Tips for troubleshooting satellite rendering

So, you’ve set up your .ray3hosts file, got the raysat services running, and ping and telnet show that there’s no connection problems. But satellite still doesn’t seem to be working. What to do?

  • Check that the raysat service running on the master too. (it has to be running on both the master and the slaves)
  • Use the mental ray diagnostics to check whether the satellites are being used. In the mental ray renderer settings, click the Diagnostics tab, and select the Info and Progress checkboxes.
    If satellite is working, you should see something like this:

    // INFO : JOB  0.n  progr:    89.8%    rendered on MTL-SATELLITE:7020.6
    // INFO : JOB  0.13 progr:    90.9%    rendered on MTL-MASTER.13
    // INFO : JOB  0.6  progr:    91.9%    rendered on MTL-MASTER.6
    // INFO : JOB  0.n  progr:    92.9%    rendered on MTL-SATELLITE:7020.7
    // INFO : JOB  0.12 progr:    93.9%    rendered on MTL-MASTER.12
    // INFO : JOB  0.n  progr:    94.9%    rendered on MTL-SATELLITE:7020.2
    // INFO : JOB  0.n  progr:    95.9%    rendered on MTL-SATELLITE:7020.4
    // INFO : JOB  0.10 progr:    96.9%    rendered on MTL-MASTER.10
    // INFO : JOB  0.n  progr:    97.9%    rendered on MTL-SATELLITE:7020.0
    // INFO : JOB  0.n  progr:    98.9%    rendered on MTL-SATELLITE:7020.5
  • Use Process Monitor on the satellite machine to confirm that the master is actually connecting to the satellite.
  • On the master machine, in Softimage, open the script editor (ALT+4) and run this JScript:

    LogMessage( XSIUtils.Environment.Item("MI_RAY_HOSTSFILE") );

    This will log the .ray3hosts file that Softimage is using.
    Is this the same .ray3hosts file that you created?

    On Windows XP, UserTools creates the .ray3hosts file in the “wrong” location
    (UserTools puts it one place, but Softimage reads it from another place).

I got an iPad for work..what am I going to do with it?

Product Support (PS) Montreal got their iPad last week; every support team is getting one. For the moment we don’t really need it for anything. Sure, there are some consumer apps like Sketchbook Pro, but we (the Maya/Max/Soft team) don’t support those apps. Maybe there’ll eventually be some kind of mobile apps for M&E customers. So for now I loaded it up with some AD apps like 123 Sculpt, Tinkerbox, and SketchBook that we can play with.

Related article: How one app introduced Autodesk to consumers
Read about the story of SketchBook Mobile from the perspective of Learn how the success of the app led to the creation of the consumer products group and the development of additional mobile applications.

The case of the missing registry values

Problem: On 64-bit Windows 7, 32-bit Softimage 2012 crashes instantly & silently as soon as the UI appears. But xsibatch also crashes instantly, so this is unlikely to be a graphic card problem.

Solution: Import missing HKCR\Wow6432Node\CLSID\{B54F3741-5B07-11cf-A4B0-00AA004A55E8} values from another computer.

Case Notes:

This one had me stumped for awhile.

To repro a customer problem, I installed 32-bit Softimage 2012 SP1 on my 64-bit Windows 7 computer, but 32-bit Softimage won’t run. It just crashed silently after showing the UI, and xsibatch did nothing except print its version number banner (so I knew it wasn’t a graphics driver issue).

I checked things out with Process Monitor and I saw that Softimage was crashing shortly after loading jscript.dll. So I did a runonce, and I re-registered jscript.dll and vbscript.dll, but to no avail. I did, however, get a chance to debug after the next crash, and that showed that XSI.exe was crashing in the scripthost after loading jscript.dll.

I eyeballed the JScript registry entries, but they looked ok to me.

Finally I installed a debug version, and then I got a line number for an assert. And that showed me that Softimage was failing to get the VBscript ProgID. So I checked out the VBScript registry entries under


and sure enough, the values were all missing. So all I had to do was get the missing values from another computer, import them into my registry, and case solved!

Friday Flashback #33

In looking through some old PDFs, I found the PDF for a SOFTIMAGE|3D brochure from 1996, which included this page with some [rather low quality] images from the Joe Fly spot from Spans & Partner.

I remember them showing Joe Fly during one of the staff meetings:

Here’s some info I got from the google cache:

Fly & Sanchez Mostly Sports Spans and Partner, Hamburg, Germany

This delightful animated short was first released in 1995 at the Siggraph electronic theatre, and has since garnered multiple awards including: People’s Choice Award and winner of the Fiction Category at Montreal’s Images du Futur festival; a World Silver Medal at the New York Film Festival; and a Best of 3D Animation award from Dr. Dotzler Medien-Institut in Germany. After its original release on film, the piece was shown on several European networks, including Premiere TV and Germany’s ZDF.

Technology Notes:

The original film was rendered in 2D and distributed on 35mm film, and was wholly developed by Peter Spans, who also developed and directed the re-creation for CyberWorld 3D. The approach and challenge during this production was to combine loveable character animation with the very complex backgrounds, all seen from an insect’s perspective. Almost one hundred percent of the original material was redone when re-creating the original data for presentation in the 3D 15/70 format for CyberWorld 3D.

The normal software packages used by Spans and Partner make up only 65of the Company’s resources, with the remainder being developed as proprietary technology by the Company itself. Joe Fly & Sanchez was wholly rendered with Mental Ray on seven Compaq ES40s with 4 gigs of memory each. Mental Images helped Spans and Partner to optimize the very large 3D databases so quality was not sacrificed. Compaq provided rendering advise and Softimage supported for the cyberworld 3D software component with special thanks to Dirk Weinreich. Part of the compositing was done on SHAKE from Nothing Real.

Joe Fly & Sanchez Mostly Sports principal filmmakers:

Creator/Director: Peter Spans
Producer: Martinique Spans
Animators: Sabine Lang, Ismail Acar

IMAX 3D recreation:

Director: Peter Spans
Executive Producer: Martinique Spans
Line Producer: Kathrin Juergensen
Senior Animators: Sabine Lang, Piotr Karwas, Jakob Schulze-Rohr, Matthias Wittman, Heiko Lueg
Post/Compositing: Stephan Remstedt, Anna Heine
System Admin./Programming: Sandy Mantel, Thorsten Schlüter

About Spans & Partner Computeranimation, Inc.:

After working as director / head of design for other companies, Peter Spans founded Spans and Partner in 1991. The Company creates character animation, as well as special effects animation for feature films and advertising. Cyberworld

Netview and Internet Explorer 9

I’ve posted before that Netview uses the version of Internet Explorer installed on your system. It turns out that, as of IE8, it’s not quite that simple. Thanks to Luc-Eric for pointing this out.

Netview is a hosted version of the Internet Explorer WebControl, and by default, the WebControl displays pages in IE7 Standards mode.

To force Netview to use IE9 mode, you can either set a registry entry

               Internet Explorer
                                   xsi.exe = (DWORD) 000090000

or add this meta tag to your HTML page:

<meta http-equiv="X-UA-Compatible" content="IE=9" > 

I tested the registry entry, and after I set it, this browser detect page correctly said I was using IE9 (before I set the registry, it said I was using IE7).

Also, after setting the registry entry, Netview scored 140 at (before I set the registry, Netview scored 40). Note that IE9 itself scores 141.

Portal: No Escape – ICE used for live action short

I did all the particle work on the gun, gun blasts and the portals in ICE:

Honestly the setup couldn’t have been simpler. There’s a stretched sphere that acts as an emitter for when the gun shoots. All the particles it emits have an animated turbulize node on it. On the walls there is a disc shape that it collides with and spawns new particles – then there’s a ring they’re attracted to. The velocity and weight are also turbulized.

That’s pretty much it.

Everything was rendered with emRPC and sent over to Nuke for tweaking by the compositors.

Paul Griswold