The Adobe After Effects WatchDog Render Manager.
It’s a powerful tool with a humble, clip-art icon.
In 2013 A programmer friend (Tom Stratton) built a tool that emulates the Adobe After Effects Watch Folder functionality. It launches multiple instances per machine via an automated command line, while still allowing other computers to join in. It is called WATCHDOG.
Unfortunately running AErender engines through a user interface is not as efficient as launching them via a command-line prompt. Furthermore, the Watch Folder System has not been updated for a long time, while computers have increased in speed over the years, causing an unforeseen problem: Each render engine updates the render control file with its progress – but at some point two instances or more will try to access the file at the same time. This causes the render engine to endlessly loop, and discontinue rendering. Essentially when you leave work at night, you launch 30 engines on multiple machines, only to have a single instance rendering by morning.
WATCHDOG software avoids that problem, and simply cranks out rendered imagery as fast as it can. It has been used in Hollywood VFX production for six years, in small studios, and on remote location among networked laptops to build hundreds of thousands of frames.
It is being offered by the programmer for FREE on GitHub, in hopes that it can be improved via open source, as it currently only runs on Macintosh computers via Python.
It is standard practice to use some form of render management software in VFX facilities to maximize the use of machines, but often smaller companies, or individuals are limited by the number of computers, or IT staff that can assemble the system properly. The installation of WATCHDOG is simple, and works with the same render control files written by After Effects. It even runs in conjunction with standard WatchFolder rendering from an active AE license.
For more information and DOWNLOAD links, please visit the WatchDog-ae Page