Todd Akita's ICE: Design Tools document!

Posted by Mark Schoennagel, 21 September 2012 6:43 pm

Well here it is guys, Todd Akita’s awesome "ICE: Design Tools" pdf from his presentation at Autodesk University!! For anyone who’s getting their feet wet using Softimage ICE you definitely want to read this.   In the document,  Todd masterfully explains many of the math fundamentals  required to really excel at programming ICE.  I read it once, then read it again and learned even more… I even did the very rare thing and printed it out!

For those of you that don’t know Todd,  he’s the lead TD at Psyop, one of my all-time favorite studios in the world.  Located in New York City, they consistently produce some of the most beautiful, innovated and creative spots that you’ll ever see.  Constantly pushing the envelope, a trip to Psyop is always one the highlights of my New York visits.  Check out their website and take a look and some of their projects, amazing!

If you didn’t know, Todd is going to be presenting again this November at Autodesk University in Las Vegas.  AU is a crazy cool educational event covering all of the Autodesk products that pretty much takes over Mandalay bay and surrounding hotels!  Of all the Autodesk events I have been to AU was by far the best… extremely informative, inspiring and actually a little overwhelming to be honest.  

So with that, here it is, Todd’s document.  Thanks Todd, you rule!!!

One more thing real quick, The Softimage International User Group meeting will be taking place Sept. 28th in Siegen Germany.  Really wish I could attend that one, I could use a nice Bratwurst!! (and a beer of course)  




Posted 21 September 2012 10:39 pm

sorry but a tiny correction.
fig.33a: shoulde be "E2 X E1 = Y" instead of "E1 X E2 = Y".


Posted 22 September 2012 8:27 am

Thank you!


Posted 22 September 2012 2:40 pm

Ahhh, understand this is making me mad. ICE isn't based solely off trigonometry.


Posted 22 September 2012 6:44 pm

Well it's basically a vector manipulation system. Positions, velocities, forces, etc - the very building blocks of any ICE scene or effect - are just that, vectors. So I think trigonometry is a huge part of it.


Posted 23 September 2012 3:52 am

Is there any other math involved in ICE ? Makes learning a little easier if I can focus on a specific area.


Posted 23 September 2012 7:05 pm

Actually, almost everything. Straight algebra is also a big part, even for seemingly simple calculations. But if I had to pick another focus point, I 'd say matrices.

I wouldn't go about studying math first, getting into ICE second. I think these should go hand-in-hand. Things will come to you (or you 'll look them up and study them) as needed. And this way, the knowledge will "stick" for good


Posted 24 September 2012 9:17 am

Could we get some more of these events in the UK. It would be nice to see a Autodesk University in the uk, talking in depth about ice etc


Posted 24 September 2012 9:53 pm

Hi Guys,

thanks for all the feedback,

Great catch, I will try to fix that... otherwise the elephant would have to be a spider-elephant on the inside of the roof.

The trig examples in this document aren't quite as fleshed out as they could be WRT ICE (this was a written companion to a live presentation so not everything that should have made it to the written doc did), but the version I'm working on for the class in November at AU should fill in a lot of the holes and have better usage examples.

So there is certainly more to come.

Also the November version should have a little bit for people newish to Softimage, with a mini crash-course on how to get around the app a bit.

Also I should of course extend thanks to Bradley Gabe, Felix Gebhardt, Chinny, Guillaume, and of course the good folks at Softimage Japan who encouraged me to produce this.


Posted 26 September 2012 1:32 am

I searched many resources, and although some of the basics of vectors for example are not hard, I still found myself, not having the ah-ha moment, and, well, it's been a while since I touched this math, trig and algebra. I look forward to the document in November, I have looked over the present document, and alot still intimidates me, I'll continue to try chug along in hopes to gain some ground before your next document. I also encourage you for the creation of the next documentation, I may not have the credentials as those you listed, hopefully one day.

Thank You !


Posted 30 September 2012 1:37 pm

The math presented here is indeed basic. In my country I studied this before high-school.
Regardless, thanks for the effort, the community will surely put it to good use.


Posted 30 September 2012 3:38 pm

That is the difference, I never touched this stuff until mid-high school, that is how, at the time the curriculum was, and when it was touched upon before High School, the teacher just breezed though it and that was it. While in Europe this was taught before High School. The misconception online is that those are frowned upon because they can't grasp ICE as fast as those in the Europe can or else where. Those in Europe can't understand why some in North America may not have the knowledge that they have, the Europeans ostracize those who don't know. In all honesty they teach better in Europe, while in North America, no one is allowed to fail, especially in present day.

Then you have to look at another fact, ICE was built so that Artists can get their feet wet and create what they need, when they need it. Artists in General don't all have the TD background that some have, that is not to say they can't learn it, it's that it's a little harder then those with TD background, I swear some don't understand this notion in the community. What Todd is doing in the community is excellent, and I'm sure the time it takes for him to create, break-down formulas etc is time consuming, I'm sure Artists / TD people alike have and will appreciate his efforts, and hopefully more people come forth to help those TD inclined and Artists get up to speed, when stuck in the muck.

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