Rendering large files in 3ds Max. Have 10+ systems rendering the animaton. Would putting the entire scene on each computer make total render faster? With all materials and data needed to render the scene, only the render manager sending what computer renders what frame (each systems renders one frame. no bucket render) over the network.
Using back-burner now and every time a system finishes a frame, the CPU usage drops to 10 to 20% for one minute to two. Would that scene prep time go way down?
If it matters, we do final gather prior final render
It is impossible to say for sure if each machine having the whole scene with assets locally saved would speed up the overall render time but I would say this could be true only if the scene assets (textures, Xrefs, Max file itself) were of considerable size (more than a 100MB or so)
Each render node should be saving the finished renders to a single network location and this save time would not be affected by saving the scene locally to each render node.
I believe the scene prep time you suggested would be reduced if running scene locally but again not significantly unless scene assets were heavy. Keep in mind that much scene prep has nothing to do with loading assets to RAM ("preparing vertices" for example, during displacement renders)
Have a look at the max help files for "Network Job Assignment Dialog" and read up on "include maps"
3D animator and VFX specialist