By Michael Burns | on October 20, 2008
Price When Reviewed: 1725 . 1895 . 2700 . 2875
Pros: ICE node-based programming model; ICE Particles and Deformations; enhanced Render Tree, mental ray and real-time shaders; expansion of character primitives.
Cons: Some crashes; no Mac version; some key tools for Advanced users only.
Like Nucleus, Maya’s particle-based simulation framework, ICE is concerned with more than just calculating particle behaviours. The ICE tree makes creating simulated deformations rapid. Footprints Deformation, as the name suggests, allows you to set one object up to indent the surface of another when the simulation is running.
When you return to the first frame of the simulation, the geometry returns to its initial, undeformed state.
Still on simulation, there are some updates to the Syflex Cloth add-on in XSI Advanced. The new mimic constraint can make the cloth imitate another shape, providing the second shape has the same topology as the cloth. There are sampling improvements for collisions and new parameters on SyCollide, one of which Softimage claims is intended for modelling wet T-shirts.
It might have been a long time in getting to XSI, but you can now zoom using the mouse wheel, with modifiers keys available such as Ctrl to zoom quickly, Shift to zoom slowly, and Ctrl + Shift to zoom even more slowly. However you can’t use the mouse wheel in other tools, for example to set the radius for the brush or proportional modification, so a combination of keys and mouse-dragging is still required.
Softimage has thoughtfully included a Disable checkbox in the preferences for users who dislike mouse-wheel zooming or want to restrict it to the Navigation tool – a wise move.
Sliders, toggle keys and numeric fields have been tweaked for more intuitive operation, and you can now display the values of attributes of objects and their components in the 3D views. This includes basic attributes like area, volume, and point positions, as well as attributes controlled by ICE trees.
ICE is responsible for many of the changes in version 7. For example, a new object-selection filter on the Select panel is dedicated to selecting ICE-based point-clouds.