Softimage startup times

Here’s a few things you can do to diagnose slow startups.

First, try starting Softimage in the factory-default configuration. The quickest way to do that is to simply rename your Softimage User folder. If you see a difference in startup times, then it may be due to workgroups or the addons and plugins you have installed.

You can use the XSI_LOG_LOAD_TIME environment variable to log the load times for libraries and plug-ins at startup. Add this line to your setenv.bat, or set it in a Softimage command prompt before you run xsi.exe:


That will get you something like this in the history log:

// Initialize Mental Ray: Elapsed time (ms): 563.28
// Load Command Definitions: Elapsed time (ms): 1293.66
// Project List Initialization: Elapsed time (ms): 53.00
// Load Views and Shelfs: Elapsed time (ms): 1453.46
// Scan for Custom SPDLs: Elapsed time (ms): 74.33
// Load Layouts: Elapsed time (ms): 356.29
// Loading User plug-ins: Elapsed time (ms): 239.25
// Loading User addon plug-ins: Elapsed time (ms): 0.28
// Loading Workgroup plug-ins: Elapsed time (ms): 0.00
// Loading Workgroup addon plug-ins: Elapsed time (ms): 0.00
// Loading Factory plug-ins: Elapsed time (ms): 2173.86
// Loading Factory addon plug-ins: Elapsed time (ms): 2611.39
// Loading setup plug-ins: Elapsed time (ms): 0.03
// XSI Init: Elapsed time (s): 31.92

Another thing you could do is run Process Monitor to capture a log of all XSI.exe startup activity, and then check the log for any “suspicious” activity. All the entries are time-stamped, and you add a Duration column to see how long activity took.

You can even filter on the Duration, to quickly check for anything that took excessively long (for example, Duration more than 0.02). The Tools menu also has some useful stuff, like a File Summary:

and a Process Activity Summary:

NOTE The time spent can vary from startup to startup, so I wouldn’t jump to conclusions based on just one log. I’d log multiple startups to see if there was a definite pattern. For example, one time I saw xsi.exe spend three seconds reading adlmint.dll, the next time it was less than .001s.

Setting up machines for satellite rendering

I saw a case recently where a customer was asking “what to install on a satellite machine,” and “what do I do for licensing?”

The simplest answer is “just install Softimage in 30-day trial mode” and then set up the satellite service. That’s it.

The satellites don’t use a license. Only the master computer needs a license, and it’s the master that controls the maximum number of satellite machines (4).

If you have a network license, you may want to set up the satellites so you can run Softimage or xsibatch. In that case, you’ll want to point the satellite to your license server. You can either do that during the install, or by editing setenv.bat afterwards.

Screenshots of the week

At one point, I thought about starting a tumblr page for ex-si support, mostly for posting screenshots of the ICE trees and render trees I see go by on the forums. I like tumblr, it’s nice and simple, but this blog takes enough of my time, so I decided not to fragment my efforts.

So, here’s some screenshots of the interesting ICE/render trees that I saw this week.

Fractal in ICE
By joquer on xsibase

Repeating cyclical emission
By Andy Moorer on XSI mailing list

Matching curve PointPositions to mesh PolygonPositions
By Florian Eberle on the XSI mailing list

ICE example kinematics path or curve U constraint
By Alan Fregtman on the XSI mailing list

Different shading on intances
By joquer on xsibase

Checking if you have the IPv6 version of the Autodesk Network License Manager

Most people don’t have the IPv6 version of the Autodesk Network License Manager (NLM), because the IPv4 is installed by default.

To check if you have the IPv6 version, start LMTOOLs and go to the System Settings tab. If you have the IPv6 version, you’ll see an IPv6 IP address like fe80::252d:8892:22e8:34d6. If you have the IPv4 NLM, you’ll see a regular IP address like 10.123.456.78.

You can download the IPv6 NLM from

Sometimes running the IPv4 NLM in an IPv6 environment will work, sometimes it won’t. Other times, you may have intermittent problems. I don’t do so many licensing cases anymore, but checking IPv6 was always on my list of things to check.

Just the other day, a customer reported that his render nodes could no longer get licenses. It turned out that after some recent updates, IPv6 was enabled and that was the cause of the problem. Installing the IPv6 NLM (or disabling IPv6) was the solution.

hat tip: my colleague David Lau from the Up and Ready blog

Uninstalling Softimage

To uninstall Softimage, I don’t bother with the Control Panel, I just run %XSI_HOME%\Setup\uninstall.bat. Control Panel is the “best” way, but I haven’t had any problems with the quick-and-easy batch file.

The batch file is also handy for silent uninstalls.

BTW, there’s also a setup.log file in that same folder; could be useful if you want to check what product key or serial number was used for the install:

Destination: C:\Program Files\Autodesk\Softimage 2012 SP1\

Product Key: 590D1

Serial Number: 123-12345678

Licencing Method: Stand-alone

License Servers: 

AnimSchoolBlog: Malcolm Character Now Freely Available

Malcolm was made with the amazing capabilities of Softimage. The Softimage version of Malcolm was released today–and already it’s going like hotcakes (free things often do that!)

The updates to the Maya version will be completed in about a week; possibly longer. Then students and interested onlookers can check out the Maya version. (There are some restrictions on using Malcolm)

AnimSchoolBlog: Malcolm Character Now Freely Available.

IDs and indices in ICE

In this video, I take a look at IDs and indices: what they are, and how they differ.

One thing I forgot to do was to show how the index of a selected point cloud point shows up in the MCP:

Nodes used: Add Point, Get Point ID, Get Element Index, Build Array from Set

Hat tip to the doc team.