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Noob: Previs Rendering Mantra speeds

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I apologise for the seriously noobie question. Learning Houdini and loving it. I am also doing my live-action previs's now in Houdini which is working well using flipbook>FFMPEG . When using materials within a network after a normalsSOP they don't seem to display in the viewport however they display fine if I just use Object>Render>Material parameter (plonk it onto the object). Does anyone have any insight into this? 

Tweaking my Mantra node for previs I get great looking renders (for previs) with sampling at 1, noise at 1 SSS at 0 . In the top bar next to the recycling logo (AutoUpdate) I have the preview button. On what I am doing today with this preview button turned ON I can render something (in the render viewport) great in 2 seconds. With it turned off it takes 35 seconds. Can I just render out JPEGS with the PREVIEW_ON setting as per the render viewport for faster render times? As currently Mantra seems to only be able to render in the PREVIEW_OFF equivilant at like 40 odd seconds per frame?


Anyother tips on doing quick and dirty Mantra renders? I can't use redshift because I am a working cinematographer so most of my previs work is done in the back of a moving vehicle, train, plane so I'd need two licenses at $1000 and my laptops a rotten apple. 

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