Using an operator to override parameters in an ass file

Arnold 5.1 adds operators, which among other things, allow you to override parameters in ass files loaded by procedural nodes.

Here’s a quick example using the brand new MtoA 3.0

I exported some particles from Softimage, loaded them into Maya with an aiStandin (aka an Arnold procedural), and then used a set_parameter operator to scale the radius by 0.5

Note that I connect my operator by setting the Target Operator in the Render Settings.
I can chain two set_parameter operators together, to set the mode and then scale the radius:

[mtoa] Arnold batch rendering flags

MtoA defines a lot of batch render flags for Arnold. For example, here’s how to set the Arnold log verbosity and enable file logging:

render -s 2 -e 2 ^
-r arnold ^
-ai:lve 2 ^
-ai:ltf true ^
-ai:lfn C:/Users/blairs/Downloads/render.log ^

First,  to use the Arnold batch render flags, you need to use the Maya -r flag to specify that the renderer is arnold (otherwise, you’ll get an “Invalid flag” error).

Then you can use the Arnold batch render flags:

  • ai:lve sets the log verbosity level
  • ai:ltf enables file logging (Log To File)
  • ai:lfn is the log file name. I used forward slashes; I could also have used backslashes and put quotation marks around the log file name.

[mtoa] Getting a Process Monitor log to troubleshoot problems loading mtoa

If a clean install of MtoA doesn’t work (and the computer does support SSE4.1), then “The specified module could not be found.” usually means there’s a missing dependency. Dependency Walker is a decent, if aging, tool for checking out dependencies, but for leaving no stone unturned, I prefer Process Monitor.

The MtoA plugin (mtoa.mll) depends on a handful of files only. Here’s the log of loaded DLLs for a working MtoA:


Here’s a quick walkthrough (no audio) of how to get a Process Monitor log:

SItoA is open-sourced

First, here’s some Arnold renders of a few old-time Softimage models:

And now, here’s the announcement:

Softimage to Arnold (or SItoA), the Arnold plugin for Autodesk Softimage is being made available to the community under an Apache2.0 open source license at:

This repository contains the official SItoA plugin source code. Solid Angle, the company behind the Arnold renderer, and now part of Autodesk, developed the SItoA plugin commercially from 2009 to 2017.

After the Softimage end-of-life announcement in April 2014, Solid Angle committed to continue the development and maintenance of SItoA for at least a year, and then extended this period until July 2017, porting SItoA to the new Arnold 5 API along the way.


Please submit your issues and pull requests on github, the old Trac server will remain available for a while as read-only but we won’t accept any new users.

We will continue to monitor and review pull requests submitted to this repo on a voluntary basis, but will not release official builds any more.


Before it was open-sourced, throughout the years, SItoA has been developed by:

  • Luis Armengol
  • Borja Morales
  • Stefano Jannuzzo

With contributions by:

  • Andreas Bystrom
  • Steven Caron
  • Julien Dubuisson
  • Steffen Dunner
  • Michael Heberlein
  • Paul Hudson
  • Halfdan Ingvarsson
  • Vladimir Jankijevic
  • Alan Jones
  • Guillaume Laforge
  • Thomas Mansencal
  • Helge Mathee
  • Eric Mootz
  • Holger Schoenberger
  • Frederic Servant
  • Jules Stevenson

Special thanks to all the users who passionately provided feedback, production assets, bug reports and suggested features during those years.

[mtoa] Using dirmap to update paths

How can you update the paths used to load textures, standins, or volumes? Use dirmap.

You can use dirmap to update the paths for the following nodes:

  • aiImage (Image Name)
  • aiStandin (Path)
  • aiVolume (Filename)
  • MayaFile (Image Name)

For example, if I have a scene file that uses Linux paths like /server/assets/textures/noicon.tx, I can do this:

dirmap -en true;
dirmap -m "/server/assets" "D:/Assets/";

After I run that, when I load a scene Maya will replace “/server/assets” with “D:/Assets” in all file paths.

You can test your directory mapping (dirmap) like this:

dirmap -cd "/server/assets/textures/noicon.tx";
// Result: D:/Assets/textures/noicon.tx //


  • Enable dirmap with dirmap -en, and then create a directory mapping with dirmap -m
  • Load a scene and the dirmap is applied.

TIP For batch rendering, you can use a pre-render script to apply dirmap.

BONUS TIP: dirmap does not update a path if the path is valid. dirmap replaces paths that cannot be resolved.

[MAXtoA] Rendering XGen in 3ds Max


You can export an ASS file from Maya (with the XGen primitives) and then use an Arnold Procedural to load the ASS file into 3ds Max.

You need to add these two folders to the system environment variable Path:
  • C:\Program Files\Autodesk\Maya2018\plug-ins\xgen\bin
  • C:\Program Files\Autodesk\Maya2018\bin

For example, you can copy this:

C:\Program Files\Autodesk\Maya2018\plug-ins\xgen\bin;C:\Program Files\Autodesk\Maya2018\bin;

and paste it at the beginning of the current Path:


Restart 3ds Max after you do this.

Then add the MtoA procedurals folder to the Plugin Search Path:



[MtoA] Error: defaultArnold Driver can’t create file

You’ll get an error like this if your project path has characters like é or ü or Ô in it.

// Error: [driver_exr] defaultArnoldDriver@driver_exr.RGBA: can't create file ".exr": OpenEXR exception: Permission denied. //

// Error: [driver_jpeg] defaultArnoldDriver@driver_jpeg.RGBA: can't create file ".jpg": Unable to open file ".jpg”

// Error: [driver_png] defaultArnoldDriver@driver_png.RGBA: can't create file ".png": Could not open file ".png"

Arnold can’t create the output file, because the special characters mess up the resolution of the output path, which ends up as an empty string.

So with no path provided, the ouput driver tries to write “.jpg” in the current working directory, which is probably something like C:\Program Files\Autodesk\Maya2018.

Use plain text characters for your project folders.