Change Log

v1.8 (Coming Soon)

Overall improvements of file handling:

  • A focus of this build has been improvements in the FTP file handling system:
  • The file handling systems has been greatly improved with lots of changes and bug fixes that involve the timing of downloading, manipulating the uploading files. Due to the complex nature of this dynamic FTP client based model of LnC, there are lots of moving parts so I had several dents to bang out. I believe I have eliminated all Access Violation errors and bugs related to file manipulation. This includes a bug where the render queue would occasionally become cleared when there were still frames to render.

LightNet: Cloud:

  • Added Group feature:
  • This includes an updated lscript that allows you to define groups and set scenes to be rendered by groups of machines rather than every machine.

LightNet: Watcher:

There have been lots of changes to Watcher to make it a much more mature program. The previous version of Watcher basically only cleared scenes that were finished, gave a time estimate and had a rudimentary system for manually entering commands to manipulate the queue. Now there are two menu options; Queue and Server. Queue is designed to be tools that manipulate the frames in the render queue. Server is designed to be tools that actually manipulate the server.

  • ETA Improvements:
  • The estimated time of arrival (ETA) has been improved and an average seconds per frame has been added to the variables in the scene queue file (the ini files). It is important to understand that LnC is not a centralized command and control type system, it only observes the queue and measures the time based on what it sees. It does not know how much time each machine takes to render a frame. All it knows it that X number of frames were rendered in Y number of seconds. The the average seconds per frame is not in any way a measure of how long each frame takes to render per machine. If half of your computers go off-line for some reason, it will effect the average frames per second even though the amount of seconds per frame has not actually changed. It is also a weighted average, so that if render times changes dramatically, it will take an update or two before the Watcher will register the new average.

  • The grid interface is improved and now includes the ETA time
  • Add Scene tool:
  • This tool adds frames to the render queue for a scene that is already on the server. It does not upload a scene to the server. To add a scene to the server, the Watch Folder should be used.

  • Remove Scene tool:
  • As with the Add Scene tool, the Remove Scene tool removes frames from the queue, it does not remove the scene from the server.

  • Top Scene tool:
  • Moves a scene to the top of the render queue.

  • Purge Scene tool:
  • The Purge Scene tool will search the server for all files related to a scene and remove them from the server. This will not effect the render queue. It is important to remove a scene from the queue before purging it from the server.

  • Download Output tool:
  • The Download Output tool will ask your for a local directory, scan the server for files associated with a scene you select and then download the server's file to the local directory you selected.

  • Gap Check tool:
  • The Gap Check tool will scan the RGB output directory for gaps in frame output. If it finds gaps or files that are 0 bytes in size, it will add them to the render queue. Currently it adds all missing frames as single frames to the queue. The tool will check the digits at the end of the file name so it is important that the frame number is separated from the rest of the filename. Be sure there is a _ or some other non-numeric character to the end of the output filename for the Gap Check tool to work properly.

  • Force Server Check:
  • The force server check has been moved to the Server menu. Ctrl+F will still execute a server check.

  • Initialize Server:
  • The Initialize Server tool will put blank ini files on the server to set or reset the server to an initial state.

  • Manage The Server:
  • If checked this option will have the current Watcher manager the server. Clicking on the option will check and uncheck it. When first started, the Watcher will get the setting from the config setting that is set in LightNet: Cloud.

v1.5.4

  • Added source code under LGPL License.
  • Added Windows XP and Windows 7 binaries.
  • There have been some problems with running XP compiled binaries under Windows 7 and vice versa. I can't track down the exact problem and make a single binary that works under both, so I have included both binaries.

v1.5.3

  • Local Network Cache added
  • Under General settings there is now an area to select a Local Network Cache. If you have multiple computers on one network, this cache can be used to ensure only one computer at a time is downloading the content archive rather than every computer downloading it at once and bogging down the network and FTP server.

    To use it, select a directory that all of the computers on the local network can see with read and write access. The first computer to attempt to download the content archive will create a small text file (within a newly created a directory named after the scene file) in the Local Network Cache directory with the time it initiated the download and it's name. It will then download the archive and copy it to the Local Network Cache. From there, all of the other computers on the network will simply copy the file from the Local Network Cache rather than download it directly from the FTP server.

    The other computers on the network running LnC will check the download information file periodically, if the content archive is not downloaded within an hour, then another computer will initiate the download.

    If the Local Network Cache is blank, set to [none] (by default), or does not exists LnC will simply download the content archive as usual.

  • Improved stability.
  • Bug where very long downloads would hang has been fixed
  • Now fully compatible with Windows XP

v1.5

IMPORTANT UPGRADE INFORMATION:

To use v1.5 with an existing v1.0 configured server, you will need to manually change the name of the configuration (.ini) files. Simply add “0_” to the beginning of the files. So that lnc_onsite.ini will become 0_lnc_onsite.ini and lnc_offsite.ini will become 0_lnc_offsite.ini

  • Totally new dynamic FTP System
  • The biggest change is the totally re-written FTP system. This system is dynamic and offers fantastic user feedback on what is going on. Now files move back and forth as LnC is working on them, rather than it completing a process and then sending/receiving files.

    This does come at the price of making the entire system much more complex, so I can't confidently guarantee it will work with every FTP server out there. There is a fair amount of diversity among FTP servers and automatic, dynamic data transferring is much more complex than procedural data transfers.

    With that said, I have attempted to limit any kind of compatibility issues by doing a lot of standardization techniques. For example some FTP servers have difficulty with filenames that contain spaces so I programmed LnC to systematically replace all spaces with underscores on scenes and content zip files (it also updates the scene file with the new content archive file's name if it has to rename it). LnC also makes all filenames lowercase.

    I have done extensive testing with vsftp (Linux), Pure-FTPd (Unix) and the Filezilla FTP server (Windows). LnC performs properly with each.

    If, while rendering, LnC drops it's connection from the FTP server, for example times out due to inactivity or there is an interruption in your network connection, don't sweat it; on the next check interval LnC will attempt to reconnect and will pick up right where it left off. It will continue to reconnect on the check interval indefinitely.

    I have added “0_” to the queue configuration (.ini) files so they are easier to find in file listings – they should be at the very top now.

  • Improved interface
  • Watcher has a grid view for information rather than a basic text display along with improved FTP progress bar.

    Cloud has FTP message box along with improved FTP progress bar and information.

  • Keyboard shortcuts
  • I have added several keyboard shortcuts. (Version 1.0 had no shortcuts)

    Ctrl-C: Standard copy keys, will copy selected text in a grid or text box

    Ctrl-V: Standard paste keys, can be used in Watcher's command boxes

    Ctrl-S: Launches the Screamer

    Ctrl-F: Forces an immediate server check in both Cloud and Watcher (Watcher also has a force check button, but Cloud does not)

    Ctrl-Q: Sets LnC to finish what it is doing and then shutdown (Quit).

    Alt-C: Change settings (In the settings panel You can use the tab key to move from one field to another, Enter to accept changes and Esc to cancel changes)

    Alt-L: Load Setting

    Alt-S: Save Settings

    Alt-D: Run Diagnostics (Both Enter and Esc close this panel)

  • New shutdown procedure
  • LnC now has a new shutdown procedure. If you attempt to close it while it is doing anything (uploading, rendering, downloading) you will be prompted how on you would like to shutdown.

    You can choose to cancel, which will do nothing.

    You can choose to shutdown immediately, which will simply close it and it's screamer, meaning rendering will stop and any files currently uploading or downloading will be stopped.

    You can have LnC finish what it's doing and then shut down. This will close the screamer when it is finished, upload any files that are pending and then, when everything is finished, close the program.

  • Self maintained local working directory
  • There is no longer a setting for the Local Working Directory. Once started, LnC will create it's own LWD in the directory it is currently in. It will then manage this directory itself. Whenever a new scene is loaded, it will automatically deleted all of the files used by the previous scene, keeping only a few necessary files. You should never have to do anything in the LWD, or even know it exists, for that matter.

    This does not effect in any way the Watch Folder. That is still a settings, so that you can have it as a local folder or a shared, network folder.

  • Option to preserve output filename
  • Note that v1.5 does come with a new LScript file that has an option to preserve the output filename. In v1.0 LnC automatically changed the output filename to the name of the scene, with this option enabled, it will not change the filename.

    The final frames will still be uploaded to the FTP server, so the path you set for the output files in the Lightwave scene is totally irrelevant, but with this option, the name will be preserved.

  • Date and time stamp added to scene files upon upload via Watcher
  • To avoid any name collision issues, all scenes are date and time stamped. This way you can upload the same scene multiple times without it overwriting the previous one. A corresponding output directory, with the date and time stamp, is created on the FTP server. The output frames do not receive the date and time stamps.

    This way you can upload a low quality scene, then change it to a high quality scene and upload the same scene file and not worry about it overwriting the low quality one. Use the low quality output for editing and timing while you wait for the high quality to finish. When it's complete, simply replace the low quality frames with the high quality frames.

    In conjunction with the preserve output filename feature you can easily render many different versions of a scene without having multiple scene files. For example, if your scene has multiple cameras you can select a Camera1, make the output filename “Camera1” save and upload, then select Camera2 make the output filename “Camera2”, save and upload.

    Content archive files are NOT date and time stamped, so if you upload a zip file that has the same name as a zip file already on the server it will overwrite the zip file already on the server. Note that multiple scenes can use the same content zip file.

  • Dynamic content archive work-flow for offsite rendering
  • Content archives (zip files) are re-downloaded and localized each time a new scene is downloaded. This work-flow is designed to allow content archives to be dynamic without having to constantly change the filename. Multiple scene files can use the same content archive; by re-downloading the zip file with each new scene, it allows you to update the zip file without having to change the scene files every time you change the content archive or worry about whether the individual computers have downloaded the latest version of the content archive.

v1.0

  • Fixed bug where last frame would sometimes not render
  • FTP Password is now encrypted before saved to config file
  • "Silent Mode" added to Cloud and Watcher
  • LScript created to save information for LightNet: Cloud directly into scene file
  • Frame segmentation system created. Scenes can be split into 4, 16 or 25 segments
  • Other minor bug fixes

v0.9.9

  • First public beta