redmotion: March 2010

19 March 2010

SunpathICE - Coming Soon

Developed entirely in ICE, based on the sun position calculations in the Radiance renderer (as the original plugin), I'm proud to announce that an ICE Kinematics version of the sunpath plugin is almost ready. And with fully animatable parameters this time.

Just waiting for Softimage 2011 to be released so I can resolve a few bugs (due to kinematics being buggy and unsupported in 2010).

Descendants Animation & Grapes Growing Rigging Tutorials

Descendants from Goro Fujita on Vimeo.

Holger Schönberger posted a link regarding Descendants, an animated short, on the XSIlist. A pretty stunning piece of work done with Softimage I've decided to link to here. A detailed breakdown has been posted at CGSociety.

Growing Grapes Veins and Bottles - Rigging and Lighting from Florian Witzel on Vimeo.

Florian Witzel posted this growing grapes tutorial a while back. Its been embedded in Autodesk's underwhelming Softimage page on the Autodesk website since last year but I've only just come across this little gem. A full tutorial can be found here.

Both demostrate some very good examples of multi-pass compositing, something Softimage has been doing well for years. I think the 100 new shaders exposed in SI2011 will make this kind of set up even easier.

12 March 2010

Softimage 2011 Preview

Softimage 2011 announced with ICE kinematics fully realised. It enables the intricacies of a rig to be contained (including the IK system) entirely within an ICE tree making it incredibly easy to transfer ICE rigs between different rigs and characters. THIS is a big advance and will really help all areas of rigging including rigs in videogames, a field which ICE has been criticised in the past for not being that useful.

There is also a new system for using/building Mental Ray shaders. Now you only need the source code and Softimage compiles it into a shader for you, automatically creating a SPDL and material node entry in the render tree, exposing all the parameters and allowing you to get on with it without the pain of having to seperately compile on specific platforms. As a result, over a hundred shaders that have (up until now) never been exposed in XSI, are now there. Including a IES/photometric light shader and all the features lighting shaders have gained since it was introduced as the built in renderer.
Face Robot has been updated to include automatic lip syncing. The main issue with Face robot in previous versions was that to use it in any meaningful way you needed to capture live performances and import the data. Many users (like me) don't have access to luxuries like performance capture systems. Now you just need the audio and you can generate the proper mouth movements for dialogue, reducing the lip syncing to a few tweaks. EDIT:  After seeing the GDC'10 presentation by the charismatic Mark Schoennagel, he pointed out a neat trick where you can lip sync to music tracks by singing the song yourself, generate the face robot lip sync from your take and then replace your voice with the original score. Sometimes with amusing results!
The Physx-based physics core in XSI has fallen behind in recent years but now it has recieved a full update to the latest version. Integrated into ICE with CUDA driven (nvidia GPU only) GPU acceleration, it apparently offers softbodies, full shape collisions with rigid bodies and more, all accessible from ICE.

Other stuff includes multiple camera rendering, render slate (which allows you to add text onto renders for play blasts, etc. Be nice to see render times on this.) UV unfold command gets some changes to speed up workflow including symmetry and the ability to reunfold individual islands instead of being forced to unfold and pack the entire object each time.

Pretty solid update for just 6 months work. The Softimage guys really do know what is needed and always surprise me. Of course, there is stuff I wish was in there but isn't yet (perhaps never will be) but I'm pretty sure this 6 month release will mean that Softimage 2012 could get at least a full years development. Then again maybe Autodesk are considering a major x.5 point release for all 3d applications in another six months, that only subscribers can benefit from (just to keep us locked into the subscription cycle.)

Lastly, the two seperate versions of Softimage and Softimage Advanced have vanished. There is now just one version of the software. It has 5 batch licenses for mental ray and comes as either a standalone or a network license (EDIT: no batch licenses with standalone version - thanks for the heads up, Stephen). I'm not sure how people with SI 2010 (not advanced) will upgrade or subscribe as of yet.

Just have to wait and see, I guess. Apparently, early April is predicted for release.

10 March 2010

The Bendy One

The Bendy One from Jason Wells on Vimeo.

This was a speed test using an old project and some newish techniques I've gained. It was composited in XSI using the FX tree. I used my RM_Architectural compound to generate the seperate diffuse (albedo), specular and reflective, etc passes via channels. I used fast radiosity technique to generate indirect illumination from a blurred HDR map (frame rendertime less than 20 secs). I baked an Ambient Occlusion pass as a texture using rendermap and reduced the render speed of each 1270x720 frame to 2 seconds. The longest part for rendering was the glossy floor reflection which I reduced by limiting the reflective area with a weight map.

I used a radial gradient in FX tree to create a vignetting effect and blurred some duplicates of the specular pass to get glows on the highlights. I'll try to do some tests with DOF and motion vector driven motion blur next.