THE XSI v7 Thread


As I write this the news about XSI v7 (and some more) are about to go live, which means there will be a lot of noise and a lot of questions :slight_smile:

This version, and what the new features involve, is possibly the biggest in XSI’s history.
The implications and the extent of what has been done to the application are way deeper than a feature list.
Even people who’ve been on alpha and beta testing phases, after a year from the first closed circle surfacing of work that took Soft several years to get where it is still have only scratched the surface, and it’s only natural that there will be a lot of explaining to do to make the general public really understand how game-changing this is.

Because of the unique nature of what’s involved and of the trepidation and gossiping that’s been around it, for the first time since the XSI forums opened we find ourselves having to make an official thread about it.
Also, for the first time, some people who have a grasp of this version have been exempted from their NDA regarding features and can answer questions about v7 before its release.

This thread is where EVERYTHING concerning XSI v7 will be kept from here to release, and there will have to be rules.
Please understand a few things before you participate in this:

*This is an initiative of this particular sub-forum of CGTalk.
If you want somebody to blame for something you don’t like, feel free to crucify me, or address your concerns to the forums’ admins about my doing, but don’t think you can hold CGS, Softimage or their employees to anything for it :slight_smile:
This is how I think my work on this site can benefit the users and the community the most. The intentions are good and my concerns sincere. Please respect that and help building something great when you post here.

*This is allowed by Softimage but IS NOT an official Softimage thread.
Things discussed here are under the responsability of the posters, and even if such posters are beta testers or Softimage employees, the contents of their posts are solely their responsability, and won’t be supposed to reflect CGS or Softimage’s official stance or take on ANYTHING unless explicitly stated otherwise.

*Don’t expect Softimage’s participation in the thread.
Simply put: Right now the folks at Soft are stupid busy.
There’s a new release being wrapped which might very well be their biggest to date in terms of response and adoption. Siggraph is close. Montreal is hot and humid.
There are very few chances anybody but enthusiastic users will be able to address your questions, so don’t formulate them in such way that you demand Soft’s participation. It’s just not very likely to happen due to an actual schedule impossiblity for their employees.
If it happens be happy for it, but don’t count on it :slight_smile: Address your questions to the userbase.

*Until release this is the only XSI v7 thread that will be allowed in the forum. Other threads will either be closed or removed on sight (unless there’s a reasonable and very interesting exception to be made for one).

*This thread will be heavily moderated. This doesn’t mean it will be a form of censorship, quite the opposite in fact, but the amount of questions and excitement regarding this version is simply too high to allow fragmentation of information. That’s the sole reason for having just one thread and for watching it closely. Making sure it’s quality stuff and that you can satisfy all your v7 curiosity with just one thread.

*The focus of the thread is realistic QnA.
If you have a question that can be addressed by somebody who’s used the software, ask it. If it’s a question about something only the CEO of Avid could know and under a business NDA, save your time and don’t post it.

*Unfounded speculation and rumors will not be tolerated.
There is a unique chance to talk about features and what they mean before the actual release here.
Lets not waste each other time and make the thread more flamable or polluted by conjecture and rumor mongering.
If you have something important to say that “you heard from somebody who knows” either mention the source and the context or keep it to yourself. Weasel statements and “I heard from a friend who has a cousin in Softimage…” posts won’t stay live for long.
To quote a friend of mine (if out of context, but it applies) “those who know know who knows”. Mention where your info comes from and back it up, or keep it to yourself :smiley:

*App comparisons in this-is-better-than-that terms are off-limits. They have always been in this forum in general terms, it will be even more so now.
A question like “will XSI 7 have something similar to this feature in app XDugef” is perfectly legit. A statement like “Oh man, XDugef already does it so much better, Soft sucks” will not be.
Be constructive, inquisitive if you want, but don’t be needlessly negative.

*This is a Software thread. Not one about the state of the industry, application adoption in studios, which app gets you more jobs or anything like that. Those conversations can be easily abstracted from the version of the software and posted in their own thread.
Of course a new version of a software will change the game for better or for worse, but not before its release, so keep those considerations for after release please :slight_smile:

This is supposed to be a thread that is informative and exciting. If the same questions are asked over and over when they had been answered already it becomes a nightmare to manage, and ultimately less useful for you guys too.

*Be ready to see your posts deleted.
Hopefully this thread will evolve in an exhaustive pre-release FAQ and discussion.
If a question is interesting and recurrent it could be removed and added to the FAQ.
If your post is removed check the original reserved posts please, chances are it was off topic, addressed already, or good enough to become part of the main FAQ posts.
Please don’t make too much of a fuss over it. In the past I’ve deleted very few posts, and always with warning/PM when it was due. This time around this is the way it has to be, and it’d be nice if maintaining what will likely be a huge thread could be made as easy as possible for me :slight_smile:

*Trolling of any form or description will be dealt with promptly and harshly.
It’s a moment to be excited and to expand your knowledge or satisfy your curiosity. Complaining and whinging can all wait for release.

*OMG, metoo!, Can’t wait and similar types of posts are great for the morale of the developers and users, but they also unnecessarily lengthen a thread. Pleas feel free to post such comments in your post if you’re also asking something or comenting or something, but don’t post one if that’s the only content you intend to put in the message.

*At the moment of the news hitting the block XSI 7 will be announced, which also means it will HAVE TO be released within the quarter.
The version is close to a wrap and siggraph is coming, the quarter lasts until September and things are moving fast.
This is all the info you will get about dates and such. Don’t ask for more please, only Softimage/Avid could tell you anything more, and they will only do so through their official online channel.
Same goes for versions, price and licensing questions. At present time they simply cannot be answered 100% truthfully, so they won’t be.
Check their website; other users, resellers, friends and the employees’ dogs can’t know for sure anything more than that. If they tell you otherwise they are being either overconfident or naive; either way it’s not useful :slight_smile:

*From here to release some other stickies MIGHT be unstickied to make sure this thread gets proper visibility. In the unlikely eventuality this will happen they will be stickied back once the thread can die a peaceful death (or be refactored) after release.

I know this sounds very regimented and is uncommon for the generally chilled attitude in this forum, but we have to try something to make the best of such an exceptional occasion. Hopefully the community will manage to create an efficient repository for all info and links here :slight_smile:
Please approach posting about the subject and in this thread as maturely as you can possibly do, and put the time in it to read the previous pages/posts before you do.
Some time between when the first videos posted by Softimage, and when the first few compounds posted by users days after the release hit the community, it will become clear why this is such a phenomenal moment for the software.

Happy posting everybody :slight_smile:


The official News Thread:

The actual product page:

Felix writes a fluid solver into an ICE node with the ICE SDK:;action=display;threadid=36681;start=30

More by Felix:
ICE Grow Objects Along Spline:
ICE Cheer Crowd:
ICE Rain:

Doug posting screenies of the nodes:
And a video using image sources:

Andreas “Wurp” on scattering on surface in ICE:

Bradley “Withanar” Gabe’s videos
ICE vortex:
ICE from an artist’s perspective:

Kim Aldis’ ICE blog


-reserved reserved reserved-


The media material mentions Gigacore II and ICE support for multi-core 64bit workstations.

Does this mean that meshes/Subds will be able to be modelled/manipulated that much faster? In other words, the multithreaded optimizations don’t just apply to ICE, right?


ICE nodes can manipulate geometry, so if you manipulate a mesh through ICE for deformers etc it will scale extremely well.
In-view operations like the tweak tool AFAIK don’t yet as it’s a much harder nut to crack in terms of efficient multithreading.



Holy cow, I haven’t yet seen the videos on (I’m under a firewall). But the first questions that comes to mind are:

  • Performance! How fast is it? Have you done some comparison ?
  • How does an ICE compound node is exposed in the interface ? Can I let’s say expose some parameters in a node so that the final user will tweak only the parameters I want him to touch ?



Pretty f*****g fast by any standard, especially when you consider it’s the only app out there that scales so efficiently with multiple cores.
Insofar I hOne thing to another I’ve been around by word of mouth alone for the last Six.
Haven’t seen anything yet that comes remotely close to it in terms of performance. Any other app I’ve used, especially going that that low level in terms of data you’re manipulating, would barf on things that ICE computes at 5fps.

How does an ICE compound node is exposed in the interface ? Can I let’s say expose some parameters in a node so that the final user will tweak only the parameters I want him to touch ?

Compounds can be entered and exited, when you’re into one you have in and out ports and a black port on each side (expose input, output).
To expose an input or an output you just connect the respective port to the parameter you want to expose in the compound’s page. It’s pretty nifty.


That sounds great! I think this is the right track with scalability.

I’ve seen that there are improvements also in the Open GL. What about those ?

And the last question (for now!). What about platforms ? Are other flavour of unix (like Ubuntu) supported now? I think I’ve read somewhere that Vista is the platform of choice for ver 7…

Thanks again for this thread!



The key new platform is linux 64bit, Vista is now supported too (I think).
No, Ubuntu isn’t supported and it’s not surprising, it’s a cutting edge distro that moving target doesn’t even begin to describe.

FC5 is still the official platform, I have it running on FC7, and FC8 is on the map shortly after release via service pack.

The previous platforms (xp 32 and 64 and nix32) are all still supported.


the_jaco, do you know if there is a mental ray file with the release notes in xsi?
I’m pretty surprised by the Irradiance Particles integration, it’s production ready? Seems very premature by my point of view, but i may be wrong… hopefully… :wink:


So, is ICE strictly for particles and deformations in 7 or can you build geometry in there as well?


I would like to know, if it’s now possible to work with multiple materials in the rendertree (i.e. to connect one node of one material to another material too)


The main thing for now is point clouds.
So building them or manipulating them.
There is some more stuff that you can unlock via environment variables but it’s “untested at your risk”.
Building geometry with connectivity through ice isn’t supported yet.

This was pretty bloody huge to go through and develop/stabilize as it is. If they tried anything more it would probably have either killed people or not come out at all :slight_smile:


Sorry but just to be absolutely clear, does “manipulating” also include posing skinned characters?

BTW, it is certainly nice to see a company actually innovating.


many moons ago I saw an alpha demo of dual-quaternion skinning (multi-threaded), but don’t see it in the new features list. Is this in XSI 7?
Also, are there any improvements in management and creation of custom render channels? I’d hope for some simpler global control of custom channels, perhaps along the lines of a pass management system…



About multithreaded envelope, they showed that on various events. The playback rate in the viewport was about 6times as fast as with the standart xsi envelope. So a.E. there was a riggid/enveloped character playing with 15fps. With the ICE envelope the playback speed was about 70fps.


The demo wasn’t about the skinning system, it was about ICE.
You can create an ICE tree to deform a mesh looking up objects and maps, exactly how enveloping works, and in one of the demos they created a dual-quaternion based one.
So, yah, it is there because you get ICE, the same way that with the optimized raytracing/collision/proximity nodes you can pretty much slap together an efficient wrap based muscle system without a single line of scripting (in fact I did for shits and giggles and it outperforms my own old custom stuff 12 to 1)

Also, are there any improvements in management and creation of custom render channels? I’d hope for some simpler global control of custom channels, perhaps along the lines of a pass management system…

There is a new render manager view and some additions to tokenization.
Haven’t needed them too much yet so I’m sorry if this is kinda vague.



Manipulating point clouds means that anything that has points you can apply an ICE operator (the container inside the stack for an ICE tree) to.
That means meshes with any amount of operators before or after your ICE op, particles, surfaces and whatnot.

So, yes, you can apply an ICE op to a skinned character to implement your own character dynamics and deformers.


That sounds really sweet! On a side note, how can a new node be written ? Is it only by c++ or one can say use python to create a node for testing purposes and then move to c++ for full speed ?

That’d be really awesome I think…



New nodes can only be written in C++ I think. Not sure but I think I heard something like this.
But there is a huge amount of predefined nodes and you can also save compounds and use them in every project.