The Softimage customer improvement program

Over on the AREA Mr Entertainment blog, the Softimage Program Manager has posted a short video that goes over how the CIP progam helps product planning.

On the Softimage list, someone mentioned that they wouldn’t mind turning on CIP, as long as it doesn’t use too many CPU cycles. Now, I don’t know exactly how CPU-intensive the CIP instrumentation is (I don’t think it is all that intensive), but I do remember reading a few things about CIP:

  • CIP records a transcript of user activities in the software (eg commands used)
  • That transcript is stored in RAM (but there is a limit of something like 2MB)
  • At regular intervals, the transcript will be serialized to disk (not in one big file, but in many files…again, as I remember it, there is a file size limit, and a limit to the number of files)
  • Every day or so, the transcripts are sent to Autodesk. The send happens only if the current CPU/network/system utilization is really very low. That is, it won’t be sent if you’re in the middle of playing back a scene and using the CPU.

Interestingly, while poking around on my own system a few weeks ago, I disabled CIP, either by editing a .MC3 file or changing a registry setting. Now I cannot enable CIP from inside Softimage, and I don’t remember what I changed 🙂

You, ICE, and position vectors

In ICE, we often work with point or particle positions, and these positions are 3D Vectors.

Now, in general, a vector is something that has both value and direction (for example, any cyclist knows that the wind has both a magnitude and a direction, and together they really define the wind 🙂

When you’re working with point/particle positions, you’re really working with position vectors that specify a unique position in space. You’re not really interested in the magnitude of the vector, just the head and tail of the vector.

For any position vector, the tail is the origin: the point (0, 0, 0).
The head of the vector is the position in space.

When you’re working with position vectors in ICE, it’s important to understand what coordinate system you are working in, because that determines the origin. For example, here’s two different position vectors for the same point:

Sending Customer Error Reports (CERs)

Autodesk applications like Softimage use senddmp.exe to send CER reports to an Autodesk server, where the CER reports are automatically processed and entered into a CER system. senddmp.exe is installed with Softimage, in %XSI_BINDIR%.

You cannot submit CER reports by email; the system is not set up to handle that. The CERs have to be submitted to the Web service that does all the grunt work. For example, the Web service takes care of extracting the crash dump and matching it up against the symbols for that version of Softimage.

If you do want to collect the CER data yourself, click View Report Details in the Error Report dialog. That will generate the dmpuserinfo.xml file, and create a archive that contains:

  • Contact data and system information (dmpuserinfo.xml)
  • The crash dump (a .dmp file)
  • The Softimage script history (.ScriptLog.txt)

You will find dumpuserinfo.xml and in the XSI Temp folder (for example, %TEMP%\XSI_Temp_7558, where 7588 is the process ID of xsi.exe).

The .dmp and .ScriptLog.txt files actually exist in your Softimage user folder; senddmp.exe just takes a copy of them and puts them in a .zip archive. When I left Autodesk, I had 253 crash dump files (90MB worth) lying around under different C:\users\blairs\Autodesk\SoftimageXXX folders.

I suppose you might be able to run senddmp.exe yourself, but the command line is rather complicated. Here’s the senddmp command line for a recent crash I had. Note that I formatted it for readability. Also note that I didn’t actually try to run it myself, I just dug up the details (using my old friend Process Monitor).

"C:\Program Files\Autodesk\Softimage 2013\Application\bin\senddmp.exe" 

/APPXML "<ProductInformation name=\"Autodesk Softimage 2013\" build_version=\"SI2013RC2\" registry_version=\"11\" registry_localeID=\"1033\" uptime=\"105591217359\" session_start_count=\"111\" session_clean_close_count=\"42\" current_session_length=\"183\" />" /APPLOCALEID 1033 

/DMP "C:\Users\blairs\Autodesk\Softimage_2013\MTL2UA0150CWY4fdae16a6f4c4e93603f470.dmp" 

/UPITOKEN "C:\Program Files\Autodesk\Softimage 2013\UPI\upiconfig.xml" 

/CADSETTINGSPATH SOFTWARE\Autodesk\Autodesk Softimage 2013\2013\CadManagerControl\CustomerErrorReport 

/SERIALNUM 399-99999999 

/SAMPLEDESCALTPATH "C:\Program Files\Autodesk\Softimage 2013\Application\bin\CER\exampleDesc.htm " 

/CALUPTIME 151026979918 

/COUNT 24 

/EXTRA "C:\Users\blairs\Autodesk\Softimage_2013\MTL2UA0150CWY4fdae16a6f4c4e93603f470.ScriptLog.txt" 

/ALTRESPATH "(null)" 


You can get the /APPXML and /CALUMPTIME from dumpuserinfo.xml.
I think /COUNT is the crash count.

Intro to rotating vectors in ICE

In this video I take a quick look at how Rotate Vector works, but more importantly, I dive into some issues related to different coordinate systems. In many scenarios where you use Rotate Vector (eg to rotate polygons), you have to understand what coordinates you’re working with.

Hopefully, this will be the first in a series of vids.

Friday Flashback #87

From 2002, an invite to the XSI3.0 Launch event in Korea. Looks like fun to me.

* Orléans was the code name for XSI 3.0. See Friday Flashback #39 for all the code names

Update: Over on the Softimage mailing list, Stefan writes “That image was made at Filmtecknarna where I worked. It was a shot from a Madonna video.
Softimage|3d and softimage|toonz were our tools, and traditional animation.”

Converting a wildcard expression to a object collection

The old-school way to do it for a single object is with GetValue.
To get a collection of objects, use the XSICollection.Items property.

# Python
from sipyutils import disp        # win32com.client.Dispatch

allColl = disp("XSI.Collection");
allColl.items = Obj.FullName + ".polymsh.cls.*.Material"
// JScript
var allColl = new ActiveXObject("XSI.Collection");
allColl.items = Obj.FullName + ".polymsh.cls.*.Material"

Tip – Matching multiple regular expressions in a search

You can use the braces {} to match two or more regular expressions. For example, in the Preset Manager, {*vector*,*matrix*} will filter for all nodes/compounds that contain “vector” or “matrix”.

That’s a lot of regex typing to filter the ICE presets.

You can also use the braces in the scene search. There seems to be one little gotcha, you’ve got to use some wildcard character otherwise you won’t get a match. For example, {cylinder,null} doesn’t match anything, but {cylinder*,null} or {cylinder,null*} does.

See also:
Tip – Use wildcards to find the logic ICE nodes
Tip – Using the * wildcard for filtering in the ICE preset manager

Copying the global transform into a 4×4 Matrix ICE node

I saw–via an email notification–the question “how do I use the Global Transform of an object to create a 4×4 Matrix” posted on xsibase (sorry, I don’t go to xsibase anymore because of the “attack site” and “malware” warnings).

One way to do this is to add a “Copy Global Transform” command to the ICE node context menu. After you install this plugin, right click a 4×4 matrix node in an ICE tree, and it will copy the Global Transform from the first object in the selection list.

Note: error checking and stuff like that is left as an exercise for the reader (or for another blog post).

Here’s the plugin code for 2013. For 2012 or earlier, you have to change the AddCallbackItem2 call to AddCallbackItem.

si = Application
import win32com.client
from win32com.client import constants as C

null = None
false = 0
true = 1

def XSILoadPlugin( in_reg ):
	in_reg.Author = "blairs"
	in_reg.Name = "CopyTransfo2MatrixNodePlugin"
	in_reg.Major = 1
	in_reg.Minor = 0


	return true

def XSIUnloadPlugin( in_reg ):
	strPluginName = in_reg.Name
	Application.LogMessage(str(strPluginName) + str(" has been unloaded."),C.siVerbose)
	return true

def CopyTransfo2MatrixNode_Init( in_ctxt ):
	oCmd = in_ctxt.Source
	oCmd.Description = ""
	oCmd.ReturnValue = true

	oArgs = oCmd.Arguments
	return true

def CopyTransfo2MatrixNode_Menu_Init( in_ctxt ):
	oMenu = in_ctxt.Source
	oMenu.AddCallbackItem2("Copy Global Transform","CopyTransfo2MatrixNode")
	return true
def CopyTransfo2MatrixNode( in_ctxt ):
	oNodeName = in_ctxt.GetAttribute("Target")

	o = si.Selection(0)
	t = o.Kinematics.Global.GetTransform2( None )
	m = t.Matrix4.Get2()

	# Get a matrix node
	n = si.Dictionary.GetObject( oNodeName )
	n.Parameters( "value_00" ).Value = m[0]
	n.Parameters( "value_01" ).Value = m[1]
	n.Parameters( "value_02" ).Value = m[2]
	n.Parameters( "value_03" ).Value = m[3]

	n.Parameters( "value_10" ).Value = m[4]
	n.Parameters( "value_11" ).Value = m[5]
	n.Parameters( "value_12" ).Value = m[6]
	n.Parameters( "value_13" ).Value = m[7]

	n.Parameters( "value_20" ).Value = m[8]
	n.Parameters( "value_21" ).Value = m[9]
	n.Parameters( "value_22" ).Value = m[10]
	n.Parameters( "value_23" ).Value = m[11]

	n.Parameters( "value_30" ).Value = m[12]
	n.Parameters( "value_31" ).Value = m[13]
	n.Parameters( "value_32" ).Value = m[14]
	n.Parameters( "value_33" ).Value = m[15]