Its been 12 fun years learning how to first use Maya and then C4D on a 20 node render farm.
Maya, up until a few years ago simply did not come with a render farm manager. A third party party solution was required and our studio struggled With different managers, socks, smedge, render pal. I asked tech support to include a stable solution while trouble shooting MentalRay standalone with them on our farm. I was pleased when back-burner was indeed bundled with the Maya installer. After its debut though, backburner was un-bundled from the Maya installer and needed to be found and downloaded from an obscure support web page. back-burner has had connection issues with our firewalls from the start, but has proven an overall stable solution. To use MentalRay on the farm, a Maya network lic manger was needed. Each seat of Maya broadcasts 5 mental ray lic to the farm nodes. Each time we upgraded Maya it meant a lost day or two of production time getting the new lic manager and MentalRay lic to all work together. As a result, we only upgraded every other version of Maya in favor of production stability and time savings. My confidence in the current and future support of back-burner with Maya is limited, due to the installer issues noted above, lack of good documentation, new cloud based model of licencing, and MentalRay being un-bundled from the Maya installer.
Cinema 4D has come bundled with a network render manager for many years. Net Render (NR) up until R14 and Team Render (TR) was introduced in R15. Both NR and TR have unlimited render nodes and that means no licence manger is required to broadcast licenses. This also means less time setting up each new version of C4D on workstations and the farm. R15 and R16 TR was buggy and thankfully R17 has proven stable for production use. The exception is the displace deformer often causes geometry flickering. A caching work around exists, and hopefully the flicker will be fixed in R18.
High resolution print renders:
R17 TR local render option has been great for high resolution print stills. Although the set up can be troublesome, it is well worth the effort to get 20 render nodes working on a single image. An added bonus is that post effects like glows work seamlessly versus Maya’s tiling system. Maya Can break a large image render into smaller tiles using render flags and a command line. Visible tile seams Are seen with post effects like glows. The Maya fix to tile seams requires assembly of the tiles in post, and then applying effects. This is a time consuming process overall. Third party renders like render pal will help set up the code to feed to the render engine to split up the tiles, versus doing the math in your head with render flags sent in a command line render.
As a more artistic technical director, I have found the Maya install process and render farm support extremely frustrating over the years. Large movie studios have gurus to write code to customize their Maya pipeline. Cinema 4D on the other hand has been a pleasure to install and work with and requires no mastery of code to keep the farm running. Maxons technical support has worked hard to fix our TR issues and I am looking forward to installing future releases of Cinema.