And the crowd goes wild! - Softimage 2013 new features and videos

Posted by Mark Schoennagel, 25 March 2012 5:00 pm

Here we are again, and once more the team has done a bang-up job. They managed to cover quite a bit of ground with a number of small changes and additions.  But the big things are...well...big.  The High Quality Viewport will get the most out of your graphics card for sure.  And the CrowdFX is so much fun to use.  Not having to deal with 1000s of individual actors, instead just source actors makes so much sense.  And the fact that the animation, deformation, mesh creation and simulation is all done in ICE means it is crazy fast on multi-core machines.

Sit back, relax and listen to Chinny giving the low-down.




CrowdFX Introduction





CrowdFX Stadiums




High Quality Viewport




A few new general features





Animation update





Some rendering additions




ICE Tree tweaks






Here is a bullet list of the new features and changes, If there are some things missing they will be small items only.


  • Default Camera now 1920x1080 (16x9) @ 30fps
  • New Scene now starts with the B viewport maximized – controlled through Preferences>Display
  • New Texture Editor Preferences (Preferences>Editors>Texture Editor) also includes new prefs for Snap
  • Viewport>Display Options>Performance>Two Sided Lighting
  • Explorer - Application>Data>Capture Options>Return to Current Frame When Done
  • Drag and drop tabs to reorder in toolbars/shelves
  • New toolbar spacer widget for height and width
  • Hide status icon added to groups and partitions
  • Expose pivot editing commands in the transform (SRT) tool RMB context menu

Rigging and Animation

  • Animation Mixer
    • Moving the time cursor in the Mixer or DopeSheet will no longer change the global start/end frame
    • New ability to load multiple preset files at the same time
    • New ability for compounds and source clips to have a custom color
    • Reorder tracks by drag and drop
    • Ability to select multiple clips using rectangular select tool
    • Import FBX animation as source clip (see Crosswalk)
  • FCurve Editing
    • F-Curve retiming manipulator
    • New SDK menu anchor points and Enums (see SDK)
    • The Fcurve editor has experienced some menu command name changes to make it more compatible with the fcurve editors in the other Autodesk applications
    • You can now select objects, points, edges, polygons, or clusters as the target.
    • You can now use multiple GATOR operators to transfer envelopes from multiple objects.
    • There is a new Envelope checkbox to disable the transfer of envelopes when the Transfer button is pressed.
  • Chain Bones
    • Animate>Skeleton>Draw Bones. The bone primitive can now be used to create a chain
    • Works with selection filters, duplication, move joint tool, snapping
  • Synoptic View
    • Python Support
    • Support for Japanese characters

High Quality Viewport

  • A new High-Quality Viewport reduces the need to frequently preview using a software renderer. With the ability to evaluate work interactively in an environment that closely mimics the rendered output.
  • All standard render tree nodes have been converted to support High Quality output – Examples include:
    • Shadow Pass, Architectural, Environment, Vertex_Color, Incidence
  • Preferences>Display> New High Quality Viewport Options and Defaults
  • New High Quality tab in Viewport>Display Options controls
    • Enabling High Quality Viewport
    • Anti-aliasing
    • Dithering
    • Shadows
    • Ambient Occlusion
    • Depth of Field
  • Supports:
    • Multiple blended textures
    • Contributions from multiple lights at the same time (no predetermined limit)
    • Depth of Field (viewport only)
    • Environment Maps (pass and local)
    • Procedural shaders
    • Normal maps
    • Antialiasing
    • Bumps maps
    • Weight maps
    • Vertex Color Maps
    • Texture layers
    • Screen Space Ambient Occlusion
  • Lights (Point, Spot, Infinite)
    • Attenuation
    • Shadows
    • Shadow maps
    • Shadow Softness (Shadow Maps Only)
    • Flat Light
  • Custom shaders and HQ shading can be seen at the same time
  • Hardware Renderer supports the High Quality option
  • HQV uses CGFX as an output and is therefore is graphic card dependent. There are environment variables set in the setenv.bat controlling the samples. Too many samples inside Softimage can crash your card – hence they are limited. Specifying higher values in Softimage, than those in the setenv will be ignored.
  • A few items which are not supported:
    • Area Lights
    • Raytraced Soft Shadows
    • Photons
    • Car Paint Shader


  • There is a new option Automatically Delete Unused Nodes on Refresh in the Render Tree
  • New support for specifying partial frame rendering using Frame Set option – IE "1.1, 1.2, 1.3"
  • Render Region Context Menu: New refresh mode
    • Interactive. Camera, Time and Region State. Manual
  • Preferences>Rendering. New Region Tab to control various elements
  • You can now use irradiance particles together with final gathering. (FG has precedence)
  • Local rendering options now show the label "Local" as well as appearing in Roman typeface in the explorer.
  • Color Clipping: mental ray - premultiply with Alpha turned off the RGB values no longer get clamped to 1.0 for floating-point images.
  • Softimage 2013 uses version of the mental ray.


  • Merging or Blending Polygon Meshes
  • When merging or blending polygon meshes, you can now transfer all clusters even if they don't have any properties (like local materials, weight maps, vertex colors, etc.).
  • The Split Edge tool has been improved to make it easier to split edges close to existing vertices. If you still have difficulty, try zooming the view.

ICE - General

  • Remember view position when navigating compounds
  • Hotkeys for entering exiting compounds (i=in u=up)
  • MMB to pan when not on a node (also for Render Tree)
  • MMB on a connection line now will show values on/off
  • ICE Tree>Show>Hide Port Values
  • Show Value PPG now bigger
  • Performance of topology merging and cloning improved
  • The Build Linearly Interpolated Array compound has a new Valid output port
  • Group Comment nodes can be copied and pasted.
  • ICE Tree User Tools > Add Operator To Menu has been updated
  • StringFilePathSequenceNode
    • Now updates resolved path when you copy-paste into the ICE tree of a different object
    • Has a file browser button to the string file path sequence node
  • Renaming objects with a space character in the name is now supported
  • Performance of Cap Hole and other ICE modeling nodes has been improved


  • A dedicated environment for building sophisticated crowd simulations. Built on ICE to help create massively complex effects with huge numbers of characters that react intelligently to their environment and each other.
  • ICE Module>CrowdFX (A jump start to building the crowd)
  • Supports non-bipedal characters
  • Export using FBX
  • Pedestrian Model C:Program FilesAutodeskSoftimage 2013AddonsCrowdFXDataModels
  • Sample Scenes

ICE Nodes and Compounds

  • Improved “Build Array from Set” node.
    • Now supports arrays of type Topology and Location and it is much faster.
  • Topology> Clone Topo
  • Data Access>Get Action Source at Frame
  • CrowdFX – Task>Crowds:
    • Animation
      • Set Actor Global Transform
      • Set Actor Shape Key Weights
      • Set Horizontal Speeds
      • Animation Cycle
      • Set Actor Global Transform From Cycle
      • Set Locomotion
      • Set Stadium Animation
    • Constraints
      • Crowd Legs on Ground Constraint
      • Crowd Lock Feet Constraint
      • Crowd Look At Constraint
      • Crowd Look At Goal
      • Crowd Orientation Constraint
      • Crowd Pose Constraint
      • Crowd Scaling Constraint
      • Crowd Stride Control
    • Debugging
      • Get Actor Pose
      • Get Current Frame in Cycle
      • Show Deformers Transform
    • Emitters
      • Emit Evenly from Geometry
      • Emit From Horizontal Polygons
    • Getters
      • Get Actor ID
      • Get Actor Transforms
      • Get Crowd Emitter ID
      • Get Current Goal
      • Get Deformer Hierarchy Indices
      • Get Goal Group Index
      • Get Pose State ID
      • Get Previous Pose State ID
      • Get Transforms at Frame
    • Goals
      • Closest Goal
      • Follow Curve
      • Get Current Goal
      • Get Goal Group Index
      • Get Sequencer
    • Initialize
      • Initialize Collision Avoidance
      • Initialize Locomotion Data
      • Initialize Stadium Data
      • Load Actor Cycles
      • Randomize Actor ID
      • Randomize Initial Frame
      • Set All Actors Cycles
    • Setters
      • Ignore Neighbors in Same Social Group
      • Set Actor Global Transform
      • Set Actor Shape Key Weights
      • Set Emitter Data
      • Set Horizontal Speeds
      • Set Wall Data
    • Simulation
      • Ignore Neighbors in Same Social Group
      • Simulate Collision Avoidance
    • Skinning
      • Set Shape Instance Bones
      • Shape Instance Skinning
    • States
      • Action State
      • Action State Transition Weight
      • Get Pose State ID
      • Pose State
      • Save Previous Pose State ID
      • Set Action State
      • Set Pose State ID
      • Set Pose State ID from Speed
  • CrowdFX – Tools>Crowds:
    • Collision Avoidance
    • Crowd Skinning
    • Set Crowd PointPosition

3ds Max interaction Mode

  • A new interaction mode (File>Interaction Mode)is now available for 3ds Max users.
  • Changing to this mode will affect:
    • Translate and scale manipulators will visually match those in 3ds Max
    • 3ds Max keymap
    • Middle Mouse Button navigation is supported in all 3D and 2D views for 3ds Max mode


  • New suites interaction mode
  • New keys for Maya interaction mode


  • Preferences>General. New Licensing>Check Interval timeout option

Japanese language support in Softimage

  • Support 2 byte characters in the Main Shelf.
  • Support for Japanese characters in the Synoptic View and Relational View
  • Support for Japanese characters in scripting
  • Softimage now uses the same font as Maya for the Japanese UI.
  • The following file types are now saved as Unicode (UTF-8) - This means that they support multi-byte characters, including Japanese and other languages:
    • Layouts (.xsily)
    • Relational views (.xsivw)
    • Toolbars (.xsitb)
    • Synoptic views (.htm)
    • Preferences (.xsipref)


  • Improved control for workgroups using the custom .wkg file in User/Data Folder to connect to any workgroup.
  • You no longer need to restart Softimage after connecting to a workgroup to use any layouts installed in it.

SDK Additions and Enhancements

  • Highlights include a large number of additions: new view attributes, anchor points, python methods, and workgroup management features.
  • Python support in the synoptic editor
  • New additions for View.GetAttributeValue and SetAttributeValue (see docs for full list)
    • MaterialManager
    • WeightEditor
    • DopeSheet (loads)
    • AnimationMixer
    • CustomDisplayHost
    • ObjectView
    • TextureEditor (loads)
    • WeightPaintPanel
    • AnimationEditor (loads and loads)
  • You can now add a custom name for your Property Panel title bar
  • Added a script command for the Texture Editor's "Checkerboard" mode
  • fcurve.PutFCurveType has been updated
  • User menu item now support checkmarks
  • Script access for Delta StoredExpressions value
  • The child views in Material Manager are now exposed
  • New Anchor points:
    • siMenuTbICECrowdFXActorsID
    • siMenuTbICECrowdFXSimulationID
    • siMenuTbICECrowdFXCrowdID
    • siMenuFCurveEditorTopLevelID
    • siMenuFCurveEditorFileID
    • siMenuFCurveEditorEditID
    • siMenuFCurveEditorViewID
    • siMenuFCurveEditorKeysID
    • siMenuFCurveEditorCurvesID
    • siMenuFCurveEditorSelectID
    • siMenuSchematicViewTopLevelID
    • siMenuMaterialManagerTopLevelID
    • siMenuAnimMixeraEditID
    • siMenuAnimMixerViewID
    • siMenuAnimMixerTrackID
    • siMenuAnimMixerClipID
    • siMenuAnimMixerMixID
    • siMenuAnimMixerEffectID
    • siMenuShaderCodeEditContextID
  • Events
    • siOnPreParseShaderDef
    • siOnPreDefineShaderDef
    • siOnBeginScrubbing (PPG slider control)
    • siOnEndScrubbing
  • Scripting support for Capture Options codec parameters
  • New option to prevent getting back to initial frame after a screen capture
  • New C++ Methods (see docs for full list)
  • New OM Methods (see docs for full list)
  • New Commands (see docs for full list)
  • Enums:
    • siHLEOperationAbsoluteOffset (for when the HLE tool is enabled)
    • siHLEOperationRelativeOffset
    • siHLEOperationAbsoluteScaling
    • siRenderRegionRefreshMode


  • It uses version 2013 of the FBXSDK.
  • There are a number of performance improvements.
  • Choose your FBX format via crosswalk plugin
  • Option to skip materials on FBX import
  • The way that user normals are imported has changed to be more consistent with other Autodesk software:
    • If there is shape animation, and no hard edges or smoothing groups, then user normals are converted to hard edges.
    • If there are both shape animation and hard edges or smoothing groups, then user normals are discarded.
  • User normals are properly supported when the topology changes.
  • FBX files with objects in multiple namespaces are supported.
  • Import FBX animation as source clip
  • On export, ICE-based materials, including Materials, MaterialID, and attributes used as texture projections, are converted to cluster-based materials with explicit UVs.

Sample Scenes and Models

  • Softimage 2013AddonsCrowdFXDataModelsPedestrian.emdl
  • Softimage 2013DataXSI_SAMPLESScenesICE
    • CrowdFX_Killer Maze
    • CrowdFX_LockFeet_LookatGround_and_Duck
    • CrowdFX_MilitaryParade
    • CrowdFX_SnowStorm
    • CrowdFX_Stadium_Waving
    • CrowdFX_Three_Packs_Walking_Towards_Each_Other`
    • CrowdFX_Walk_Along_Paths
  • Softimage 2013DataXSI_SAMPLESScenesHQV
    • Garage
  • Softimage 2013DataXSI_SAMPLESScenesRendering
    • Rendertree_Architectural_Glass_Vase
    • Rendertree_Environment_Procedural_Sunset
    • Rendertree_Material_Black_and_White_Leather
    • Rendertree_Material_Chameleon_Skin
    • Rendertree_Material_Diamond
    • Rendertree_Metals_Teapots
    • Rendertree_Rusty_Metal
    • Rendertree_TextureGenerators_Grid_Warp
    • Rendertree_Environment_Procedural_Sunset (updated)
    • Rendertree_Bump_Fabric (updated)
    • Rendertree_Bump_Tiles (updated)
    • Rendertree_Displacement_Rope (updated)
  • Softimage 2013DataXSI_SAMPLESScenesLighting
    • Photons_Diamond_Caustics
    • Final Gathering (updated)

Data Management

  • There have been a variety of fixes for referenced models. In particular when using expressions, linked parameters, and constraints – highlights:
    • Expressions now update and rename properly in Ref models on scene merge and model import
    • Renaming Offloaded RefModel now maintains constraints and expressions


  • Fixes, Issues and known problems and limitations will be available at the time of release




Posted 27 March 2012 10:06 am

nice update


Posted 27 March 2012 11:58 am

High Quality Viewport
are you kidding? Slow and lag behind from max 5 years. No support procedural textures in standart viewport.
No update frame buffer for compare images and store render time
No fluids, no update volume shaders.
please fixed bugs with camera mapping, texture repeats bugs in shader layers.


Posted 27 March 2012 12:12 pm

did expect a lot more on ICE, Rendering, Modeling, Texturing.. Kinda disappoiting release.


Posted 27 March 2012 12:41 pm

The high quality viewport looks very well implemented, and will be extremely useful for me personally. (I have used the 3ds Max version of this, and I think the Softimage version is better in many ways.) The crowd stuff looks amazing as well, and the animation F-curve editing will come in very handy. I'm not sure about the 3ds Max keyboard interface, but if it helps interoperability, I'm all for it. Question: are all the 2012 SAP tools now included in this release?

Edit: just looked at 3ds Max's new Nitrous Viewport. Yikes, we need to step it up and play catch-up a bit.

Jason Fox

Posted 27 March 2012 2:50 pm

Pretty underwhelmed! Crowd FX is nice, but I doubt I'll ever use it for paying work, Viewport improvements are meh! With the complexity of meshes I use I normally have to work in hidden line at best anyway.

My biggest hope for this version is that some of the 'lock-up' or 'total-fail' bugs have been fixed.

Following the huge maintenance price increase I expected more!


Posted 28 March 2012 5:40 am

Unfortunately a pretty dissapointing update:/
-as others said, crowdfx is really, really nice, but only a minority of users will take advantage of it. nevertheless, great it's here:]
-HQ viewport looks like a joke compared to max/maya's.
-no real modeling or rendering improvements.
-I thought Lagoa would set the tone for future serious vfx features. nope.
-no human-IK features or mbuilder integration (maya's stuff is pretty awesome...)

Now, I'm wondering what the long term roadmap for SI looks like... It'd be great to know where AD wants to see this package in the next couple of years. Is it games? vfx? char animation? mograph? limbo? Because, as much as maya's and max's directions seem relatively well defined, I have no idea where SI is heading... After all the Lagoa hype, it all lost its momentum. To an outsider, it looks like a one hit wonder Great stuff, but now let's get back to mayax
Anyway, I would kill for a release schedule and a general roadmap similiar to that of Blender for AD apps... Oh man.


Posted 30 March 2012 11:59 am

Hey, It's Autodesk...that's what they do well....add on new features that are gimmicky and uncalled for in most cases for most of us all while avoiding fixing all the known issues until it becomes a bloated bug-riddled mess like max and maya are! "Bug" can also refer to usability not just code base. Like: It "bugs" me that Maya's hotbox is laggy....remember how responsive it was back in version 5? I do!

What would really make Softimage great is if it was actually marketed for what it is....a fully functioning General Purpose, Standalone 3d Content Creation and Compositing Application. The whole suite idea is ridiculous and I will laugh at anyone who thinks they need more than one of these tools to get the job's all about the content anyways.

Let's focus on some features that the softimage users want: ICE still needs some work. I'd still love to see a Mac version! Focus on the rigging, muscles, skinning and animation pipeline a bit more would be wonderful!
Keep the interface as is but easier to customize...I find editing the xml files directly a better solution than dealing with that layout edit mode. The built-in illusion compositor is a nice to have but needs a major has potential to be an alternative to nuke if only it were given a chance. I have more but I'll stop here as this seems to be enough updates for a single release.


Posted 1 April 2012 7:35 pm

Well... the crowd did go wild.

It seems to me that though abrupt all these guys have a good point: Bugs suck, and softimage should be saved the humiliation of becoming riddled with them. Admittedly new features are good, but the downside is another hundred unfixed errors.

Opinion: Autodesk should work on consolidating product features and stability rather than focusing on the a flashy new feature that does nothing but inhibit user productivity.


Posted 1 April 2012 11:54 pm

it is good but it is not enough

Thank you Autodesk


Posted 2 April 2012 10:05 am

Wow!!! Very Nice Update!!~ CrowdFX is very Nice!


Posted 13 April 2012 1:59 pm

What are you talking about? Bullet physics is now built in. (3ds Max JUST got physX, which Softimage has had for a long time.) We have Syflex cloth, running under multiprocessor mode, which is the industry standard, and even better with the last upgrade. I'd put it against anything from maya or 3ds Max. Fluid or fire? You have ICE. You can make anything you want with it. 3ds Max doesn't have anything close to it in their toolset. I think these updates are pretty good, my 2 cents.

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