Free Tutorial: Generating Faster Renders Using Command Shells

Free Tutorial: Generating Faster Renders Using Command Shells

In this month's free tutorial, I have a real treat for you - something which I know many VFX artist wish they could do. It all stems from my experience working in the industry where I have so often witnessed artists resorting automatically to using Maya's Render Tool when they could actually be so much more efficient if they knew some of the alternatives available to them.

So, I am going to introduce you all to 'Command Shells', and teach you how to use command line rendering. I know, I know, it often sounds a little daunting to take things down to command line, but trust me, this is a professional skill which will help you stand out from the rest and seriously speed up your workflows.

In an age when scenes are constantly increasing in size, being able to utilise RAM efficently on your system is vital and using 'Command Shell' is a great way of achieving this.

I will begin by looking at rendering in Maya. I will essentially make sure you understand how rendering is achieved, and then when that is done, we will take a look at the 2 Command Shells options which are available to you through WIndows 7. I will teach you how to control the environment variables by manually editing paths, and how to specify where the system will look for certain executable files - in this case the Bin folder in the Maya directory.  

I finish the video tutorial by showing you how to access help and view lists of commands - many of which can be utilised to not only navigate the Bin folder, but also your entire system. By the end of the video you will be happy using the shells as part of your workflow, whether it's just looking at pictures or launching the render of one of your Maya scenes.

  •     Editing paths and solving problems
  •     Using the Bin Folder in Maya
  •     Accessing and viewing a list of commands
  •     Using shells as part of your workflow

I'll be working on more new tutorials with the rest of the tutors here at Escape Studios, so if you have an idea or think that you might be able to share some of your expertise with our online community, just drop me a line.

If you have never created an account on our website, you'll need to register here first. Once you've registered - or if you're already registered on our site - just click here to watch the tutorial.

7 Comments Lee Danskin

Posted by
Lee Danskin
Tue 18 Oct 2011: 11:54am

Tags: , , , , , ,


  • Lee Danskin:

    Indeed by right clicking its quick but this does not take into account which project is set or give you any options to control the renderer and does not work on linux or osX or allow me to specify frame range etc to render I have to open the scene first... save exit right click...

    it also means you can only execute one render this is also not that efficient, i could on the command line specify the number of cores to use for each render ie if i have 8gbs ram but my render only uses 4gbs ram then starting two renders, using half the cores for each render will produce more renders than a single render runiing alone faster...

    if you have multiple versions of maya it also does not allow you to choose a renderer or version.

    The command line also gives you access to numerous other utilities that come with maya such as imgcvt, imf_disp among a lot of others

    it also allows you to run maya in prompt and batch mode

    the idea was not to make it easy... but to give you more options...

    the easiest is still in maya just to hit batch render but thats the problem.....

    If you wish to work at any high post production facility then they generally run linux which requires that you understand command line workflows which gives much easier access to scripting and python.

  • Laurent MENU:

    Hello, I think you can achieve the same result faster : just right clic on your file and choose Render.

  • James:

    I'm actually clicking on the tutorial in extra detail button, and getting the original tutorial again. Not sure why that is?

  • James:

    Sorry folks, not that impressed but I haven't tried it out for myself yet. This looks pretty long winded to me but then I'm not really into technical with this kind of command line stuff.

  • Lee Danskin:

    Hi Kevin,

    Yes the batch script is very useful, I've used it myself many times but it still requires the environment variable to be set, and you need to make sure your folder options are set to show extensions so you can rename it to a .bat file i get a lot of people renaming the file to .bat.txt and they doubleclick away with obvious results... also on linux and osx batch scripts don't work and need to change to bash,csh,tcsh shell scripts, so i thought i'd start with the real basics.
    We'll hopefully build up from there.



  • Kevin Richter:

    Hello Lee,

    I use a 'Windows Batch File' for rendering. Although it is virtually the same as what you have described here it seems a lot simpler to use, and more efficient, especially if you have a lot of rendering to do (which I do on a weekly basis).

    You probably know this already but I'll list what I do just incase.

    I create a 'Windows Batch File' by saving a Notepad file with the extension '.bat'. I use the same commands you described (render -r mr Path_to_folder/Maya_file.mb etc). The .bat file is saved and closed. Clicking on the .bat file to open it starts the rendering, so you have to right click and select 'Edit' to edit the file.

    Very simple to use and you can type in as many scenes as you want to render in the same file, so it acts as a render queue.

    That's my method picked up from the web many years ago :)

    All the best,

  • Rob O'Dea:

    Many thanks for this, I wasn't aware what batch render was doing, so I'm not using that again !

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