I have some very heavy geometry going out of Houdini to (shudders) Maya and I we set up the gubbins so that it can bring in all the attributes I desire for use in Arnold and render them out fine.
However, the .abc files are single files and need to cook in one strait hit which can take some considerable time pending what you are doing.
Is there a way to get either….
An Alembic to cook on a farm (deadline) in a distributed way?
A 1 file per frame alternative that can pass attributes through when read in maya reliably?
Does the Houdini engine integration with Maya bring through all these Attributes on geometry? Haven't played with that yet to be fair. Might be the answer but then that would mean more licenses to pay for.
An Alembic to cook on a farm (deadline) in a distributed way? A 1 file per frame alternative that can pass attributes through when read in maya reliably?
Yes and yes.
On the alembic rop, you can put a frame number expression in the file name, e.g. ‘out.$F4.abc’, to create an abc per frame. You may also have to uncheck ‘Render Full Range’. Then submit as a normal job of frames to the farm. I'm not familiar with deadline, but in my farm software this is controlled with the chunking size. Setting it to one means each work item executes a single frame.
I'm not sure how abc frames are read into maya, but I know it is possible as this method is used for rendering heavy caches such as fluid simulations in VRay with maya at my studio. One caveat is that motion blur requires requires velocity to work as each cache only contains one frame.
I know we couldn't get them to read in soft or maya, but the arnold proxy loader could work for some scenes where all it needs is to render in place.
I have rendered out .ass files from houdini before that render super quickly in maya/arnold at the expense of a slower export time for some elements, although that can be offloaded to the farm. Really helped out on a super heavy geometry rbd cache.
Save out per frame Alembics, and get Multi-Verse [j-cube.jp]. It will change your life. All houdini geo is supported, so particles! Also, all per point attrs too. Everything comes in delayed load streamed to VP2, your scenes will stay light as the Arnold procedural translates everything at render time.