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Preventing a Bryce “B6Axiom.dll crash.

April 24th, 2009 Posted in Bryce-related

Here is how one Bryce user described the indiscriminate crashing of Bryce:

“…everything was going great….creating scenes, saving, opening files….
Now if I try to open a .br6 file, Bryce6.1 crashes!…”

The guilty party is the B6Axiom.dll file and apparently the way Bryce 6 does not allow the saving of a file larger than 2Gb. Now I cannot vouch for the technical merit of that – I am not a programmer – but one thing I do know is that I lost my most recent project file this way. Every time I try to open up this .br6 file now, I get the dreaded “B6Axiom.dll” error and the file is, for all intents and purposes, lost!

What can one do to prevent such a crash? What are the practical steps to protecting your files and stop Bryce from corrupting your hard work?

Rashad Carter a well-known personality at the DAZ3D BryceTalk forum had this to offer in a way of advise and “caveats” for Bryce 6 users. Rather than letting the post be relegated to the backwaters of an obscure or soon-forgotten forum thread, I asked Rashad’s permission to place it on the BryceBlog as a posting – which he graciously gave!

You could be hitting the 2gb file size limit in a couple of ways…

This error can demonstrate itself in two ways.

1. Out of memory error during save
This means that Bryce acknowledges that the file will not save and warns you so that you can at least save the final render.

2. The second option is much worse. This is what you experienced today, when Bryce failed to realize the save would be corrupt, so the file appears to save properly but when you re-open the file you get nothing but the awful default sky. The first clue to the problem should have been the time needed for the save. What you will see is that the save will hang at a certain percentage for a bit longer than it usually does, many minutes longer in some cases. I once had a render hang at 63% for about 6 min, I knew the file was corrupting even though it completed the save 100% based upon the screen display. Sure enough the br6 file read 1.99gb when I checked it. Corrupt as could be.

Now I can say that I have not had this error occur on me recently because I now have strategies to ensure that I at least get a finished render out of the deal.

Crash Causers:

You can cause this corrupt save in a number of ways. Most likely, your scene is nowhere near 2gb in real life, but inflated at the moment of corruption.

A. Replication, duplication, cut and paste commands. These commands really gum up the undo buffer, which is the true core problem with these corrupt saves. You need to save every few minutes when you are making duplications and the like. More on that in a second.

B. Undo commands. Using the undo command at all will often lead to a corrupt save. Try to never use the undo command at all, it is very unstable.

C. Bryce 6.1 is extremely sensitive to any and all system instability. Try not to work in other programs while working on high ram Bryce scenes. I have found that the mere act of minimizing the Bryce window to work in other programs, them restoring the Bryce working window sends the undo buffer into madness, guaranteeing a corrupt save. I often went back and forth between PaintShop Pro or Truespace or whatever, editing textures and models minimizing and restoring Bryce regularly. Combine this behaviour with a single replication command of an imported flower and you could get a corrupted save.

D. Watch the Task Manager at ALL TIMES. I swear, I never close it, I keep it open in the taskbar and I refer to that bad boy about every 3 minutes as I compile a scene. Reason, because the true file size limit for accurate saves is only about 1.3GB. Because Bryce 6.1 zip compresses br6 files in a way that previous versions of Bryce do not, there is a good bit of overhead (nearly 500mb seemingly) of RAM needed to compress files at save time. This leads to smaller disc usage but it also seriously limits the true size of Bryce scenes. However, just because you cannot save a file larger than 1.3gb does not mean you cannot continue to add more items. More on that in a second.

E. Never save a file while closing it. Always save the file first, then close it afterward manually after you have had a chance to check the integrity of the save. After saving and before closing, you will look to the target folder to see what the memory footprint is of the file. If it has jumped from a few hundred Mb in the previous version to 1.98 or more Gb, then the file has gone corrupt and can no longer be accurately saved no matter what you do. Which reminds me, when you do save always save the file as unique, this way you will not copy over a good save with a bad one, then you really will lose everything. Not all is lost however, because you have not yet closed the source file. Regardless of the corrupted save attempt, the still open file will allow you to at least complete the render itself. Which you will then export as a bmp before closing the file for the last time ever. No need to try to save it again, you already know it will not save accurately.

I have safely rendered scenes that used RAM up to about 1.85gb. Naturally, the files could not be saved but the final renders did survive.

Good luck, and hopefully by watching the task manager closely every time you add complex objects or make replications or duplications or whatever, you can avoid having this issue to sneak up on you unexpectedly. Hey, at least you still have the previous versions.

The Bryce demi-god Horo was also able to contribute his own thoughts on memory and corrupted B6 files:

Talking about memory issues, I’d like to add the following observation.

If you use IBL, you need a large HDRI if you want it to show it as backdrop. The largest HDRI Bryce 6.1 can handle has a 6400 pixel diameter. The file cannot be saved anymore. A workaround is to use a smaller HDRI. As for the lighting quality, the size of the HDRI doesn’t matter, a 600 to 1200 pixel diameter probe is good enough (I even lit scenes with a 300 pixel diameter probe). If you are satisfied with your artwork – except the blurry backdrop – save the scene, quit Bryce, restart Bryce and reload your scene. Then load the large HDRI, render and save the rendered picture.

If you have an elaborate scene, loading the max size HDRI may already crash Bryce. If so, render with a low resolution HDRI, save and then render an object mask. Then remove all objects, save, end Bryce, start Bryce and load the empty scene with the HDRI, then replace it by the large one, render and save the picture. Combine the render with the low res HDRI with the hi res HDRI using the mask. I do this with HDRShop.

Please keep in mind that the X- and Y-position of the HDRI is not saved. If you have the probe rotated to X=120° and tilted to Y=60°, the next time you load the scene and access the IBL Lab, X will be at 0° and Y at 90°. As soon as you make a change in the IBL Lab, the HDRI is set to the default position. Note the positions before you quit Bryce. If you have the sun disabled and the Sun and Moon not set to visible, you can enter the HDRI positions as the Sun position and that one is saved along with the file.

To quote a character from the old police drama “Hill Street Blues”:

Let’s be careful out there!”

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