Even more Foundation questions!


I, like so many others, have been tempted by the new price drop. But, while playing with the trial version I’ve have encountered a few oddities, and I don’t know if they’re bugs, or if I’ve tripped an option somewhere that’s caused them to happen. I also have a couple of other questions. Huge thanks to anyone that can help!

Every now and then I hit Q and do an area render, and I can’t adjust the slider at the side of the window to change the quality. I can’t find any way, other than resetting the program to get it back. Also, shortly after that happened, hitting Q didn’t do anything at all! Every other key seemed to work fine, but Q did nothing until I reset. I have a Geforce FX card, which seems to be fairly standard for the program, since pretty much everything else works fine, so I’m doubtful it’s a problem with it. Anyway, it doesn’t happen often.

I’ve had a few crashes, but I’ve had crashes in every program other than Rhino, so I can forgive the program for that :slight_smile: About this though- is it true that patches (or upgrades to later, less buggy versions) is free for Foundation users? I’m assuming it is, but… there’s obviously that whole ‘misinformation’ thing going on, so I thought to ask.

People have mentioned that Mental Ray is a slow renderer. It seems to be slow, until I tweak it a bit, and then it seems okay. I’m not planning on doing huge rendering jobs, so either way it’s not a dealbreaker. What are your thoughts on it? Is it a great rendering solution, or a bit sub-par compared to others in a similar pricerange?



I have no problem with the Q key, can change the quality with no problems.

Also, is stable on my machine, so I guess is something on your system.


the antialiasing bar disappearing can be common if you draw a renderregion maxed out to the viewport, in that case there’s no space to display it, when you draw another one that has space to show it though some cheap graphic drivers tend to get rid of it.

if you are on a gamers nVIDIA card try hacking to quadro the 44.xx drivers.
if you are on an ati card… good luck, their drivers development is not exactly flawless yet (although better then in the past).

when the shortcut disappears (also a related problem) deactivating the region from the render menu, activating the draw region from there and then drawing one will usually revive the shortcut.


It sounds to me like XSI needs a bit of the ol’ fixo to happen. I run a ton of games, and have zero problems with any of them, so hacking anything to do with the drivers isn’t something I’d care to do. Also, changing drivers just isn’t going to happen, since I’m in the middle of the development of a game as well. I guess it’s time to email Softimage and see if fixing it is on their radar.


it’s almost impossible to have all the platforms running and tested.
videocard companies change drivers like underwear.

I understand your concerns, and for people doing gamedev, where drivers versioning is important, it’s quite an annoyance, but personally I had that with maya, XSI and (most of them all) Houdini.

mail support, you’ll surely get an answer, but it’s something Softimage has little saying into.

letting us know what videocard and drivers you are using would help narrowing it down anyway, it’s not possible to be 100% sure it’s your videocard (altho I’d call it a safe bet) until you test different conditions.
Also try and see if you can trace repro steps to make it happen.
without those a bug report is as good as useless.

as for me… it’s not happening to me since a long while now.


It’s not a huge dealbreaker to me, since I can get around that kind of problem, but you’d think standard (Geforce FX- 5600) drivers would be better supported, since the program is aimed at people using realtime shaders (a lot of them Nvidia specific). It’s not like I’m expecting some obscure graphics card to be catered for. Ah well. It’s half impossible contacting Softimage as well, so I wouldn’t expect much from the whole “I’ll bring it to their attention” thing. Does anyone have a solid contact for them? It seems a little strange to have a company that apparently listens to their customers, but makes it half impossible to hear from the guys using a trial.

The main thing I was curious about was whether or not I’d triggered something while I was working, that prevented me from using that option. Apparently not. I’ll see if I can reproduce the problem again.

Anyone else care to try for the other questions? :slight_smile:


Also, I agree with you about Houdini. Even if it was cheap as chips, I still wouldn’t touch it with a 50ft barge pole.


Well, Mental Ray is certainly not the fastest. It has a very nice look due to it’s true stochastic Distributed Ray engine. It’s going up against some hard competition though. Vray, Brazil and Final Render are totally modern ray tracers that where written with Global Illumination in mind. That effects how you write your code when building a render because global illumination uses so many more rays that you’re forced to find some kind of supper fast optimized process for it. Mental Ray was originally written in the mid 90’s when Radiocity was a pipe dream. Global Illumination showed up in version 2 with XSI 1.0 and more like an add on at the time. It was also one of the first commercially available Ray Tracers with Photon Mapping. They have continued to develop and optimize it over a long time but it’s difficult to do that without rewriting the core every few years. As far as I can see the biggest issue is that they don’t use Irradiance Caching which allows you to create a very smooth GI solution using a lot less photons. Luckily, Mental Ray’s Final Gathering gives you very similar results. Also, I have a feeling that Mental Images is keeping to the excuse that it’s trying the maintain quality over speed. Either way, it’s not to slow to use in production.



Thanks ngrava, I appreciate the info!


Okay, I have another question to add to my ever growing list.

Everywhere I’ve read, it says that FXtree is not included in Foundation. Question then: why can I use FXtree in the Foundation demo? The options for hair are disabled, as is anything to do with Syflex, but from any window I can enter Fxtree and have a nice play with it. Am I missing something, or…?


Let me also use this thread to throw in my share of questions:
How much access to I have to the guts of MR in XSI Foundation? I understand that there’s no standalone version of MR included, so does that mean I can’t edit or render MR scene description files? How about custom shaders - are there any differences to more expensive versions or do I get the full thing here?
My primary interest in XSI would be learning MR and it looks like XSI Foundation is the cheapest way to get access to that.


You only have access to loading and saving from fx tree. you cant do any compositing. Its so that you can view your passes in the fx viewer and such.


Okay, I have no idea what it is you just said. So, I guess that means it’s back to reading more for me. Just to help me on my way though- why would I want to load anything into the FXTree, if all I can do is save it back out? Isn’t there another way to save out multipass renders?


correction , you dont have access to anything , I thought you could use the file output node i was mistaken. So its just there for show disregard it.


Stew- from what I’ve seen it looks like as much of MR 3.3 as you could want. The manual for the thing alone is huge. Download the demo yourself and have a look.


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