SOFTIMAGE Announced SOFTIMAGE|XSI 7

XSI 7 box

SOFTIMAGE has announced XSI 7, with their latest release SOFTIMAGE addresses many of the pain points that 3D artist are facing. 3D artist can now easily without knowing any properitary program language design new images or movies and finish project faster. One of the biggest improvements is ICEInteractive Creative Environment which extends into everything within XSI. Artist can deform, apply weigh, author, share & collaborate, apply particles and  animate particles, faces, vertices, edges or velocity of faces. With ICE artist can do what they love to do: be creative.

From the Press Release

Softimage Co., a part of Avid Technology, Inc. (Nasdaq: AVID), today announced SOFTIMAGE®|XSI® 7, the latest version of its professional 3D animation software for games, film and television. SOFTIMAGE|XSI 7 software will introduce a transformative open platform called ICE, designed to capture the infinitely creative vision of content producers. With a visual interface and an easy-to-use node-based programming model, users will be able to quickly create complex visual effects. ICE will allow artists to explore, learn and modify the robust library of particle-based visual effects and deformation tools that will ship in SOFTIMAGE|XSI 7 software, or simply build new ones from scratch.

Availability:
SOFTIMAGE|XSI 7 is expected to be available in Q3 2008.
Pricing for SOFTIMAGE|XSI 7 Essentials will be USMSRP $2,995.
Pricing for SOFTIMAGE|XSI 7 Advanced will be USMSRP $4,995.

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Some of the new key features of SOFTIMAGE|XSI 7 :

  1. XSI 7 ICE Video Tutorial: Building a Force from a Curve Video Tutorial
  2. XSI 7 Video Tutorial: ICE an Artist Tour #1 (from Bradley Gabe)
  3. XSI 7 Video Tutorial: Vortex Control with ICE (from Bradley Gabe)
  • GIGACORE II ARCHITECTURE
    The new core, GigaCore II  is fully multi-threaded and 64-bit.
  • Integrated mental ray 3.6 Renderer
    This update adds new controls for final gathering and displacement rendering, as well as options for optimizing and accelerating global illumination, and global ambient occlusion settings. XSI 7.0 integrates  mental ray renderer version 3.6.

    • Importons – Importons are photon particles emitted from the camera (instead of a light source). mental ray uses these photon particles to calculate how important a photon is for the illumination of an image. With this technique, you get a lighter photon map and faster rendering as photon lookup is optimized.
    • Stand-ins – Object render archives (also known as mental ray assemblies or stand-ins) provide a method of offloading assets so that they can be loaded and unloaded, on-demand, at render time. The object render archive file is loaded into the render as an encapsulated “sub-scene” which can be unloaded automatically if mental ray starts to run low on physical memory. This reduces memory consumption and allows for faster rendering times. Stand-ins are particularly useful for assembling cumulatively large and detailed scenes such as cityscapes, dense forests of trees, and even crowds of animated characters.
    • New Final Gathering Algorithm “Exact” mode – Exact mode bypasses the final gathering point cache entirely and always computes the full final gathering solution for every sample. This mode will yield more accurate and superior quality results because none of the final gathering points are derived by interpolating values from an initial cache of final gathering points.
    • Auto-Configuring BSP 2 Raytracing Acceleration – The BSP2 raytracing acceleration technique is the next generation BSP algorithm used by mental ray. It was developed, primarily, for the efficient rendering of scenes with large BSP trees and is required for rendering scenes with stand-ins (also known as mental ray assemblies). It is also auto-configuring so the user does not have to setup complicated BSP options anymore.
    • Irradiance Particles – The new mental ray irradiance particles algorithm provides a method of calculating global illumination using importons. Irradiance particles are easy to set up in your scene and with just the default settings, you can reach a desirable illumination quality much faster than the existing solutions of global illumination photon tracing combined with final gathering.
  • Render Manager Improvements
    3D Artist can now easier setup and manager their render jobs, all that with an simpler and easier to use interface.
  • GLSL Shaders
    Two new OpenGL-based shaders are now part of XSI 7.
    XSI 7 GLSL Shaders
  • OpenGL Particle Shader
    Improved function that allows the artist to even better work with particles in XSI using OpenGL.
  • Global color management tools
    Artist have more control on the output images or videos with color management. Supports
    XSI 7 color management
  • Delta II
    One of the major breakthroughs in workgroup collaboration was Delta referencing (in XSI 6). In addition to XSI’s robust referencing system, Delta allows you to store the changes to a model in a lightweight manner. You can then export, import and apply deltas manually. You can also edit and delete deltas and items within deltas, and even change a delta’s target model. The result is an extremely efficient, robust and flexible way for artists to work collaboratively in production.
    XSI 7 Delta IIDelta II updates the already successful referencing system with numerous new features:

    • Create New Clusters
    • Create new cluster properties, including texture UV coordinates, vertex colors, weight maps, and envelope weight properties. You can create cluster properties on new clusters, or on clusters that pre-existed in the original model.
    • Add deformation operators and ICE trees to the construction stack. This includes deformations on new and pre-existing clusters as well as deformations that are linked to other objects (lattices, waves, cluster centers, etc.).
    • Add operators to the stacks of cluster properties, including painting and smoothing weight maps and envelope weights, modifying texture UV coordinates, etc. Note that UV modifications are frozen when the model is offloaded (including before switching resolutions or saving the scene).
    • Delete any operators, clusters, properties, and cluster properties that have been added to the referenced model. Deleted items are removed from the delta.
    • Save animation mixer Cache data in the delta.
  • RTS 3.0-an updated realtime shader API featuring all new programmable shaders that support the latest display technologies.
    XSI version 7.0 supports the Realtime Shader API version 3.0. There have been some major changes and enhancements since version 2.0 that add flexibility and simplicity in the development of realtime shaders

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