Specifying the help file location in SPDL

In 2011 and later, you can’t use OriginPath to find the location of the inspected shader/texture. Instead, use ShaderDef.DefinitionPath.
ShaderDef.DefinitionPath will return something like:

' INFO : C:\Users\blairs\Autodesk\Softimage_2012_SP1\Addons\baVolume\Application\spdl\BA_fluid.spdl

So you could do something like this in your SPDL file to specify the location of your help:

	Sub OnInit()
		Set ppi =PPG.Inspected(0)
		s = ppi.ShaderDef.DefinitionPath
		sHelp = Left( s, InStr( 1, s, "spdl" ) - 1 ) + "../help/index.htm"
		PPG.PPGLayout.SetAttribute siUIHelpFile, sHelp
	End sub

Setting expressions/scops on the transformation of an Environment shader

I was asked recently if there’s a way to put an expression or scripted operator (scop) on the Transformation of the image in an Environment shader.

In 2010, you could right-click the animation icon, click Property Editor, and that would open the PPG for a StaticKineState, where you could set expressions or scops on the SRT values.

This changed in 2011, and as of that release, you use the explorer to access the SRT XYZ values and set expressions or scripted operators on them:

This change was by design. In the 2011 release, the matrix types were changed to give access to the matrix components instead of having a nested StaticKineState property. This allows ICE attributes to plug directly in the shader input matrix ports and have texturable matrix ports.

MotionBuilder – Customizing keyboard shortcuts

Suppose you want to customize the MotionBuilder keyboard shortcuts (for example, so you can use F1 for something else other than “Help”).

The MotionBuilder keyboard shortcuts are stored in text configuration files that you can find here:

C:\Program Files\Autodesk\MotionBuilder 2012 (64-bit)\bin\config\Keyboard

For example, in the MotionBuilder.txt config file, look for this line:

action.global.help            = {NONE:F1*DN}

You could change that and use F1 for one of the other actions.

The Art of VFX » THOR: Jonathan Harb – VFX Supervisor & Founder – Whiskytree

We used Softimage to create all the 3D elements, and rendered with Arnold. Employing Arnold in this show was one of the best decisions we made for the show, and it allowed us to render with all of the expensive calculations such as GI, glossy reflection, and 3D motion blur, without costing too much render time. Additionally, all the effects work such as cloud/myst, flags/banners, water, and crowds were done with ICE in Softimage, and these libraries of effects also helped toward recycling for use in other shots. Also, while we originally planned to replace all of the CG cliff renders with image-based projections at the end, the sophisticated lighting and quality of the Arnold renders allowed for only about 10% of touch-up painting in the end.

via The Art of VFX » THOR: Jonathan Harb – VFX Supervisor & Founder – Whiskytree.

The case of the Filter node that didn’t work

In this case, the customer reported that the Filter node didn’t seem to work consistently. In the scene I examined, it seemed to be a problem with the construction stack: for some reason, the ICE tree operator wasn’t being pulled (evaluated). Here’s a quick walkthrough of the investigation 😉

I looked a little deeper into this case, using GetConnectionStackInfo, and I found that somehow the ICETree operator was below the cluster ops:

// INFO : Objects that read from the primitive:
// matchstick.polymsh.secondaryshapemarker
// matchstick.polymsh.animationmarker
// matchstick.polymsh.shapemarker
// matchstick.polymsh.modelingmarker
// matchstick.polymsh.cls.pnt.clslist.Point.AddToClsOp
// matchstick.polymsh.cls.pnt.default_Point.SetClsFromICEOp
// matchstick.polymsh.Init_ICETree

If I created another ICETree op and moved it below (after) the original ICETree op, then the ICETree operator would have access to the cluster:

ApplyOp("ICETree", "matchstick.polymsh", siNode, null, null, 0);
MoveOperatorAfter("matchstick.polymsh", "matchstick.polymsh.Init_ICETree", "matchstick.polymsh.ICETree");

// INFO : Objects that read from the Sphere primitive:
// matchstick.polymsh.secondaryshapemarker
// matchstick.polymsh.animationmarker
// matchstick.polymsh.shapemarker
// matchstick.polymsh.modelingmarker
// matchstick.polymsh.Init_ICETree
// matchstick.polymsh.cls.pnt.clslist.Point.AddToClsOp
// matchstick.polymsh.cls.pnt.default_Point.SetClsFromICEOp

Building Lagoa ICE trees from scratch

If you’re trying to build a Lagoa effect from scratch, as described here, you may hit a little gotcha:

If you look into the Lagao presets, you’ll see that they get around this by using a simplified version of the Simulation Root:

You can import this compound from here:
$XSI_HOME\Addons\ICEFlowBuilder\Data\Compounds\Particles\Simulation Root.xsicompound

UPDATE: In the comments, Guillaume points out that you can simply right-click the Simulation Root node to change versions:

Friday Flashback #24

The “XSI flower” was a graphic design element used with releases 4.0 and 5.0.

I call it the “flower” because I found it in a folder named “XSI_FLOWER”. It appears to have been done in Photoshop (there was a .PSD file there) and this JPG:

Thanks to Hirazi Blue (in the comments) and takita (XSI list) for pointing out that the flower logo was created by me company using Softimage|XSI itself.

In the comments, Hirazi also mentions that:

There was a nice 5 page article specifically about this design in the August 2007, #93 issue of 3D World (pages 44-48).

So, I dug up (aka googled) some more info:

  • The cover page for the XSI 4.0 New Features document includes this:

    Cover: “Water Flowers” designed for Softimage Co. by Me Company, using SOFTIMAGE|XSI.

  • On xsibase I found this quote from Gareth Morgan (Senior Product Manager, Softimage):

    “We’re really proud of the new symbol. Yes, of course – it was 100% designed and realized in XSI. The amazing designers at Me Company (London, UK)worked with our Creative Director and designed the ‘Water Flower’ exclusively for v.4.0 – it’s a strong, colourful symbol that is easily identifiable, translates from print to screen beautifully, and communicates the vision of our brand for XSI. Me Company designed the Water Flower as model in XSI, and used the lighting and texturing tools in to give the flower it’s look and feel, and then used the advanced rendering capabilities in XSI to output the design.”

  • The “water flower” logo was mentioned in the book More than a Name: An Introduction to Branding:
  • Some info about Me Company:

    Although the majority of Me Company’s output is in two dimensions, the production process involves three, “XSI is our illustration tool of choice,” says Paul. “It’s the way we express our ideas.” The results, which Paul calls ‘hi-res stills’, capture the world of possibilities Paul and his creative allies envision in response to a particular brief. What makes this work is a faith in the value of the creative process itself: “We follow a line that interests us and try hard to push things forward.”