SOFTIMAGE|3D 4.0 running in IRIX 6.5 on a R12000 Silicon Graphics O2
From Computer Graphics World, January 2001 (volume 24, issue 01)
By George Maestri
After many years and two changes of ownership, Softimage finally released its long-awaited successor to Softimage|3D. The software codenamed Sumatra now goes by the name of Softimage|XSI, and it includes many of the company’s high-end animation tools, plus a nice user interface and numerous new features including scripting, paintable deformations, and nonlinear animation. The software comes in two versions: the Essentials package, reviewed here, and Soft image|XSI Advanced, which includes integrated particles, soft bodies, and an additional Mental Ray license.
For any software company, a ground-up rewrite such as this is painful. Like a newly constructed building, Softimage|XSI’s architecture is there, but not all the features have moved in yet. Some of those waiting to be added are polygonal modeling with subdivision surfaces, a dope sheet, and advanced NURBS modeling tools such as trims and blends. A few are already slated for inclusion in Version 1.5, which was in beta at press time.
Seasoned Softimage users should take to the new interface-which includes features such as object orientation and floating windows-fairly quickly. As in Softimage|3D, most functions are accessed through a series of buttons running vertically along the left side of the application.
Those familiar with object-oriented packages such as Maya, Max, and Houdini will be happy that Softimage is now part of the club. Most tools, including deformations, are non-destructive and are manipulated through Softimage’s Properties panel, enabling you to tweak object modifications at any time.
Other interface tweaks include the ability to float windows such as the Scene Explorer, Schematic window, and Animation Editor above the workspace. You also can create and add custom toolbars at will.
Scripting is a new feature that enables you to write custom scripts and interfaces quickly and easily. To create a custom button, for example, simply highlight the commands and drag them to a toolbar. For custom script writing, Softimage|XSI supports several standard languages, including Perl, VBScript, and Java Script.
For animators who don’t like writing expressions, Softimage|XSI includes Linked Parameters, which enable you to create relations between objects. For example, having a character’s teeth drop as a slider when the jaw is lowered is accomplished simply by linking the motion of the teeth to the jaw.
Modeling in Softimage|XSI is NURBS based. One welcome addition to the toolkit are stock deformers, such as bend, bulge, shear, twist, and taper, which you can apply to all or part of an object. Sub-object editing in XSI is powerful because deformations can be weighted. You assign these weights using a paint tool, which you also can use to paint almost any type of property-deformations, NURBS weights, etc. When you use the paint tool in conjunction with the push deformer, you get a modeling tool that enables you to sculpt surfaces.
Improvements in inverse kinematics include a friendlier user interface for setting joint limits and behaviors, and support for different types of IK solvers. XSI ships with two solvers, but you can implement custom solvers as plug-ins. You also can create an IK chain from a curve, then use the curve to animate the chain.
XSI boasts an excellent nonlinear animation editor, the Animation Mixer. By offering tools for positioning, cycling, scaling, warping, bouncing, and mixing multiple animation channels, the Animation Mixer enables animators to manage animation and motion-capture data quickly and efficiently, and therefore puts Softimage|XSI at the cutting edge of animation. Users still will need to manually write expressions (or set up Linked Parameters) to create an interface for controlling the tools. Animators shouldn’t be doing this-the task should be automated.
Materials also need some fleshing out. Softimage|3D never had the shader balls that are so common in other packages, and XSI doesn’t either, making it difficult to fine-tune shaders. I also expected to see the interface that Softimage demonstrated a few years ago as “Twister,” which was an interactive interface for Mental Ray.
Overall, this software holds great promise. It has an excellent architecture, and some killer animation tools. Several important features are missing, however, particularly in the area of modeling. With a 1.5 release already on the way, however, it seems as though these problems are being addressed quickly.
George Maestri is a writer and animator living in Los Angeles.
Minimum system requirements: Windows NT/2000: Intel Pentium processor; OpenGL graphics card; 128MB of RAM; 200MB of free disk space. Irix: SGI workstation with MIPS R10000; 128MB of RAM; 345MB of free disk space.
Press Visuals from 2004
“Softimage was the only software that could handle the job”
Remember physical media? And software in boxes?
Shin Sangoku Musou Online
SOFTIMAGE | XSI User Case Koei Co., Ltd.
By Takashi Umezawa
Koei is a company that has been developing historical strategy simulation games such as “Sangokushi” and “Nobunaga’s Ambition” since the heyday of PC98. While games for consoles are still the mainstream in Japan, the network game “Nobunaga’s Ambition Internet” for PC was released in 1998. “Shin Sangoku Musou Online” (hereinafter referred to as “Musou BB”), which started its service on November 1, 2006, is Koei’s latest network game. I heard that XSI’s custom display host (hereinafter referred to as CDH) was used for this development, and I immediately talked to the person involved in the development.
How is it different from the past “Shin Sangoku Musou” series?
On October 26th, when the interview was conducted, users could use it as a pre-opening before the official service between 5 pm and 3 am, but since the interview was in the morning, they showed us the Musou BB using the in-house server. The user first sets the character to use, but there are quite a lot of choices, including gender, physique, facial features, hair, skin color, eye color, and voice. I was surprised to find that the number of voice choices has increased so that the characters used by users in the city and in battle can be personalized and easily distinguished. It seems that the main character this time is created with 3000 to 3500 triangles. First, I was asked to explain the skin color and eyes.
Also, you can choose various weapons. The default equipment is normal, but as you progress through the game, you will get various equipment, which will actually be reflected in the characters on the screen.
At the beginning of the game, you start from your own house, which has an armory, a clothing box, a writing desk for exchanging emails, and a medal box for viewing medals and play history. This house is also small at first, but it gets bigger and bigger as the game progresses. When I stepped out of the house, I was amazed at the beauty of the city, which was particular about the details that spread out in front of me.
Even the appearance of the water surface of the pond swaying and reflecting was realistically expressed. This title is the first title to use a real-time shader for the next generation. When asked,
I asked him if he used textures for the background used in the streets or if he burned them into the vertex colors.
Well, when I asked him if he would need hardware with the appropriate specifications to use all of these graphics, he actually opened the setting screen and explained.
After this, I moved to the battle scene and was able to actually play for about 10 minutes. As he said,
You can check the same thing as the actual machine with XSI!
Next, I asked about the use of CDH, but every time I listened to it, I muttered “wonderful …”. That’s how ideal the CDH is used.
It is a natural but very effective method to store data that cannot be handled in XSI as a character string and leave that information in the tree information of the material.
Only the word really wonderful comes out. I think designers who can work in such an environment are happy. I think there are few companies that can afford to actually develop such a workflow part. It can only be said to be the result of the efforts of the developers. However, the person who developed it humbly said, “No, rather than trying hard, I just collected the source code from the person who actually made the engine and converter and put it on the CDH.” Designers using CDH say:
Next, I asked the person in charge of character modeling how he used XSI in this project.
The background is the User Normal Editing tool and ambient occlusion (ABO).
Indeed, if you look at the model actually used in Musou BB, you can see that it is well shaded.
Finally, he talked about the usefulness of the script function.
A SOFTIMAGE|Sumatra screenshot: Jaiqua’s apartment
A reel from 2003
For some reason, it has this clunky 45 second corporate-type overview stuck in the middle
Janimation, Aldis Animation, Giant Studios, Giant Killer Robots, and more…