ShadeTree Frequently Asked Questions

You're bound to come across problems while using the software. We've tried to document every possible problem users have encountered, and to list the solutions here.

For the most up-to-date version of the FAQ's, please refer to the Cinema Graphics website. Often we will update the website with common questions about a new release after it has gone out.

If your problem isn't in list below, contact us via email


    1.0.1 Where do I start? Are there some examples?
        A good place to start is loading some examples, and rendering
        some images.
    	1) Enter the software, hit File->Open, and bring up:
    	    /usr/local/shadetree/prman/examples/chromy.stree   # RenderMan
    	    /usr/local/shadetree/mray/examples/chromy.stree    # Mental Ray
    	2) When you hit Render, you should see a window come up
    	   with a chrome ball, and a reflection in it.
        Your sysadmin may have installed the software somewhere other
        than /usr/local. If so, look at your $STREE_DIR variable, and
        use that instead of /usr/local/shadetree in the above example.
    1.0.2 How do I load (the desk, an .sl file, an image)?
        LOADING '.stree' FILES
        File->Open from the main menu bar will load your interface layouts.
        You don't load shader source. The only way ShadeTree can use shader
        source code is when you create your own boxes; you put the source code
        in the box definition. To make your own boxes, please refer to the 
        section CUSTOM BOXES in 'man shadetree-boxes'.
    1.0.3 How do I save (the desk, the .sl file, the image)?
        File->Save or File->Save As from the main menu bar will save '.stree'
        files that are ascii files that save the interface layout.
        File->Export->Shader Source File from the main menu bar will save 
        shader source files (prman: .sl files, mray: .C files).
        To save compiled shader files (prman: .slo files, mray: .so files),
        use File->Export->Compiled Shader File from the main menu bar..
    1.0.4 Is there a way to easily save out everything, then invoke a render?
        Yes, by just hitting F7. Or, hitting 'File->Export All' from the main
        This lets you save out all the different file types; shader source, 
        compiled shader, render interface, etc., even run a custom script 
        after all the files have saved out.
        The 'File->Export Options' menu lets you set the individual filenames
        for where each file is saved.
        See also: 
    	'man shadetree-operation' - Section 'Export All' for more details 
    				    about how this works. 
    	'man shadetree-defs'      - section on 'exportoptions' for how to 
    				    setup automatic default pathnames via
    				    your ./stree.defs or ~/.stree.defs file.
    1.0.5 Do the example ShadeTree files have any documentation?
        Yes. In the main menu bar, choose 'Help->Shader Help'. 
        This opens a window that contains help documentation for the 
        shader you currently have loaded. Most of the example shaders 
        have help documentation. At some point they all will, time permitting.
        You can enter text in this window when writing your own shaders..
    1.0.6 Can I make my own help docs for shaders I create?
        Yes. Just change the text in the 'Help -> Shader Help' window, and
        the next time you 'File -> Save' your shader, the help you entered
        will be saved with it.
        Try to follow the format shown in the template (when you hit 
        'File -> New') or follow the format of the docs that comes with 
        the examples.
    1.0.7 The hot keys don't work?
        Make sure you DON'T have the Caps Lock or Num Lock keys on.
        These affect all Motif applications.
        Also, we've encounters one pathological situation where a highly 
        customized X windows setup file affected the hot keys.
    1.0.8 The DEL key doesn't delete boxes/lines?
        Make sure you don't have the Num Lock key on.
    2.0.1 I get an error in the text window when I hit render. What do I do?
        Check for problems:
    	> Are there any 'dotted connecting lines'? 
    	> Are you forgetting an output variable?
    	> Do you have any boxes whose outputs don't go anywhere?
        Dotted lines indicate you are connecting buttons that are not 
        'casted' correctly (connecting a color to a point, for instance). 
        If you have a dotted line, right mouse on the button at either 
        end of the dotted connection, and enter the 'Casts' sub menu, 
        to see if you can change the cast to something that matches 
        the other end of the connection.
        If the error message in the text window is telling you what 
        line number the error is in, then hit 'View Shader' in the 
        RENDER menu (or hit the F3 key) and go to that line in the file; 
        a few lines up there will be a comment that indicates which 
        'box' is generating the error, which may help you track the
        problem down.
    2.0.2 Won't render examples (can't find renderer, permission denied)
        Usually, this means your render's environment isn't setup correctly.
        These are problems your sysadmin may have to help you with.
        Please see the section under SYSADMIN/SETUP GOTCHYAS for advice.
    2.0.3 The image is not what I expected.. what do I do?
        See the shader tutorials for common problems.
        If you see 'cracks' or 'low resolution' artifacts, make sure
        your sampling rates (prman+mray) and parametric approximation 
        (mray) are set correctly in the Render->Render Options.
    2.0.4 How can I render my scene, not just spheres and cylinders?
        1) Custom Render Scripts.
    	In the Render Options Editor (in the Render menu), hit 'CUSTOM'
    	to invoke your own custom render script.
    	Please refer to the section CUSTOM RENDER SCRIPTS' in
    	'man shadetree-custom' for in depth information.
    	There are several examples of custom render scripts in:
        2) Your animation software.
    	Using your own animation software is the best way to render
    	your scene, or tweak animation curves, or manipulate your database
    	so you can zoom in on particular objects to check the shader.
    	Just enable 'Auto-Save Compiled Shader' in ShadeTree's options
    	menu; whenever you hit 'RENDER', ShadeTree will automatically
    	save out the compiled shader so your animation software can 
    	pick it up the next time you re-render your scene.
    2.0.5 I hit render, the machine slows down to a crawl.. what's up?
        The machine is probably swapping, because you're using too much
        ram for your render. Your scene is either too detailed, or you 
        are zoomed WAY in on an object, causing it to dice into many many
        micro polygons.
        Any of the following may help your situation:
    	    1) Zooming out - the smaller objects are, the less
    	       micro polygons are generated for the scene.
    	    2) Decrease your Shading Rate and/or Sample Rate
    	    4) Render a smaller image
        Swapping is what usually makes the machine seem to crawl. Any of
        the above will probably decrease the amount of memory your renders
    2.0.6 The sliders (along the left) take a long time to appear/disappear?
        Yes, well, there's nothing to make that go any quicker.
        However, you can make use of the FREEZE button (above the slider
        area). When FREEZE is enabled, you can select boxes without having 
        sliders appear and disappear.
    2.0.7 When boxes get close together, the inter-connection lines do weird stuff.
        Yes, those routing lines are odd.. It's a matter of layout technique
        to understand what they're doing, and to see how they are working for you.
        Boxes have a region next to their buttons where it needs space to
        create routes. Even if no lines exist their (yet), it reserves the
        space for them, so that when the lines are added, there is space
        for them to connect.  It sort of forces the user to plan ahead of
        time, rather than have all the lines reroute, and do weirder stuff.
        These examples graphically show these avoid regions; the more buttons 
        on the box, the larger the region. These are areas where you don't
        want other boxes to be in, so that there's room for the lines to route 
        up and down:
                     ________________                           |________________|
                    |________________|                     :::::|   |        |   |
               :::::|   |        |   |                     :::::|___|        |   |
               :::::|___|        |   |                 :::::::::|   |        |   |
           :::::::::|   |        |   |                 :::::::::|___|        |   |
           :::::::::|___|        |   |             :::::::::::::|   |        |   |
           :::::::::|   |        |   |             :::::::::::::|___|        |   |
           :::::::::|___|        |   |         :::::::::::::::::|   |        |   |
               :::::|   |        |   |         :::::::::::::::::|___|        |   |
               :::::|___|________|___|         :::::::::::::::::|   |        |   |
                                               :::::::::::::::::|___|        |   |
                                                   :::::::::::::|   |        |   |
                                                   :::::::::::::|___|        |   |
                                                       :::::::::|   |        |   |
                                                       :::::::::|___|        |   |
                                                           :::::|   |        |   |
    3.0.1 What happens when you hit the 'Render' button?
        Basically, it runs a script called:
        See the CUSTOM RENDER SCRIPTS section of 'man shadetree-custom'
        for more info.
    3.0.2 How do I render my own scenes?
        You create a custom render script. Follow examples in:
        Also, see the CUSTOM RENDER SCRIPTS section of 'man shadetree-custom'
        for more in depth info.
    3.0.3 How do I render a frame range?
        In the Render Options Editor, there are options at the very bottom
        to let you set a frame range, below the prompt for the custom render
        These frame ranges are passed to all render scripts as environment
    	STREE_SFRM	- start frame
    	STREE_EFRM	- end frame
    	STREE_IFRM	- frame increment
        An example of a custom render script that uses these variables
        is shown in:
        See the CUSTOM RENDER SCRIPTS section in 'man shadetree-custom'
        for more information.
    3.0.4 Where's the source for some of these STREE_<pattern> functions?
        Cinema Graphics is releasing the pattern functions as a library
        only; the source for patterns is not being made available.
        However, if you really feel strongly about it, leave us a message,
        and we may be able to accomodate you, under certain circumstances.
    3.0.5 What libraries should I include when rendering over a network?
        When rendering with ShadeTree shaders, you will need to point the 
        renderer at ShadeTree's internal libraries:
    	RenderMan: /usr/local/shadetree/prman/include
    	Mental Ray: /usr/local/shadetree/mray/lib/libSTREE.a
    3.0.6 How do I set up ShadeTree to 'see' custom boxes I've created?
        To see an example of creating custom boxes, please refer to 
        'man shadetree-boxes', the section 'CUSTOM BOXES'.
    3.0.7 How do I setup ShadeTree to work with netrender?
        Use a custom script to do whatever you need.  
        Refer to the section 'CUSTOM RENDER SCRIPTS' in 'man shadetree-custom'.
    3.0.8 How do I setup ShadeTree to work with a render queue?
        Use a custom script to do whatever you need.  
        Refer to the section 'CUSTOM RENDER SCRIPTS' in 'man shadetree-custom'.
    4.0.1 I (do something) and the (software, window mgr, machine) crashes!?
        You probably have an Impact, and are seeing problems with other Motif
        oriented software too, such as netscape(1), zmail(1), showcase(1). 
        These are bugs in the SGI operating system and the window manager, and
        can be fixed by installing patches. In particular, the patches recommended
        below, the section on installing patches under SYSADMIN/SETUP GOTCHYAS
        in this document.
        For IRIX 5.3, investigate and install in particular (as of 01/96):
    	Patch #1187 - X server roll up (EXCLUDING Impact graphics)
    	Patch #1268 - 5.3/5.3xfs combined kernel rollup patch
    	Patch #1223 - Impact video and Graphics bug fixes
        The above are _known_ to fix window manager problems with ShadeTree.
        As of 01/08/97, these patches have been replaced:
    	#1187 has been replaced by #1799
    	#1268 has been replaced by #2185
    	#1223 has been replaced by #1332
        ..but we have not been able to verify these, but they "should work".
        For IRIX 6.x, there are problems on the Impacts that have not yet
        been resolved. In this case, if you are having problems, set the
        following variable ONLY on Impacts:
    	setenv STREE_IMPACTFLAG 1
        ..and then invoke ShadeTree, to see if that corrects the problem.
        You can contact for more information
        regarding this problem.
        To see what patches you have installed on your machine, run the 
        following command:
    	versions | grep patch
    4.0.2 The hot keys don't work?
        Make sure the user doesn't have the Caps Lock or Num Lock keys on.
        These affect all Motif applications.
        Also, we've encounters one pathological situation where a highly 
        customized X windows setup file affected the hot keys.
        Have a local X windows guru or sys admin look into it.. 
        It is usually a matter of grepping all the 'dot files' in
        your home directory (such as .Xdefaults or .Xresources), 
        or grepping any site-imposed X windows settings in /usr/lib/X11/.
    4.0.3 I choose "Render->View Shader", a window opens, but nothing is in it?
        In older versions of the software (0.10.5 or less), the following
        in the user's .Xresources or .Xdefaults caused the problem:
    	xwsh*autoFork: on
        Solution for 0.10.5 or less: Set this to "xwsh*autoFork: off"
    4.0.4 My EDITOR variable is set, but (emacs, gemacs) doesn't load
        ShadeTree uses a special variable that allows you to specify how to
        invoke your editor in the foreground, without changing your EDITOR
        This variable is called STREE_EDITORCMD, and is usually unset unless
        you have particular needs. See the next question for serious hacking
        to make your favorite editor work..
    4.0.5 'Render->View Shader' doesn't invoke my text editor (jot, emacs)
        You may have an unusual editor, and may need to customize the
        ShadeTree invokes these scripts when invoking 'Render->View Shader' from
        the main menu bar, and also from 'Edit' in the box pop up menus.
        edit_file wants to invoke an editor in the background (in it's own window)
        for the file specified on the command line.
        edit_and_rm wants to do the same thing, but wants to remove the file
        after the editor exits. This can be tricky if your editor falls into
        the background uncontrollably. You want the editor to run in the 
        foreground, so the rm command occurs after it exits. But you want 
        the _script_ to run in the background, to prevent freezing the
        ShadeTree interface.
    4.0.6 Tearoff menus have no borders - how do I move or kill them?
        When the mouse is over a window without a border, ALT-Spacebar will 
        bring up a menu that lets you move or quit the window.
        Prisms users often have this 'lack of window border' problem, and it's 
        usually because the following setting is somewhere in their X environment:
    	    4Dwm*transientDecoration: none
        Check your ~/.Xdefaults or other X resource files for this entry.
        This tells practically all X windows applications not to have window
        borders. Such a setting is somewhat discourtious to other X applications.
        You can just delete or comment this line out (with '!') to disable
        it, so that the windows have borders. Since this is a Window Manager 
        resource, you need to restart the window manager.. Either:
    	    > Log out of the window manager entirely and log back in.
    				- OR -
    	    > To avoid losing your windows, go into your toolchest, 
    	      and choose:
    		    System -> Restart Window Manager
    	      This is _supposed_ to restart the window manager 
    	      without killing all your windows, but DON'T COUNT ON IT.
    	      Save everything first, just in case.
    4.0.7 Won't render examples (can't find renderer, permission denied)
        shader - Command not found
        If you see this error message in your text window, then your renderman
        environment isn't setup correctly, and you will need to re-run ShadeTree.
        'shader' is the name of the renderman compiler, and should be in your
        render - Command not found
        Same as above. 'render' is the name of renderman's renderer.
        CC - Command not found
        If you are using Mental Ray, this means you probably don't have 
        the IRIX C++ compiler installed on your machine. ShadeTree generates
        C++ source code to create the mental ray shaders, and you need to have
        a C++ compiler installed somewhere.
        If you are using the gnu C++, or other C++ compiler, then you need
        to hack the /usr/local/shadetree/mray/renderit.mray script to use
        your local compiler.
        nice: No such file or directory: ray.irix5
        If you see this error message in your text window, then your Mental Ray
        or Softimage environment isn't setup correctly, and you will need to 
        re-run ShadeTree. 'ray.irix5' is the name of the Mental Ray renderer.
    4.0.8 'elmrpt' gives the error '/usr/adm/elm.log: No such file or directory'
        elmrpt needs to have log filenames as arguments, since the 
        default path (/usr/adm/elm.log) is not correct. The correct
        usage for ShadeTree would be:
    	    cd /usr/local/shadetree/etc/elm
    	    ./elmrpt /var/adm/shadetree/elmd-shadetree.log
        Example output would be:
                            Total   Total  Over   Number Number Percent  Total
    Feature                Requests InUse SoftLim Issued Denied Denied  Time Used
    01                          156     4            156      0    0%    33:02:09
        For more information, see the manpage ('man elmrpt'), or see the
        program's own help: 'elmrpt -h'
        These are problems with just getting the software interface up and
        running properly.
    5.0.1 I downloaded the software from the web, but what's a .enc file?
        The distribution on the website is encrypted with crypt(1).
        To decrypt a file called 'shadetree.tar.gz.enc', you would execute:
    	crypt < shadetree.tar.gz.enc > shadetree.tar.gz
        By nature, the crypt program prompts for a password 'Key'. This is 
        to protect the software from casual downloads. Please contact 
        Cinema Graphics for the correct decryption key.
        See the manual page 'shadetree-install.1' for details on extracting 
        the distribution.
    5.0.2 Can't start the software..license error, or warns of 'DEMO MODE'
        > When you extracted the tar file, were you logged in as 'root'?
          (some license manager files must be owned as root.)
        > Did you extract the tar distribution with the 'p' flag? eg:
    	tar xvfp stree-dist.0.10.2.tar
        > Is the 'elmd-shadetree' daemon running? Check by typing:
    	ps -elf | grep 'elmd-[s]hadetree'
        > Check the daemon log for errors:
    	tail -f /var/adm/shadetree/elmd-shadetree.log
        > Does the directory /var/adm/shadetree contain *.lic files?
          If not, you may not have properly keyed the software. See the
          manpage 'man/cat1/shadetree-install.1' for keying instructions.
        > Does your /etc/services file contain a correct entry for shadetree? eg:
    	stree_elmd  1743/udp  		# ShadeTree Elan License Manager
          All machines running ShadeTree _should_ have this entry in the services
          file, though the system will work without any entry at all.
          Port 1743 is registered with IANA (Internet Assigned Numbers Authority) 
          for use as a UDP port for the ShadeTree license daemon, and is the
          default that is used if the entry doesn't exist in the services file.
          However, if your site is already using this port for something else, 
          you CAN change the ShadeTree port number to something else, but if you
          do so, all machines MUST have the entry in the services file in order
          for ShadeTree to work properly.
    5.0.3 I get license errors after a new os was installed on our license server?
          If the software used to come up fine, then after some operating system
          changes on your license server, things have stopped working, then check
          the license manager log file in /var/adm/shadetree/elmd-shadetree.log
          to see if you have errors like:
     97-Jun-07 03:34:27: someone@host,:0 [0]: No key for "01" in /var/adm/shadetree.
     97-Jun-08 23:36:53: /var/adm/shadetree/01.lic: Key file security tag invalid.
          If you see that, then try re-installing your license key.
          You should have your license key number in your records, or you 
          can contact Cinema Graphics for a copy of your old license key.
          To re-install your license key, login to your license server as root,
          and run the install program (/usr/local/shadetree/etc/INSTALL), and
          choose the 'Install Key' option, and supply your old key number at 
          the prompt.
          There are detailed instructions in the manpage 'shadetree-install(1)'.
    5.0.4 We use subnets, and our redundant license servers can't see each other?
          If you are using redundant (multiple) license servers on your subnetted
          network, be aware the Elan license manager uses broadcasting for the
          servers to locate one another, and for ShadeTree to locate the servers.
          You can use the STREE_ELMHOST environment variable to tell ShadeTree
          which hosts are running the license manager daemon:
    		setenv STREE_ELMHOST "atlantis,hercules,iris4"
          Setting this variable can usually be avoided by configuring your network
          to route broadcasts.  To get the redundant license managers to see each 
          other, either try to locate them all on your backbone, or enable broadcast 
    5.0.5 When we run shadetree, some machines can't 'see' the license server?
          See above re: subnets and the STREE_ELMHOST user enviornment variable.
          If you're sure everything is setup correctly, then your network may
          not be routing broadcasts, and you may need to use that variable.
    5.0.6 When starting the software, I get errors such as 'Can't find'?
        When trying to run the software, you may get a "can't find shared library"
        error, something like:
    	% st
    	2636:/usr/local/shadetree/lib/stree: rld: Fatal Error: cannot map soname
    	'' using any of the filenames[..]
        This almost always means something needs to be installed from the IRIX 
        installation CD. These days, software depends on dynamically loaded
        'shared' libraries to ensure operating system upgrades don't break 
        precompiled software. This means the libraries are loaded (usually
        from /usr/lib) when the software gets invoked.
        Sometimes, you can get away with copying files from the /usr/lib of
        another machine that has the libraries ShadeTree needs, but it is
        better if you install from the IRIX installation CD.
    5.0.7 When starting the software, I get an error 'Cannot create
         "/usr/tmp/stree.15032": No such file or directory'. What's this about?
        It means /usr/tmp is not a valid path. Try 'cd /usr/tmp'. If that
        doesn't work, someone has corrupted the /usr/tmp symbolic link, or
        has removed the directory the link points to.
        When ShadeTree is invoked, it creates a temporary work directory 
        called /usr/tmp/stree.#####, where '#####' is the PID of the executable.
        You can tell ShadeTree to use a directory other than /usr/tmp by
        changing the STREE_TMP environment variable.
    5.0.8 I can bring up the interface, but can't find the examples to test it?
        The examples are normally in:
    	/usr/local/shadetree/prman/examples		# RENDER MAN
    	/usr/local/shadetree/mray/examples		# MENTAL RAY
        Enter 'File -> Open' from the main menu, and point the file browser
        at that directory. 
        If the directory isn't there, the software was probably installed 
        somewhere other than /usr/local. To find it, try:
    	echo $STREE_DIR
        to see where your sysadmin might have put the distribution, then look
        for a directory called 'examples'.
    5.0.9 I can load the examples, but it won't render an image?
        Check your text window for errors. 
        It probably isn't able to invoke the renderer. ShadeTree assumes your 
        environment is already setup correctly to access the RenderMan 
        (or mental ray) renderer.
    5.0.10 The elm license daemon won't start! The log says 'System date error'
        The Elan License Manager daemon (elmd) doesn't like it when you play
        around with the date, or if it has any knowledge that the date on the
        machine was once set to a date even just a few days into the future.
        This is because the license manager uses the date to determine
        license expirations.
        Please contact cinema graphics tech support for help with such problems.
        Greg Ercolano
        (C) Copyright 1996 Cinema Graphics, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
        If you encounter errors in this document, email
        Please supply the name of the file or manpage, enclose clippings of
        the erroneous text, and describe the error.