The production series DVDs cover every aspect of SOFTIMAGE|XSI and go far beyond the scope of the manual, offering production-proven tips. Each DVD has a runtime of between five and eight hours. The classes are broken down into topics and can be browsed easily from the main menu. The DVDs are designed to be watch on a computer. The videos (AVI files) run in a flash player so there is no way of watching the DVD on a DVD player.
Softimage Production Series - Animating in XSI 4.2
Softimage Production Series - Rendering Concepts for XSI
Softimage Production Series - Rendering in XSI 4.2
Softimage Production Series - Simulation In Xsi
Softimage Production Series - Modeling & Texturing in XSI
Let's take a look at what is covered in each DVD:
Modeling and texturing in XSI
The modeling and texturing DVD starts with an in-depth explanation of the XSI selection and manipulation tools and components. There are thirty video lessons dedicated to the subjects so you are sure to learn all there is to know about them. The DVD continues to talk in depth about the construction modes and various poly-modeling tools. Aside from individual videos dedicated to the tools and deforms, you get to see how the tools all come together in a separate forty-minute poly-modeling tutorial. After the poly-modeling portion, the DVD teaches Subdivision and Nurbs modeling in XSI.
The texturing section has two parts. The first part starts with materials and material editing in XSI. It then continues to look at texture projections and camera projections. In part two you learn about the texture editor and texture layer editor. There are various videos that teach how to unwrap the UVs of a head and body parts in this part.
This DVD runs for seven hours and fifty minutes. Scene files and extra PDF documentation are also included in the DVD.
Animating in XSI
This DVD is divided into two chapters: XSI animation and Character animation. The XSI animation chapter starts off with animation structures and covers where the animation .lives' in XSI, marking sets and model structure. The lessons that follow focus on animation mixer, sources and clips. Reading the manuals I personally had trouble understanding the capabilities of the mixer and these sections helped me understand what is possible. Moving on, shape animation is covered in detail. This is another confusing part of XSI especially if you are coming from another package. Thanks to the DVD it's very easy to get up and running with shape animation. The lessons then move on to the audio tools in XSI 4.0 before concluding with an explanation of all the constraints.
The second chapter covers character rigging techniques and tools in XSI. This chapter starts with videos on how bone chains behave in XSI, FK/IK blending, different solver types, shadow bones, chain neutral pose and pivot. This chapter moves on to enveloping where you learn how to set up an envelope, weight editing, reference poses and multiple envelopes. XSI's automatic rig builder system and the character development kit are also explained in this chapter. The auto rig builder is incredibly helpful for animators who don't have the time to learn the technical aspects of rigging. You can start animating with a production proven rig in no time. The chapter continues with explanations of character deformation and setups. Some of the topics covered are constraint blending, cluster material and UV interpolation, corrective shape modeling and Quaterion roll distribution.
This DVD will be invaluable for character TDs and Animators whether longtime XSI users or switching to it from other packages. The character rig building videos in this DVD are not step by step rig building videos, but rather discuss and solve the various problems and challenges of rigging. This DVD runs for six hours. Scene files and extra PDF documentation are also included in the DVD.
Rendering Concepts for XSI
If you are looking to understand the rendering technology and optimize your render times, this is the DVD for you. The first section explains how Anti-aliasing and Adaptive Sampling works and gives tips on how to fine tune them to optimize your render times. The motion blur section explains motion blur theory and types in XSI. This section is extremely valuable to save render time when rendering scenes heavy with motion blur. The differences between Rapid motion blur and motion blur are also clarified.
The DVD then moves on to detail the BSP tree. Some topics in this section include .BSP tree parameters., .how BSP tree works., .BSP tree and render performance., .BSP tree tuning setup. and .using the BSP tree tuner script.. This section is pretty advanced and will help you understand how mental ray works.
XSI has unparalleled support for Normal Maps and the next section of the video describes how to extract, apply and optimize normal maps for your scenes. Topics such as high resolution maps and rendermap are covered with both explanation of concepts and examples. Finally, the DVD introduces Displacement maps and explains how to create and optimize them.
This DVD will prove invaluable to those who are looking to get a deeper understanding of rendering. By understanding the key concepts you can save valuable time when setting up your renders instead of losing time going by trial and error. This DVD runs for four hours and fifty minutes. Scene files and extra PDF documentation are also included in the DVD.
Rendering in XSI
Understanding the render tree and render passes is vital to achieving quality renders in XSI. This DVD covers everything there is to know about them.
The first section introduces the render tree and teaches you how to extract position, rotation and UV information from your models. Render tree techniques are thoroughly discussed with topics such as creating a wipe mask, applying UV perturbation, using weight maps to control displacement maps, baking lighting information to color at vertices and altering rendering based on raytracing state.
In the section, the effects you can create with the gradient shader are discussed. There are many effects that can be achieved with this shader such as caustic effects, rim like effects on skin-like shading, fake sub surface scattering effects and toon shading. Each of these effects is covered on the DVD in great depth.
You also learn why flickering and shimmering occurs in a render and how to use the elliptical filtering. Bump mapping is also a topic covered in depth, with ten video tutorials dedicated to it.
The next section is about lighting. It explains all the light types and how they behave in XSI. Global illumination, caustics and shadow maps are all topics covered in this section. Final gathering and HDRI is covered in another section, which is especially valuable in teaching you how to optimize Final Gathering.
One of the most powerful features of XSI is the Render Pass system. The next two sessions of this DVD teaches you how to create all kinds of render passes and explains partitions and overrides. This section is invaluable not only for learning how the render pass system in XSI works, but also to learn what to pay attention to when you're creating the passes.
Overall this DVD is a .must have. if you want to learn rendering in XSI. The material in it goes far beyond the manual and explains complex elements with clear concise examples. This DVD runs for six hours. Scene files and extra PDF documentation are also included in the DVD.
Simulation in XSI
XSI 4.0 has a brand new rigid body simulation system and this DVD will teach you how to use it. This DVD also covers hair and particles extensively.
The first three sections of this DVD take a look at rigid body dynamics: .how XSI evaluates rigid bodies., .active and passive rigid bodies., .how to use ghosting to see the results of your simulation without running the simulation. and .collisions and caching your simulation to the mixer. are discussed along with many other topics. Production examples are used extensively. You learn how to create a self-propelled multi leg rig, a walking machine and a drawbridge.
The hair sections are divided into three. They include hair concepts and workflow, hair examples and hair optimization. All you need to know about adding hair to your characters and using hair for different things are discussed in this chapter in twenty-three video classes.
The particles section introduces how particles work in XSI and than move onto more advanced topics such as scripted events and scripted goal behavior. Particle goals, sprites and shaders are also discussed in depth.
Overall this DVD is very helpful in getting you started doing your own simulations and will prove very helpful for users switching from other packages to get up to speed with XSI's dynamics system in a short amount of time. This DVD runs for five hours. Scene files and extra PDF documentation are also included in the DVD.
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