- Tue Sep 29, 2015 9:26 am
The Maxwell network system is the easiest way to achieve progressive rendering, but in that case you have to export all the frames as MXS files beforehand. If your scenes are very heavy and take a lot of time to export, there are several things you can try:
1. Use MXS references for static geometry. This is by far the most straightforward fix, but the project should be structured with this in mind from the beginning. Converting existing scenes is going to take some work. The downside is that you don't see the original geometry properly in the viewport anymore, so animating is harder if the characters need to interact with the environment. You can do a bunch of trade-offs here, from bringing just a small part of the static geometry into the animation scene (around the characters), to scripting a more complex system which recognizes xrefs, exports them (when needed) and replaces them with MXS references at export time. I haven't implemented such a system in practice so it might not be easy to do using just standard Max tools, but the Maxwell plug-in has an API which can be used to implement something like this, if you have a developer in-house.
2. Distribute scene export through backburner (or some other farm manager). Basically you have the nodes run a MAXScript which exports a frame as MXS to a specified location. Since Max is a mess, there are some corner cases where the export command doesn't produce the same scene as the render command, so you have to watch out for those. After you have the files, render them with the Maxwell network system.
3. Enable persistent MXS, send the job to backburner to render to SL 4 or something like that, and if you're happy with the results, submit a new job which uses the existing MXS and MXI files to resume the render. The second job can use the Maxwell network system. This is basically an improved version of the option above, but it requires some more scripting and housekeeping.
On the other hand, keep in mind that Maxwell saves the frames after each sampling level, not just once at the end. If all you want is to get previews while the job is rendering, you can submit it with backburner and look at the image files as they're updated.