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:

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.

[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.


compiled against non-compatible Arnold

If you see something like this:

[Arnold]: MAXtoA_Shaders.dll was compiled against non-compatible Arnold

it usually means you have an older Arnold trying to load something compiled with  a newer Arnold. There’s two common reasons for this happening:

  • The system PATH includes the location of the older Arnold, so the older Arnold is loaded instead of the Arnold version included with the plugin.
  • The plugin install is messed up, and has the wrong Arnold version in it.


[mtoa] Register failed for arnoldAOVChildSelector

If you see this error in the script editor

# Error: Register failed for arnoldAOVChildSelector #

that means your preferred render layer setup is Legacy Render Layers (so MtoA fails to register something that’s used for the new Render Setup).

If you’re not using Render Setup, then you can safely ignore this error.


[MtoA] Jittering color with user data

To jitter color with user data, you need to connect an aiUserDataInt to the data input parameter, like this:


The user data is an mtoa_constant attribute on the shape.  For example, if add an extra attribute named mtoa_constant_jitterID to some shapes, then you can use aiUserDataInt to read the jitterID.

If you want to use the shapes as standins, and be able to set the jitterID in the scene, then export the shapes without the mtoa_constant_jitterID attribute. In the scene, you’ll be able to add mtoa_constant_jitterID to the aiStandin node. The aiUserDataInt node in the ASS file will use that jitterID.