3ds max network rendering issues Part 1 – Installation

There are a novel’s worth of issues that could be written about how to deal with networking rendering (and its associated problems) in 3ds max and backburner…a workflow that seemingly hasn’t changed much over the years. I seem to encounter hair-pulling problems with every new project. In an effort to compile the best solutions to the most common problems, I’ll post about the various issues I overcome here.

Starting with 3ds max 2013 (since I skipped 2012), the program is installed by default with the entire Autodesk Design Suite (or whatever relevant suite you may own). This can cause many problems as installation steps happen in the background and you can’t necessarily see exactly what is failing or giving you problems, and if a problem can’t be overcome during installation, the WHOLE thing is rolled back and you have to find a solution and start over from scratch…a process that chews up countless hours of your day, usually during tight deadlines.

If you have older or isolated systems on the network that are only used for rendering, installation on those systems can encounter “unknown” errors that usually center around conflicting items already installed on the machine, like DirectX, .NET, or Visual C++. If you can, I recommend just uninstalling everything you can on those machines and let your latest installation of 3ds max reinstall those items for you. If you need to get clean uninstalls of Autodesk products, try this link and this one.

If you need to install 3ds max without using the default setup.exe for the suite installer, this page gives a breakdown of the steps needed to do a manual install (scroll down near the end of the article). This is 3ds max 2012 specific, so you may see slightly different screens on older or newer install screens.

Since I was encountering the mental ray satellite service error on 2013 and wasn’t presented the option to disable or reassign the TCP port, I used the VERY manual instructions in this PDF to force max to assign a different port number during install, and that worked for me (search for “port conflict”…I used port # 7516 instead of the default 7515, but I’m not a network administrator so I don’t know what other issues it may or may not have caused…all I know is max installation and network rendering worked using this method).