New Features for Softimage 2011 Subscription Advantage Pack (version 9.5)


Here is a detailed summary of the new features and enhancements available in Autodesk Softimage 2011 Subscription Advantage Pack.

And check out the New Feature Videos on YouTube! (

Please note that for this release only, the locally installed SDK documentation has not been updated because it is currently undergoing significant design changes. For up-to-date information, refer to the "Customization & SDK" section of this wiki page which describes in detail the new SDK features and API changes that have gone into the Softimage 2011 Advantage Pack.

Interface and Tools

ICE Toolbar

There is a new ICE toolbar that contains commands that set up ICE trees based on many common tasks, such as creating particle emissions, creating deformations setting goals for particles, adding forces, and many more. There are also some preset ICE effects.

You can press 4 to switch to the ICE toolbar (Ctrl+4 now switches to the Simulate toolbar).


Note that these commands are set up to use the Simulation Root compound as a base node into which the other nodes are plugged. As a result, you cannot use the ICE toolbar commands on ICE trees that don’t have this compound plugged into the ICETree node. To use the commands, simply add the Simulation Root compound to your simulation ICE tree, plug the existing nodes into the appropriate port on this compound, then plug the Simulation Root compound into the ICETree node.

Layout Changes

There have been a number of changes to the layouts in Softimage:

  • The Dual - Animation, Dual - Compositing, and Dual -Views layouts have been combined and replaced by the multipurpose Dual layout.
  • The ICE layout has been removed and the default layout has been improved to compensate.
  • In the default layout, the MAT panel has been replaced by the PPG panel. When the PPG panel is displayed, property panels open here instead of in floating windows (unless the property editor displayed here is locked). The material panel is still available as a floating view for editing texture layers, and can be added to your own custom layouts.
  • In the default layout, the toolbar and view icons have been simplified and improved:



Switches to main toolbar (press Ctrl+1)


Switches to weight paint panel (press Ctrl+3)


Switches to the palette


Switches to explorer and preset manager


Display or hide left panel.


Display or hide main shelf in upper panel.


Display or hide time range in lower panel.


Display or hide right panel (MCP, KP/L, or PPG).


4 viewports.


Explorer, camera, and user views.


Explorer, camera, and editor:

  • If the Animate toolbar is active, the bottom view is the animation editor.
  • If the ICE toolbar is active, the bottom view is the ICE tree view.
  • Otherwise, the bottom view is the render tree.

Main Shelf

The main shelf has been improved to provide better access to many common tools and commands.



Tabs switch between categories. The Custom tab is available for storing your own presets and commands.


Icons apply presets or invoke commands and tools.


Text buttons open menus or display preferences.

Viewing and Playback


The ViewCube is a tool that provides consistent navigation across many Autodesk 3D applications. When enabled, it appears in the view that is under the mouse pointer. See Navigating with the ViewCube (


Isolate Selection

New commands have been added to easily add and remove objects from the view when objects have been isolated in a viewport. See Isolating Objects (


Object Views

There is a new option in Object views’ preferences and View menu: Hold Last Selection continues to show the last selection even if you deselect it and the view is not locked. The view updates normally when you select a different object unless the view is locked.

Film Gates in Camera Views

It is now default behavior to draw the scene image into the film gates in a viewport or Object view. This is useful when working in the scene, especially with rotoscoped images. Of course, whatever is displayed in the film gates is not rendered by the camera because it’s not in the camera’s field of view (and you can’t draw a render region in the film gates).

You can also change the film gate color and level of transparency using the new Film Gate sliders in the Scene Colors Property Editor.

To clip the scene image so that nothing appears in the film gates (the default behavior in previous versions), you can select the new Clip Drawing to Camera Film Gate option in the Display Preferences. When this option is selected, you can’t change the film gate color or transparency.


Parts of some objects in the scene are displayed in the film gates that are on either side of viewport.

The film gates have been set to a translucent red color.


The scene drawing has been clipped so that only objects in the camera’s field of view are displayed. The film gates remain a solid gray color.

Data Management

Crosswalk 5.5

The version of Crosswalk included with Softimage 2011 Subscription Advantage Pack is 5.5.

FBX Import/Export Options

There is a new setting in the Export FBX Options Dialog Box ( for plotting and exporting point positions as a geometry cache, as well as a new setting in the Import FBX Options Dialog Box ( for importing geometry caches. For example, you can cache and export the result of an envelope or other animated deformation.

In addition, there are new settings for setting the frame rate and start/end frames when importing.

For more information, see Importing and Exporting FBX Files (


  • You can now open the Cache Manager using the Particles > Simulation > Cache Manager command from the new ICE toolbar.
  • The nCache file format that is native to Autodesk® Maya® is now supported via the Cache Manager.
  • The new Baked Animation - All Transforms option on the Write tab in the Cache Manager lets you cache the object’s point positions in global space.
  • The Objects list on the Write tab in the Cache Manager is now more obvious on the Caching Files page. This is the list of objects for which you want to create cache files.
  • The new Particles > Simulation > Save Cache on Simulation and Load Cache on Selection commands on the ICE toolbar are designed to be used mostly with the Lagoa ICE simulator. See Applying Cached Post Sim Effects ( for more information on using them.

For more information, see The Cache Manager (

Tokens for Cache File Names

If you specify the PointCache2 or NCache formats in the Simulation preferences or Cache Manager, then the [Frame] token is removed from the file-name template because these formats do not use separate files per frame.

Preferences for Referenced Models

The Share layers and partitions on model import option in your Data Management Preferences automatically moves objects in models to the scene layers and pass partitions that they belonged to when the model was exported, if there are layers and partitions with the corresponding names in the scene when the model is imported or updated. Turn this option off if you want objects in models to belong to the current layer and background partition by default.


Meshing Point Clouds (and Other Things)

Polygonizer allows you to create a mesh around the points of a cloud and other objects in your scene. The effect is similar to metaballs and blobs. This is especially useful for water and other liquids, such as the result of a Lagoa simulation.


The mesh is based on a 3-dimensional density field. You specify a density level, and a mesh is generated corresponding to the isosurface for that level — the volume inside the mesh has a higher density than the specified level and the volume outside has a lower density.

The density field can be defined and controlled by any combination of:

  • Point clouds, including strands.
  • Curves. You can optionally control certain parameters along the length of the curve.
  • Polygon meshes. You can optionally control certain parameters with weight maps.
  • Nulls.

Polygonizer is a version of emPolygonizer written by Eric Mootz. For more information, see Meshing Point Clouds (and Other Things) (

Shaping Fluids

By default, polygonized points clouds can look rather blobby. You can improve the look to something closer to that of a flowing liquid using the Lagoa Fluid Shaper. Note that this compound is a deformation that can be used on polygonized meshes from any point cloud, not just Lagoa simulations. See Shaping Fluids (

Subframe Deformation

If you deform a polygonized mesh, for example by using Lagoa Fluid Shaper, then the motion vectors calculated by the Polygonizer operator may no longer be correct. You can fix them using Subframe Deformation. See Recalculating Motion Blur After Polygonized Meshes Have Been Deformed (

ICE Fundamentals

Conversion Nodes

The following conversion nodes now support arrays:

  • 3D Vector to 3x3 Matrix
  • 3D Vector to 4x4 Matrix
  • 4D Vector to 4x4 Matrix

Matrix Labels

Constant matrices with non-zero values on the main diagonal only now display the label “Diagonal” instead of “Matrix” on their nodes in the ICE tree view. The labels “Identity” and “Null” are still displayed when they apply.

Material Properties

ICE now properly sets various color parameters on material shaders.

ICE Interoperability for Maya Users

The “Send to” commands let you transfer scene elements from Maya to Softimage, and then use ICE to create particle or deformation effects, and finally send the data back to Maya for rendering. You can transfer data back and forth as often as you like as you tweak the results. See ICE Interoperability for Maya (

ICE Particles

ICE Toolbar Commands

The new ICE toolbar contains commands that set up ICE trees based on many of the common tasks that you probably do on a regular basis ... creating particle emissions, creating strands, setting up instances, adding forces, and many, many more.

Most of the commands for particles are described in ICE Particle Simulations ( Note that there are also commands for Lagoa particles in the Particles menus.


Simulation Root Compound

The new Simulation Root compound is “central station” for ICE simulations, giving you easy access to many ports in which you can plug in nodes that are often used in simulations. It needs to be plugged into the ICETree node.

The commands on the ICE toolbar are set up to use the Simulation Root compound as a base node into which the other nodes are plugged. As a result, you cannot use these commands on ICE trees that don’t have this compound plugged into the ICETree node.

To quickly add the Simulation Root node to your ICE tree, right-click the ICETree node and select Insert Simulation Root. This replugs all the existing nodes to the correct ports on the Simulation Root node, then plugs this node into the ICETree node. This is similar to selecting the Insert Execute Node when building compounds.

See Simulation Root (

New ICE Particle Compounds

There are several new ICE simulation compounds related to the commands on the new ICE toolbar.

  • Basic Fire, Bubbles, Cigarette Smoke, and Falling Leaves
  • Billboard Orientation
  • CurlNoise Framework and Perlin Turbulences
  • Emit from Geometry is used in many of the particle creation commands on the ICE toolbar. It is similar to the Emit from Surface compound in that you must use a surface-type emitter, but you can choose the Geometry Type for the emission: emit particles from the emitter’s surface, from the emitter’s points, or from within the emitter’s volume.
  • Get Strand Length
  • Kill Particles
  • Modulate Strand Length by Age Percentage
  • Set Particle RBD
  • Set Size Relative to Emitter
  • Set Segment Size Mode
  • Set Strand Length
  • Simple State

ICE Deformations

New ICE-based Deformations

There are several commands and compounds for applying new ICE-based deformations (

  • Bend
  • Deform by Curve
  • Sculpt
  • Smooth

ICE Toolbar Commands

The new ICE toolbar contains several commands that automate the process of creating an ICE tree and connecting a deformer compound. It includes commands for applying previously-released compounds, like Turbulize Mesh and Transform Mesh, as well as the new ICE-based deformations. See Applying Predefined ICE Deformations (

Deformer Template

The Deformer Template compound is a quick and convenient starting point for creating your own ICE-based deformations. See Creating Custom ICE Deformations (

Dual Quaternion Skinning

To better reflect that you can interpolate between linear blend and dual quaternion skinning, a new Use Blend Input option has been added to the Dual Quaternion Deformation compound’s Deformation Method parameter. With this option, you can use the new Blend Input port to drive the interpolation between the skinning methods. However, you can still interpolate between the skinning methods by driving Deformation Method directly with a scalar value between 0.0 and 1.0. See Dual Quaternion Skinning (

Get Cluster Attributes

The Get Cluster Properties compound is a convenience for getting various cluster properties on the self object. The default names of properties are used as the default references, but you can change them if required. See Get Cluster Attributes (

ICE Kinematics

ICE Toolbar Commands

The new ICE toolbar contains several commands that automate the process of creating an ICE tree and connecting a constraint compound. It includes commands for applying previously-released compounds, like Position and Look At, as well as some new ICE-based constraints. See Applying Constraints Using the ICE Toolbar (

Turret Constraint

The new Constrain to Turret compound in the Kinematics category rotates an object like the turret of a tank. The rotation occurs around one axis only so that another axis becomes aligned with the target object but doesn’t necessarily point at it. See Constrain Turret (

Using Particles to Transform Objects

You can use particles to transform objects. This is similar to particle instances, but actual scene objects get transformed instead of instances of master objects. See Using Particles to Transform Objects (

Lagoa Multiphysics

The Lagoa multi-physics compounds are now integrated into Softimage! Developed by Thiago Costa, Lagoa is a framework for building different physical effects in a single unified environment. This multiphysics simulator uses ICE and it’s your ticket to creating amazing fluid, soft body, rigid body, and cloth effects.


Image courtesy of Lagoa Multiphysics

So, Where Do I Start?

There are many ways in which you get started with Lagoa.

And once you have a Lagoa ICE tree set up, you can use any of the commands on the ICE toolbar, or any ICE node in the preset manager in the ICE tree.

Lagoa Sample Scenes

Load a sample scene from the \Data\XSI_Samples\Scenes\ICE folder in your Softimage installation directory. All Lagoa scenes has a Lagoa_ prefix.

You can quickly open this folder by choosing User Tools > Browse Examples from the toolbar in the ICE Tree view.

Lagoa Models

Choose a complete model from the Particles > Model Library > Lagoa Particles menu on the ICE toolbar.

Quick Start on Creating Lagoa Effects

Create an emission of a certain type using the commands on the Particles > Create > Lagoa menu and the Deform > Simulate menu on the ICE toolbar — see Lagoa Particle Effects ( and Deforming Geometry Using Lagoa Simulations ( for more information.

Create a Lagoa Effect from Scratch

Set up your own Lagoa effect from scratch by using the nodes found on the Tasks > Lagoa tab in the preset manager in the ICE tree view.

• See Creating a Lagoa Effect from Scratch ( for the nodes that you need to create a Lagoa simulation.

• You can find all Lagoa compounds by selecting Lagoa from the Task tab in the ICE tree view’s preset manager — see Task Tab - Lagoa (Fluids and Deforms) (


ICE Toolbar Commands

The new ICE toolbar contains commands that set up ICE trees for Lagoa effects.


In addition to particle-based simulations, you can use the Lagoa framework to deform geometry. You can even have geometry deformations interact with fluid simulations. See Deforming Geometry Using Lagoa Simulations (


ICE Commands Removed from Simulate Toolbar

The ICE commands that were available on the Simulate toolbar have been replaced with new commands on the new ICE toolbar or have been removed.

Also, the keyboard shortcut for opening the Simulate toolbar is now Ctrl+4 instead of 4. The 4 key is mapped to the new ICE toolbar.

Simulate Toolbar Command

ICE Toolbar Command

ICE > Create > Emit Particles from Selection

Particles > Create > Basic Emission

ICE > Edit > Open ICE Tree


ICE > Edit > Set Initial State

Particles > Simulation > Set Initial State

ICE > Edit > Cache Manager

Particles > Simulation > Cache Manager

Materials and Shaders

Architectural Shader Base Reflection Parameters

The following parameter descriptions were missing in action, but have now been found:

Base Reflection

These parameters add a second glossy lobe to mia_material, like another layer of glossy reflections below the normal glossy reflections.

This allows you to do something like a coated metal or carpaint style material in a single mia_material without having to resort to layering and blending multiple materials.

In general, you should use the Base Reflection parameters for a slightly glossy reflection with the same color as the Diffuse, and then use a sharp reflection (Reflection Glossiness = 1) as a clearcoat layer on top with a white reflectivity color.

Base Reflectivity

This is the weight between the normal Reflection settings and the Base Reflection settings.

  • If this value is 0, only the normal Reflection values are used.
  • If this value is 1, only the Base Reflection values are used.
  • If this value is 0.5, this is a 50/50 mixutre of both reflection types.

Base Reflection Color

Color used for the base reflection.


Amount of glossiness of the base reflection, ranging from a value of 1 (mirror) to 0 (a diffusely reflective surface). This also defines how sharp or blurry the refraction/transparency is.

Glossy Samples

Defines the maximum number of samples (rays) that are shot to create the glossy base reflections.

This is the same as for the Reflection - Glossy Samples parameter, above.

Realtime Shaders

Shader Definition and Parser Wizards

There are two new wizards for automatically generating code templates for shader definitions and shader parsers. The main purpose is to generate the code required for defining and implementing hardware shaders (C++ realtime shaders) into Softimage. See:

  • Shader Parser Wizard (

In addition, realtime shaders fully support user and workgroup path resolution. Scenes no longer store the complete local path of realtime shaders.


Stereoscopic Camera Rig

Using the new Get > Primitive > Camera > Stereo command, you can now create a stereoscopic camera rig, which contains a center, left, and right camera.

Once you have created a stereo camera rig, you can view from it in a viewport or Object view, and set special display modes (such as Anaglyph, Horizontal Interlace, and Freeview - Parallel) to help you preview the stereoscopic output.

For more information, see Stereoscopic (3D) Camera Rigs (


There are also options for displaying the zero parallax plane in the viewport.


Camera Display Options

There is a new Display tab in the Camera property editor that contains these two new options:

View Volumes

Toggles the display of the frustums (cones) for the selected cameras in all views.

See Displaying the Camera Cones (Frustum) ( for more information.

Stereo Zero Parallax Plane

Toggles the display of the zero parallax planes for the center stereo camera in all views. Make sure that the stereo camera isn’t hidden.

See Setting the Zero Parallax Plane ( for more information.


Raytraced Soft Shadows from Infinite Lights

For infinite lights, Softness is treated as an angle for rotating the light direction. At 0, shadows are crisp with no penumbra while at 90, shadows are very soft. In addition, shadows are softer the greater the distance between the caster and receiver but they do not depend on the position of the light. A value between 0.5 and 1.5 tends to give sun-like penumbras.

For more information, see Soft Light (

Customization & SDK

Working with Custom Python Modules in Softimage

Python modules are convenient for writing reusable code for Softimage plug-ins. To import a module in a Softimage plug-in, you first need to tell Python where to find the module by adding the module folder path to the Python system path (sys.path). Once Python knows where to find your module file, you can import it into your plug-in.

 import sys
 sys.path.append( ‘d:\MyModules’ )
 import moduleA

The example above imports moduleA defined in d:\MyModules. You can add more than one path to sys.path, but keep in mind that the order in which the paths are added determines the search order that Python uses to look for your modules. Adding specific paths to sys.path is not always the most convenient method. This is particularly true for plug-ins that need to be installed to different locations. For instance, when your modules are located with your plug-in file, the plug-in path must be added to sys.path. In this case, you can use the variable __sipath__ which gets set by Softimage to the plug-in file folder path. This variable is always defined in the plug-in file namespace and can be used as is without going through the Softimage Application object.

 import sys
 if __sipath__ not in sys.path:
 	  sys.path.append( __sipath__ )
 import moduleA

In the example above, Python will search the plug-in folder and import moduleA. The code also ensures that __sipath__ gets added to sys.path only (this check is required because a plug-in can be loaded multiple times during a Softimage session). __sipath__ can also be used to specify any folder paths related to your plug-in folder.

 import sys
 import os
 myModules = __sipath__ + os.sep + ‘MyModules’
 if myModules not in sys.path:
 	  sys.path.append( myModules )
 import moduleA

The Softimage siutils module contains functions to help you specify your module paths more easily. It also contains functions for importing source code files as modules, which can be handy if versionning has to be considered when writing plug-ins. The siutils module file is located in the Softimage application folder: <install_folder>\Application\bin\ The following examples demonstrates how to use the functions defined in siutils:

  Example 1:
  # note: for the sake of the example, the plug-in's __sipath__ variable is set to d:\Application\Plugins
  # import the Softimage utility module	
  import siutils
  #add some paths to python system path
  siutils.add_to_syspath( __sipath__ )
  siutils.add_subfolder_to_syspath( __sipath__, 'mysubfolder' )
  # import eggs from d:\Application\Plugins
  import eggs
  def XSILoadPlugin( in_reg ):
	  in_reg.Author = "Softimage"
          in_reg.Name = "TestPlugin"
          in_reg.Major = 1
          in_reg.Minor = 0

	  in_reg.RegisterCommand( "TestCommand", "TestCommand")

	  return True
  def TestCommand_Execute(  ):
  	  # INFO: d:\Application\Plugins\eggs.pyc
          LogMessage( 'eggs.__sifile__ ' + eggs.__sifile__  )

          # import foo from d:\Application\Plugins\mysubfolder
	  import foo
	  LogMessage( 'foo.__sifile__ ' + foo.__sifile__  )	
	  return True
  Example 2:
  import siutils
  siutils.add_to_syspath( __sipath__ )
  # import from d:\Application\Plugins
  # INFO: d:\Application\Plugins\foo.pyc
  import foo
  LogMessage( foo.__sifile__ )
  # import from d:\Application\Plugins\mysubfolderA
  foo = siutils.import_source( __sipath__ + os.sep + 'mysubfolderA' + os.sep + '' )
  # INFO: d:\Application\Plugins\mysubfolderA\foo.pyc
  LogMessage( foo.__sifile__ )
  # import from d:\Application\Plugins\mysubfolderB
  foo = siutils.import_source( __sipath__ + os.sep + 'mysubfolderB' + os.sep + '' )
  # INFO: d:\Application\Plugins\mysubfolderB\foo.pyc
  LogMessage( foo.__sifile__ )

Connecting to Workgroups Using a Data File

An alternative way of managing workgroups is to store the workgroup paths to which you want to connect in a file called and then place this file in the Data folder of the Softimage installation (Factory) location or User location. Softimage automatically scans these locations at startup and if this file is found, Softimage will connect to the workgroup path of each entry it finds.

The file is a simple text file that can contain multiple directory paths. Each path must be added on a separate line and each line must end with a newline character.

Shader Definition and Parser Wizards

There are two new wizards for automatically generating code templates for shader definitions and shader parsers. The main purpose is to generate the code required for defining and implementing hardware shaders (C++ realtime shaders) into Softimage. See:

  • Shader Definition Wizard
  • Shader Parser Wizard

In addition, realtime shaders fully support user and workgroup path resolution. Scenes no longer store the complete local path of realtime shaders.

Object Model Changes

These are the new methods available in Autodesk Softimage 2011 Subscription Advantage Pack for existing objects:

C++ API Changes

New Classes and Methods

Deprecated C++ API Methods

  • CStatus Command::PutHandler( const CString & ) ;
  • CStatus Command::PutLanguage( const CString & ) ;
  • CStatus Command::PutFileName( const CString & ) ;
  • CStatus Command::PutCode( const CString & ) ;

Scripting Command Changes

New Commands

  • FBXExportCacheFile (
  • FBXExportGroupAsCache (
  • FBXImportCacheFile (
  • FBXImportFillTimeline (
  • FBXImportFrameRate (

This page was last modified 19:42, 9 Dec 2010.
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