Setting Values for Parameters

Object, shader, or operator parameter values can be edited directly by means of text boxes, check boxes, sliders, and virtual sliders located throughout the interface. You will change parameters mostly in property editors (as the one shown below). For more information on property editors, see Modifying Properties in Property Editors.

In addition to property editors, you can enter values in many of the text boxes in the main command panel, and use virtual sliders to change values in the explorer.

You change the value of a parameter in a text box by typing in either text or numerical values (see Entering Values in a Text Box for more information). If a slider is associated with the text box, you can also drag the sliders to raise or lower the numerical values (see Enter Values Using Sliders for more information). Some sliders and text boxes, such as those that control color channels, are grouped together.

If the text box contains more characters than it can display, it automatically scrolls with the text cursor.

 

A

Check box

B

Text boxes

C

Sliders

 

Any parameter that can be animated has a little green box beside it called the animation icon. You can set and remove keys for parameters using this icon, as well as a number of other things. See The Animation Icon [Animation] for more information.

Enter Values Using Sliders

To change values using sliders

• Do one of the following:

- Click anywhere along the slider to set a value. Values on the left are lower and values on the right are higher. When you use the left mouse button to drag, the scene updates continuously.

or

- Drag a slider to the right or left while pressing the Shift key to make finer adjustments.

or

- Drag a slider to the right or left while pressing the Ctrl key to change the value of all the sliders in a color-control group simultaneously.

or

- Drag with the middle mouse button. When you use the middle mouse button, the scene updates only when you release the mouse button instead of refreshing continuously as you drag. This is especially useful when setting values on parameters that may take a long time to update. Again, press Shift for finer adjustments.

If you need to specify more precise values than is possible with the sliders, you can enter values numerically. See Entering Values in a Text Box.

Entering Values Outside of Slider Ranges

Many parameters with sliders let you set values outside of the slider range. For example, the range of the Local Transform property editor’s Position sliders is between -50 and +50, but objects can be much farther from their parent’s origin than that.

If a parameter supports values outside of the slider range, you can set such values by typing them into the associated numeric box or by pressing Alt while using the virtual slider tool.

When you set a value outside the slider range, the displayed range automatically expands to twice the current value. For example, if the default range of a parameter is between 0 and 10 and you set the value to 15, the new range is 0 to 30. However, the change is not permanent — if you set the parameter to a value within the default range and then close and reopen the property editor, the displayed range is back to its default.

Entering Values Using Virtual Sliders

You can change the values of marked parameters by using “virtual sliders.” This means simply activating a tool that lets you do the job of a slider without having to open up any property editors. For more information about marking parameters, see Marking Parameters for Animation [Animation].

To use the virtual sliders

1. Select one or more objects, and mark the desired parameters. You can mark a parameter by:

- Clicking on its name in an explorer.

- Clicking on its name in a property editor.

- Selecting it from the marked parameter list.

Use the Shift key to add a parameter and the Ctrl key to toggle.

 

2. Press F4 and drag the mouse back and forth using the following as a guide. You can scrub horizontally using the entire screen width:

- Middle-click and drag to the right to increase values, and to the left to decrease values. The default increments are proportional to the range of the parameter’s slider in its property editor.

- Press Ctrl to make coarse adjustments (10 times the default increment).

- Press Shift to make fine adjustments (1/10th the default increment).

- Press Ctrl+Shift to make ultra-fine adjustments (1/100th the default increment).

- Press Alt to extend beyond the range of the parameter’s slider in its property editor (if the slider range is smaller than its total range).

- Left-click to select other objects or mark other parameters while staying in the virtual slider mode.

- Press the Up and Down arrow keys to increment or decrement the values by 1 unit. Hold the Ctrl key while pressing the arrow keys to increment or decrement by 10, or hold the Shift key to increment or decrement by 0.1.

3. Right-click to exit the virtual slider mode.

Entering Values in a Text Box

There are many ways to enter information in a text box. You can enter information the conventional way by using your keyboard. For numeric input, you can also use gestural movements and key combinations to increase or decrease the parameter values.

Most numeric boxes round values for display purposes. For example, if you type “0.0001” then the displayed value is “0” even if the correct value has been stored in the parameter and logged to the command history.

 

• To move from one text box to the next one in the same dialog box or property editor, press the Tab key.

• To move back to the previous text box, press Shift+Tab.

• To cycle through the available options in a text box, use any of the arrow keys.

To enter information by typing

Move the mouse pointer inside the text box and click. The pointer shape becomes a text cursor (flashing vertical bar). Any existing text is selected and is overwritten as soon as you begin typing.

If you click in the text box a second time, the text is deselected and the cursor is placed where you clicked. You can now:

• Use the left- and right-arrow keys on the keyboard to move the cursor to the appropriate place in the text box.

• Drag the cursor over the part of the contents you want to replace. The selected characters are highlighted. Now type in the text you want.

• Press Shift+left- or right-arrow key to select characters that are to the left or right of the cursor. You can delete or replace these characters.

• Double-click to select a word so that you can replace it completely with the text that you type.

• Right-click to open a pop-up menu and choose the command to Undo, Cut, Copy, Paste, Delete, or Select All the contents of the text box.

• Delete characters to the left of the cursor using the Backspace key, or delete characters to the right of the cursor using the Delete key.

• Many boxes that support numeric values let you set values outside of the corresponding slider range.

• To cancel text box input, press the Esc key.

 

If you have problems entering decimal values, open the Windows Control Panel and in your Regional Settings make sure that the decimal separator is a period (.).

To open the Control Panel on Linux:

1. Open a terminal or shell window.

2. Source the Softimage environment script by typing:

source ~/.xsi_2010

3. Launch the MainWin Control Panel by typing:

mwcontrol

To enter information by gestural input (scrubbing)

• Click and drag the mouse pointer in a circular motion over a text box that supports numeric values. This is known as scrubbing. To increase the value, scrub in a clockwise direction; to decrease the value, scrub in a counterclockwise direction.

- Press the Shift key while scrubbing to increment or decrement values by a factor of 0.1.

- Press the Ctrl key while scrubbing to increment or decrement values by a factor of 10.

To enter information by increments

• Click in the numeric text field and press the square bracket keys ([) and (]) to increment and decrement values as follows:

[spacer]

Press this...

To do this...

]

Increment by 1

[

Decrement by 1

Ctrl+]

Increment by 10

Ctrl+[

Decrement by 10

Shift+]

Increment by 0.1

Shift+[

Decrement by 0.1

• Click in the numeric text field and press the arrow keys to increment or decrement values as follows:

[spacer]

Press this...

To do this...

Ctrl+right-arrow

Increment by 10

Ctrl+left-arrow

Decrement by 10

Shift+Ctrl+right-arrow

Increment by 0.1

Shift+Ctrl+left-arrow

Decrement by 0.1

 

You can also click in a numeric text field and scroll your mouse wheel forward to increment the value or backward to decrement the value by 1. Press Shift to increment or decrement by 0.1 and Ctrl to increment or decrement by 10.

Relative Input Using Math Operations

All text boxes allow you to input relative values by means of four basic math operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division), as well as other operators such as linear and random.

To input relative values

1. Click in a text box to select the value it contains.

2. Enter the number to add, subtract, divide, or multiply.

3. Enter the symbol for the math operator ( + – * / ). You can use only one math operator per text box.

4. Press Enter.

For example, if the selected value in the text box is 10 and you replace this value by 5+ and press Enter, the result is 15 because you added 5 to the existing value.

When you have multiple elements of similar parameter values, anything you enter in a text box is applied to all these parameters:

Operator

Results

value

Sets all selected element properties to that value. For example, entering an X-axis rotation value of 5 sets all selected objects’ rotational values to 5. This is also known as absolute input (see the following illustration).

value+

Increments all the selected elements by that value. For example, entering 2+ in an X-axis translation parameter shifts all selected objects by 2 Softimage units. Math operations are known as relative input.

value-

Decrements all the selected elements by that value.

value*

Multiplies all the selected elements by that value.

value/

Divides all the selected elements by that value.

l or L(min, max)

Creates a linear range through the selection, according to the original selection order. For example, L(4,8) when applied to the X-axis translation parameter of a group of three cubes causes each object to move 4, 6, and 8 Softimage units along the X axis, respectively.

r or R

Creates a random value for each selected element, between 0 and 1.

r(x)

Creates a random value for each selected element between 0 and x. The value of x can be positive or negative.

r(min, max)

Creates a random value for each selected element within the specified range.

r(min, max, seed)

Same as r(min, max) but allows you to specify the seed that is used by the random number generator. Re-using the same seed allows you to re-create the same sequence of numbers.

g(mean, var)

Creates a random value following a normal (Gaussian) distribution among the selected elements.

These illustrations describe the different ways in which elements can be transformed using text box input. For illustrative purposes, the example of translation is used, but the concepts apply to any parameter:

Absolute Input
Entering a numeric value in an XYZ text box repositions all selected objects to the specified position on their X,Y, or Z axes.

This example: Translation: Y = 3
(spheres all repositioned to 3 on the Y axis)

 

Relative Input
Entering (value)+ or (value)– in an XYZ text box increases/decreases the relative value of each selected object. You can also enter (value)* and (value)/ to multiply and divide the relative value.

This example: Translation: Y = 3+
(Y value of each selected sphere increased by three Softimage units)

 

Random Input
Entering a value of R(min,max) in an XYZ text box randomly repositions each selected object anywhere between the specified minimum and maximum values.

This example: Translation: Y = R(0,6)
(spheres randomly repositioned between 0 and 6 on the Y axis)

 

Linear Range
Entering a value of L(min,max) in an XYZ text box repositions each selected object on a linear path between the specified minimum and maximum values. The first selected object receives the minimum value and last selected object receives the maximum value.

This example: Translation: Y = L(0,6)
(spheres repositioned equally on a linear range between 0 and 6 on the Y axis)

 

Randomizing Values

You can randomize parameter values using commands on the Animate toolbar. The values become set to random values within a range centered about a pivot point.

• The relative commands use the parameter’s current value as the center of the range.

• The absolute commands use the midpoint of the slider’s range. Although you can set some parameters to values outside the slider range when typing values, it is the visible range of the slider in the interface that determines the center.

You can also set random parameters when typing values (see Relative Input Using Math Operations) as well as when sampling parameters (see Sampling and Bracketing Parameters).

To randomize values

1. Select one or more objects and mark the desired parameters. You can mark a parameter by:

- Clicking on its name in an explorer.

- Clicking on its name in a property editor.

- Selecting it from the marked parameter list.

Use the Shift key to add a parameter, and the Ctrl key to toggle.

For more information about marking parameters, see Marking Parameters for Animation [Animation].

2. Choose a command from the Create > Parameter > Randomize Marked Parameters menu on the Animate toolbar:

- 10% Relative. Generates random parameter values within a range
+/-5% of the parameter’s slider range, centered on the current value.

- 25% Relative. Generates random parameter values within a range
+/-12.5% of the parameter’s slider range, centered on the current value.

- 50% Relative. Generates random parameter values within a range
+/-25% of the parameter’s slider range, centered on the current value.

- 75% Absolute. Generates random parameter values within a range
+/-36.5% of the parameter’s slider range, centered on the slider's midpoint.

- 100% Absolute. Generates random parameter values anywhere within the parameter’s slider range.



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