So I took the plunge recently and purchased a copy of Softimage/XSI Foundation. I already have Maya, Max, Lightwave, Project Messiah and Cinema4D – so it’s not like I needed another 3d tool, but I do require it for a freelance project – so I guess in a different way I need it. Anyway, I’ve only played with it for a weekend and I’m liking it. I modeled, rigged and animated a biped character to see what the workflow was like and it was very similar to Maya’s.

The built in auto rigging is pretty ’standard’, but it was nice to be able to do that out of the box. I did find a weird bug while trying to bind the mesh to the skeleton (the UI method kept ‘cancelling’ on me, so I had to figure out the command equivalent and execute that instead). I still have to play more with weightmapping, UV mapping, dynamics and rendering, but so far so good. I did a bit of surface material assignment and final gather rendering which turned out nice.

For character animation I still like Maya better. For example, Maya seems a bit more intelligent in showing you the character set keys in your timeline when you have a character set selected, while with XSI you have to go and change that manually. Also, in Maya when you select a curve in the curve editor it will highlight the object name/channel in the object list – I couldn’t see XSI doing that. Not a show stopper, but definitely stuff that gets ‘in the way’ and slows you down… of course I may be missing an option or setting that lets me do exactly that, but I haven’t found it yet.

So for now, from a character animation perspective I’d say my favorite is still Maya, with XSI a close second – of course that may change since my preference for Maya may be more because I’ve used it more than XSI… time will tell. Happy animating!