Description
Course info
Level
Beginner
Updated
Aug 6, 2008
Duration
3h 11m
Description

Learn a production-proven workflow to visual programming with ICE and easily extend the capabilities of XSI. Integrate into existing pipelines, rapid prototyping of tools, visually debug, and iterate and create in real-time - Perfect for artists and technical directors. Provides over 3 hours of project-based training for artists new to ICE in XSI. Popular highlights include: Understanding ICE; ICE Framework; Navigation in ICE; Working with ICE Nodes; Types and Contexts; Intrinsic and Dynamic Data; Sharing Data Between ICE Trees; ICE Compounds; ICE Particle Simulations; ICE Rigid Bodies; Using ICE Attributes in Render Tree; Visualizing ICE Data; Previewing ICE Data; Rendering ICE Particles and Meshes; Building Deformers; Building Complex Systems with ICE; Importance of Comments; Learning Best Practices and Workflows; Tips and Tricks. Software required: XSI 7 and up.

About the author
About the author

Originally from Lagos, Nigeria, Sunder has made great headway in both the interactive game design and 3D animation worlds.

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Section Introduction Transcripts
Section Introduction Transcripts

Introduction and Project Overview
Hello everyone and welcome to introduction to ICE, presented by Digital-Tutors, a SOFTIMAGE authorized training partner. My name is Sunder and I'll be your tutor in this course, designed to get you acquainted and proficient with XSI's new Interactive Creative Environment or ICE. ICE is a node-based framework that allows XSI users to quickly and easily build tools and effects, without writing a single line of code. In a sense, it's a fast and powerful Visual Programming System that gives you the ability to extend XSI beyond the basic tools without the need for heavy programming or heavy scripting. During this training course, we're going to establish a solid foundation to ICE creation. We're going to start off easy by using preexisting compounds and work our up to building a more sophisticated network of ICE Trees with our own compounds that can actually communicate and interact with each other. We're going to learn the fundamental concepts to ICE Tree production and demystify the inner workings of ICE. At the end of this training, you will be able to work with ICE and build your own utilities and effects to help you work smarter and faster in XSI. ICE gives XSI new life with new and exciting techniques to learn, so let's get started. So as I mentioned a few seconds before, the ICE or Interactive Creative Environment is a system for creating your own simulation and deformation effects within XSI. The system is procedural or node-base, because it works by connecting, or hooking on a bunch of self-contained, very specific nodes to get a desired result. So because of that, it's a method of Visual Programming, because we can get similar results by scripting or writing Scripted Operators or Plug-ins, and so on. Or we can connect a few nodes. It's infinitely easier to connect a few nodes than it is to take hours and time to type in a whole bunch of code that can do the same thing that we can within a few clicks. So for this reason itself, it's great to learn ICE. So let's get acquainted with the ICE Tree View, which is the working environment for creating ICE effects. To pull up the ICE Tree View, you need only go to the View menu, down to General, and you just need to click on ICE Tree. I'm personally a big fan of using the shortcut key, which is Alt+9. So Alt+9 will bring up the ICE Tree, as well as pulling it from the View menu. And here's the ICE Tree view. In a nutshell, you basically have an upper menu, and below it, we have three sections. On the far left, we have the Preset Manager, which is where the ICE nodes reside. We have two tabs within it, as well as some other features. The Tool tabs are low level ICE nodes. The Task tabs are these nodes connected together to get a specific scenario-based results. Now that's the Preset Manager here, we'll be working with that quite a bit. On the far right however, we have a Mini Explorer. Right now, we have no objects selected that have any ICE Trees in it. So the Mini Explorer, as well as the space between these two, which is the ICE Workspace or the ICE Graph, they're both empty. So let's go ahead and pull up an example file, so we can study how to move around the ICE Tree. So to pull one of these examples, just go to the User Tools menu. And here, we can click on Browse Examples, and this will bring up a browser, which contains the example files for working with ICE. And it's a good way of seeing all the different things that ICE can do. My personal favorite of the lot is Deformation_Verlet_Cloth, because it's a true testament as to how powerful the simulation system is, or the creation system is. So let's go ahead and open that, you just left-click, drag and drop the file name onto an empty workspace to load it up. I have no need to save my file, so I'll say No. Keep in mind that this file is part of your samples scene, so if you do save it, you may end up overriding it, so just keep in mind that it's not really a preset, it's an actual file that you're working with. Alright, so if you want to see the result of any ICE Tree, you need only to start the animation by hitting the Play Button on the timeline. And here we have a real-time ICE Tree simulation that's getting us a cloth result. And this really shows you how powerful ICE is, you can build your own cloth system. This is not SOFTIMAGE cloth, it's not SyFlex cloth. This is a cloth simulation system, built within XSI using ICE. Now, if you want to see an ICE Tree or see the nodes, all you have to do is select an object, and hit the Update Button to refresh the selected list or the selected objects. Right now, I have refreshed it with an object that does not contain any ICE nodes. The purpose of this explorer is to highlight or expose sections of your object that deal with ICE. Right now, there's nothing in here, which is why our ICE Graph is empty. If we select our cloth on the other hand, which is what's being used or what has the ICE Tree in it, we can hit the Update Button, and there we have it. Our Grid is now focused, we can the last accessed ICE Tree and where it resides, and we can see its contents as well here in the ICE Graph. A bunch of nodes are connected to each other. It kind of looks like a mess, but sometimes all it takes is just sitting down and going through these nodes one by one to understand what's going on. Alright, with that, let's focus on how to navigate around in the ICE Graph. You can navigate in this ICE Graph, just as with any 2D editor in XSI. Simply press the S key to bring up the navigate tool. You can pan around with the left and middle mouse buttons. And you can right-click to zoom in and out. So just like with the Render Tree or the UV Texture Editor for example. Now, another way of moving around your ICE Tree is to use the bird's-eye view. Keep in mind, the bird's-eye view works best when you're in object selection mode, so tap the space key. And now you can click and drag within the bird's-eye view to quickly move around your ICE Tree. The bird's-eye view basically displays a summary of your ICE Tree and the nodes within it, so you can kind of see how it maintains the shape of your different ICE objects here. You could even see these comment boxes are visible. So that's kind of a nice way of working around with it. And other ways or other navigation tools that are very useful with ICE is using F and A to frame your different parts. You see, you can select any ICE node by just simply left-clicking it. If you want to move it around, just left-click and drag to change its position. If you press the F key, you'll end up framing that specific node. If you press the A key, you'll end up framing all the nodes visible in the ICE Tree. You can select multiple nodes by the way. You can press shift-click to add to your selection or you can box select by left-clicking and dragging, like so. Pressing the F key will frame those specific nodes. Once again, no matter what you have selected, the A key will frame all your nodes visible in your ICE Graph. So that's basically a look at the ICE Tree View. Remember that we have a Preset Manager that contains the nodes and ICE Graph that exposes what nodes in the current ICE Tree we're working with are visible. And we also have a Mini Explorer. We have some useful features on the top here like the memo cam, that's very nice, because with it, you can left-click to store or sorry, middle-click to store a position. You can move anywhere. If you want to get back to that position, just simply left-click to access it, or you can right-click to remove the memo cam. So it basically emulates the memo cam feature of any camera that you have available within XSI. So we have some other keys here that are kind of useful, I'll touch on those quickly before we end the lesson. Clicking on this button here will bring up a Preset Manager view in an open window. So this is kind of handy if you don't want it to be docked in the ICE Tree. You can also unhide the Preset Manager from the ICE Tree by simply clicking on this big left arrow. This will hide the Preset Manager, the big right arrow will hide the Explorer. So that way, you can work in a separated window mode like this if that is sort of your choosing. Now, another method of working with the ICE Tree is to actually switch out to the ICE Tree Layout. To do this, just go to the View menu, down to Layouts, and simply click on ICE. In this mode, it'll basically dock your views into one section. It'll also embed your ICE Tree View below it. And with the help of this lower left hand corner, we can hide and expose certain parts of our UI. So, it's a nice layout for working with XSI. You can hide your left main toolbar, your main control panel. You can also expose the ICE Tree. And just view that wholly. You can hide the shelf, you can hide the ICE Tree by clicking on this button and expose it in a large fashion like that. So there's a lot of ways of working with the ICE Tree view, there basically still the same. You will always need to access your ICE Graph. It's recommended to have the Explorer open. And you'll want to get the Preset Manager to get a hold of the nodes that you're going to use. So that's the ICE Tree View in a nutshell. In the next lesson, we'll take a look at how we can create some basic particles with the help of the ICE Tree.