redmotion: 2006

30 December 2006

Investigating Softimage XSI 6 - Part 1


XSI version 6 is finally with us and it's a dream to use. The changes to the rendering set up are brilliant and although many of the changes seem like small things, they really help a lot with workflow. It is now much easier to work with procedural textures and shader networks as they can be previewed in the nodes and you can follow the transformations from one node to the next, all the way to the final result. I've wanted this for ages!

The new Render manager and Material Managers are infinitely faster than previous versions and can now be considered a genuine replacement for opening up explorer and the render tree in seperate windows.

FG has now changed drastically and gives an almost instant indirect illumination render of any scene by just turning it on - well, almost...

Setting up render channels isn't something I use right now, but it will be. It seems like it will be possible to render every single object in a view seperately, and then comp it all together. The offshoot of this will be altering a material could be done by rendering a small number of the overall buffers rather than the entire scene again.

MR & the render region is faster at rendering, can be done in multiple viewports simultaneously, you can render different render channels, and you can use a slider to compare between two different shader settings and revert to the preferred settings.

Now for some info on the pics:

These are from a quick animation I made using the new Physical Sky environment shader, new physical sun light shader, the new MR Architectural material shaders, ctrl_occlusion for sampling the environment colour for the "sculpture" - faster than using FG, the legacy day shader was mapped onto a sphere and made transparent to create an overlay of clouds, to add a little more interest to the sky. Finally, I used the simple tone mapping lens shader to balance the lighting out across the image.

Finally, expect a new version of the Sunpath plugin that works nicely with Physical sky and sun, sometime in the new year.

11 December 2006

Adventures in Final Gathering

After two weeks of experimentation, I've finally got a result I am reasonably happy with. (See above). I've been looking for standard setup that will get me a high resolution print quality image rendered overnight, even at 3000 pixels wide (and on my clapped out old dual Athlon MP) . Originally, I hoped to solve this completely with just the right FG settings alone, but raising the accuracy and lowering the FG radius values resulted in either splotchy shadows or horrendously long rendertimes.

In the end, I settled for the FG settings returned by Automatic Compute (see below), an accuracy of 200, presampling density of 1 (the default - after trying everything from 0.1 to 0.9) and good anti-aliasing settings - this gave a very smooth shadow shading over large areas but missed out smaller details.

So to rectify this I used an Ambient Occlusion shader and Toon_Ink_Lens shader for the camera shader to get the detail missing from the FG solution. (If I render this again I'll use a seperate AO pass for better control.):-

acc 200
min 30 max 100 (rounded up from auto-compute result)
bounce 1
pre-sampling 1
filter 1
multiplier 1.5 1.5 1.5
trace depth 4 4 8
4:38:19.28 for rendering - 3000 x 2256 pixels
1:03:40.40 for computing finalgather points
AA= min 0 max 3 (mitchell) (0.101 0.101 0.101)

I used Photoshop 6.0 to bring back some of the contrast, and stick a little glow on the spots.

07 November 2006

2 point perspective in Softimage XSI

I'd thought that this wasn't possible. But on sunday morning, I had the urge to post a request for info about 2-point perspective using XSI. Then I changed my mind and decided to see if I could work it out myself. Within about 20 mins I had the solution. I've posted it at XSI base.


Ctrl studio are at it again. They tweaked and updated their Ctrl.buffers plugin which features, among other things, "tone mapping".
This technique easily brings Mental Ray into the same quality of lighting as other renderers like V-ray and Maxwell. (The attached image was created in Softimage XSI - but NOT by me, I hasten to add. :) )
You can find the v2.0 beta shaders at along with some brilliant videos detailing how to use it. It's not exactly new news but I only just found it, so here it is...

06 November 2006

Physical Sky addon released for Softimage XSI

A physical sky shader, originally developed for Maya has been ported over to Softimage XSI. Initial impressions are promising. Especially if I can fix the problems with the Sunpath XSI addon, I think these two addons would complement each other nicely.

Get it here.

4th Place for The Grand Machines

The Grand Machines demo wins 4th place in the Ageia Physx/Dark Physics software compo.
Download the demo here.

27 October 2006

Dxf Importer for Softimage XSI 5.11

I'm pleased to announce that, as of today, the redmotion dxf import plugin is now finally available. It gives you the ability to load dxf files, either polymesh or basic vector information, straight into XSI.

I will be posting the announcement at XSIbase later on today.

EDIT: Download the .xsiaddon file from here.

15 October 2006

The Grand Machines - development footnote

When I started the TGC Competition 2006, I was a bit worried about the deadline being far too short to make any sort of decent game (that I could think of). But early on, I found some alternative ways - to 100% hard coding - to make a reasonably slick camera and control system. In fact - it worked out far better than any straight coding i've tried in the past.

It also debuts the first implementation of a system I've been developing since around mid-September, which I have pretentiously dubbed the X-engine. It allows me to use Softimage XSI to design, model, texture, animate and set up the basic physics properties for an entire level and then export as a single direct x file. The game code then picks it apart and assigns the correct attributes to the different elements. Currently, the level-specific mechanics/events have to be hard coded, but I intend to switch to a scripting system asap.

The X-engine was created to speed up my work flow and more importantly; for allowing users to create and add their own levels (with ease) in the future. As you never know who will take your game and do something you never thought of. It's the ultimate source of user feedback.

TGC Competition 2006 entry - The Grand Machines - 3 level demo

Yesterday I submitted v.1.00 of my 3 level gameplay demo of "The Grand Machines" to the TGC 2006 Ageia Physx competition. The game is kind-of-a cross between Head-over-Heels and Marble Madness. It takes the co-operative 3d puzzle/platform elements of the first and the rolling ball physics of the latter. Yes, there are probably too many rolling ball games in the world, but it's been on my list o' game-things to do for ages.

EDIT: (Just submitted v1.1 - which adds a music track I created a few years ago.)

25 September 2006

Stuka JU87 B-2

This is a WIP for the first of three german war planes I intend to model and texture to high detail.
Not sure what I'll use them for yet but they might feature in a future Day of Defeat:Source level.

18 September 2006


Bontago! isn't anything to do with redmotion but is very interesting and inspiring if you're looking to enter the Dark Physics compo at game creators.
Ever wondered what tetris would be like in 3d crossed with war/strategy and physics? This is it! Get it from their website.

18 August 2006


As my webspace has expired, this is the new space. Prices have gone up and I'm not selling anything.