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View Full Version : Turning the switch to XSI!


ngrava
08-14-2004, 09:13 PM
Hi all you XSI folks,

The studio I work for is looking to switch animation software. We do mainly 3D Character animation (stop motion too) for commercials but are looking to expand into other areas like FX and long form as well. We have been looking at Maya and 3D studio Max mainly because of the VRay render. The cost of Max though has been a big issue for us as with Maya. Now that XSI Foundation is $500, itís suddenly been forced into our view. Iíve always had a thing for Softimage so I personally donít mind using it at all. Actually, I would love it. :) What I would need to do is convince my bosses that itís a better move then Maya or Max. I'm not worried about it's modeling or animation capabilities at all but we follow the "Choose your render and then choose the software that works with it" approach. So, no VRay support is going to be an issue. Anyway, I have some questions so please bare with me:

1.) I have this theory about a pipeline that works something like this: In order to keep cost down, we would buy 4 or 5 seats of Foundation and 2 seats of Advanced. The TDís would use the Advanced licenses and setup the scenes with cloth, hair, RB dynamics and so on. Basically, do the stuff you canít do in Foundation. Then the Animators would use Foundation to animate the scenes and the TDís would references those scenes in a render scene that works in Advanced. Would this even work? For example, if a scene had Syflex or hair in it would the animators be able to see the cloth or would it only exist in Advanced?

2.) One of the big issues with getting Maya is that we would have to buy a whole new render farm of Mental Ray nodes. And then we would most likely dump them when Vray for Maya comes along. With XSI Advanced, I see that it comes with some licenses of MR though, itís kind of confusing as to the actual number. The web site says 12 total but some of these are satellite and others are stand alone?Ö What does that mean? I guess Iím asking how many of these nodes can I use to build a farm?

3.) As I understand it, Foundation comes with 2 MR licenses. Yet, you canít use these to grow your farmÖ How is this possible and is there any way around this?

4.) Dose XSI Advanced come with some kind of network rendering software like Backburner for Max? And if so, how easy is it to setup and use?

5.) Is XSI Multithreaded? We have a bunch of duel hyperthreaded Xeons here. When you render on a duel CPU machine do you see 4 tiles going at once? Or does it use all 4 on a single tile?

6.) I see on the web site that XSI 4 supports some kind of custom render plugin API but I couldnít find anything in the SDK docs about it. I found the section about Custom Display Hosts. Is this really just the same thing used in a different way?

7.) When the standalone Vray comes out we are going to want to hook it into XSI ASAP. Is anyone interested in doing this?

Like I said, Id really love to use XSI instead of Maya or Max. It seems to be a lot more flexable and intuitive to me.

Anyway, Thanks for any help you can give!

-=GB=-

--------------------

Galen Beals

Bent Image Lab

Portland, Or

http://www.bentimagelab.com (http://www.bentimagelab.com/)

SheepFactory
08-14-2004, 11:23 PM
4) XSI comes with Batchserve for render management. more info here:

http://www.softimage.com/Products/ProRen/BatchS/

wmendez
08-15-2004, 07:12 AM
1.) I have this theory about a pipeline that works something like this: In order to keep cost down, we would buy 4 or 5 seats of Foundation and 2 seats of Advanced. The TDís would use the Advanced licenses and setup the scenes with cloth, hair, RB dynamics and so on. Basically, do the stuff you canít do in Foundation. Then the Animators would use Foundation to animate the scenes and the TDís would references those scenes in a render scene that works in Advanced. Would this even work? For example, if a scene had Syflex or hair in it would the animators be able to see the cloth or would it only exist in Advanced?
In a scene with Syflex the simulation will be disabled, in a scene with Hair, the hair object will be there but any dynamics will be disabled as well.



2.) One of the big issues with getting Maya is that we would have to buy a whole new render farm of Mental Ray nodes. And then we would most likely dump them when Vray for Maya comes along. With XSI Advanced, I see that it comes with some licenses of MR though, itís kind of confusing as to the actual number. The web site says 12 total but some of these are satellite and others are stand alone?Ö What does that mean? I guess Iím asking how many of these nodes can I use to build a farm?
XSI Essentials and Advance come with Satellite rendering. Satellite is the same thing as rayhosting, except it uses a special command line that is designed to service distributed rendering for XSI and XSI only. the command line (raysat.exe) cannot render mi files (ray3.exe) and also cannot be used with maya and max, since it is a dedicated for the mental ray version used in XSI 4.0 below is a breakdown of the licenses.


With an XSI Advanced license you get 1 XSI Advanced Interactive. Plus 1 XSI Batch. XSI Advanced Interactive can take advantage of 4 additional Satellite CPUs. XSI Batch can also take advantage of 4 additional Satellite CPUs.

So if machine A is a dual CPU, I can run XSI, or xsibatch on it (2 CPUs), and connect to 4 Satellite CPUs (6 CPUs total) If machine B is a dual CPU, you can run xsibatch on it (2 CPUs), and connect to 4 additional Satellite CPUs (6 CPUs total)

So with one Advanced license I can render using a total of 12 CPUs. 2 XSI processes each using 2 CPUs, plus their 4 Satellites.

The 4 Satellite license that are tied to the XSI Advanced Interactive can only be used by the XSI Advanced Interactive. They can't be shared, or used by any other process. The same with the 4 Satellite licenses tied to the XSI batch.


3.) As I understand it, Foundation comes with 2 MR licenses. Yet, you canít use these to grow your farmÖ How is this possible and is there any way around this?
Those are built into the raylib that XSI uses I.E Render Region, GUI rendering.


4.) Dose XSI Advanced come with some kind of network rendering software like Backburner for Max? And if so, how easy is it to setup and use?
Yes, See Sheep's Answer. There are also 3rd party software as FuRender, etc


5.) Is XSI Multithreaded? We have a bunch of duel hyperthreaded Xeons here. When you render on a duel CPU machine do you see 4 tiles going at once? Or does it use all 4 on a single tile?
Yes, you can also use other hosts /satellite licenses through rayhosting to contribute to your render tiles.


6.) I see on the web site that XSI 4 supports some kind of custom render plugin API but I couldnít find anything in the SDK docs about it. I found the section about Custom Display Hosts. Is this really just the same thing used in a different way?
No word on what the plugin renderers would be. With CDH game devs can actually run the game code within a viewport or even photoshop while making adjustments to scene elements all from within XSI.


7.) When the standalone Vray comes out we are going to want to hook it into XSI ASAP. Is anyone interested in doing this?
I Do not know but could be an interesting thought.

Hope this helps

ngrava
08-15-2004, 09:59 PM
wmendez, Thanks for you time! This is very good news.

I have to admit though that I'm still a little confused... What I would like to know is, If I have a scene to render, how many CPU's will I have to do that? I understand that there are two different techniques here, one for batch rendering where each node gets a frame to render (what I call "farm" rendering as in 'Send that scene to the farm!') and one for Distributed network tile rendering (what I call network bucket or split frame rendering). What I need is to populate a "farm" with Nodes.



Thanks for any help!


-=GB=-

RedZeppelin
03-27-2005, 02:09 AM
I cant answer any questions, but I have one.

Satallite rendering is a process where you can use the CPUs of other computers on your network to pitch in to render one (1) frame? Is this how it works? Or am I getting this wrong? Cause if that is so, I want this ability right now. :D

To add to that, if what I said above is the case, then would all of the CPUs help render 1 tile, or would there be say 6 tiles running around (if I was using 6 CPUs of course) I think the thread starter asked this, but I was kind of confused by the answer, how about just a simple "Any-4th-grader-will-get-it" kind of answer? :)

Thanks,

RedZeppelin

FunBucket
03-27-2005, 05:12 AM
How 'bout this. Buy a few licenses of 3ds Max, and whatever plugins you need for hair, cloth, and of course Vray, and then use XSI to animate with. You could bring the data from XSI to Max with FBX or soon Point Oven.

The point is, you don't have to ONLY use one or the other. Mix 'em up! You could use Maya, Max, and XSI! Model and texture in whichever you want, animate in XSI, and then setup any kind of dynamics, particles, hair/cloth stuff in max or maya, and render out with Vray.

Asgorath
03-27-2005, 11:50 AM
How 'bout this. Buy a few licenses of 3ds Max, and whatever plugins you need for hair, cloth, and of course Vray, and then use XSI to animate with. You could bring the data from XSI to Max with FBX or soon Point Oven.

It's not a good idea, because theoricaly it just work if you import/export in the right format, but in reallity, each software has is own bugs or not-supported feature in the given format you import/export. It's very risky, you have to know every software you will use very well, and how their import/export work.
But should be possible one day with the Collada format ( www.collada.org (http://www.collada.org) )...

1.) I have this theory about a pipeline that works something like this: In order to keep cost down, we would buy 4 or 5 seats of Foundation and 2 seats of Advanced. The TDís would use the Advanced licenses and setup the scenes with cloth, hair, RB dynamics and so on. Basically, do the stuff you canít do in Foundation. Then the Animators would use Foundation to animate the scenes and the TDís would references those scenes in a render scene that works in Advanced. Would this even work? For example, if a scene had Syflex or hair in it would the animators be able to see the cloth or would it only exist in Advanced?
It will work, but like someone said before me, in Foundation hair for exemple will be desactivated the time you work under it, then when you load the scene animated in Advanced the hair will be fully functionable again =]


A Satellite MentalRay Render license will help by rendering a tile of the current frame that the "master" license is rendering with an available cpu in your renderfarm (you need to install a render client on each computer of your renderfarm park of course).
Also Essential and Advanced have floating licenses, meaning a sever have your bundle of licenses which is spreading into your network. This way you can install XSI Advanced on every computers it suit you, but once one XSI Advanced is started the license on the network will be locked, so no one else can start it, unless you bought another XSI Advanced license... (Satellite MentalRay Licenses are Floating license too)
XSI Foundation for its part is sold with a serial key specific to your purchase, like Photoshop, so no floating license. I think they can do Foundation floating license, but you will need to ask your specific request...

ThE_JacO
03-27-2005, 12:13 PM
it was since the last inidiana jones I wasn't witnessing so much archeology practice... :)

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