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Thinkbox Software has new Deadline 7 Software for creatives on Mac

In this article we look at the new Deadline 7 rendering farm management system with its associated tools and the technology that takes it across platform to OS X and Linux. Deadline 7 is from KRATATOA’s maker, Thinkbox Software.

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Deadline 7 is a hassle-free administration and rendering toolkit for Windows, Linux and Mac OS X render farms. It offers support for over 50 different AEC and animation software packages out of the box for render farms of all sizes.

Introducing Deadline 7

Thinkbox software debut Deadline 7 at Autodesk University a few weeks ago. This latest version is now available across platforms and is a scalable high-volume compute management solution that boasts built-in VMX (virtual machine extension) capabilities. This allows artists, architects, and engineers to harness resources in both public and private clouds.

“Deadline 7 enables users to set up a pop-up cloud™ and compute on-demand, anytime, anywhere. 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.”

01 - Deadline 7 by Thinkbox Software now supports Mac OS X and Linux in addition to Windows, adding rendering management and render farm management tool to OSO X arsenal.

01 – Deadline 7 by Thinkbox Software now supports Mac OS X and Linux in addition to Windows, adding rendering management and render farm management tool to OS X arsenal. (image courtesy, Thinkbox Software. All rights reserved.)

Deadline 7 expands on the new cloud and cross-platform support with the new “Jigsaw” multi-region feature, which can now be accessed in Autodesk 3ds Max, Autodesk Maya, The Foundry’s modo and McNeel’s Rhino. Deadline 7 also intros Draft 1.2, an update to Thinkbox’s lightweight compositing and video processing plugin designed to automate typical post-render tasks—tasks such as image format conversion, creation of animated videos and QuickTime movies, contact sheets, watermarks, and exported images.

Key Features List

  • VMX Integration — with virtual machine extension built in and pluggable cloud support Deadline 7 can interact with private and public cloud solutions out-of-the-box, including Amazon EC2, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, and OpenStack, among others.
  • Upgrades Database — Deadline 7 now uses MongoDB 2.6 with redundant database support
  • New Application Support — Adobe After Effects CC 2014, Solid Angle’s Arnold for Houdini, Maxon Cinema 4D 16, Render Region’s Corona, Blackmagic Design Fusion 7, The Foundry’s NUKE 9, and Next Limit’s RealFlow 2014
  • Enhanced UI — Deadline 7 uses updated Qt and PyQt libraries at version 5 and deployed the new Fusion theme that scales better at larger resolutions, including 4K
  • Slave Scheduling and Idle Detection — slave machines can be detected, started and stopped at various periods of the day
  • Local Slave Controls — artists can see the states of Slaves running on their machines as well as control the Slaves
  • Draft 1.2 — the latest version of the Deadline plugin adds support for OpenColorIO, ASC CDL LUT, and Unicode as well as licensing improvements
  • Many more features…

Shared slave licensing, job dependencies updates, pulse redundancy, and streamlined pool and group management round out features.

Though not mentioned above in the list, SketchUp 2015 is also now supported with Deadline 7. This adds to the AEC applications in Rhino and 3ds Max in particular for AEC visualization professionals.

Built with Qt and Mono—Getting to Mac OS X and Linux

Deadline 7 is now available on Mac OS X and Linux due to the use of the cross-platform, open source .NET framework known as Mono. For applications built around Microsoft’s .NET framework, Mono is the technology to help these apps migrate to a cross-platform strategy model. The latest versions of Mono support several Unix operating systems, Mac OS X, iOS, Linux, game console OS’s, and Microsoft Windows.

02 - Draft 1.2 is the latest tool that integrates with Deadline users, offering post-render functionality to artists. (courtesy Thinkbox Software, All rights reserved.)

02 – Draft 1.2 is the latest tool that integrates with Deadline users, offering post-render functionality to artists. (courtesy Thinkbox Software, All rights reserved.)

The Qt cross-platform application development framework is something Architosh has written about in the past briefly. Now at version 5.4 the C++ or QML based environment is behind Deadline 7.

Architosh Commentary

Thinkbox Software’s Deadline is a bit of a new discovery. For some background, the company was launched just back in 2010 by special effects industry veteran Chris Bond, who was a visual effects supervisor on numerous hit movies under his leadership at Frantic Films, with titles such as Resident Evil: Apocalypse, X-Men 2, Superman Returns, among others. He was later senior visual effects supervisor with Prime Focus on Avatar.

Starting Frantic Films in 1997, in addition to its VFX titles in hit movies the company did research and development and this technology eventually was acquired and then re-acquired by Bond to start building out Thinkbox Software. The company has several products and creates tools for pipeline technology. The company claims its technology is also being used in the CAD/CAM, Engineering and non-clinical Medical visualization industries around the world, to help visualize and modify datasets as large as city streets and as small as microscopic cells.

Perhaps the most similar company we cover to Thinkbox would be PipelineFX with its hit Qube! render farm management tools.

Another key tool for the 3D professional from Thinkbox Software is KRAKATOA, which is a proven volumetric particle rendering toolkit. It works in conjunction with Autodesk 3ds Max, Maya on all platforms (Windows, Mac, Linux) and on Cinema 4D on all platforms, as well as standalone on all platforms. If you have seen Avatar or Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows 2, you have seen KRAKATOA at work.

Lastly, Thinkbox Software’s other interesting tool for Mac 3D artists is XMESH, a proven geometry caching technology. It helps anyone, architects to 3D artists push assets between Autodesk’s 3ds Max and Maya. It works as a plugin in those hosts apps, is multithreaded and dramatically reduces data size in a lossless data compression scheme.

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