Softimage 101-2: A Quick Tour of the Interface

Uploaded by SoftimageHowTos on 19.01.2011

Welcome back to Softimage. In the previous video, we went over some initial settings. Now we'll take a look at the interface.
The interface layout shown here is the Softimage default.
Other layouts are available for specific tasks or monitor configurations, and you can create your own.
The four buttons at the bottom left display and hide optional panels at the left, top, bottom, and right.
The three adjacent buttons load preset configurations of the viewports.
The module menu on the left contains a toolbar panel, with items organized for modelling, animating, rendering, and other tasks.
All of these items are also available from module menu at the top.
If desired, you can tear off a menu or submenu to keep it open in a floating window as you work.
You can open context menus by right-clicking, or Alt+right-clicking if the current tool uses the right mouse button for another function. On Linux, you may need to Ctrl+Alt+right-click.
Using context menus can really speed up your workflow. You can right-click on almost anything.
Choosing an item from a menu either: adds a preset object or property, performs a command on the selection, or activates a tool.
For this example, let's get a polygon mesh cylinder.
Objects are always added at the scene center, and must be moved to where you want them.
The scene updates immediately as you change values in property pages. You don't need to click OK.
For many parameters, you can set values outside of the default slider range by typing them in. The slider updates to compensate for the new range.
Middle-clicking on a menu or sub-menu repeats the last command that you chose from there. In this case, it creates another cylinder.
Note that even if you have a scroll mouse, you can still use the wheel as the middle mouse button by pressing down without scrolling.
Normally property pages are recycled as you work, meaning that they update automatically as you select objects and apply properties.
You can Shift-select multiple objects to edit their common properties simultaneously.
Values that are different for different objects are blank, but you can set them all to the same value.
You can lock a property page to prevent it from updating.
The corresponding objects are affected even if they aren't selected.
You can save and load your own presets for individual properties. The presets are specific to each property displayed in the editor.
You can revert the changes you made since you opened the current property page.
This is different from pressing Ctrl+Z, which undoes the last action you performed on any object anywhere in the interface, including selection.
You can repeat Ctrl+Z to undo the last few actions.
Use Ctrl+Y to redo the last actions that you have undone.
Use the navigation arrows to cycle backward and forward between recently opened property pages.
You can also right-click on either arrow for a history of recent property pages.
Notice also that a new page opened because the other one was locked.
The focus icon updates pages only for the same property type.
This is especially useful when you want to focus on a specific type of property.
For example, the flatcar and engine are both constrained to a curve. Display the constraint and focus the property page.
The page updates when you select objects with the same type of constraint, but not when you select other objects.
Finally, property pages can also be docked in the PPG panel, similar to Maya and 3ds Max.
When this panel is displayed, properties open here instead of in floating windows, unless the property page is locked.
Returning to the left side, apart form the module menu the other panels include the weight paint panel for enveloping (also known as skinning),
the palette for applying preset display properties and holding custom commands,
and the preset manager for building render trees (also known as shading networks) and ICE trees.
The right side contains the main command panel, or MCP.
The MCP has panels for selecting, transforming, and other common operations.
In addition to using the controls on the panels, you can click the panel headings to reveal more options.
Right-click to collapse or expand panels. This is useful when there is limited screen space, as shown here.
Other panels that you can display on the right include the KP/L panel for keying as well as managing scene and animation layers,
and the PPG panel that we've already seen.
Across the top, there is the main Windows menu bar,
the module menus that we've already discussed,
and Face Robot for facial animation and lip-sync'ing.
The construction mode selector is useful when working with envelopes and shape animation (also known as morphs or blend shapes).
The render pass selector is useful when working with multiple render passes,
and the quick filter box is useful for finding and selecting specific elements in the scene by name.
The optional main shelf provides quick access to many common tools and commands, all of which are also available elsewhere.
The main shelf is organized into tabs according to category. The custom tab is available for storing your own presets and commands.
The timeline is below the viewports.
You can click anywhere on the timeline to go to that specific frame of your animation, or type a frame number.
You can click and drag to scrub backwards and forwards.
The optional time range bar can be used to restrict the timeline to a portion of the scene's total length.
This is useful when concentrating on short segments of longer scenes.
Use the start and end frame boxes on the time range bar to set the scene's total length.
And the boxes on the timeline to set the range of frames to display.
Below the timeline are the playback controls and options.
By default, the Play button plays from the start of the displayed frame range.
Click again to stop.
You can play from the current frame by middle-clicking.
You can select the view in which animation plays from the Playback menu.
Views that don't play back get updated only after playback stops.
At the bottom right are the animation controls for defining key frames, as well as expression and other forms of animation.
Also along the bottom are the command box and script editor button for working with scripts and other customizations.
There's also the scene debugger button for optimizing complex scenes.
And that concludes our quick tour of the Softimage interface. In the next video, we'll look cover the viewports and camera navigation.