Thinkbox Deadline 7 offers flexible cloud support

Render local, in the cloud, or both using the new Cloud Wizard. 

Thinkbox Software has released an update to Deadline, its compute management solution for digital media assets that includes new virtual machine capabilities to extend compute resources on demand. Other enhancements including spot rendering of selected regions, support for more products, sharding out of the box, and more.

Deadline 7 enables users to set up a pop-up cloud and compute on-demand from any location. “We’ve created the building blocks for companies that are already rendering locally. Instead of purchasing more computers, Deadline users can spool up resources in the cloud as needed for any application, whether VFX or AEC,” said Chris Bond, founder, Thinkbox Software. “With the VMX Cloud Wizard, users can create a compute farm in the cloud in about 30 minutes, then later expand on this installation or use it as a reference for creating more sophisticated cloud pipelines down the line.”

Deadline 7 monitors dependencies between batches when doing multiple renderings. (Source: Thinkbox)
Deadline 7 monitors dependencies between batches when doing multiple renderings. (Source: Thinkbox)

The Virtual Machine Extension supports both private and public cloud solutions out-of-the-box, including Amazon EC2, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, and OpenStack. Multiple cloud solutions can be used simultaneously, along with classic non-cloud render node and workstation rendering.

In addition to enhanced cloud support, Deadline 7 expands support for the Jigsaw multi-region rendering feature, which can now be accessed in Autodesk 3ds Max or Maya, The Foundry’s Modo, and McNeel’s Rhino. Deadline 7 also introduces Draft 1.2, an update to Thinkbox’s lightweight compositing and video processing plug-in designed to automate typical post-render tasks such as image format conversion as well as the creation of animated videos and QuickTimes, contact sheets, and watermark elements on exported images. The workflow enables users to define any number of arbitrarily-sized regions to render or update an existing frame or sequence in a fraction of the time by splitting the work between multiple render nodes.

Other key features of Deadline 7 include:

Upgraded Database: Using MongoDB version 2.6, Deadline 7 now supports sharding (splitting a database) out-of-the-box to allow even greater horizontal scaling, and the Replica Set name to be specified when configuring database settings, facilitating the setup of a redundant database system.

New Application Support and ftrack Integration: Deadline 7 adds support for Adobe After Effects CC 2014; Solid Angle Arnold for Side Effects Software Houdini; Maxon Cinema 4D 16; Corona SDK by Corona Labs; Blackmagic Design Fusion 7; The Foundry’s Nuke 9; and Next Limit Technologies RealFlow 2014. Additionally, ftrack now integrates with Deadline to enable a seamless render and review data flow, eliminating the need for artists to monitor their renders.

Enhanced UI: To optimize user interaction, Thinkbox has updated Qt and PyQt libraries to version 5, and deployed a new Fusion base theme which it says scales better at larger resolutions, including 4K, while providing more color contrast. Deadline 7 reintroduces user-defined color palettes, and also includes customizable fonts for applications and default layouts for Monitor panels, as well as comprehensive job progress bars in the Monitor.

Slave Scheduling and Idle Detection: Deadline can schedule slaves to start and stop based on the time of day, when the machine becomes idle, or both. It can also check the machine’s current CPU and RAM usage, or if any specific processes are running, before launching the slave. Finally, it can stop the slave when the machine is back in use, which ensures that all available compute resources are more easily accessed and used.

Local Slave Controls: Artists can see the states of slaves running on their machines, as well as control the slaves. They can also configure which jobs their local slaves will pick up: all jobs, just jobs submitting from their machines, or jobs submitted by specific users.

Shared Slave Licensing: All slaves running on the same machine now share a license, allowing a single high performance machine to process multiple 3D, compositing and simulation jobs simultaneously, without using additional licenses.

Draft 1.2: The latest version of the Deadline plug-in adds support for OpenColorIO, ASC CDL LUT and Unicode as well as licensing improvements.

Job Dependencies Updates: Users can now test dependencies through the Job Dependency View in the Monitor and view the results shown in dependency nodes. Job, Asset and Script dependencies are now available on the same page in Job Properties, and overrides and notes can be set for individual dependencies.

Streamlined Pool and Group Management: The slave list in the pool and group management dialogs now supports filtering for all available columns. Right-clicking on slaves listed in the Monitor easily modifies the pools or groups for the selected slaves.

Pulse Redundancy: Users running Deadline’s Pulse application are able to run multiple Pulses and elect one to be the Primary. If the Primary is shutdown or crashes, it will be detected during Deadline’s Housecleaning operation, and another Pulse will be elected as the primary, if running.