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Softimage-3D Importer - Overview Features

The is one of Okino's premier and best selling import converters which allows complete Softimage-3D .hrc model files and/or Softimage-3D databases to be loaded, including polygonal meshes, NURBS patches, bicubic patches, geometry hierarchy, lights, cameras and all texture info. It is an optional add-on "load and render" converter that imports and accurately translates all aspects of the scene file so that little or no modifications must be done in the target rendering program to produce equivalent results to that created by the Softimage renderer.

When used in conjunction with Okino's "NuGraf" this import converter can load and render most Softimage scene files, including the accurate replication of texture map modulation methods. The initial release represents 5 months of intense development which has concentrated on producing a clean and accurate converter. As with all of the PolyTrans converters we will continue to refine this Softimage converter as user suggestions are forwarded to us.

Please note that these import plugin modules have been developed to work in conjunction with the data processing and user interface functions of Okino's NuGraf and PolyTrans products. As such, they are not plugin modules for Softimage but rather plugin modules for Okino's software products. This actually benefits users of Softimage since the NuGraf & PolyTrans software have many additional features necessary for fast and accurate data translation (such as polygon processing functions, the selector window, batch 2d and 3d translators, and so forth) that a Softimage plugin would not have.

Production houses should find this converter invaluable in their daily production work for conversion of Softimage scenes or model files to other file formats. Advanced features include tuned conversion of all texture modulation methods (ambient, diffuse, bump, etc), alpha channel mapping, direct database intergation, accurate (u,v) texture coordinate conversion and dozens of export options (see below). The NuGraf/PolyTrans software can also convert or recognize Softimage '.pic' formatted bitmap images.

Arrow Demonstration Versions

The Softimage import/export converter modules are available as an optional add-on feature to Okino's NuGraf and PolyTrans products. These modules can be evaluated by downloading the combined PolyTrans/uGraf demo program. They are only limited in the fact that every fifth polygon exported from the programs will be deleted.

It is recommended that you download the NuGraf software since it has the added ability to render Softimage scenes. This will allow you to properly evaluate the Softimage import converter without needing to export to another file format first for rendering.

Arrow Main features of this converter

All meshed geometry is read in and processed, including polygons with holes. Geometric and vertex normals will be computed for polygons without such information.
Import of NURBS patches and bicubic patches. This took a significant amount of work to develop since Softimage uses a non-standard method to store patches which use "closed" curves (their NURBS knot vectors are non-standard).
All (u,v) texture coordinates are read in and stored along with the meshed polygon data.
If a polygon has been assigned a material which uses a XY, XY, YZ, UV, Cylindrical or Spherical texture projection method then that texture projection will be evaluated on-the-fly (using the current object's inherited location in space) and the resulting (u,v) texture coordinates will be explicitly assigned to that polygon. This is a significant feature of this import converter!.
The original scene hierarchy is completely recreated, including all groupings and their related transformations. The hierarchy mechanism also takes into account the inheritance of material and global/local texture maps (the converter properly assigns material and textures that have been inherited from previous levels). This is a significant feature of this import converter!.
Batch conversion of Softimage .hrc model files and scenes to other 3d file formats (such as 3D Studio, DXF, Lightwave, etc.) using the batch 3d converter in the main NuGraf/PolyTrans program. The batch conversion process can also perform a wide variety of processing operations on the batch converted polygonal data including fast vertex welding, unification of the normals, removal of duplicate coordinates and removal of double sided polygons.
Batch conversion of Softimage ".pic" formatted files to other bitmap formats using the batch image converter in the main NuGraf/PolyTrans program.
All texture mapping information is imported and completely mapped to equivalent NuGraf/PolyTrans texture mapping methods, including alpha channel usage. Over half of the development time was dedicated to this aspect of the import converter (see below for more information).

In addition, this converter reads in every material attribute and accurately translates the shading parameters to equivalent shading parameters used by this converter. Okino's NuGraf renderer will be able to render any Softimage file with little or no modification and with results that are almost exactly the same as within Softimage. The following describes some of the shading parameter translations:

Constant, flat, Lambert, Phong and Blinn shading modes are translated properly.
Ambient, diffuse and specular color components are mapped to equivalent colors inside the converter's database.
The specular decay, reflectivity, transparency and refractive index are mapped to equivalent internal values.

Likewise, all Softimage texture mapping information is imported and stored within the converter's internal database. This is one of the more interesting aspects of this converter since it provides a 1:1 mapping of the Softimage texture map information to that of this converter's internal database. The following are some highlights of this translation process:

All Softimage texture projection methods are supported: XY, XY, YZ, UV, Cylindrical and Spherical. An algorithm has been written which simulates the texture projection methods and converts the projections to explicit (u,v) texture coordinates.
Each 2d bitmap texture's "scale', "offset" and "count" parameters are properly untangled and mapped into equivalent "scale", "offset" and "wrap/no-wrap" parameters of this converter's internal database. Note the Softimage performs scaling and offsetting of texture maps relative to the upper-left corner of a bitmap image whereas this converter performs the transformations relative to the lower-left corner. This change of coordinate system is properly handled for all variations of Softimage scale, offset and count parameters (quite messy actually).
This converter is quite smart when it comes to untangling Softimage's assignment of global and local materials, 2d textures and 3d textures. Basically the rules are:
  • If no material is assigned to an object then inherit the material as well as the 2d & 3d textures from the parent object. If a material is assigned to an object then ignore the inherited global 2d & 3d textures; instead, use the global 2d & 3d textures assigned at the model level.
  • Local textures are layered on the NuGraf surfaces, followed by the global textures. Proper 'blending' is done so that the global textures will mix with the local textures.

Arrow Explanation of Texture Mapping Conversion

All Softimage texture modulation types are properly read into this converter. Since Okino's PolyTrans and NuGraf software incorporate a multi-layer/multi-modulation texture mapping system they can import and render (in the case of NuGraf) any form of complex Softimage texture mapped scene. The translations from Softimage to NuGraf/PolyTrans are performed as follows:

Softimage Texture Parameter NuGraf/PolyTrans Texture Parameter
Ambient Color Ambient color modulation
Diffuse Color Diffuse color modulation
Specular Color Specular color modulation
Transparency Transparency color modulation
Reflectivity Reflected color intensity
Roughness Bump mapping modulation
Reflection Map Spherical environment map
Scale/Offset/Repeat Parameters Scale and offset parameters
XY, XY, YZ, UV, Cylindrical and Spherical Translated to explicit (u,v) coords
Blending Method (Alpha channel or RGB) Color mixing source (alpha or RGB)
Map Component (Alpha channel or RGB) Effect source: Alpha channel or RGB

The converter can also read in Softimage .pic formatted bitmap files. This allows, for example, Softimage files to be converted to Apple QuickDraw 3D with the added benefit of embedding Softimage .pic files directly in the QuickDraw 3D file.

Arrow Supported and Unsupported Softimage Entities

The following Softimage entities are currently supported:

Polygonal meshes with holes.
Trimmed NURBS surfaces (open and closed)
Bicubic patches ('linear' patch not supported for first release)
Inherited materials and textures (local and global)
Geometry hierarchy
All material attributes
All 2d bitmap texture parameters
Lights and cameras

The following Softimage entities will be supported in subsequent releases of this converter (this data is already imported but not converted):

Faces defined by NURBS or spline curves
Import of animation function curves

The following Softimage entities are currently unsupported:

Spline curves
Spline and patch fitting
Shape deformation animation
Constraint-based animation
3D texture definitions

Arrow Performing Batch Bitmap Image Conversion

This software has the ability to read or write Softimage .pic formatted image files. This allows it, for example, to render .pic textured-mapped objects directly within the NuGraf software, or to export .pic files to other file formats.

Note: Many Softimage users have voiced the need for a batch bitmap converter which can bidirectionally convert .pic files between other formats. Such a batch image converter is available via the 'Bitmap Image Functions/Batch Convert Image Files...' menu item of the main program. It can convert a variety of bitmap file formats to .pic format and/or convert .pic formatted files to other formats.