softimage xsi exp

Community Forums/Developer Stations/softimage xsi exp

(tu) sinu(Posted 2003) [#1]
im gonna d/l this and see how good it is.
It's exactly the same as softimage xsi 3.0 only with no export and only savable to .exp format.
Kinda like max and gmax, although gmax is a cut down version of max.

BHoltzman(Posted 2003) [#2]
I bought Softimage 3.5 advanced a little while ago. It's definitely powerful and has a lot of good tools to use for game creation. There are several workable pathways to go from SI to Blitz if that's what you're hoping to do. But the exp version won't translate to a blitz readable format easily. (You'd probably have to come up an original translator if you're inclinde)

The problems that I can point out so far are these:
Not much book support available. (The Mesmer series is really good)
Not many plugin's for expandibility
Haven't been able to make deep3d work as a plugin for xsi.
After ordering Softimage it took around 3 weeks to receive the software. (Even though I used 2nd day delivery)
The software uses a 25 pin serial dongle. The is a problem if you're working on a computer without a serial port, like my laptop. (I went through 3 usb to serial adapters until I found one that would work with the SPM. I'm using I/O Gear PDA usb to serial adapter that I bought at Fry's Electronics)
There are problems with ati radeon cards (although I haven't found any yet)

Now that's the bad part but the good part is completely and utterly amazing! You have a complete NLA modeling/animation/rendering/compositing solution that is good enough to match anything that Hollywood can put out today! You want to make an Incredible Hulk video game? You've got the same tool that was used to make the movie. You want to make a Harry Potter video game? You've got the same tool that was used to make the movie! You want to make a Lords of the Ring video game? You guessed it! Same tool.
You want to put things like good looking clothes and realistic hair into your game? Clothes render quickly and acurately. Hair renders through BSP. There is a real time shader module that you can use for next generation video game creation.

Even though there are not many books that I can buy about Softimage XSI, there is no lack of documentation that comes with the product. (Unfortunately the documentation that comes with the EXP version is only a dry and terse reference. But there are free tutorials available that will help and has some VTM's that will get you comfortable with the basics quickly) There are thousands of pages worth of reference, tutorial and conceptual documentation to help the user figure out which way is up. There are also courses that you can sign up for if you've got the time for them. Some of them are online so you don't have to worry as much about taking off for 6 months or so.

This product is extremely well crafted!

Yeah, I'm excited about it. But this is really where a great deal of my passion is.

Now for the bad news. Softimage XSI 3.5 Advanced lists for $11,700.00.

There are different levels of this product. You can choose the essentials for ~$2000 or $3000 I think.. Let me double check that. Oops, glad I checked the price is $6750 for the essentials version. This version doesn't include things like the softbody dynamics, hair, cloth maybe even particles.

The interface is very well thought out. You use the one hand on the keyboard and one hand on the (3 button) mouse technique. You can model very quickly and efficiently.

Well, good luck on whatever you decide to do.



(tu) sinu(Posted 2003) [#3]
if i win the lottery maybe i'll get it then.
It seems to be the best of the best, halflife 2 uses it too plus alot of other top developers like sega and namco.

Smurfpuss(Posted 2003) [#4]
yes but softimage is really a advanced modeller and animator
almoste like maya but maby with some more expoting options is it not

BHoltzman(Posted 2003) [#5]
Sinu, XSI is a fantastic package, but so are Houdini and Maya. It's really going to take me a while before I understand XSI well enough to know it's true potential. One thing I know is that XSI is more object oriented than Blitz3D.

Smurfpuss, I don't know too much about Maya. So I'm not sure how similar or different XSI and Maya are from each other. I do know that some of Maya's new features have been in XSI for a while now. But other than that, I don't know what Maya has that XSI doesn't. It's all I can do to learn XSI before the next version hits the shelves.

I don't see a lot of exporting options in the file menu. But I bought the right hemisphere tools with XSI. So all I need are a couple of export formats from XSI and then I can do batch conversions from tons and tons of exporters available in Deep Exploration. That's why there are easy migration paths from XSI to Blitz3d.

Take Care,


c5ven(Posted 2003) [#6]
i run Maya Unlimited. from what i'm learning, it's very similar to XSI. and only last year it cost as much. dropping from $12k to $7 was a big move.

soon as i get Maya 5 installed, i wanna play with the level editing tools they now have. but like you, it's enough just to scratch the surface of what these apps will do. when i just had Maya Complete, it was still overwhelming.

BHoltzman(Posted 2003) [#7]
There are definitely more books out for Maya than SI XSI. I'm not sure how good of thing that is for SI?

How is the documentation for Maya Unlimited? Is it anything like the 30 or so volumes that come with XSI?

ragtag(Posted 2003) [#8]
I work in Maya...and have been since it came out. Before that, I worked with old SoftImage3D (predecessor to XSI). I've also been testing the XSI experience package. Both are very capable packages (should be at that price), but have some minor differences.

I believe Maya is a little easier to customize and better at special effects and dynamics (rigid, soft, particle and cloth). XSI I believe is better at character stuff and easier to use straight out of the box, it also has a great renderer fully integrated (I know Maya has mentalRay now too...but it's only "fully" integrated). A lot of the functionality of both apps you won't need to touch when doing 3D for games (e.g. the built in compositor in XSI or PaintFX in Maya)...unless of course you want to render out a nice splash screen or are doing 2D games. A lot of the differences come down to small details in interface and how things are done.

Houdini is kind of a magic application, it can do stuff no other 3d software can. It's used for complicated special effects with complex procedurally generated geometry at render time (e.g. the inside the brain shot in Fight Club). Lately they've been adding an easier to use interface and more character animation function. There is a learning version of Houdini available from (though I haven't had the time to take a proper look at it).


c5ven(Posted 2003) [#9]
most of the documention is on the disk. originally comes with maybe 4 or 5 books. i don't much like disk-based manuals, but Maya's are actually pretty good.

Russell(Posted 2003) [#10]
You guys must be made of money! ;)

Many of these hollywood movies are made, in part, with over the counter softare packages. But in many cases, where brand new effects are being used, the software is totally propietary (this is especially true for ILM, which uses commercial software mainly for visualization and animatics only).

So before you consider ploping down ridiculous amounts of cash-ola, take some time and look at what's out there. Perhaps there's something out there that fits your needs and doesn't break the bank. Even Maya, which has won an Academy Award (the software itself!), can be had for under $2000. I paid about $300 for Realsoft 3D, and it meets my needs and then some. In fact, with Visual Shading Language, Real Programming Language, Java, NURBS, Subdivision Surfaces, Radiosity, Global Illumination, Physics, Constructive Solid Geometry, Kinematics, and fantastic image quality, etc it is quite feature-laden.

Then again, POVRAY\MORAY are free... :)


BHoltzman(Posted 2003) [#11]
I also have Realsoft 3d. There are some problems with it that make it unsuitable for the work I'm doing. When I was using it there were problems with the field evaluator and the choreographer? I can't remember if that's the right name for it or not. Plus there is no robust export path to share 3d data from app to app. The final problem I had with Realsoft 3d was with the documentation. For a system as robust as VSL, I needed more documentation on the subject. So I spent a lot of confused time just trying to figure out what I was suppose to be doing with the language.

Another thing that prevents me from going back to Realsoft is the speed of the program. Yeah it's good at some types of calculations but mental ray is much faster at certain types of calculations.

Scenes that take a half an hour to compute in Realsoft seem like they'll render in 5 minutes with the mental ray renderer.

It's really unfair to compare these two products head to head, since they are aimed at two different types of customers. Softimage is aimed at production shops and Realsoft 3d is aimed at the individual user and small businesses.

One thing that I'm very pleased with right now is that I haven't found any errors in the program yet. So far the product does what the manual claims it will do. Since there are 27 good sized manuals that ship with the product that's saying quite a bit.

c5ven(Posted 2003) [#12]
no one made of money here. i started saving for Alias way back when it was still >$10k as it was part of a business plan. i suspected it would come down in price eventually but never dreamed of prices like we have today (if you remember Harryhausen flix as being the BEST in movie SPFX, you're old enough to understand). took a LOT of years to get the money together (Complete was $7k at the time). i really only picked up Unlimited because for $2k i could get fluids (nice capability for my biz).

My OTHER package - Pro/ENGINEER - cost more but brings in more $$$.

all that said, i still enjoy using the freeware. it's not the tool; it's the person using it. said often. not often appreciated, imo.

Russell(Posted 2003) [#13]
Absolutely true, BHoltzman and csven.

BHoltzman: I do have the same disappointments with Realsoft 3D as you (Good, but not enough documentation; slow speed in specific areas; and lack of true polygonal support - although there is an IGES plug-in), and a few more (including inaccuracies with the physics system). But it does what I need\want for the most part and is in my price range.

csven: Which brings me to your point: That if it works for YOU that's all that matters. I've seen some jawdropping stuff done with low-cost and freeware modelers and it really does come down to the artist and his or her wants and needs. No one tool, AFAIK, does it all, and so most people 'in the biz' have numerous tools that they use for different things. This is why RS3D is not accepted by the industry: It doesn't play well with others. In it's own right it is quite powerful, but fixing the above-mentioned items would go a long way with the general 3D hobbyist I think.


p.s. Speaking of bang for the buck, WinMorph is free and does some impressive things (the title sequence to 'Dreamcatcher' was done with it). But my new favorite tool is Stoik Imaging's Morphman 4. Wow! It does distortion morphs, 'normal' morphs (still to still) and video to video morphs (ala Michael Jackson's 'Black and White' video). It has layers, so that you can morph only the parts you want without 'tearing' the background, propagation so that it can optionally guess where the keyframe points are on the next image in the video sequence - saves a TREMENDOUS amount of time and is surprisingly accurate. And it comes with a better-than-simple nonlinear editor called VideoMan with transitions and capture from within the program. Very very cool. It's $99 and worth every penny. :)