[MtoA] Unable to dynamically load : mtoa.mll The specified module could not be found.

I have another, more general, version of this post here. This one is for new Arnold users with Maya 2017.

Here’s what to do if you get errors like this:

// Error: file: C:/Program Files/Autodesk/Maya2017/scripts/startup/autoLoadPlugin.mel line 32: Unable to dynamically load : C:/solidangle/mtoadeploy/2017/plug-ins/mtoa.mll
The specified module could not be found.
// Error: file: C:/Program Files/Autodesk/Maya2017/scripts/startup/autoLoadPlugin.mel line 32: The specified module could not be found.

Check if your processor supports SSE4.2

If this is the first time you’ve tried to use the Maya to Arnold (MtoA) plugin, then check whether your processor supports SSE4.2.

Reinstall MtoA

If MtoA used to load, but now it doesn’t, then something happened to the MtoA installation. I’ve seen several cases where DLLs were missing from the MtoA bin folder; most importantly, Arnold itself was missing (Arnold is ai.dll on Windows, or libai.so on Linux, or libai.dylib on OSX).

If you make a backup copy of the MtoA install folder, we can investigate after you fix things by installing MtoA.

Get a Process Monitor log

If a clean install of MtoA doesn’t work (and the computer does support SSE4.2), 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:

Force Translate Shading Engines?

You may have noticed the Force Translate Shading Engine option in the export dialog (or in the Feature Overrides section of the Render Settings).

Force Translate Shading Engines forces MtoA to export shape nodes with a shader link, like this:

 shader "aiStandard1SG"
 declare mtoa_shading_groups constant ARRAY NODE
 mtoa_shading_groups "aiStandard1SG"

where “aiStandard1SG” is the name of a MayaShadingEngine shader node.

This allows you to keep your shapes and shaders in separate ASS files. For example, you could have one standin that loads the shapes, and a second standin that loads the shaders. As long as the shape nodes include links to the shaders, Arnold will resolve the links and render the shapes with the right shaders.

Exporting ASS files to specific locations

For the render -rt 1 command, you can specify the output ASS name in
the defaultArnoldRenderOptions.output_ass_filename attribute. For example:

set PRE_RENDER_MEL="setAttr -type \"string\" 
 render -s 6 -e 8 -r arnold -rt 1 -preRender %PRE_RENDER_MEL% 

The scene should have the Frame/Animation ext set to something like
“name.#.ext”. Otherwise, if it is “name.ext” you’ll get filenames like

output_ass_filename can have environment variables, but you have to be
careful to use forward slashes. For example:

set PRE_RENDER_MEL="setAttr -type \"string\" defaultArnoldRenderOptions.output_ass_filename \"%OUTPUT_ASS_FILENAME%\";" 
set OUTPUT_ASS_FILENAME=C:/Users/StephenBlair/Documents/example 

render -s 6 -e 8 -r arnold -rt 1 -preRender %PRE_RENDER_MEL% C:\projects\Support\scenes\_2016\XSI_deformed_logo.mb

There’s also the arnoldExportASS command, if you want to script the export.

maya -batch -file scene.mb -command "arnoldExportAss 
-f "/home/blairs/Desktop/example.ass" -mask 255 -lightLinks 1 -compressed 
 -shadowLinks 2 -cam sideShape;"

[MtoA] Getting an Arnold log

The Arnold log is important, not just for troubleshooting and getting help from us at Solid Angle, but also for understanding what’s going on when Arnold renders your scene.

To get an Arnold log:

  1. In Maya, click Render > Render Settings
  2. In the Render Using list, click Arnold Renderer
  3. Click the Diagnostics tab.
  4. Set the Verbosity level to at least Warnings + Info
  5. Click the File check box to enable file logging (by default, the log file will be saved in the last folder you browsed to with  Maya; see Finding your log file).
  6. If you want to be absolutely sure of where to find the log file, click the folder icon beside the Filename box, and select a location for the Arnold log file.
  7. Depending on what OS you use, and how you started Maya, the log is also output to the Output Window (Windows) or to the terminal (on OSX and Linux if you started Maya from a terminal)

For batch rendering, Arnold log messages go into mayaRenderLog.

  • [Windows] %USERPROFILE%\Documents\maya\mayaRenderLog.txt
  • [OSX] ~/Library/Logs/Maya/mayaRender.log
  • [Linux] ~/maya/mayaRenderLog.txt

[MtoA] Renderman performance warning

If you have both Renderman and MtoA installed, you may see a warning that says “Arnold for Maya degrades Renderman performance.” Unless you are running a version of MtoA from 20 months ago, this performance warning is false. MtoA does not degrade Renderman performance.

This was fixed in Arnold (fix #4393 main thread was pinned to a single core) back in January 2015.

Setting the procedural’s load_at_init parameter to true would also fix this.

There’s an Arnold error that recommends setting the load_at_init parameter, but people don’t always know where to find that in their favorite Arnold plugin.

ERROR| [proc] c4d|Arnold_Procedural: bounds supplied to procedural node are not large enough to contain the actual underlying geometry.
Replace given bounds: (-1, -1, -1) X (1, 1, 1), with: (-9.4028616, -9.43616867, -9.21633244) X (9.3304739, 9.43616867, 9.21633244).
Setting the procedural's load_at_init parameter to true would also fix this.

The load_at_init parameter controls whether the procedural (standin) is loaded during scene intialization (before rendering starts), or during rendering (when a ray hits the procedural bounding box).

By default, load_at_init is false, which means that procedural loading is deferred until render time.

And so, in MtoA, C4DtoA, and SItoA, the load_at_init parameter is exposed as Defer Standin Load, which is enabled by default. In HtoA, you have a Load At Init parameter on for the Arnold Procedural node.