[macOS] Rendering xgen procedurals in another app


Or: how to fix the node xgen_procedural” is not installed problem.

For example, suppose you want to render XGen hair in CINEMA 4D on macOS.

  • From MtoA, export your XGen hair to an ass file.
  • Set DYLD_LIBRARY_PATH before you start your application (for example, open a Terminal, set DYLD_LIBRARY_PATH there, and start CINEMA 4D the command line)
    export DYLD_LIBRARY_PATH=/Applications/Autodesk/maya2018/plug-ins/xgen/lib:/Applications/Autodesk/maya2018/Maya.app/Contents/MacOS
  • Load the ass file into CINEMA 4D with an Arnold Procedural.
  • Set the Plugin Search Path to the MtoA procedurals folder

backdoor Arnold: setting visibility


If you want to control object visibility with operator, or the Arnold Python API, or by editing an ASS file, you need to understand Arnold’s visibility parameter.

In the UI, the object visibility options look like a bunch of separate parameters:

 

but in Arnold, all those options are stored in one visibility parameter.

For example, if an object is visible to the camera (primary visibility), and to transmission (both diffuse and specular), then that’s visibility 13.

Why 13? Because 13 = 1 + 4 + 8

  • camera rays = 1
  • diffuse transmission rays = 4
  • specular transmission rays = 8

The Arnold visibility parameter tells Arnold the rays to which the object is visible.

  • visibility 0 means the object isn’t visible to any rays
  • visibility 255 means the object is visible to all rays
  • visibility 253 means the object isn’t visible to shadow rays (so the object does not cast shadows).

Here’s the decimal values for all the different ray types.

To figure out the visibility, just add up the values for the rays you want.

Ray typeDecimal Value
Camera (Primary Visibility)1
Shadow (Casts Shadows)2
Diffuse transmission4
Specular transmission8
Volume16
Diffuse reflection32
Specular reflection64
SSS (subsurface)128

kicking ass with debug shading


You can use kick to render with debug shading. Here’s the flags to use:

  • -is to ignore the shaders assigned to the shapes
    When you ignore shaders, a default utility shader is used to render the scene.
  • -sm sets the shade mode ( ndoteye lambert flat ambocc plastic metal)
  • -cm sets the color mode (color ng ns n bary uv u v dpdu dpdv p prims uniformid wire polywire obj edgelength floatgrid reflectline bad_uvs nlights id bumpdiff pixelerror)

Here’s some examples that show how to kick with different types of debug shading (I’ve used the Arnold Render View debug shading modes for these examples)

 

Debug shading kick flags
Basic: disable all shaders in the scene, switching to a gray ‘ndoteye’ shader; a very fast shading mode.
kick -is

or

kick -is -sm notdoteye
Lighting: renders the scene with a white lambert shader
kick -is -sm lambert
Occlusion: use ambient occlusion shading
kick -is -sm ambocc
Wireframe: displays geometry as a wireframe
 kick -is -cm polywire

or

kick -is -sm ndoteye -cm polywire
Normal: visualizes the normal vector (between 0 and 1, in tangent space)
 kick -is -sm flat -cm n
UV: displays the coordinates of the primary UV set (red=U, green=V)
 kick -is -sm flat -cm uv
Primitive ID: displays random colors based on the per-primitive (triangle, curve) index
 kick -is -sm flat -cm prims
Barycentric: displays intra-primitive parametric coordinates (barycentric for triangles, parametric length, and width for curve segments)
 kick -is -sm flat -cm bary
Object: displays random colors based on the per-object ID
kick -is -sm flat -cm obj

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.
set_parameter_radius
I can chain two set_parameter operators together, to set the mode and then scale the radius:
set_parameter_mode_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 ^
D:\Projects\maya\Support\scenes\example.ma

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.