music are all brought into being!


Just wrapped up a video, all done with 3DS Max and the Corona Renderer, explaining the technical features of the Hamar Stealth laser alignment system - check it out on their YouTube channel:

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

I need more time!

As useful as anti-virus is (sadly - why is it people feel the need to be destructive, or to steal, so that we need this kind of software?), it is irritating when I have 72 hours or so of rendering going on, and the maximum option for "remind me about the update and restart in" is 60 minutes...

This is the machine that controls all the others in the network, I can't go restarting it, and I am still working on it, I don't want to see your dang box pop up and tease me with three digits for 999 minutes, but only let me pick up to 60! And run the risk that I hit "Restart Now" because I am in the middle of doing stuff and pressing keys.

I don't know, no consideration for the 3D artists out there! What do you mean it is only a small minority that has their machine working flat out for days at a time and can't reboot? Nonsense!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Upgrades and Updates

Windows 10 ongoing

So Windows 10 remains a success for me. In fact, I added a a dual Xeon E5-2660 to the network and upgraded that to Win 10 too, and no problems yet on any of the four machines.

MSI 980 Ti Gaming

Will be updating the graphics card on the main work machine. The current set up chokes on real-time previews in 3DS Max with some scenes I am working on, and I also want to explore the possibilities offered by the GPU based renderers in Max, Quicksilver and iray.

Tests so far have not lead me to trying GPU based renderers for production work, but I do suspect that is just my current GTX 6800 and the limited memory but have no way to know for sure.

Contemplated a Titan X, The 12 Gb of memory was tempting, as real-time engines have to load the whole scene into the graphics card memory all at once, but in the end couldn't justify the price tag as I am not sure the current disappointments in real-time rendering stem from limited memory.

Instead went for the MSI 980 Ti Gaming, seen here. Not an inexpensive option either but one that current workloads can justify. Will report back on whether that opens up real-time engines as valid options!

Network Expansion

The network may expand yet again shortly - so much work and a lot of it featuring photo-real style renders. Some stuff will be on a client's QVC segment, for instance,

Once I've tested what real-time rendering can offer, I'll see about adding more to the network. If I do expand, it will be with one or two more dual Xeon X5650s as best price performance ratio - the E5 2660 machine was twice the price, but not twice the speed.

All the Xeons have been refurbished ones from The Server Store. Every time I research prices and options, it keeps bringing me back to them! The latest Dell T5600 was a nice addition, did almost double the speed of the network in terms of number crunching renders!

Did look into the option of adding a blade server, but I don't know enough about configuring and running one and in the end elected against that route as too many unknowns,

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

More Windows 10

After a successful test of rendering across the network to my third, oldest, slowest machine now that it was on Windows 10 (while the other two were still Windows 8.1), I upgraded the second machine (a dual Xeon processor machine) to Windows 10 too.

It too passed the key test, that I can fire off a render across the network to it (that's what it's for), and I was able to move on to firing up Premiere and After Effects, again so I can keep working on 3D or music while the Xeon is off rendering a movie - success there too, other than the absence of Quicktime which I am fixing up just now.

The only thing to deal with now is the head-dizzying control of 3 machines from one central location! The screen shot above shows 3DS Max 2016 on my main machine, the window on the right is my Xeon.

Liking the new Movies and TV app on Win 10, much better than clunky old Media Player. Not really put too much else to the test. Intriguingly I could use ChomeCast to send the Xeon desktop to the TV behind me, if I wanted to keep an eye on it without having to take up any real estate on my main machine!

I do love technology!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Deep Dream and back-ups

Haven't put Windows 10 through the tests I need (basically, do Max 2016, Backburner and Corona work well with network rendering, when the master machine is on Win 8.1 Pro) but will look into that today.

Meantime, for when I do upgrade the main machine, I am running a back-up as I do every so often, which takes something crazy like 28 hours as the machine is so choc-a-block (this means sleeping to the loud whirr of its many cooling fans!)

For fun, also ran one of my "for fun" renders through Deep Dream, and got a result that is actually pleasant to look at! No crazy dogs or birds!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Hurrah for hard work

As a freelancer, you live with feast or famine at times when it comes to workload.

What most people don't get is that we prefer feast! Many would assume that slower times are the best, all the freedom, but not the case! Far better to have much work to do.

I find that in slow times, I never feel totally at ease, even once work is over for the day I find myself still thinking about it, uncomfortable that there wasn't more done, and so never really feel free from the nagging voice that says "Oh no, you should be doing more!"

When work is plentiful, I can sit down in my free time with a feeling of genuine freedom, knowing all is done and on track - and I much prefer that feeling!

I suspect anyone who feels the other way round, just may not be cut out to be a freelancer....