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Smedge

Version 1.4 Build 28
August, 2000.

Last Modified: Thursday, 20-Dec-2012 13:49:25 EST


Information
A brief summary of what Smedge does, and how it works.
Screenshot
A screenshot of Smedge in action.
Download
Download the latest version of Smedge
Report a Bug
Use this form to report bugs in Smedge

Smedge Information

Smedge allows you to queue Maya renders on Windows NT. Version 1 is a single machine queue. Version 2 can be used to queue and distribute renders across a network.

Philosophy

Smedge provides a handy graphical interface to launching renders. However, it is not a replacement for the Render Globals window. While you can override some of the options for a render, it is my feeling that you should set your render scene up correctly before you go rendering it. Thus, there are no nifty dialog box options to turn on motion blur, or ray tracing, or anything. Of course, you can put any Render command line options into the extra attributes section.

How Does It Work

What Smedge is good at is making the queueing process easier. The most obvious way to queue renders is to launch the program, and select New Render from the Queue menu (or press the camera button on the toobar). A lovely dialog box opens. The only required parameter is the scene. Pressing the button next to the scene field will bring up a Windows open file dialog box, allowing you to browse and select a scene.

The first thing you will notice is that Smedge automatically fills in the project from the scene. This functionality is optional, but is handy for those who use multiple project directories. For more info, see the host info section. If you are not working in project mode, this field does not get updated automatically. In either case, you can press the button next to the field to select a different project or image directory to render into.

If you want to override the frame range or filename parameters, you can fill those in. If you leave a field blank, Maya will render using whatever value for that option you set in the scene file. There is also a space for additional command line parameters. Please note, it would be a bad idea to put the -s, -e, -b, -im, -proj, -rd, or -n parameters in here, since these are set by Smedge.

If you want, you can drag a file from the Windows Explorer onto the dialog box, and it will be put into the scene file field automatically.

Even more fun, you can drop any number of files onto the Smedge main window. For each file you drop, Smedge will bring up a dialog box. This way, you can schedule several jobs all at once.

The renders will execute in the order they are listed. You can re-order the queue, with the exception of a render that's currently going.

Interface Fun

When you look at the queue list, you can tell the state of jobs by the icon next to them. If you see a red animated circle, that job is currently being rendered. You can view output from Maya by selecting View|Current Render Progress (or clicking the notepad and magnifying glass icon on the toolbar). If you see a green dot next to the job, that means that this job is ready to be executed, and that Smedge is waiting for you to start it manually (Queue|Launch Next Render or the green light button). If you see a grey dot, that means that this job is in line to be executed, but is not first in the list.

Note: if you have Smedge set to lauch renders immediately (in the options box), you will probably never see a green dot, since renders will start all by themselves.

The Render Progress window has two areas. The top part tells you which render is currently going, and the main part shows all the output from Maya during the render. It also has a menu that allows you to save or clear the output, or close the window.

New Stuff in Version 1.4

Internal changes galore. The biggie is that it now uses a seperate thread to start the render. This means, finally, I can get the exit code from Render.exe, which, in turn, means I can finally see if the render crashed. However, this is not verified yet, since I haven't had a render that crashed on it's own since I made this change.

The other cool new thing is that the Repeat button now brings up the last 10 renders. Much cooler. Plus, if you are doing a repeat and don't change anything, it won't fill up the last 10 renders with the same render over and over.

More accurate time estimation, better output in the log files, and a few little fixes. Plus no more DDE! Yay!

New Stuff in Version 1.3

A couple biggies here. The Submit Render dialog is no longer modal. This means you can open a bunch of these at the same time, and then go and change your host options before you actually submit anything. Also, when you drop multiple files from the Explorer, each opens into its own dialog box at the same time. These boxes may be directly on top of each other, however, so beware!

The Render Progress window has more functionality. It displays the start time and elapsed time for every render. Additionally, if you override the start and end frames, it attempts to estimate how long until the render completes. Note that this estimation is based on average render time so far, so it really can be wildly inaccurate.

And the usual little bug fixes...

Command Line Operation

Smedge can also be run from a command line. The syntax is:

Smedge [-h] [-j <scene> [-s <start>] [-e <end>] [-b <by>] [-p <proj>] [-i <image>] [-go]]

-h	Prints this message
-j	The scene to render
-s	Start frame
-e	End frame
-b	By frame
-p	The project or the image directory (depening on the Host settings)
-i	Image name
-go	Queue the render immediately (don't bring up the dialog box)

If an instance of Smedge is already running, Smedge will find it and add the render to that queue. The order of the parameters doesn't matter, but if there's no -j parameter, the others will be ignored.

The Command line ability allows you to submit your renders directly to Smedge from a Maya MEL script. Take a look at the smedgeRenderSession.mel script included in the distribution. Also, you can use the RenRenderMenu.mel script to replace the default (Maya 2.5 NT) Render menu with one that will use Smedge.

Host Properties

This dialog has information about the machine Smedge is running on and your preferences for launching renders.

The slider at the top allows you to select the number of processors to run on. Note, if you have only one processor, then, selecting 0 or 1 is the same thing!

Maya Render.exe path is available in case the maya bin directory is not in your path. In this case, you should tell Smedge the explicit path to the Maya Render.exe program. Otherwise, your renders will be very fast and very empty.

Checking Restrict Render times allows you to set up times when Smedge won't launch a render. You can use this to keep Smedge from starting a render when you are working, like Monday to Friday 9-5.

Options

This dialog sets up the way that Smedge will function.

Image file placement is your preference for using either Maya projects or just choosing an image output directory. If you have Use Projects selected, Smedge will try to automatically fill in the project from the scene name. If you have a default image directory, it will automatically fill this directory in for new renders.

Queue options control how smedge handles the queue. Lanch Renders Immediately tells Smedge to start the first queued render as soon as possible. If this is unchecked, you can queue lots of renders but no render will start unless you select the Queue|Launch Next Render menu option (the green light on the toolbar). When a render finishes, no new render will start. If this is checked, the first render in the queue will start as soon as a previous render finishes.

if Allow Start Next Render during restricted times is unchecked, you cannot possibly have Smedge start a render during the host's restricted times. Use Log File tells Smedge to keep a log of what it does. It logs new renders, finished renders, killed jobs, and a few other things.

After a render, Smedge can automatically do stuff. Save the Output tells Smedge to save the contents of the output window (the output from Maya). If this is checked, you should tell Smedge where you want to save: With the scene file, with the images, or in a specific directory. The output file will be named scenefile.mb.log.

Clear the Output tells smedge to clear the contents of the output window after each render. Display Notification Message makes Smedge put a message box on the screen when a render finishes. This message box can automatically disappear after a given time limit.

Limitations

Smedge must remain running for the queueing ability to work. You can't log out while it's running, or all is lost! Also, Smedge doesn't save the queue, so if you quit the program any queued items are lost.

Help is still pretty feeble, though it is slowly improving.

See you in Smedge

you quit the program any queued items are lost.

Help is still pretty feeble, though it is slowly improving.

See you in Smedge