Apple’s Compressor, which ships as part of Final Cut Studio, comes with a distributed processing/rendering system. In principle, one can turn networked Macs into processing nodes, and push compression jobs across the network across all the nodes. This is of interest to me because:

  1. I have ~300 short films to compress, to several formats each.
  2. I have four MacBooks used for workshops as well as my MacBook Pro; each sports dual-core 2GHz-class CPUs.
  3. I have a wired gigabit network.

Unfortunately, I’ve never managed to get Compressor/QMaster to, you know, work. I’d follow the instructions, define nodes, add them to a cluster, and … nothing. No jobs pushed, no error messages, nothing. Reading around the boards, Compressor clusters are notoriously finicky, and setting them up is something of a black art. Nothing I tried ever worked, and a year ago I gave up entirely.

But today, I read (and did) this page of set-up instructions. Now, I have four CPUs munging through an H.264 compression batch at ludicrous speed, with three more MacBooks back home in Glasgow to add to the cluster.