Creating an alpha channel with a black-and-white image


The other day I happened upon this old tutorial (circa XSI 3.01) from Rob Wuster about “creating an alpha channel with an extra B/W image”. Here’s a quick update to make it work with a more recent version of XSI (eg Softimage 7.5).

You need to plug the Mix 2 Colors into an image layer. To create the image layer, I added the texture by clicking Modify > Texture > Add > Image.

Using Mix 2 Colors to fake an alpha channel

Using Mix 2 Colors to fake an alpha channel

This will give you the same effect shown in the tutorial:

Black-and-white image stamped on a texture

Black-and-white image stamped on a texture

Changing the default Project folders


The default directory structure for new Projects is specified by a set of values in the registry.

Look under the key HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Softimage\SOFTIMAGE Application\C:|Softimage|Softimage_7.5|Application|bin\Default Directory Structure.

You can add new directories by adding a new string value to the Default Directory Structure registry key.

A plug-in that updates the default directory structure was posted to the XSI Mailing list .

Also posted in the Autodesk KB.

See Also:

Checking the status of remote license servers


One of the Maya support agents forwarded a case to me last Friday: installing the Softimage license server breaks the 3ds Max license server.

It turned out that the 3ds Max license server, which was on a physically separate computer, had gone down. The Softimage license server had nothing to do with it. It was just a coincidence (besides, installing a license server on machine A cannot break a license server running on machine B; the two license servers are completely separate).

Anyway, the 3ds Max license server was in a locked room, and the person with the key was on vacation. To check the status of the 3ds Max license server, we had to use the license manager installed on a another computer. The LMTOOLS GUI is kind of flakey, so it is better to use the command line.

To check whether the license server is up, you can run this command:

lmutil lmstat -c 27000@server
or
lmutil lmstat -c @server

To check the usage status of Softimage Advanced 7.5:

lmutil lmstat -c @server -f 78800SFTIMA_7_5F

To check the usage status of the Batch licenses:

lmutil lmstat -c @server -f 78800SFTIMASIB1_7_5F
lmutil lmstat -c @server -f 78800SFTIMASIB2_7_5F
lmutil lmstat -c @server -f 78800SFTIMASIB3_7_5F
lmutil lmstat -c @server -f 78800SFTIMASIB4_7_5F
lmutil lmstat -c @server -f 78800SFTIMASIB5_7_5F

Notes

  • The -c flag allows you to specify a “license file”, which for FLEXnet licensing is usually really port@host.
  • To check the status of a remote license server using the local LMTOOLS, I had to set the environment variable ADSKFLEX_LICENSE_FILE to point to the remote server before I started LMTOOLS.exe.
  • The Autodesk KB also suggests another way to use LMTOOLS to check the remote license server.

Virtual servers and the Autodesk network license manager


The Autodesk Network License Manager is not tested on virtual servers, and so virtual servers are not officially supported.

However, I know some customers are running their license servers on virtual servers. I believe that they hard code the MAC address of the virtual NIC to match the MAC address in the license file. That way the existing license file will work on the virtual server.

hat tip: TravisNave

The Softimage KB on autodesk.com


Over the last few weeks I’ve been working on the Softimage KB at autodesk.com. I’ve also been working on Maya and Max KBs, as a reviewer.

Over the next few years we hope to see the KB become a big part of a more Web-based support community. For me, it feels a little bit like starting over; I think Softimage had a good start with the wiki and SOFTIMAGE|NET.

Here’s some of my recent KB articles:

13419971 Loading older scenes that contain volumic light effects
13550180 Softimage render licensing
13541487 audiodisplayfiles (.adf) files
13541480 dsprojectinfo file
13541455 Creating a Softimage project without running Softimage
13541449 Saving scenes outside of projects
13541215 Cannot add a project in the Project Manager
13525006 Invalid project error when saving a scene
13522800 Display problems in OpenGL viewports when using selection tools
13514010 Render Tree does not display shaders connected to Material node
13510724 Warning: objects were not saved normally
13498182 License Management Utility has stopped working
13487723 Product Support Video: Debugging scenes
13468716 Product Support Video: Troubleshooting startup crashes with Process Monitor
13473421 Error: No Interactive Network License Available
13443934 BA_Volume warning about lookup table size when rendering ICE particles
13414068 ERROR : ActiveX component can’t create object
13384366 Softimage crashes at startup when Digital Persona installed
13396844 Setting up network licenses
13386202 Setting up Softimage to use multiple license servers
13376704 Error: The serial number you entered is not valid
13285880 Satellite rendering causes fatal mental ray errors