Managing Render Jobs

Below is an older video overview discussing how to manage render jobs on Pixel Plow.  The text below the video is more up to date with current options and features.

After you’ve submitted one or more jobs to be rendered, you may take advantage of the queue manager to view the status of your jobs.  Simply click on the Pixel Plow icon and choose the Job Status.  A list of all your jobs that are currently in progress will be displayed.  Information like the upload percentage, job name, render app, time of submission, number of frames, job cost estimate, and completion stats will be displayed on a per-job basis.  This list refreshes itself every few seconds, so you may leave the window open if you like.  Please note that it is not necessary to leave this window open in order for your jobs to complete.  It is only an informational display.

Jobs using our Auto-Power feature will have their Power level displayed like this: 1.3 (auto).  This is the indication that Auto-Power is active and that our system will adjust the Power level automatically to complete the job as quickly as possible, but within your defined budget.  The Auto-Power mechanism can’t exceed the bounds of our available Power levels, so if your job can’t complete under your budget at even the lowest Power level, Auto-Power will only be able to set it at the lowest Power level and let the job hit its budget limit.  Conversely, Auto-Power can only raise the job Power level to 10.0, even if this will complete your job well under your budget.  It should be noted that you retain manual control of your job even if it was submitted using Auto-Power.  If you remove your budget, Auto-Power is disabled and the job continues to run at the Power level it was last using.  If you manually change the Power level, Auto-Power is immediately disabled.  Think of Auto-Power like cruise control in your car.  If you want to make changes to your speed, you can, but that immediately disables cruise control.  The Auto-Power system can only make Power decisions when there is something to base that decision on, like the “Cost Expected”.  If your job is such that we haven’t completed any portion of it yet, there will be nothing in the “Cost Expected” column and, hence, Auto-Power will not have any information to make a Power settings change.  Only after our system has completed some portion of the job so it can generate a Cost Expected will Auto-Power begin to manage the Power setting for you.

Selecting a job allows you to do one of several things, like Cancel the job, Change the job Power/Budget, put the job on Hold, or Redirect Output to an alternate folder.  At any point of the processing of the job, you may perform any function by simply right-clicking on a job.  Job cancellations typically take several seconds, but keep in mind you will be billed for any time spent on the farm up to that point.  You may change the budget limit of any job submitted, even if submitted without a budget.  Our system automatically suspends jobs that exceed your chosen budget, so you may manually override your budget via this interface.  Suspended jobs will be automatically resumed if you remove or adjust the budget beyond the current Cost Consumed.

It should be noted here that we make every attempt to deliver consistent and predictable rendering performance.  Our power levels are directly tied to the output rate from the farm.  Unlike other farms that don’t start rendering low priority jobs until higher priority jobs have left the queue entirely, we make efforts to grant at least some CPU resources to all jobs simultaneously.  If overall farm load increases significantly, your job output rate may drop.  If the job completion time is important to you, then that’s when you should increase the power level of your job.  Our competitive pricing is such that our medium Power levels usually costs as much or less than every other farm’s low priority, so you can worry less about the cost of your project.  Use the Farm Load meter in the upper-right corner of the window to gauge total farm load.  This meter displays in near real-time how busy the farm is for all processing jobs, not just your own.  The red portion of the meter is lit when the number of nodes committed to all jobs is less than normal due to the overall number of jobs running and their respective Power levels.  Hovering your cursor over the Farm Load meter will pop up a tool-tip indicating what power levels are currently being scheduled, and clicking on either meter will show more information.  Again, if delivery time-frame is important to you, you are encouraged to use higher power settings when the farm is loaded and displaying some amount of red on the Farm Load meter.

The Cost Expected and Estimated Completion columns provide you with an estimate for both total job cost and the estimated time to render completion respectively.  These estimates will not be displayed and those fields remain blank, until at least one portion of your job successfully completes.  We call that portion a job “slice”.  A slice is one frame for a job containing 2 or more frames, or a tile for a tile-able still image job.  These fields are continually updated as your render job runs, to give you more accurate knowledge to aid in Power level selection.  The Cost Expected estimate is rounded up to the nearest whole US dollar amount prior to display to you.  The Estimated Completion field displays generalized timeframes in days, hours, minutes, and seconds.  While the Cost Expected is not impacted by Farm Load, the Estimated Completion is directly affected.  Estimated Completion is relevant for your job at its current Power setting given the current Farm Load.  If the Farm Load changes and begins to show red in the graph, the Estimated Completion values will be updated accordingly.  Estimated Completion values are only currently relevant for jobs in the rendering phase.  No calculation of upload or download times is done, and no information is relevant during a GI pass to enable the display of useful information here.

When your jobs complete and age out of the display, the queue manager window will be empty.  You may control how many hours completed/cancelled jobs remain in the Job Status window by clicking on the gear icon and changing the appropriate value.


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