Jump to content

Sign in to follow this  
Adrien

Softimage XSI

Recommended Posts

Hi, I often hear 3D veterans raving about soft image XSI. 
What was so special  about it and why do people still praise it so much 5 years after being phased out? How better was it compared to C4D for instance? 
Just curious to learn more about it and to understand why people like Vitaly Bulgarov are still using it. 

Share this post


Link to post

As a former Softimage user I do have take a little exception to this.   Besides the comfort level there are many things XSI excels at.  Although I love C4D for its own reasons...it does not have any feature comparable to ICE.  Softimage got a lot right.. and I think to this day unbelievably the viewport of Softimage is still faster for animation and playback.  The core of the application seems programmed in a way to offer much better animation performance. I still go back and model in XSI sometimes. Go to SI-Community and look at the massive resources section to see the power of this software.  Cinema 4D was never powerful enough to be a complete Softimage replacement.. only Houdini.

Share this post


Link to post

ICE. It was extensive node based programming environment and one could do a lot of nice setups in it 🙂

Share this post


Link to post

Believe it or not, if it wasn't for Softimage, NONE OF US would be where we are today.  Here is why and it goes all the way back to 1993.

 

At that time, Silicon Graphics workstations were the only way to get any serious computer animation work done.  Unfortunately, they topped out over $20,000 USD (and this is in 1993 dollars).  So for pretty much everyone, high end computer animation was limited to a very limited number of people in the early 1990's.  

 

And then Jurassic Park was released.

 

Jurassic Park used Alias/Wavefront (owned by Silicon Graphics and the great grandfather of Maya) for modeling and Softimage for animation.  The world was changed overnight and computer animated dinosaurs become the face of high-end computing and an SGI Onyx Workstation was the only hardware you could get to run this software.

 

And then Microsoft made an interesting move.

 

Prior to Jurassic Park's release, Microsoft was just not convincing anyone that WinNT was a viable platform for high-end computing.  In the mind of pretty much everyone, Windows was  synonymous with home PC's and they just could not break through into the mainframe or high-end computing market.  To change that, they needed to prove that computationally intensive software could run just as well on a WinNT operating system.

 

So Microsoft purchased Softimage.  Now they could have purchased some finite element software, or some CAD software but they were simply not sexy enough (that is, not many people really knew or cared to know what a finite element program does).  At that time, the whole world thought that computer generated dinosaurs was the epitome of high-end computing so they had to buy the software that created those images.  They could not buy Alias/Wavefront as that was owned by SGI, their competitor.  So they bought Softimage and immediately went about converting it to run on WinNT.

 

And that conversion changed our world and killed SGI.  People saw that a $5000 WinNT box could now run software that previously could only run on a $20,000 Onyx workstation.  That move convinced the world that WinNT was in fact a viable OS for high-end computationally intensive programs and now everyone was converting their software to run on WinNT as it provided a cheaper hardware path.  And as the demand for hardware to run WinNT increased, hardware prices came down even more and the cycle continues.  Once Microsoft proved their point, they sold Softimage to Avid in 1998 (obviously not part of their long term strategy).

 

Therefore, had not Softimage been used in Jurassic Park, the move to put high-end computer animation software on something cheaper than an Onyx workstation probably would have taken a bit longer and cost a bit more....which means we would not be where we are today.

 

So even if you have never used Softimage, we need to be thankful for it.

 

Dave

Share this post


Link to post

Softimage 3D is not the same as Softimage XSI the iatus between the two in that Microsoft, Avid took too much time to fix the bugs of XSI and Maya took its place.

I entered Softimage XSI with version 4 already past the buggy phase.

 

The interface was well thought for most part, the best i have seen in coherence while not as attractive as C4D . The application was quite fast and it is certainly faster then C4D even today, many ways to speed things and animate with tools that only now C4D got.  I think it was the best application and could have continued without complete mismanagement of its own people. 

 

What shocked me when i arrived:

- elitist user base

-how outdated in image quality was Mentalray compared to Vray or Finalrender. - make no mistake Mentalray was very powerful but the end result is what matters always.

- elitist company too much attached to their own things mostly cinema high end related. So they did not cared for anything else.

- as of above the complete reliance on one render solution : Mentalray that was starting to show its age.

- i always felt they were catering more to TD's than to end user, or wanted to force everyone to be a TD.

 

- things got better, but trying to open their horizons was a pain. I remember Vlado of Vray complaining that there was no documentation for many internal stuff, like no hook ups for external renders since the system was propose build for Mentalray.  So they lost a lot by having being stuck with Mentalray for a long time. They eventually opened the thing but by that time they were inviting Vlado...

Except for the ICE, that was quite a good thing  but limited user base by its complexity. Making a mograph was not trivial for example.

They should have got an higher level system in place. But it was an happy time sharing compounds and many stuff cannot be done by other applications except Houdini still today.

 

Softimage is still competitive  in several parts of DCC job. Still in use in some places, but of course  new artists run from it because there is no future there.

 

 

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post

If it is true that XSI was basically closed for third partys no wonder they failed. It is a fundamental requirement today to be modular.

Share this post


Link to post

There was a lot more snobbery in those days. The computers were SGIs O2s or indigo, then later Windows. 

I have used Softimage 3D, XSI predecessor. There is a O2 in the loft now and there is nothing that C4D couldn't do now, that the programs could do (talent depending obviously). 

 

Now all the 3d programs are more on the same level, but you keep hearing that maya is a bit better for rigging and character creation, over C4D. 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
10 hours ago, joolsd said:

 

 

Now all the 3d programs are more on the same level, but you keep hearing that maya is a bit better for rigging and character creation, over C4D. 

 

 

Maya is not a "bit" better for rigging. It's ten times, maybe twenty times better than C4D. No comparison. 

C4D is my favorite 3D application by far but Maya simply crushes it in terms of character rigging, skinning and animation.

 

I usually rig everything in Maya, animate there (or in iClone) then I bring back to C4D. 

Share this post


Link to post
14 hours ago, joolsd said:

There was a lot more snobbery in those days. The computers were SGIs O2s or indigo, then later Windows. 

I have used Softimage 3D, XSI predecessor. There is a O2 in the loft now and there is nothing that C4D couldn't do now, that the programs could do (talent depending obviously). 

 

Now all the 3d programs are more on the same level, but you keep hearing that maya is a bit better for rigging and character creation, over C4D. 

 

 

Quote

stuff made 8-9 years ago....

 

Share this post


Link to post
  • Topic Author
  • Thanks everyone for sharing your insights. I didn’t know that XSI had a basic compositor. I’m also surprised to read that even today its viewport remains faster than that of C4D...MAXON really needs to fix that...

     

    Share this post


    Link to post

    Join the conversation

    You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

    Guest
    Reply to this topic...

    ×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

      Only 75 emoji are allowed.

    ×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

    ×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

    ×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

    Sign in to follow this  

    • Recently Browsing   0 members

      No registered users viewing this page.

    ×
    ×
    • Create New...