New Features in Deadline (Released May 5, 2015)


Deadline 7.1 is the latest version of Thinkbox Software's scalable high-volume compute management solution. In addition to built-in cloud support and integration with the latest 3D animation tools, Deadline 7.1 now also supports leading architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) applications such as Autodesk AutoCAD, VRED, and VREDCluster; CSI’s CSiBridge, ETABS, SAFE, and SAP2000; EnergyPlus; and Bentley MicroStation.

Deadline 7.1 builds on recently introduced built-in VMX (Virtual Machine Extension) support to allow both VFX and AEC users to leverage public and private cloud resources for on-demand compute. It also includes updated Slave metrics and statistics, enhancements to balanced/weighted job scheduling, expanded font synchronization, and more. Also new in Deadline 7.1 is an updated version of Draft, a lightweight compositing and video processing plugin designed to automate typical post-render tasks such as creating and processing QuickTimes, thumbnails, and other deliverables. 

Note that a new 7.1 license is required to run this version. If you have a license for Deadline 7.0 or earlier, you will need an updated license. In addition, the version of Draft that ships with Deadline 7.1 needs a new 1.3 license. If you have a license for Draft 1.2 or earlier, you will need an updated license.

Highlighted Features

These are the highlighted features in Deadline 7.1. See the complete Deadline 7.1 User Manual for the complete release notes.

Enhanced Logic for Balanced/Weighted Job Scheduling

An experimental Enhanced Balancing Logic option has been added for balanced/weighted scheduling options in the Job Scheduling settings. When this option is enabled, the Slaves will use the new SlaveJobState collection in the database to get a more accurate snapshot of all the rendering jobs in the farm, and use this information to make better decisions about which job they should be rendering.

Testing has shown that when this option is enabled, a proper distribution of Slaves among jobs is much more consistent, and Slaves no longer jump between jobs of the same priority. The result is more predictable behavior, and less wasted time due to the overhead of switching between jobs that are expensive to start up.

New Slave Metrics

Slaves now report their Network I/O, Disk I/O, and Swap usage, which can be viewed from the Monitor. This information is also stored in the statistics that are gathered for the Slaves.

In addition, Swap usage for the rendering process is stored with a job’s task when it completes, and is also stored in the statistics for the job when it completes.

Improved Slaves Statistics Reports

The Slave Resource Usage farm report is now called the Slaves Overview farm report, and shows additional statistics. For example, the new Slaves Overview chart shows how many slaves were in each state (starting job, rendering, idle, offline, stalled, and disabled). In addition, the new Available/Active Slaves charts show the number of slaves that are available, and the number of available slaves that are active. Finally, the new Plugin Usage chart shows the overall usage of the render plugins.

Both the Slaves Over and Active Slaves Stats reports can also be shown for a given region. This allows you see statistics for slaves in a specific Cloud region, or in specific areas in the office (ie: render nodes versus workstations). Note that this requires you to set which regions your slaves belong to in their Slave Settings.

Improved Graphs in the Monitor

Line and Bar graphs in the Monitor now support panning and zooming, and a right-click option has been added to reset the zoom level. In addition, individual series in some Line graphs can be shown/hidden from the right-click menu. Finally, the axis labels in these graphs have been updated to properly represent integer and date/time values, which makes them easier to read.

Expanded Font Synchronization

The new FontSync event plugin that ships with Deadline can be used to synchronize fonts on Mac OS X and Windows before the Slave application starts rendering any job, or when the Slave first starts up. This general FontSync event plugin replaces the font synchronization options in the After Effects plugin and now works for ALL plugin types in Deadline.

Improved Job Batch Display

Deadline 7 introduced the ability to group jobs together in the Monitor by setting their Batch Name property. Now, all Deadline submitters automatically set the Batch Name if multiple related jobs are being submitted at the same time. For example, when submitting each render layer as a separate job in Maya, they will all be part of the same batch. Another example is submitting a Jigsaw render with a dependent assembly job.

In addition, the Batch Row in the job list in the Monitor now shows information for all columns, depending on the settings for the jobs in the batch. For numeric settings like priority or machine limit, the largest value for the jobs is shown. For settings like pool and group, the value will be shown if all jobs have the same value, and if they don’t, <batch> is shown instead. For all other columns, <batch> is simply shown.

Finally, the counts above the job list in the job panel now show the number of batches in the list, and the selected count now ignores selected batches so that it properly represents the number of selected jobs.

Protected Jobs

Jobs now have a “Protected” property. When enabled, the job can only be deleted by the job’s user, a super user, or a user that belongs to a user group that has permissions to handle protected jobs. Other users will not be able to delete the job, and the job will also not be cleaned up by Deadline’s automatic house cleaning. This is useful if you have jobs you need to keep around for testing or benchmark purposes.

Flexible Image Viewer Configuration

The Monitor has always had the option to specify up to three viewers to use when viewing images from the Task list. Now, optional command line arguments can be set, which are then passed to the viewer when viewing images. There are also special tags, which are replaced automatically with information about the image being viewed.

The following tags are supported in the command line options:
- {FRAME}: This represents the task’s frame file. For example: /path/to/image0002.png
- {SEQ#}: This represents the task’s frame sequence files, using ‘#’ as the padding. For example: /path/to/image####.png
- {SEQ?}: This represents the task’s frame sequence files, using ‘?’ as the padding. For example: /path/to/image????.png
- {SEQ@}: This represents the task’s frame sequence files, using ‘@’ as the padding. For example: /path/to/image@@@@.png
- {SEQ%}: This represents the task’s frame sequence files, using ‘%d’ as the padding. For example: /path/to/image%04d.png

The arguments default to “{FRAME}”, which keeps the default behavior from previous versions of Deadline intact.

In addition, proper names can be given to the viewers, which are shown in their corresponding menu items. Finally, viewers can be configured to support chunked tasks (tasks which consist of more than one frame).

Standalone Web Service Application

A standalone Web Service application is now shipped with Deadline, and is called deadlineWebService.exe. It works exactly the same as the Web Service feature that is built into Deadline Pulse, and both can be configured using the new Web Service page in the Repository Options.

Install Launcher as Daemon on Mac OS X

The Deadline Client installer now has an option to install the Launcher as a Daemon on Mac OS X. This feature lets you run the Launcher daemon as root, or as another user account.

Improved Submission Script Installers

The submission script installers now show what DEADLINE_PATH is set to (which is used by the submission scripts to determine where the Deadline Client’s bin folder is located). You then have the option to change it if it’s incorrect, or set it if it doesn’t exist. This is useful if you have multiple versions of Deadline installed on your system.

A side-effect of this improvement is that it allows you to update DEADLINE_PATH without having to reinstall the Deadline Client or manually changing your system’s environment. To do this, simply run any submission script installer, change the DEADLINE_PATH value, and uncheck all options listed in the Components list. The installer will then update the DEADLINE_PATH without installing the submission script files.

Draft Updated to Version

This version of Draft requires a new Draft 1.3 licenses, and includes the following updates:

EXR Images:
- Added support for EXR data and display windows (previously data windows were set to the same size as the display windows).
- Updated to OpenEXR 2.2.0.

LUT support:
- Added ACES 1.0 LUTs to the included ocio-configs folder.
- Improved the robustness of the Draft ASCCDL Reader. The reader can now handle different syntax in its input file.

- Fixed a bug when encoding an image with VideoEncoder. The VideoEncoder was applying a bit of scaling to the image.
- Fixed bug on Mac OS X where encoding with certain dimensions (ie: 640 x 480) was causing a memory error crash.

Draft Tile Assembler:
- Added support for assembling big images by exposing a new class in Python called TileAssembler. Most of the logic of an assembly job can now be handled internally

New Application Support

Support has been added for many AEC (Architecture Engineering Construction) and Product Visualization products, including AutoCAD, CSiBridge, CSiETABS, CSiSAFE, CSiSAP2000, EnergyPlus, MicroStation, VRED and VREDCluster.

Support has also been added for 3ds Max 2016, Anime Studio 11, Composite 2016, Corona distributed rendering, Maya 2016, Media Encoder, Houdini 14, LuxSlave distributed rendering, Natron, Nuke Studio Frame Server distributed rendering, Renderman RIS for Maya, VRay for modo, and Vue 2015.