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Erik Selin
Erik Selin

3D artist & all that other stuff

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Blender add-on review: Render plus

When I first came across Render+ and read the product page I was kind of confused to what it did or why I would want it. But once I tried it I realized that it deals with and remedy many of the details that can be real pain points when rendering.

What is render+? Render+ is a Blender add-on that features batch rendering for both Eevee and Cycles, notifications and power options. Notifications come in the form of playable sound, e-mail notifications or RSS feed. Batch rendering works through a server setup that communicates over HTTP. This may sound complex at first but it is a very elegant and easy to use solution.

Let’s see what render+ brings to the table in a little more detail.

External content: Get render+ from Blendermarket.

How to install render+

We can install render+ just like any other add-on in Blender. Once downloaded, go to the Edit menu and find preferences. From there, find the add-on tab and press “install”.

Browse for the zip file that came as part of your purchase and press “install”. Then check the checkbox next to the add-on entry to enable it.

When the add-on is enabled a section with settings appear just below the regular add-on information area. We will revisit these areas as we explore the add-on more later in the article.

These images show where you find the add-on once it is installed and you closed preferences.

For these settings to show, batch rendering needs to be enabled in user preferences.

What features are there in render+ and where are they?

Render+ has a handful of neat features that help us protect us from ourselves along with a notification system and batch rendering.

These are some of those features:

  • Check for missing textures before we start our render
  • Auto hide objects that are hidden in the viewport, but we forgot to hide in the render.
  • Power features enabling us to turn off or sleep our computer once a render has finished.
  • Auto save finished renders

It also allows us to customize extensively through scripting or commands for more advanced users.

You have two sets of settings for render+. One set for your normal rendering. These settings affect your F12 render. You can find these settings in the properties panel below the render tab there is a “render+ settings” section.

Keep in mind that, for instance, enabling E-Mail notifications here, won’t give you E-Mail notifications for your batch rendering. Only for your F12 and Ctrl+F12 renders.

The second set of settings are for batch rendering and needs to be enabled in the preferences. Go to the add-on section and find the “batch” button. Press it and enable “Show batch render panel”.

These settings appear in the output tab in the properties panel. There you will find the “render+ batch” section.

Notifications in Render+

The notification options are threefold.

  • Sound notification
  • E-Mail notification
  • RSS Feed for batch rendering only

Sound

The sound notification is just what it sounds like. A sound of our choosing that plays when a render is completed. We can customize what sound file is played and at what volume from the same place where we install and enable the add-on.

E-mail

E-Mail notifications allow you to have an e-mail sent to any e-mail address. You set up your e-mail server in the add-ons preferences and there are presets available for the more common providers, Gmail, Hotmail and Yahoo.

Something to keep in mind is that the e-mail password is not encrypted when stored on your hard drive. But if you use SSL the password is encrypted in transit.

In the manual you can read that it is recommended to use a separate e-mail for notifications because of this. Something I would strongly agree with.

For batch rendering the notifications works well, you get an e-mail with some data such as fastest and slowest render in the batch and how long the whole thing took.

For single renders though, I always get an email saying that the render took 00.00.00 time to complete. Nonetheless, it is still a notification and this will probably get fixed in the near future.

RSS feed

RSS seems to only be available for batch rendering. A file called feed.rss is generated on batch rendering creating an entry in the RSS list for each job in the batch. These gets updated as they get completed. Starting as queued before moving into a processing state and ends up in a finished state.

A new RSS feed file is generated for each batch job.

This means that for this to be effective you have to have some kind of receiving RSS reader that can pickup an RSS file as it gets generated and then report back as the job progresses.

Personally, I would have liked it if it was just one RSS file that jobs were appended to. This way I would not need a system in place to find those RSS files automatically as they got generated. I could just have one file and have my RSS reader constantly read it as more and more jobs got added to it.

Perhaps it is my lack of understanding of RSS that limits me more than the actual implementation. But those are my thoughts on it.

Batch rendering with Render+

The batch rendering is where this add-on really shines. While I like the E-Mail notifications and the other features making life just a little easier I think batch rendering is what this add-on is for.

Both the interface and implementation is well-made. There is only one feature I am missing. The ability to create my own presets, or at least override presets. I will explain why when we have looked at all the features.

Quick Batch presets

When we are ready to start a batch render job, we can choose to set up an empty job list or start from a preset.

These are the available presets.

  • Scenes
    • Set up a render job for each scene with that scenes main camera.
  • Markers
    • Creates either one animation for each frame range between markers or a still render for each marker.
  • Cameras
    • Set up a render job for each camera in a scene.
  • View layers
    • Set up a render job for each view layer.
  • Large render
    • This preset divides the camera view into multiple pieces that we can later stitch together in a 2D application such as GIMP or Photoshop. It is meant for really large resolutions.
  • Color looks
    • Unfortunately this preset does not work anymore since the looks that it is based on was removed in an earlier version of Blender.

These saves us some time when setting up Render+ for a batch. A very nice feature since many batch tools in general don’t provide much in the way of presets, meaning that we have to set them up over and over. This is not the case with Render+.

You can find more information about each preset in the render+ manual.

External content: Render+ manual quick batch presets

Batch setup and example

Once we chose a preset or went with an empty project, we are presented with the batch setup interface. It has a list of all render jobs. You can think of each as representing one finished image or animation.

Below the list are three tabs with settings for the selected render job.

In the scene tab we choose the input, what scene and camera do we give as input for the render.

The render tab can be thought of as the output. Where do we store the final result, what resolution and format do we want etc.

The last tab called custom is where we can set up overrides. I would consider this an advanced feature, but a very powerful one.

In this tab we can change the value of almost any parameter in our scene per render job. Also known as overrides.

Let’s say that we wanted to sell a 3D model on a marketplace, so we want to render a lot of angles of our model, and we also want to render wireframe views.

We could set up a camera for every angle, then use the Camera quick batch option to have them set up for rendering.

For our wireframe rendering we can use freestyle and set up a custom override like this for each angle.

This makes if fairly easy to make multiple versions of the same render and have them batch rendered.

There is also some global settings we have access to, we can get to them by clicking the gear icon next to the “Start batch” button. Here we can make changes that affect all jobs as well as log files, notifications and power options for the entire batch.

In the action tab, we can input commands that run before or after each job or before or after the entire batch.

The server side

The batch process is handled by a batch server. This is a separate process that will start on your computer to handle the rendering. This is a really nice solution. It means that Blender won’t crash if something goes wrong during the rendering process. Instead, only the batch server would crash, potentially saving data stored in your blend file.

Blender communicates with the batch server over HTTP. This means that even if there is no real network activity, you may need to allow Blender to reach the batch server through your firewall. On Windows, this comes in the form of a pop-up where you can allow the communication.

Since the batch server is its own process, there is also an API that we can use to communicate with the batch server making it very customizable.

Like I touched on in the beginning of this section, there is one feature I am missing. The ability to add my own presets, or at least my own override presets.

Currently, if I build up a workflow around custom overrides, expanding on the idea outlined above, I would have to type in code every time I am working on a new Blend file.

If I instead could just create my own template that I select every time I follow a certain workflow that would save me a lot of time.

In its current form, I am hesitant to use the feature since it would require me to constantly setup those overrides and have a separate file where I store the code snippets required to change the correct parameters.

Final thoughts

Render+ is built to give the user as much control as possible. It is essentially our own easy-to-use-render-server-in-a-box if you will with a lot of customization.

To take full advantage of all the features though, you need to spend a bit of time to learn some simple python, such as how to set parameters for the overrides.

However, anyone can learn that and Blender has great tools to expose the code you need in the interface, such as through tooltips and the info editor.

External content: Get render+ from Blendermarket.

If you go through the link and buy Render+ you not only get the add-on. You also support the continued development of the add-on. The link is also an affiliate link and the commission earned helps artisticrender.com stay online at no extra cost to you.

Thanks for your time.

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