All-in-one Animation Tool
Chee Yih Yang
In.Tech - August 05, 2003, 3D
ANIMATORS take note: the latest edition of SoftImage XSI,
version 3.5,is now in town. SoftImage XSI (www.softimage.com/XSl)
is one of the better-known 3D animation software titles,
and is produced by Tewksbury, Massachusetts-based Avid
Technologies Inc (www.avid.com).
It has been used in producing effects for various games,
movies and commercials. SoftImage XSI was used in games
such as Soldier of Fortune I and 2, Half-Life 2, and
Dead Or Alive Extreme Beach Volleyball, while movies
shot using the program include Matrix Reloaded, Spy Kids
2 and 3,and Panic Room.
Version 3.5 features a slew of additions and
improvements in its rendering, interface, simulation
tools, software development kit (SDK), schematic
editing, and texture editing components.
In rendering, you have the option of using a new "rapid
motion blur" option for large scenes and complex
shading. Users also get the "incremental echo" option
and enhanced memory management, so large texture or
shadow map files can be divided into smaller chunks.
(Incremental echo means for a file containing multiple
frames, the frames containing static scene elements will
be omitted from successive frames (hence the term
"echo"). This also helps reduce file sizes.)
SoftImage XSI version 3.5ís web browser and asset
management tool is now available on Linux. A
"contextual" option has also been added "for extra
control," Avid claims.
The titleís SDK now has additional commands such as
"unloading/reloading," "add-on libraries" and a "new
user data blob object" option for storing binary user
data on objects.
Under the simulation part of SoftImage XSI version 3.5,
it is now possible for users to match the root of the
generated hair fibre to fit the exact contours.
Additional hair-related options include symmetry maps
and new "stretchy" hair for curve-like control and
As for interoperability, SoftImage|XSI version 3.5
supports outputting to ".AAF" format. There are also new
snapping functions, "texture display dimming," "numeric
UV position editing" and "user defined pivoting."
The program now bundles SoftImage|Behaviour, which used
to be a separate software title. Behaviour is a "crowd
simulation and behavioural animation system," so that a
large number of CGI (computer generated image)
characters can be easily generated. It was used in the
production of Napoleon, a 2002 mini-series that starred
Gerard Depardieu, John Malkovich and Isabella
Sejaya Production Sdn Bhd (www.sejaya.com.my)
Managing Director Ronnie Chan claims SoftImage XSI
version 3.5 is the most complete and "user-friendly"
animation software now. Sejaya is a local animation
solutions provider, and the local distributor for
"Itís also an all-in-one product, and most complete, as
it comes with compositing tools," he said. Sejaya is now
having discounts on its Softlinage XSI products, and
hardware and software bundles, until Aug 30. For more
information, call the company at (03) 4251-3823.