Working with large scenes and models

Softimage 2014 now supports scene (.scn) and model (.emdl) files of size up to 4 GB. That’s on Windows. On Linux, the limit is [still?] 2 GB.

Note that this applies only to scenes and models saved from Softimage 2014. You can’t save a huge 3GB scene out of Softimage 2013 and load it into Softimage 2014. Large files saved by 2013 and older are not saved properly, and won’t load into 2014.

On Linux, Softimage 2014 will warn you if you save a file that exceeds 2GB. Presumably that will give you a chance to reduce the file size, or save out models, so you can re-load the assets later.

Rescuing corrupted scenes

Here’s a few things you can try when you need to rescue a scene (or model) that crashes Softimage when you try to load it.

Setting up Softimage before you merge in a corrupted scene:

Scene Search – searching for objects by type

In this video, I take a look at how to use Search for type to find objects based on their type. For example, you can find all models by searching for “#model”, or all polygon meshes by searching for “polymsh”.

I also show how to use the Scene Explorer to find the type of an object.

Note: You can’t use the “ICETree” type to find all ICETree operators, that was a disappointment.

The case of the scene that wouldn’t play back

or how I learned to love binary search…

In this case, a customer uploaded a scene that always crashed at a certain point in the playback.

After poking around the scene for awhile, I deleted a model and that fixed the crash. The only problem was that the model contained a thousand (1000) objects, so deleting the model wasn’t really a solution. So my next step was to isolate the problem use a “divide and conquer” approach. Sort of like a binary search:

  • delete half of the objects (eg objects 1 to 500)
  • play back
    • if crash, then the problem is one of the objects in the second half (501 to 1000)
    • else the problem is one of the objects in the first half (1 to 500)
  • Repeat as required… at most 10 times (1000,500,250,125,62,31,16,8,4,2,1)

In the end, I narrowed it down to a single mesh object. We weren’t able to save that mesh (it had to be deleted and then recreated), but we did save the scene.


A binary search halves the number of items to check with each iteration, so locating an item (or determining its absence) takes logarithmic time. A binary search is a dichotomic divide and conquer search algorithm.

Dividing and conquering the problem space:

Crash recovery in Softimage

Successfully saved scene before system failure
When Softimage crashes, it tries to save a crash recovery file. When you start up Softimage again, it asks you if you want to recover (“Improper exit detected. Do you want to recover?”)

If the crash recovery file isn’t usable, Softimage will try to load an AutoSave file, if there are any available (see this softimage-blog article on AutoSave).

Crash recovery files (and auto save files) are located in the [hidden] system\USER folder of the active project. For example:



  • Support_Project is the PROJECT name.
  • C:\Users\blairs\Documents\Support_Project is the project location.
  • blairs is the USER name.

Crash recover creates:

  • A system\blairs\CrashSave file
  • A system\blairs\CrashBackup folder with AutoSave files (AutoSave files are scene files without the .scn)

NOTE There’s a Scene Debugging preference for turning Crash Recovery on or off.