Frame number as 3D text

From the Create > Text menu choose Solid Mesh. Unlike most other parameters in Softimage, the editing pane does not come with an animation icon and as such it does not offer a direct way to animate or control via expression. However, this certainly does not mean it can’t be done. You’ll return to the PPG in a second, but close it for now. There’s a slight difference between the standard primitives in Softimage and the text object. While the standard primitives creates a single object the text operator instantly renders your input text as curves which are then converted to a 3d object using the convert curves to mesh command.

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Replace object A with a random new object

You’ve spent countless nights trying to finish the project on time and you’re just about to hit that sweet render button when the brilliant client comes through the door. He has just decided that he doesn’t want the landscape of cubes any more; he wants a random mixture of spheres, orbs and globs. Then he leaves you with the inspiring task of replacing the whole scene. A scenario that sadly isn’t all that uncommon. Though there’s no need to despair, with the solution below you should be home long before bedtime.

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Animating a mechanic billboard in Softimage XSI

Start by opening the Billboard.scn scene from this issues CD. The scene contains a bunch of trilons or triangular prisms, 300 to be precise. Using a couple of thousands would obviously be more striking but for the sake of demonstration the number is keep low. While any of the prisms could be used to animate their rotation, it’s a good idea to separate the animation parameters from the actual billboard. Start by selecting the null object named Prisms_Rotation. Press [C] to activate the rotation tool and press [K] to set a keyframe at frame 1. Go to frame 16, rotate the Prisms_Rotation 120 degrees on the Y-axis and set a new keyframe. With the rotation still at 120, set another keyframe at frame 80. Press [0] (zero) to open the Animation Editor and select the function curve for the Y rotation (roty). From the Curves menu choose relative Cycle. To change the pace of your mechanic billboard, just move one of the 3 keyframes.

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Offset in Time


If you don’t have a deck of dominoes of your own, start by opening the dominoes.scn scene from this issues CD. Select the stone object, from the Main Command Panel > Constrain menu chose Curve (Path) and chose the dominoes_path curve when prompted. In the Path Constraint PPG, switch to the Tangency tab. Check the Active checkbox and click the –Z button to align the stone. Leave the PPG open, because you’ll return to it in just a few seconds. With the stone still selected, press [Shift]+[Ctrl]+[D] to open the Duplicate Multiple PPG. Enter 30 as the number of Copies and press OK. Press [8] to open an Explorer. Select the stone object, hold down [Shift] and select the stone30. This is important as the order in which the objects get selected will determine in what order they’ll get distributed. Return to the Path Constraint PPG and enter L(100) in the Path %age. This will distribute all the selected stones evenly along the curve. Once that is done you no longer need the path constraint, so with all the stones still selected chose Constrain > Remove All Constraints.
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Render Models in Separate Passes

Keeping all the objects within the same scene ensures that any changes made to the lightning, camera position, shared materials, etc always will be up to date for all objects, and perhaps more importantly, at all times. However, once your scene reaches a certain number of objects it will most certainly become clear that the tedious task of rendering each as a separate image by hand just won’t be a viable solution. At this stage you’ll be left with two natural choices; either get an intern to do the job for you or if that’s not an option (or if you happen to be that intern) it’s about time you start looking at Script Editor – in two senses that is.

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Sound Vibration

Step 1
Install the addon
Start by installing the Sound2Curve addon by Guy Rabiller, which can be found at This script creates an fcurve based on an audio file (.wav) In case you don’t have any audio file to actually sync with or just want the random motion, you can use the random fcurve script instead, which can be found in the netview

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