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Clarisse 5.0 Reference Guide

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Using Clarisse

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In this chapter we will go through all the essential elements to help you understand how to use Clarisse. You may be in a hurry to explore the software by yourself or start Clarisse's tutorials, but we strongly encourage you to do so only after you've got familiar with the next two sections: Understanding the workflow and User Interface Basics.


As we mentioned in the first chapter, we will try to keep this guide as simple as possible. At anytime you can access to this documentation by hitting F1 function key while running Clarisse or by clicking directly on Clarisse menu bar Help > Clarisse Help...

Command-Line Options

Clarisse supports several command-line options and the most common usage is to launch Clarisse while specifying the project or build to load.

clarisse my_project.project



Clarisse Command-Line Help

It is possible to display the list of all Clarisse arguments by launching clarisse with -help argument:

clarisse -help

Specifying Python Version

Since Python 2.7.x has been discontinued, Clarisse automatically runs using the new Python 3.7.x engine. However it is still possible to run Clarisse using Python 2.7.x by specifying the command line argument -python_version 2.

clarisse -python_version 2


To run properly, you need to make sure that both IX_PYTHON2HOME and IX_PYTHON2PATH are properly set to the right location. For more information, please refer to Going Further with Clarisse > Clarisse Environment Variables. For convenience, Clarisse and CNode both offers command line launchers (on Linux and macOS) for each version of Python you which to use. You'll find these launchers in the directory where Clarisse binaries have been installed.




Run Clarisse using Python 2.7.x engine


Run Clarisse using Python 3.7.x engine


Run CNode using Python 2.7.x engine


Run CNode using Python 3.7.x engine

Clarisse Common Arguments

Clarisse provides other useful command-line options.



-flavor license_flavor

Specify the flavor of the application iFX or BUiLDER (ex: -flavor BUiLDER). See below for more information.

-config_file config_file

Specify an alternate configuration file (ex: -config_file clarisse.cfg)

-license_server SERVER:PORT

Specify the license server location (ex: -license_server LOCALHOST:40500)

-script script_file

Specify the path of a script to execute at startup. Note the script is executed after the specified project is loaded.

-search_path path ...

Specify an ordered list of path used when looking for includes for example.

-module_path path ...

Specify the path of Clarisse's module. This argument is really helpful if you wish to specify custom or third party modules. This argument supports an argument list. Path order defines look-up priority.


Clarisse will automatically load the last recent opened file.

Differences between Clarisse iFX and Clarisse BUiLDER

Clarisse BUiLDER is a superset of Clarisse iFX which introduces a high-level nodal workflow that streamlines scene assembly, look management, lighting, layering and pre-compositing. It has been designed to address the very complex challenges Lighting TDs and Lighting Artists are facing when working on large volume of shots. Read more about Clarisse iFX and Clarisse BUiLDER differences below.


Clarisse iFX

Clarisse BUiLDER

Read/Save Clarisse project files



Set Dressing












Node Based Scene Assembly



Node Based Compositing



Read/Save Clarisse build files




While Clarisse BUiLDER can read Clarisse iFX files, Clarisse iFX can’t read files created with Clarisse BUiLDER. However, it is still possible to export a context as a project file from Clarisse BUiLDER to Clarisse iFX by using File > Export Context As Project…


When you export a context as a project from Clarisse BUiLDER, scene assembly nodes are baked. In other words, resulting projects will lose the procedurality of the build.

Clarisse License Flavor

When you run Clarisse without specifying the license flavor from the command line, Clarisse will try to pick up a BUiLDER license from the license server. Indeed, Clarisse automatically tries to get the highest license flavor available from the license server. In other words, if a Clarisse BUiLDER license token is available and no license flavor as been specified then Clarisse will automatically run as Clarisse BUiLDER. When no license of Clarisse BUiLDER is available, it will run as Clarisse iFX if Clarisse iFX licenses are available.

Running as Clarisse iFX

To explicitly run Clarisse as Clarisse iFX from the command line, add the argument -flavor iFX:

./clarisse -flavor iFX


If no Clarisse iFX license is available and you explicitly specified -flavor iFX, Clarisse returns a licensing error.

Running as Clarisse BUiLDER

To explicitly run Clarisse as Clarisse BUiLDER from the command line add the argument -flavor BUiLDER:

./clarisse -flavor BUiLDER


If no Clarisse BUiLDER license  is available and you explicitly specified -flavor BUiLDER, Clarisse returns a licensing error.

Overriding Application Preferences

It is possible to override any of Clarisse's application preferences directly via a command line argument. If you add:

-general.temp_folder /home/user/tmp


This sets the Temp Folder option in Edit > Preferences... > General to /home/user/tmp


It is also possible to override multiple preferences using the command line by typing something like this:

clarisse myproject.project -general.temp_folder /home/user/tmp -animation.frames_per_second 24.0

Configuration and Environment

Clarisse stores many settings in a configuration file called clarisse.cfg. Clarisse also uses an environment file clarisse.env used to declare environment variables such as python path, license server location (ILISE_SERVER) or custom environment variables. The syntax of this file is really straight forward:




For example:





Value of environment variables are platform dependent. Those variables are automatically imported to Clarisse as system variables. Please also note that environment variables defined in clarisse.env are overridden by variables with the same name if already declared in the shell environment. For more information on variables please refer to Global Variables section.


By default, those files are located in the home directory of the current user. The path to the home directory depends on on the platform running Clarisse. You will find those files in %APPDATA%/Isotropix/Clarisse on Windows, /Users/$USER/Library/Preferences/Isotropix/Clarisse on Mac OS X and ~/.isotropix/clarisse on Linux.


You'll also need to make sure Python libraries are reachable by Clarisse binaries. Typically this can be done by extending the PATH on Windows, LD_LIBRARY_PATH on linux and DYLD_LIBRARY_PATH on Mac OS X. For more information on how to customize Clarisse please refer to Customizing Clarisse.



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