[RLM] [Arnold] Figuring out why a certain scene renders with a watermark

If suddenly some scenes render with a watermark, but others don’t, that probably means someone saved those scenes with Skip License Check enabled.

A quick way to check this is with the Arnold log.

If you set the verbosity level to at least Warnings + Info, you would see this:

00:00:00   787MB WARNING | [rlm] skip_license_check enabled

if Skip License Check is enabled.

If you’re using MtoA and rendering Maya scenes, one way to avoid this problem is to render with the -ai:slc off flag (slc = skip license check).

In the very unlikely case that Skip License Check isn’t the problem, the set the verbosity level to Debug and check the log again.

[SItoA] Installing the alShaders in Softimage

Here’s how to install third-party, SPDL-based shaders, like alShaders, so that you can use them with SItoA. You could install them in a separate workgroup, but for simplicity I’m going to show how to install them in the SItoA workgroup.

In these instructions, $AL_SHADERS is the location where you extracted the alShaders download. For example, C:\solidangle\alShaders\alShaders-win-0.4.0b18-ai4.2.0.6.

$SITOA_WORKGROUP is the SItoA workgroup location. For example, C:\Users\StephenBlair\softimage\workgroups\sita-3.3.0-2014.

  1. Copy the alShader DLLs from

  2. Create a spdl folder in your Addons\SItoA\Application folder:

  3. Copy the alShader spdl files from

  4. Restart Softimage. The alShaders should show up in the Render Tree preset manager, and assuming that your version of alShaders is compatible with your SItoA, they’ll work in a render too.

Tip Don’t create an alShader from the Arnold > DLL Shaders menu; it won’t pick up the SPDL and you’ll get a raw PPG (and a raw render tree node too).

[MtoA] Using set overrides to assign Arnold IDs to groups of mesh shapes

Arnold shapes have an id parameter that you can use to set up custom ID AOVs.

kick -info polymesh.id
node: polymesh
param: id
type: INT
default: 0

For example, you can Object ID color mode of the Utility shader to generate an ID AOV.

MtoA doesn’t automatically generate IDs, so you need to use the User Options parameter on the shapes to assign IDs.

If you want to give a group of polygon meshes the same ID, so that they all get the same Object ID color, then you can use override sets.

Example: Three sets, each set with an override of User Options that sets the polymesh.id parameter

In Softimage, SItoA does generate IDs, and you can override them using groups and a branch-applied Arnold User Options property.

[RLM] [MacOSX] Setting solidangle_LICENSE on Yosemite

In Yosemite, Apple removed support for environment variables in launchd.conf, so you need to find another way to set global, system-wide environment variables. For example, if you want solidangle_LICENSE to be automatically set, you could use a launchd plist.

Here’s an example plist that uses launchctl to set the solidangle_LICENSE environment variable.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<!DOCTYPE plist PUBLIC "-//Apple//DTD PLIST 1.0//EN" "http://www.apple.com/DTDs/PropertyList-1.0.dtd">
 <plist version="1.0">

You’ll need to edit this plist and save it in /Library/LaunchDaemons. The file permissions and ownership should look like this:

-rw-r--r--@ 1 root wheel 661 Oct 22 13:52 com.solidangle.setenv.plist

Use sudo chmod to set the permissions, and sudo chown root:wheel to set the ownerships.
Then load the plist:
sudo launchctl load -w /Library/LaunchDaemons/com.solidangle.setenv.plist

And then restart your machine.


[RLM] Checking the license pool status

It’s always a good idea to confirm basic facts before moving on to more complicated testing, especially when it comes to licensing problems. For example, I’ve had several cases of “watermarks on the render farm” where it turned out the actual number of licenses was rather less than the expected number.

Fortunately, it’s easy to check the number of available licenses (aka the “license pool status”) with the RLM Web Admin page.

  1. In a web browser, open localhost:5054 (tip: you can open this page remotely too: just go to LICSERVER:5054, where LICSERVER is the name or IP address of the license server computer).
  2. Click Status.
  3. Click solidangle in the Server Status column of the ISV Servers table
  4. Check the count in the License Pool Status table

Click to enlarge

[MtoA] The case of the scene that crashed Maya

In this case, Maya crashed as soon as you loaded a certain scene.

What was the problem? Yeti couldn’t get a license, and then when MtoA loaded the Yeti procedural, that was it: crash.

We found the problem by checking the Maya log that we got with the -log command-line flag:

maya.exe -log %TEMP%\maya.log

The solution was to set RLM_LICENSE so Yeti could get its license (or unset MTOA_EXTENSIONS_PATH so that the Yeti extension wasn’t loaded, or move the Yeti module file so Maya wouldn’t find it).

This is what we saw in the log:

[Wed Nov 05 18:08:13 2014] Yeti 1.3.14: Yeti v1.3.14, built on Oct 10 2014 at 20:52:13
[Wed Nov 05 18:08:13 2014] Yeti 1.3.14: (c) 2010-Present Peregrine Labs a division of Peregrine Visual Storytelling Ltd. All rights reserved.
[Wed Nov 05 18:08:13 2014] Yeti 1.3.14: ERROR pgLicenseCheck - License system could not get a valid server handle, error: Can't read license data (-102)
No such process (errno: 3)
00:00:00 WARNING | [mtoa] Extension pgYetiArnoldMtoa(C:/solidangle/yeti/Yeti-v1.3.14_Maya2014-windows64/plug-ins/pgYetiArnoldMtoa.dll) requires Maya plugin pgYetiMaya, registering will be deferred until plugin is loaded.
the data object was unable to read its value : (0) no error
the data object was unable to read its value : (0) no error

* Arnold windows icc-14.0.2 oiio-1.4.14 rlm-11.1.2 2014/11/03 15:27:54
* CRASHED in QResource::locale 
* signal caught: error C0000005 -- access violation
* backtrace:
*  0 0x000000002c8b7a20 [ai            ] AiArray                                           
*  1 0x000000002c8b9f80 [ai            ] AiArray                                           
*  2 0x000000007722b940 [kernel32      ] UnhandledExceptionFilter                          
*  3 0x0000000077343398 [ntdll         ] MD5Final                                          
*  4 0x00000000772c85c8 [ntdll         ] _C_specific_handler                               
*  5 0x00000000772d9d2d [ntdll         ] RtlDecodePointer                                  
*  6 0x00000000772c91cf [ntdll         ] RtlUnwindEx                                       
*  7 0x0000000077301248 [ntdll         ] KiUserExceptionDispatcher                         
>> 8 0x0000000067840147 [QtCore4       ] QResource::locale    
...and so on and so on...

[MtoA] [MacOSX] Rendering a sequence

Here’s a question submitted through solidangle.com: how do I render a sequence of frames with Maya on Mac OS X?

The answer is: the same way you would a sequence of frames with mental ray in Maya.

In Maya:

From the command line:

  • Open a Maya Terminal, either through Spotlight or in Finder (/Applications/Autodesk/maya2015/Maya Terminal.term)

    Using a Maya Terminal means that the PATH already includes the location of the Maya command-line renderer.

  • In the terminal, use the Render command to render the sequence. For example:
    Render -r arnold -s 1 -e 10 -proj /Users/stephen/MyProject /Users/stephen/MyProject/scenes/arnold.mb

If Arnold is the renderer specified in the saved scene file, you can omit -r arnold from the Render command.

Run the command Render -help -r arnold to print the help for the Arnold-specific render flags.