Planetside Software Forums

General => Open Discussion => Topic started by: diverone on May 24, 2019, 02:03:59 AM

Title: Be careful don't make the same mistake I did.
Post by: diverone on May 24, 2019, 02:03:59 AM
If you are new to using Pixel Plow please read this so you don't make the same mistake I did and yes many have made this mistake in fact PP has a page devoted to it - do not become as they put it a, 'statistic'. I signed up and paid the ten bucks then submitted a job - I uploaded the TG 4 scene with files etc. I actually thought the ten bucks was a starting point.  I wanted a single frame rendered. I started then went out for a bit, came back and bam it was at $211.00. I cancelled the order. Not a single frame rendered  - 0. If not a single frame from 0-100 was actually rendered what did I pay for? I never read about a max budget etc or frames I assumed something and paid the price for that assumption. I contacted Pixel Plow and asked if they could possibly make an exception after all I paid $211.00 without a single delivered frame - nothing. They response:

"We wish we were able to extend more leniency on these sorts of issues, but at the end of the day, we’re a business and have operating costs."

Leniency? That's what a prosecutor tells you. They also said that they weren't hiding anything from me, I never said they did. They say this because others have claimed hidden costs, etc.
Title: Re: Be careful don't make the same mistake I did.
Post by: N-drju on May 24, 2019, 09:21:33 AM
What...??

So, in the end, what was that 211 bucks for?!

Thank you for that warning. I will never use Pixel Plow. Sounds like they are just sneaky, little cheats if they so readily take money for nothing. It all sounds super weird.

Luckily, the guys at Planetside here are very transparent and honest and they offer you a possibility to use several machines at once for rendering purposes, saving you the trouble of dealing with unscrupulous businesses.

I'm sorry you learned the hard way. Maybe you could contact a consumer union or something to get your money back?
Title: Re: Be careful don't make the same mistake I did.
Post by: digitalguru on May 24, 2019, 11:09:11 AM
I was considering submitting a job to them, while it might not put me off, I'm definitely going to investigate further.

If it's a single frame - surely must be a massive frame with a large number of tiles and a high power setting requested? Would be good to know.

That's one unfortunate story, would be great to hear any others experiences with Pixel Plow before I pull the trigger.
Title: Re: Be careful don't make the same mistake I did.
Post by: Rumburak on May 24, 2019, 12:11:15 PM
I rendered several (single frame) jobs on PixelPlow and I never paid more than $5 (lowest Power Settings). You have to take care that you select only one frame and the 'estimated costs' in the PixelPlowAgent are not predicted very well for single frame jobs. But in the end I never had a problem with PP.
I agree with digitalguru, it would be good to know the settings of the job you sent to PP.
Title: Re: Be careful don't make the same mistake I did.
Post by: cyphyr on May 24, 2019, 12:17:22 PM
I'm sorry you had problems with Pixel Plow and feel badly treated.
I use them all the time and have never had any problems with them.
I have two jobs on the farm now for different clients and they are going through quickly and well.

A couple of things to keep in mind and this will apply to any render farm.

ALWAYS do a render on your home/studio computer at your final output settings first. Then use the farms render calculator to get an estimate of the final cost. They are pretty accurate and generally slightly overestimate.

Don't use quality and AA settings higher than you need. The time difference and resultant quality is not always worth it and in some cases can make an image look worse.

Remember that the farm is by definition rendering multiple frames at the same time, not one frame after another so it "could" have been that you had a hundred frames each at 90% and they were nearly ready all finished.

A price of $211 for 1 frame after going out for "only a bit" (a matter of hours?) sounds like the render power settings were set at higher than the default 0.8 (the lowest setting) and that you were rendering multiple frames, not a single frame. Were you rendering at a particularly high resolution?

I'm sure there are other pointers for successful farm rendering and others will chime in if they think of any.

Finally, do check on here if there are any scene specific changes that may help with a project. Plenty of helpful users willing to give advice.
Title: Re: Be careful don't make the same mistake I did.
Post by: Oshyan on May 24, 2019, 10:47:01 PM
Cross-posted from this other thread (https://planetside.co.uk/forums/index.php/topic,18795.msg264903.html#msg264903), but best discussed here since the other thread is about a different original subject.

While this outcome is definitely unfortunate, what happened here is that the user submitted a job at default 5.0 power level, and then did not select a single frame to render, but rather accepted the default frame range of frames 0-100. So PixelPlow started a 100 frame job and thus was consuming resources across 50 or more machines simultaneously, each trying to render its own full image. This is essentially the result of not checking all settings on the submission form before pressing submit, and with money on the line I'm not sure why one would do that.

It's troubling that this may be a common issue with PixelPlow users, but I think if you look at the job submission steps and the settings you have available, you should be able to see that you'd want to change some of those defaults depending on your needs. I do think a "Render Single Tiled Image" checkbox might be a good idea for their submission tool though, but of course people would still have to check that box and not simply accept the defaults.

- Oshyan
Title: Re: Be careful don't make the same mistake I did.
Post by: digitalguru on May 24, 2019, 10:55:11 PM
Makes sense now...

Thanks for the info Oshyan!
Title: Re: Be careful don't make the same mistake I did.
Post by: diverone on May 25, 2019, 12:33:08 AM
Cross-posted from this other thread (https://planetside.co.uk/forums/index.php/topic,18795.msg264903.html#msg264903), but best discussed here since the other thread is about a different original subject.

While this outcome is definitely unfortunate, what happened here is that the user submitted a job at default 5.0 power level, and then did not select a single frame to render, but rather accepted the default frame range of frames 0-100. So PixelPlow started a 100 frame job and thus was consuming resources across 50 or more machines simultaneously, each trying to render its own full image. This is essentially the result of not checking all settings on the submission form before pressing submit, and with money on the line I'm not sure why one would do that.

It's troubling that this may be a common issue with PixelPlow users, but I think if you look at the job submission steps and the settings you have available, you should be able to see that you'd want to change some of those defaults depending on your needs. I do think a "Render Single Tiled Image" checkbox might be a good idea for their submission tool though, but of course people would still have to check that box and not simply accept the defaults.

-


$211.00 charged and not a single frame rendered. Zero. So at just over two
Hundred dollars spent with zero frames rendered across 50 cpus what would cost have
Been if 100 frames were actually rendered? $2,111.00? $21,500? If my scene was never actually
Completed what did I pay for?
Title: Re: Be careful don't make the same mistake I did.
Post by: diverone on May 25, 2019, 12:38:19 AM
Makes sense now...

Thanks for the info Oshyan!
Title: Re: Be careful don't make the same mistake I did.
Post by: Oshyan on May 25, 2019, 01:17:09 AM
It's not my intention to argue with you or explain every aspect of how their system behaved and why. Remember, we are separate companies, we can't ultimately provide support for their service. I just wanted to provide some context and point out that what happened isn't inexplicable (though it is unfortunate). Again I'm sorry that this happened and I totally understand that being out $210 is pretty upsetting.

- Oshyan
Title: Re: Be careful don't make the same mistake I did.
Post by: archonforest on May 25, 2019, 10:35:11 AM
If its not done yet, PixelPlow should at least render the needed frame out and give it to the customer anyways. Even though it looks like the customer made an error with the order it would be a bare minimum and a nice gesture. Just to have some exchange.
Title: Re: Be careful don't make the same mistake I did.
Post by: Oshyan on May 25, 2019, 08:01:44 PM
The job was canceled by the user, it can't be resumed so it would have to be restarted. Not to mention it was a 100 frame sequence with - as far as I understand it - no animation, so that wouldn't be useful to actually deliver. It would be difficult for PixelPlow to automatically determine if something is actually animated in the file, so it relies on the user specifying whether they want a frame sequence or single image, which did not happen correctly in this case.

- Oshyan
Title: Re: Be careful don't make the same mistake I did.
Post by: archonforest on May 26, 2019, 06:42:30 AM
The job was canceled by the user, it can't be resumed so it would have to be restarted. Not to mention it was a 100 frame sequence with - as far as I understand it - no animation, so that wouldn't be useful to actually deliver. It would be difficult for PixelPlow to automatically determine if something is actually animated in the file, so it relies on the user specifying whether they want a frame sequence or single image, which did not happen correctly in this case.

- Oshyan

Ohh boy... :-[
Title: Re: Be careful don't make the same mistake I did.
Post by: René on May 26, 2019, 08:04:19 AM
the 'estimated costs' in the PixelPlowAgent are not predicted very well for single frame jobs.
When you buy something, it's nice to know in advance what it will cost. Even if only an estimate is given, is it not reasonable to assume that it will not cost more than twice as much?
Title: Re: Be careful don't make the same mistake I did.
Post by: Rumburak on May 26, 2019, 09:58:29 AM
When you buy something, it's nice to know in advance what it will cost. Even if only an estimate is given, is it not reasonable to assume that it will not cost more than twice as much?

True. But I guess it's really difficult to estimate the correct rendering costs for the first frame - for the customer and for PP as well. After the first frame it should be easier to calculate, but in case of a single frame render job, the job is already finished at this point. The current system is 'OK', and as I said, I never paid more than $5 for a single frame. But I would also appreciate a better estimation of the final costs, if that is possible.
Title: Re: Be careful don't make the same mistake I did.
Post by: diverone on May 27, 2019, 01:36:36 AM
When you buy something, it's nice to know in advance what it will cost. Even if only an estimate is given, is it not reasonable to assume that it will not cost more than twice as much?

True. But I guess it's really difficult to estimate the correct rendering costs for the first frame - for the customer and for PP as well. After the first frame it should be easier to calculate, but in case of a single frame render job, the job is already finished at this point. The current system is 'OK', and as I said, I never paid more than $5 for a single frame. But I would also appreciate a better estimation of the final costs, if that is possible.

There was no cost estimate on when my 0-100 render would be done. I made the mistake of not making sure that it was set at 1:1 single frame, I know this now. I would never drop a car off at an auto shop and leave without ever getting some kind of maximum estimate on what the repairs would cost, I would not take an answer like "We'll let you know how much when we're done..." If I had left the house to go out for a few hours say six hours I might have come back to a 0% progress, 0 frames rendered and a bill of $6,500.00 or even up to over $10,000 USD. That's my estimate on the time it took to reach $211.00 without any frames rendered. Again all I am doing is warning anyone else who may or may know this.
Title: Re: Be careful don't make the same mistake I did.
Post by: WASasquatch on May 30, 2019, 04:31:29 PM
the 'estimated costs' in the PixelPlowAgent are not predicted very well for single frame jobs.
When you buy something, it's nice to know in advance what it will cost. Even if only an estimate is given, is it not reasonable to assume that it will not cost more than twice as much?

This does seem like a legal grey area to me, actually. I'm pretty sure federal trade and consumer laws require the consumer made aware of sales taxes (which must be occurring if this is a business offering a service) before a finalized purchase. And that couldn't be calculated without a total.

We used to offer rendering at the data center I used to work at, and we just did it very simple. The price was based on watt hours, price of the power bill, and use markup. That gave the user a flat usage rate based on 100% load (even if they didn't use that much power) with a markup allowing a final price and tax. Additionally, it was dirt cheap. Huge C4D file would be done in couple hours for 2 bucks. And this was back when we all did that weird abstract explosion stuff in C4D and literally stress tested it with every render.

I imagine there is so much inflation here. Even with my 1000watt PSU and using TG day and night my power bill, including all other PCs, laptops, CRT TVs, lights, fridge, stove, hot water, 2 AC units, and whatever else, was 50 bucks every 2 months soooo.... Lol (Though we do sell California power almost annually so we may have different market)