Softimage, Lagoa, premium Suites, and Autodesk marketing

The announcement of the new Max and Maya premium suites (which include Softimage and Lagoa) together with the relatively low profile of Softimage in the Autodesk marketing materials have caused a bit of a stir in the community.

Chinny (the Softimage product manager) posted this message to address the community’s concerns:

From: [] On Behalf Of Jason Brynford-Jones
Sent: Tuesday, July 27, 2010 11:13 AM
Subject: A Softimage message

I thought the last time I wrote something like this, would be the last time.

I am beginning to sound like a broken record; a record no-one obviously likes listening to. So perhaps this really is the last time I will play this message as it seems to make no difference.

It seems now the Softimage community is only focusing on Autodesk’s marketing as the barometer for Soft’s future. Not “no marketing” but “less marketing” than 3ds Max and Maya. Or that the new Max and Maya products WITH Softimage means no more Softimage? This does not make sense.

New Max and Maya Suites
From all our interviews Max and Maya customers want Softimage (not just ICE, but ICE is often a big reason) in their toolsets. At an affordable price, that interops well. OK let’s give it to them, in the way they want it.

There are many more Max and Maya customers than Softimage. Having product suites branded with the name 3ds Max or Maya are obviously targeted at selling to them. This represents a massive potential for Softimage. You might not agree with the naming, but you can’t argue the logic.

Softimage as a standalone product is of course continuing as before (with some very exciting stuff in the works) and having the standalone product available to all Max and Maya users is a huge endorsement of Softimage and commitment by Autodesk..

Since the acquisition there has been repeated fear-mongering about Soft’s future. Even though in that time, we have had two major releases (3 in the last two years) and one minor (check what others have done in this time) and of course there is more to come.

Even though we have exceeded revenue expectations, even though we are expanding our development. Even though fundamentally NOTHING HAS CHANGED, people choose to focus simply on a lack of marketing and not Autodesk Softimage’s track record.

We still manage our own roadmap, with the exception of working well with other Autodesk apps. Something everyone has asked for repeatedly, especially ICE interop.

Our philosophy will continue around ICE as the architecture on which to build – that includes one day moving into modeling. We have not abandoned other parts of the Software (see the list at the end of this mail) far from it – we have a very well defined focus and future.

Final thoughts – for this is the last time I will do this.

If you take one thing away from this mail, it is this.

The future of Softimage is bright… click
The future of Softimage is bright… click
The future of Softimage is bright… click
The future of Softimage is bright… click
The future of Softimage is bright… click
The future of Softimage is bright… click
The future of Softimage is bright… click
The future of Softimage is bright… click
The future of Softimage is bright… click

It really is…


PS: Lest you forget….

Feature bullet lists since acquisition:


A new “Center” Shape Type option for Bounding Volume Constraint
New workflow for the FCurve editor: Selecting tangents will deselect keys and vice-versa

Data Management
Added a new preference: DataManagement/Bake scene properties on model export.
New Preference to ignore scntoc at load time

Reference Models
Assign objects in the scene or another model to a material in a referenced model’s library

A new single “MoveProportional” operator replacing the combination “MoveComponent” with nested “Proportional”
Proportional Modeling that does not break Symmetry

Integration of mental ray 3.7+
Improvements to BSP for faster render times
Custom Workgroup shaders now support separate categories in the Rendertree
New Final Gathering option – “Enable Multiple Refinement Passes”
New mental ray “Motion-Based Displacement Quality” optimization option
SSS shader now supports light lists (include/exlude)
Gamma Correction is now supported in Alpha Channel
mental ray assemblies (“Stand-Ins”) now support mi_point_to_object
Color Correction respects the alpha channel when applied on rendered output

Updated version of Syflex, which is now multi-threaded
ICE: Get Texture Map from a position array is now supported
ICE: Adding objects to group in a model is now fully supported
ICE: Version history context menu now supports Private compounds

SDK and Scripting
New Undo/Redo callbacks for custom C++ commands
Curve.InsertKeyAtFrame – New method for inserting a keyframe without altering the curve profile
C++: New ASCII support to CString
New Animation Editor attributes accessible via SDK commands View.Get/SetAttributeValue
+ TrackSelection (Animation Editor, Explorer)
+ DecomposeBranchSel (Animation Editor, Explorer)
+ LocalPropsOnly (Animation Editor, Explorer)
+ LockedParams (Animation Editor, Explorer)
+ FlattenState (Animation Editor, Explorer)
+ ColorCoding (Animation Editor, Explorer)
+ ParameterValues (Animation Editor, Explorer)
+ ScriptNames (Animation Editor)
+ ParameterSort (Animation Editor)
+ DrivingAction (Animation Editor)
+ AnimatedParamsOnly (Animation Editor)
+ KeyableParamsOnly (Animation Editor)
+ FilterPreset (Animation Editor)
+ TaggedParameters (Animation Editor)
+ ActivationParamsOnly (Animation Editor)
+ MarkedParamsOnly (Animation Editor)
+ SnapToGrid (Animation Editor, FCurve Editor)
+ SnapToFrame (Animation Editor, FCurve Editor)
+ SnapSlopes (Animation Editor, FCurve Editor)
+ AutoSnapToFrames (Animation Editor, FCurve Editor, DopeSheet)
Main menubar menus and custom sub-menus will no longer show [u] and [w] icons
New Plugin Manager Preference for scanning and loading sub-folder plugins
Added CRef and CString >, Display>XRay Surface Display Opacity slider
* Change the viewport opacity of geometry using a slider
* Display Options>XRay Display Type>Transparent
* Viewport visibility menu>XRay Surfaces
* Does not draw any object which has XRay display opacity set to less than 1.0

New buttons in Camera PPG to keyframe camera

Camera frustrum display
* Camera clipping planes values now sliders

Viewport Slate
* Text or tokens can be used to display scene information

New menu toggle for X-Ray (display option)

Updated Booleans
* Booleans are now faster and more stable

Polygon Mesh Internal Edges
* Symmetrize Polygons now mirrors the internals edges.
* Invert Polygons no longer flips internal edges.

New implicit bone primitive
* Useful for ICE kinematics

Update to UV unfolding
* New option to unfold islands generated by the unfold operator
* Symmetry – if the geometry and cutlines are symmetrical so will be the unfold
* New PPG option to update the Unfold without packing as well

Multiple UVs in the Texture Editor
* control+click to set the UV editable/non-editable

Copy/Paste UV Improvements
* Edit > Paste UVs
* Edit > Paste Special > Using Source UVs Indices
* Edit > Paste Special > Using Target UVs Indices

RenderMap/Ultimapper now use Pass Renderer (including 3rd party)

Automatic Tangents and Binormals
* Softimage can automatically create tangents and binormals on-the-fly for OpenGL and DirectX RTS display modes

Function Curve Editor & Dopesheet & Mixer
* Highlight playback range in background

Preference for Collapsing Animation Layers
* Preserve Animation or Preserve Tangent Handles

Preference for scanning for old plug-ins in fcurve editor

Get>Property>Static Kinestate
* Used for reference (neutral) poses

Face Robot
Automatic Lip syncing
* A new workflow for creating phonemes (and visemes)
* A new lip sync tab for Stage 5>Act
* Viseme Setup
* Support for English and Japanese phonemes
* Lip Sync Creation options
* Use AIFF, AVI, Quicktime or WAV
* Add text
* Automatically creates animation
* The new views can display the Phonemes and weight curves

Update PhysX library to version 2.83
* NOTE: Due to a change in the PhysX library, actual shape collision results will be different in 2011
* Support for CUDA acceleration for PhysX Rigid Body Dynamics (including ICE)

Springs and damper attributes for ICE rigid bodies

ICE Kinematics
* ICE can now drive the Global kinematic property
* The rigs’ relationships can be expressed in a graph contained on a separate object (like a null)
* You can use the simulate ICE tree to easily do secondary dynamics
* ICE Kinematics and traditional Kinematics can live side by side

ICE Tree
* User Tools>Replace model name with this_model
* Preference for disabling cycle checking when connecting nodes in ICE tree

ICE Compounds and Nodes
* Includes much of Phil’s ICE Pack
* Around 130 new compounds and nodes

Scripting and SDK
Python now installed with Softimage

Script Editor now support tabs
* MMB or control+W to close tab
* RMB on tab to open containing folder
* New file options including “save all tabs”

Scripting Preferences
* Show spaces instead of Tabs
* Use Python installed with Softimage (Windows only)

Custom Dynamic Shader creation

RenderMap exposed to Custom Renderers

* Shader Plugin API
* Shader Parser Plugin API
* RT Shader Wizard (HLSL and CGFX)

ImportFromSI3D Command No Longer Supported

Many Object Model Changes

many C++ API Changes

Data Management
New Tokens
* [Camera] [CameraAspect] [CameraFormat] [CameraProjection] [CameraType] [Model] [Object] [Version] [CameraDisplayInfo]
* New Tokens and Templates page in documentation

Cache Manager
* View>Animation>Cache Manager, Animate>Plot>Cache Manager, Simulate>ICE>Edit>Cache Manager
* UI Simplification
* Cache Manager hosts Read, Write and Simulation caches
* New Cache lists
* to read and write multiple objects at the same time (cache list or add one by one)
* Automatically scans the selection for available attributes to cache (listbox)
* Tokens are saved with the scene not copied from the template preference
* Simulation tab list all cache file node in read mode
* Animation read tab lists all source caches with their corresponding object

Caching Improvements
* Multiple objects can be cached at at time (in the same path)
* Default template Preferences are used at scene creation, but can be overridden per caching session
* Consistent paths and file name tokens for all types of caching
* Current output path for caching is now visible
* Universal tokens supported (see Tokens and Templates [Data Management])
* Version token supported
* No frame padding in the cache File Name mean the frame padding setting from Scene Render options is no longer used.
* ICE particle ID attribute can be cached
* Setting the new XSI_CACHE_ASCII environment variable lets you save the .icecache file sequence in ASCII.

Shader Authoring
* All shaders available in Softimage 2011 now use the new Dynamic Shader architecture
* No longer have to load *.cgfx or *.fx files into hard-coded CgFX or DXFX shader nodes.
* Files are read directly by the Softimage CgFX or HLSL parsers
* Shader Versioning
* Shader Version Manager
* Versioning of shader compounds supported
* Option to make shader compounds uneditable
* Shader Editor
* Shader Wizard
* New Shader Events
* OnCreateShaderDef
* OnCreateShader
* OnConnectShader
* OnDisonnectShader
* New Shader Port Types to match ICE types.
* New Array Port Type.
* Improved Gradient Port Type.
* Shader Tree XML Export .xsishadertree
* New CGFX Parser
* New HLSL Parser
* New SPDL Parser
* New .mi Parser
* New generic .xsishaderdef Parser

* Around 35 new utility shaders
* Around 170 mental ray shaders

* Common mental ray
* Softimage, Maya and Max now share the same version of mental ray
* mental ray 2011 (3_8_1_13) integration
* Faster and more stable
* Stand-ins for rendering animated ICE particle instances
* Improved setup for Physical Sky and Sun shaders
* RMB Material commands available in render tree material node
* Render Pass Partitions now support Stand-ins.

* Support IES light Profiles
* Use mia_photmetric_light in the light’s render tree
* New flatlight
* Flat Light Mode on+Area Light(User)
* Additional Area Lights Parameters
* Use Geometry a light source (Area Light>Geometry>Object)
* Area light>Geometry>User
* Low Samples options
* Raytraced Soft Shadows
* New light parameter controls softness and samples
* New Light shape attenuation options
* Barn Door effect
* Light lists
* Local Ambient Lighting Property
* Get > Property > Ambient Lighting

Render Tree
* Connect shaders to the camera node and pass node directly in the render tree (dynamic input ports)
* New shader families and new node color coding
* Shader nodes support new data types for their input and output ports: 2D vector, 4D vector, 3×3 matrix, 4×4 matrix, quaternion, reference, string, and custom

Render Slate
* Show scene information (using tokens) in renders and render region
* Layout and color options
* Pass options control render, region and preview

Multi-Camera Rendering
* Specify a “group” of cameras to be rendered per pass

* Softimage now supports Autodesk LUSTRE .3dl 3D LUT files
* New LUT Preconditioning options control linear to logarithmic conversions

Version 5.0
* Crosswalk 5 supports 3ds Max 2011, Maya 2011, and Softimage 2011
FBX 2011
* New FBX scene scaling import and export options
* New FBX batch processing commands to support the scaling options

8 thoughts on “Softimage, Lagoa, premium Suites, and Autodesk marketing

  1. An added reassurance would be for Softimage users to understand that trying to re-code and incorporate Face Robot and ICE into Max or Maya would be a monumentally difficult task and will likely never happen. Programmatically isn’t that the case..?

    With the future in perspective, it really appears that the move to add Softimage into the new Suites is actually a stoke of marketing genius in favor of Softimage. It’s only going to increase Softimage usage and mindshare not hurt it. 🙂

      • I’m not sure about that. Maybe sending out a “Softimage not dead” announcement to everybody would do more to cause anxiety than to calm it. Originally I posted it here so I could link to it when necessary.

  2. Such a great news…got many ideas for new modeling stuff if you ask me 😛
    …but actually there are still amazing tools inside (love the tweak tool)

  3. all good to hear to be sure, but unless i’m misreading the offers on the premium suites, they are not marketed to those who *already have* max/maya (where’s the ‘add si to your toolkit for a smaller add’l sum than it would cost to own outright’), but to those who who want to purchase max/maya *in addition* to the other software in suite. and i for one, would love to see a deal in the opposite direction: ‘already have si and want max/maya?’ cut me a deal.

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