|Maya 2 XSI Quickstart Guide|
Date: March 28, 2003
The reason I decided to write this paper was to help out my fellow 3D Artists converting from Maya to XSI. When we made the initial move to XSI, we hit a few brick walls during the transition in production. This is not because of the different feature sets, but because of the different workflows. Feature sets are only useful once you have a solid workflow.
I have scoured the net, asked many questions from fellow XSI users and even found my own ways to find a quicker way to do produce artwork in XSI.
Since we are production artists we really didn't have time to read all the manuals or read the tutorial book that comes with XSI. As production artists we have a bad habit of looking for a quick and dirty solution RIGHT NOW to get the project completed and look @ the manuals later. This paper should help you along the way of just getting started with your migration into XSI. I still strongly recommend that you do read the manuals and tutorial book as they are well documented. Perhaps read a few chapters while you are rendering instead of playing Half Life.
Topics Covered in this paper
We have all done it before. You're animating this really cool cube along a path and you don't want to constrain the actual cube on the path because you want more control so you can animate the cube locally….so what did you do? Yip, you hit that wonderful keyboard combo Ctrl+G. You grouped the object to itself to obtain another pivot point. This method does not work the same way in XSI. Let's talk about what grouping does in XSI.
When you group an object in XSI, you are not creating a new pivot point. Instead you are creating a container where objects share similar parameters (attributes). For example if I have 3 cubes and I want them all to have a Blinn shader with reflections set to .5, I would put them into a group and then assign a shader to the group.
So the million-dollar question is how do you get that extra pivot point
TIP: A null is like a Locator in Maya.
Example: You have a cube and you want 3 additional pivot points.
Create a null and transform it to where you want the pivot point to be.
TIP: Select the null and on the MCP hold down the Transform button to select "Match All Transforms" and then pick the cube. Your null will snap to the center of the cube.
Hit the Parent button on the MCP and with the lmb pick the cube. Or D&D the cube on top of the null in the explorer to put it below the null.
Now that you have the 1 null in place, you can just duplicate it x more times and parent the nulls under each other.
Note: Make sure that your additional nulls are above the cube in the hierarchy.
Don't worry they are not lost, they are just in a different place.
Virtual sliders in XSI use the mmb just like Maya but must be activated
with the F4 key.
I don't know why but I have a solution! When I installed XSI for the first time, my timeline was cutoff. :)
This is due to the Windows Taskbar - Always on Top option. Disable this and the timeline will show up correctly next time you load up XSI!
If that doesn't work then.......
You can do 1 of 3 things to fix it.
If you choose Option 3 "the 2 second method", follow along:
IPR in Maya is very different to the Render Region in XSI. Actually I think the IPR in Maya is pretty much useless, but that's just my opinion so don't get mushy on me. You'll see why I said that in just a moment.
Let's talk about the Render Region……
The render region will use Mental Ray to render the image. If you are really familiar with the IPR in Maya you'll be happy to know that you can render ALL effects in the viewport with XSI. This includes Motion Blur, Shadows, Glows, Global Illumination, Final Gathering, EVERYTHING!
Since it's interactive, you can move lights and geometry, whatever you want. I have even been courageous enough to dolly the camera in the render region. Yip, it updates!
You can also render selected objects only if you like…
Tip: 1 of the things that bothered me about the render region when I first used it was, I could still see the grey viewport in the background of the render region. To fix this just go to the rendering menu and hold the region button and select "show RGB". Now the background will be black just like when you render in the render view.
Shading an object in XSI is quite different than Maya. There is no Hypershade in XSI instead you do most of your shader tweaking in the Render Tree. There are no shader balls in XSI as of this writing. Personally I don't need these shader balls since I have the render region.
While I'm on the subject of shader balls………If you want to preview just a certain texture effect in the render region just hold the "p" hotkey over the node in the Render Tree and the render region will show that node on the object.
Let's shade a simple sphere using the render tool bar and the render tree. We will apply a Blinn material to a sphere and then apply a texture map.
Ok let's begin:
Congratulations your object has a shader and a texture assigned to the diffuse channel. Suppose you wanted to adjust more parameters on this shader, what would you do? Have no fear, just open the render tree. Select your object and hit the "7" hotkey.
Things are starting to look familiar now, a node based view with
To edit any of the nodes, just double click on the node to open the property editor.
As you get more familiar with XSI you'll see how powerful the render tree is. Actually you could have shaded your object from the start with the render tree. As with any 3d package there are more than 1 way to do something, this is just 1 of them.
For more tutorials on shading, be sure to visit my friend's website, Ed
"the man" Harriss.
This one I see a lot on the message boards. In Maya you are used to hitting the space bar to maximize the viewport. XSI reserves the space bar hotkey to select/deselect an object.
The default key to maximize the viewport is "F12" in XSI. This is just way to far for my hands to travel. Let's change it to Alt + Space.
Note: The reason I'm not using just the "space bar" to maximize the viewport is because I usually select/deselect objects more often than I maximize viewports. No need to mess with the default key mapping.
The first time I sparked up XSI, I went nuts trying to move an object
constrained to an axis.
In XSI, 1 of the ways to switch axis constraints on translate, rotate and scale is with your mouse buttons.
LMB will constrain you to the X axis.
However this depends on what mode you are in. The above should get you going for practical purposes.
Pick walking in Maya allows you to select a point on a curve or surface and use the up or down arrows to change your selection to the next point.
A correction has been made to the original paper.
This feature is also available in XSI. To pick walk components in XSI just use the alt + up/down arrow combinations.
For example, if you are working with a Nurbs Curve and you have CV(1) selected.
Hit alt + up arrow to select CV(2).
Here's a list of Pick Walking Shortcuts.
Alt + Up/Right : will move to the next
component (by INDEX). When it
Alt + Down/Left : will move to the previous
component (by INDEX). When it
Alt + Home : will move to the first component of the geometry.
Alt + End : will move to the last component
of the geometry.
Don't forget about grow/shrink selection tools as well!
There's no doubt that more could be covered when talking about converting techniques from Maya to XSI. However due to time constraints, the above is what I had time to write about. After all, I am a production artist!
For future papers I'd like to get into character animation techniques in XSI. Even though we set keyframes the same way in Maya, XSI and most other Animation Packages, I found XSI to be the quickest in animating a bipedal character.
Perhaps even a paper on Mental Ray's algorithm. Just the information of knowing how Mental Ray works will give you the power to control your final images offering you a higher quality in a shorter render time.
Hopefully, I'll have time to write this soon.