About


I’m now kicking ass at Solid Angle as a Senior Support Specialist.

Previously I was a “Product Support Technical Lead” for the M&E division at Autodesk, and the team lead for the Softimage support team.

AKA stblair or xsisupport or StephenBlair on the different Softimage forums.

I worked at Softimage [and Autodesk] for over 13 years (1995 to 2000, and 2004 to 2012), first as a programmer-writer on the SDK team and then as team lead/technical support specialist.

My specialties were ICE, scripting, the SDK, scene troubleshooting, and anything related to system configuration, set up, and licensing.

Customer Quotes:

From the survey on my last support case πŸ™‚

After some shaky experiences with autodesk in the past, I hadn’t put much stock on the support guys being able to offer help. I am so pleased I set aside my previous bad experiences and tried them again as Stephen Blair exceeded our needs. Extra note to Stephen’s Manager: Stephen Blair completely resolved the query I had, and exceeded any previous support by offering multiple solutions, code snippets, screenshots, completely broken down guides to follow. I was absolutely blown away by his attention to detail and level of care provided. If there is a pay review or bonus coming up, I would like you to be mindful of this review as Stephen is an asset to your company and whatever you are paying him you should pay him more!
— Lockheed Martin

Here’s a couple of unsolicited e-mails sent to my manager, both within the same 24 hours:

“If you are looking for the next employee of the month, Stephen Blair is absolutely in for it. In the past few weeks he has provided us with quite a few workarounds for really nasty nearly-not-to-catch low-level production showstoppers which hit us after moving the team to v2011 SP1, the very worst one being solved just this morning. Feel free to move this on to whoever is in the position to give him a raise.”
—— —-, 49 Games

“I just wanted to give my praise again to Stephen…he is one of the most incredible support people I have ever dealt with in my 15 years of working with Softimage. His response time today for me was less than a minute when I needed some serious help….if he is due a raise double it :)”
—– ——–, Janimation

66 thoughts on “About

  1. Hi Steve –

    I am a Program Manager with Microsoft’s Windows Application Experience team.

    We have identified a compatibility issue concerning Softimage XSI Advanced 6.5 when upgrading the operating system to Windows 7.

    For the benefit of our mutual customers, Microsoft has implemented a β€œReinstall on Upgrade” soft block for Softimage XSI Advanced 6.5. It serves only as a warning of known upgrade issues and recommends that users uninstall the application before upgrading to Windows 7. The application can be reinstalled after upgrade.

    Application compatibility test results and soft block implementation details:
    PRODUCT NAME: XSI Advanced 6.5
    DESCRIPTION OF THE PROBLEM: fails to launch after system upgrade to Windows 7
    STEPS TO REPRODUCE:
    On Vista SP1–
    1. Install XSI Advanced 6.5
    2. Verify that XSI Advanced 6.5 launches/runs on system
    3. Upgrade system to Windows 7
    4. Launch XSI Advanced 6.5
    RESULTS: Application attempts to launch batch script and immediately terminates

    TEST/DEV NOTES: \windows\system32\drivers\etc\services file do not migrate which misses a key TCP port opening (7050)

    The following application(s) and version(s) are soft blocked in Windows 7:
    Application XSI *
    Blocked file XSIChooser.exe
    Version UPTO_BIN_PRODUCT_VERSION=”1.3.2007.316”
    Type of block Reinstall_Upgrade
    URL for Windows Upgrade Advisor – PLEASE SUPPLY URL

    The soft block dialog box will appear at the beginning of the Windows 7 upgrade process.

    The Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor, a stand-alone applet that may be run at any time separately from the Windows 7 upgrade process, also flags applications with Reinstall on Upgrade soft blocks. The Upgrade Advisor provides the user a link to the partner website for more information.

    Please provide a URL for the β€œmore information” link. The URL you provide must contain actionable information for the user in reference to the problem described above. It may contain a description of the problem, a downloadable update and/or point to a new Windows 7 compatible version of the application. Users should be able to get the solution in 3 clicks or less.

    Thank you –

    Amy Peck
    Program Manager
    Microsoft Windows Application Experience
    Reference Number: 12463

    Please note that I contacted support@softimage.com on 07.02.2009 but received only an auto-response.

  2. Hi Steve,

    when I have a problems trying to install Softimage 2010 on Linux, would you assist me? Are you the one?

    Thanks in adnvance

    Travis

      • Great resource, obviously!
        It might, however, be an idea to link the side bar “Softimage KB” to the actual page of the Softimage KB, now it links to the autodesk.com home page…

  3. Thanks!
    Unfortunately I’m not able to specify where that link goes, I just enter the title text and wordpress somehow figures out a URL based on the RSS feed URL I give it.

  4. Hi,
    At the moment you have two topics marked as “Sticky” (to use a phrase from the forum world). This is confusing as opening the page doesn’t give you the impression anything new has been posted (as the two “sticky” posts take up the whole browser window), so it might be an idea to “unstick” your “Installing Softimage 2011” post. No biggie, obviously. Merely a suggestion.

    • I’m sorry, there is no way to purchase the older versions of CAT.
      Autodesk doesn’t sell CAT because CAT is included in 3ds Max.

      • I don’t see a clickable link for the rss feed, you’re right.
        But I can subscribe to the page feed through my browser (Firefox > Bookmarks > Subscribe to this page)

  5. What’s this “Firefox” you mention? Some new alternative to Opera? πŸ˜€
    I figured it out (for Opera at least): adding “[/]feed/” to the URL of the article brings up the feed I can subscribe to… πŸ˜‰

    • Thanks πŸ™‚ The fracture wasn’t going to heal by itself like we originally thought, but now I should be headed in the right direction

  6. A possible suggestion for the “Friday Flashback” series, as this is something the younger “Autodesk” crowd will probably have never worked with: the “legacy” particles from the olden days…
    πŸ˜‰

    • That’s a good idea, thanks. The legacy particles were always a bit of a unknown to me. I put off learning them because it always seemed that Moondust/ICE was just around the corner.

  7. Yet another Friday Flashback suggestion: “Autodesk Acquires Softimage”.
    The webpage celebrating this acquisition can still be found here: http://tinyurl.com/7vballb (Wayback Machine)
    while the webcast of the interview with Marc Petit & Marc Stevens still lives on the Autodesk servers, but you must know how to find it: http://tinyurl.com/787pp44
    As a topic, “something for everyone”, I would think… πŸ˜€

      • Strange, your other comments never need moderation because I clicked “always allow” or whatever it was called for you. Maybe it’s something about the About page?

  8. Just a quick FYI – Are you (or your colleagues) aware the Google Groups Mailing List Archive stopped updated yesterday morning (European time)?

    • Hi
      The Google Group is not something we created or maintain. It was created by a user.

      All the XSI list messages are showing up in both my Outlook and my gmail e-mail accounts, so as far as I can tell the list is working ok.

      Possibly this is just a temporary problem with the groups.

  9. Very IMHO: The new banner isn’t really an improvement over the old one I’m afraid!
    We all know how the splash screen looks already…
    πŸ˜‰

      • That’s for sure, but I’m sure you’re able to come up with something that is a bit Autodesk-ie (as required) and still as “special” as your original picture…
        πŸ˜‰

  10. I’m not sure if you’re be allowed to use it, but a banner based on the 7.5 splash screen could make a nice “marriage” of the “old” and the “new” IMHO.
    πŸ˜‰

  11. Hi Steve, i was hoping you could help cause there is no contact at the wiki.
    At this page of the wiki
    http://softimage.wiki.softimage.com/index.php?title=Category:Documentation
    i try to download this (a chm file of the xsi documentation):
    http://softimage.wiki.softimage.com/xsidocs/xsidocs_2013.zip

    I get ‘connection reset by peer’ after a few mb’s. I also asked some other’s to download it for me but they have the same problem.

    hope you can do something about it.

  12. As I strongly suspect arnoldsupport.wordpress.com is “your doing”, why not at least announce it here as well (or did I somehow miss the announcement)? Yet another “free” post, at least, I’d say. πŸ˜€

    • Honestly, things are still up in the air. Will their be an official Arnold support blog? An un-official one? Where? What domain name do we want?

      So for now that Arnold Support blog is sort of a sandbox for me. I also have a potential tumblr site and another wordpress blog in case I need a more “personal” blog that is not tied to a company, rather like this one but more general (in that I can freely mention Maya or other DCC apps πŸ™‚ Or even give a stronger hint on how to reset trials πŸ™‚

      Also, PayPal disabled my credit card and won’t let me renable it, even though their support says I should be able. So at the moment I can’t buy the domain, which was my original idea (because it seems WordPress has followed PayPal’s lead in not liking my card, even though it works everywhere else!)

      Having said all that, I guess I could clarify what I’m doing if I can figure it out myself.

      • Just a suggestion: edit out the domain name you’ve been “eyeing”, out of your post (I assume you can do that on your own WordPress). That way you lessen the risk of someone picking it up just to spite you (or “your” company). πŸ˜‰

      • yeah i allready thought not smart to show that name πŸ™‚
        before you know it’s a titty bar πŸ™‚

  13. What happened to your “header”? All I see is text on a wide background, with the usual white on black menu…

  14. Stephen,

    I found your web site while searching for information about old versions of Softimage. Great resource, thank you for providing it.

    I have some screenshots of Softimage Creative Environment 2.66 that I’d like to send you in hopes that you could use them for a Friday Flashback. What is the best way to get them to you?

    Regards,

    Aaron

  15. Hello Stephan

    Congratulation, The contents of website are awesome.
    My name is Pooya Eimandar, I’m the author of book about directX 11.1 game programming.
    Actually I’m doing a plugin for integrating Softimage and my game engine. This plugin works fine on python, but I want to add more ability and flexibility over softimage and game engine, so I want to call dynamic c++ library from python and pass some data to XSI, I can do this with only pure c++ plugin, but I want to use my old python codes πŸ™‚
    First I used boost.python for python 2.7.3(for softimage 2014), the dynamic c++ library could not call from XSI’s python (told that 1% is not win32), but it works fine on visual studio and python’s shell.
    Then I decided to make connection between both python scripts with subprocess, but it didn’t work. Could you help me? Here is my python code:

    import sys
    sys.path.append(r’C:\XSI’)# the directory which contains m2.py
    from win32com.client import constants as c
    import subprocess

    xsi = Application
    //Want to create a connection with another python script. actually m2.py can easily link with c++ dll.
    p = subprocess.Popen([“python”, “m2.py”], stdin=subprocess.PIPE, stdout=subprocess.PIPE)

    Any help is really appreciated πŸ˜‰
    I invited you in LinkedIn, it is my plaesure to stay in touch with you.

    Cheers.

  16. Hi Stephen,

    I’m trying to implement a script in python that will set the vertex normal of the selected objects to the largest neighboring polygon face normal. Here’s the pseudo code:

    for each object in selection:
    verts = get object’s vertices
    for each vertex in verts:
    nps = get neighboring polygons
    area = 0
    for each n in nps:
    newArea = getPolygonFaceArea(n)
    if(newArea > area):
    area = newArea
    normalLargest = getNormal
    normal of vertex = normalLargest

    How do I get the area of a polygon?
    Doing a google search led me to this website which informed me of GetICEAttributeFromName( “PolygonArea” ).
    Any help would be greatly appreciated. Perhaps there’s a very simple solution that I’m not aware of.

    Thanks,

    Avi

  17. Hi Stephen, I really enjoyed your Friday flashback posts, made searching for old Softimage material a lot easier. I could contribute CD covers for 3.01 NT & 3.51 SGI. Should I throw them up the same way Aaron did?

    Apart from that, I would actually really appreciate if you, or anyone else for that matter, could help me out with something. I just can’t seem to get 3.01 installed. When it’s about to begin the whole process, it stops with the error “Could not open the file named: ‘D:\ ‘.” Any idea why it’s looking for a blank file on the CD?

    Thanks!

  18. Would it be possible to resurrect the “screenshots of the week”. While I do understand there harder to get these days, they always were sort of a morale boost…
    πŸ˜‰

  19. hi, i have a strange problem on a pc with windows 8.1 and softimage 2015. the render region has gamma value stuck on 30000 instead of 1, making it useless. where is the preference or the value to correctly set back to 1?

  20. I’m not sure how to get directly in touch with xsisupport.com, I hope this comment gets through.

    I’ve recently finished a project using XSI. As a farewell to Soft, I had a designer friend make a ‘Softimage Badge’ to put at the end credits.

    The short animation may be of some interest to any readers that are Game of Thrones fans. I’ve spent the last nine months transforming my hometown of Edinburgh, Scotland into a miniature model in the style of the Game of Thrones intro. The animation and the badge can be seen here:

    http://youtu.be/XulXa1novhI – Game of Thrones Edinburgh

    http://got-edinburgh.tumblr.com/ – The Production Blog

    I’m making the ‘Softimage Badge’ freely available for anyone that would like to pin it to their project, to make XSI’s contribution to film and visual effects more visible. I think its a fitting nod. I am not sure if I’ll be using it when the next project comes along, which saddens me greatly.

    Those that would like the vector can grab it here:

    http://spjefferies.com/download/SOFTIMAGE_BADGE_FINAL.zip

    Thanks!

    SPJ

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