Maya To Arnold Export Workflow in Deadline

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Version: Deadline 9.0 and later


In many of our applications we've built in a workflow of exporting scene files that are then rendered by standalone applications. This workflow is particularly good at giving pipeline managers more control over their farm's licensing situation, as well as allowing the render nodes to be light-weight by running standalone renderers. In general, exported scenes are also much smaller than scene files, which can decrease transfer times on your render farm.

This blog post will take a brief look at how this workflow might look if you were using the Autodesk ® Maya ® software in combination with the Arnold renderer.


Before I walk you through this workflow, I'm going to make the following assumptions:

  • You have Maya installed
  • The integrated submitter for Maya has been installed
  • You have a scene, which is probably prettier than mine, that you need to render
  • And finally, you have the standalone version of Arnold

With those assumptions out of the way, we can start up Maya, and load our scene file. Once loaded, open up the Deadline submitter (go to the Deadline tab and click on the green submission icon).

Scroll down to "Deadline Job Type", since we'll be ignoring the generic job options for this tutorial. From here we choose which standalone renderer we want to export to.

For Maya, in Deadline 9.0, we support an export workflow for many renderers, but for the purpose of this blog entry, we'll be sticking with Arnold. Once you've made your selection, the section below will update to display options relevant to the export job.

If you leave the options as is, the submitter will create a job that only exports the scene and nothing else. We also allow you to export directly from the submitter by selecting "Local Export to Arnold", if sending the export to the farm doesn't appeal to you. You might choose this if exporting the scene takes such a negligible amount of time that it's not worth distributing to the render nodes, or if there's a shortage of Maya licenses in the office.

Now that we're exporting the scene, there are two different ways you can render the final output. The first method is to enable "Submit Dependent Arnold Standalone Render Job" in the integrated submitter. As the name implies, it creates a job that won't be picked up by the render nodes until the export has completed. With that set, you're then able to set the job options for that dependent job just below, and then submit the job!

The second method, which is a bit more manual, is to submit a job through the Monitor submitter. In the Monitor, you can open the Arnold submitter by navigating through Submit -> 3D -> Arnold Submission. As a requirement, you need to have the scene exported before you submit this job, which you'll use to fill in the "Arnold File" field. The rest of the job options can be tweaked to your pipeline and then submitted.

This method is particularly useful if you need to re-submit the render without redoing the export process.


Congratulations, that's all there is to it! Or wait a minute... Let's say you've tried the workflow and you like exporting, but when it comes time to render your extremely large still image, the load isn't distributed enough. Using a feature currently unique to exporting Arnold from within Maya, we actually allow you to combine region rendering with your exports! Whether you prefer Jigsaw or Tile Rendering, you can divvy the scene up as you see fit to further optimize your render time. Assuming this appeals to you, head back over to the integrated submitter in Maya, where we selected all the exporting and dependent job options.

At the bottom, you'll find our usual Region Rendering section which we can use with the exporting! I won't go into too much detail about the options for region rendering, as we've already got a blog post and documentation that cover it, but the most important part is that it's been enabled. When we put these workflows together, it results in us exporting the scene file from Maya, rendering the tiles through Arnold, and finally assembling those tiles with the Draft plugin for the final output.


Maya isn't the only application with an export workflow that is supported by Deadline. This workflow is also supported for applications like MAXON CINEMA 4D ® and Side Effects Houdini ®. You can get a better idea of all the export workflows by heading over to our Deadline 9 documentation, but if you don't see support for your preferred renderer, feel free to drop us a line over on the forums!

Autodesk and Maya are registered trademarks or trademarks of Autodesk, Inc., and/or its subsidiaries and/or affiliates in the USA and/or other countries.

MAXON and CINEMA 4D are registered trademarks or trademarks of MAXON Computer GmbH in Germany and/or other countries.

Side Effects and Houdini are registered trademarks of Side Effects Software and/or its subsidiaries and/or affiliates in Canada and/or other countries.