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livatlantis
01-07-2005, 10:29 AM
Hey all! :D
I'm a newbie to the world of 3D authoring, so like every other newb, I'm in a bit of a rut decided on the right tool. No, I'm not going to ask which is the best. Rather, I've had my eyes on XSI for the low price (and the fact that I can learn along with the Mod tool initially). I've read in places that XSI isn't right for newbies or for freelancing/one-man-studio. That's exactly what I aim at (for the future). I narrowed by options down to XSI and Lightwave (and maybe even C4D and Max, though they're not as affordable).

Will learning XSI really be a problem for me? Is it a more "group" software? :O
Oh, and will the limitations of the Mod tools really restrict me to learn? :O

I doubt I'll find any XSI resources where I live (Kathmandu, Nepal), so I'll have to rely on free tutorials.

Oh, I have entry-level Wings experience ;) What say you? Is XSI for individual 3D artists?

el_diablo
01-07-2005, 10:54 AM
I plan on baseing my studio on XSI (essentials, maybe advanced when things pick up). My first real XSI expirience was year ago when I started working at a studio that had one license of it, and I grew to like it more overall than other packages I had worked with before (LW, Maya, Max). Its pretty complete (even the base Foundation package), and runs spiffy, both interface and opengl viewports. If you dont have any complete package prior experience I would think any package would be a good start for you.

One piece of advice I would like to give you is to base your learning on tasks not features.
This is pretty important! Dont go over features in packages, they dont matter to an extent, becouse most packages sport same features with different names. Go with tasks, make them as much high level as possible. For example: bouncing ball, landscape with a tree in it, sf scene with a static character, then tackle organic animation like walk cycles etc. But keep it task based! I have seen a lot of people when learning something new spending too much time fiddling with tool features (myself included sometimes) while some go straight to a point and make something from start to finish and learn tools along the way. The advantage of 2nd approach is stimulation you get from creating something, which is a big thing IMHO.

Ok sorry to be so general in scope :)

Have fun!

livatlantis
01-07-2005, 12:40 PM
Wow, thanks! :)
That's really good advice you're giving ;) I always thought of following tutorials and, from what I learn from them, go that little bit extra and use what I know to modify things to have them the way I want to be. Thanks for the tip! I really think you're right there.

Oh well, eventually I'll have to go with what's available, what I can afford and what I feel right with. I will be trying the mod tool next week, though.

Meanwhile, anyone feel XSI is DEFINATELY not for the newbie?

erebos
01-07-2005, 01:03 PM
livatlantis, xsi may be a high-end solution with a lot of features that you and I may never use, this does not mean to say it is not newbie friendly.

I'm not sure whether you intend on learning 3d for a career or just as a hobby (like myself) but the biggest hurdle you'll face is not learning the program so much as learning the concepts. At times it can be extremely frustrating when learning a 3d app (which i am still doing) to grasp concepts and put ideas onto the screen. However this problem belongs to all 3d apps and not just xsi.

i'm not sure what you mean by entry-level knowledge of wings3d, but if you have a good grasp on the basics (polygons, vertices, edges, transformations etc.) and the other terms which are used (shaders, nurbs, sub-d etc.) then you'll find whichever program you learn to use easier.

i've never used lightwave or cinema4d so i can't comment on those but maya, max and xsi are all equally easy for a new user to learn 3d in because all the basic concepts are extremely similar. They just use different terms, different shortcuts and slightly different methods.

i use xsi solo and whilst xsi is better built than some other apps to be used for teams, this doesn't mean it can't be used solo. As always, a good computer always helps.

i don't know all that much about xsi mod but if you want a taste of xsi before purchasing tehn i suggest xsi exp which is the same product with watermakrs on rendering.

The only problem i have with xsi and i would forewarn you of is that the community for programs like max and maya is a lot vocal if not larger and so there are a lot more free resources for maya and especially max.

regardless, xsi is definitely newbie-friendly in my experience. whatever you choose, happy 3d-ing!


Cheers,
Erebos

greyface
01-07-2005, 01:32 PM
XSI is a great prog, and in my opinion the one with the best workflow, it is "logical" in the way it works. Theres no reason you can't use it in solo, it's like Maya and the others. The only package I wouldn't advice you to start with is Maya, it is much more complicated than all the others and has a kinda old school clunky interface which isn't very user-friendly.

Go for XSI, you won't have to switch because it has everything (like Maya) you'll need for the future. If you need a start with polygon modeling and a beginners guide to the software(knowledge in 3D needed) you can check out my tutorial, in my sig.

cheers

livatlantis
01-07-2005, 01:52 PM
I can't seem to find EXP, isn't that the same thing as the Mod Tool? :O Either way, I'll get the feel of the interface. I'll download that and follow tutorials.

@erebos: Thanks for that! Oh, my Wings3D experience is... well, I can do basic modelling. After doing the table tutorial and modelling a vase and a dog-like creature, I think I can do some. Oh, and should I be happy that I understand what all those terms means (thanks to Wings and forums lol). If I'm happy with the Mod tool and, I'll go for XSI. I'll have trouble finding books here in Nepal, but I guess free resources online will help. Thanks.

@Al-X: Well, that's another vote for XSI, then. :thumbsup: Thanks :)

titaniumdave
01-07-2005, 04:08 PM
I can't seem to find EXP, isn't that the same thing as the Mod Tool?
Yes, the mod tool is basically exp with a different name.

3DDave
01-07-2005, 04:59 PM
XSI is really good for newcomers, however you need to be commited to learning the program. This means daily use, reading and watching tutorials. If you have this commitement, then it is a great tool for a one man studio.

ThirdEye
01-07-2005, 05:58 PM
My PERSONAL opinion is XSI ain't the easiest 3D program for a newbie. Is its workflow bad? No, it's quite good actually, but it's also very spartan, quoting a sentence of ThE_JacO "XSI is pure 3D" (which is also its main strength). Can you consider using a nodebased material editor an easy task for a newbie? I don't, and using the Rendertree is the only option to make more than simple materials in XSI (using the PPE is tedious and sometimes things are not even possible). Can you consider Mental Ray a user friendly renderer? I don't, you need to understand how it works, how its custom nodes work, how its special features have to be used: basically you need to understand what it does under the hood, which isn't easy for an expert user, nevermind a noob. Can a noob learn XSI? Yes, of course, but be prepared to spend a lot of time on tutorials and manuals, knowledge comes to a cost. Good luck, whatever you decide to get.

Facial Deluxe
01-07-2005, 06:09 PM
I second ThirdEye. There are some areas where XSI is pretty dark. I believe applications like LW or C4D are allowing some faster starting .

ThE_JacO
01-07-2005, 06:22 PM
I don't remember having ever said that, but 3rd's memory is way too good, so I won't argue it :p

as for XSI it's easy enough for everybody to pick it up, like ANY other major commercial app today (yes, including Houdini), what differs from app to app is the level of commitment they require you.

XSI sits somewhere in the middle, leaning over the hard more then over the easy, but still not particularly daunting to tackle.

while LW, Max and C4D can doubtlessly be easier to pick up(especially in the first phases), offering simplified front-end to many parts of the 3D world, XSI, Maya and Houdini (in this order of difficulty) will present you with harder challenges BUT also with much more rewarding and valid results.
also a generic and well founded knowledge goes a long way, surely a longer way then knowing how a particular thing is done in it's particular way in a single software.

if learning the rendertree can seem hard at the beginning, it will also explain a lot more about how shading REALLY works, and this is the difference between learning an interface to 3D or learning how 3D works.

short version:
don't expect it to be a walk in the park, but it's easy enough for anybody with the will to study to learn it, the hardest parts will also be the most rewarding (obviously enough) in all senses.
it's the usual "do you want to learn things you can use tomorrow or do you want to learn things that will be useful all your life?" situation

Atyss
01-07-2005, 07:02 PM
I think 3ds max is easier to pick up than XSI.

EDIT: Bernard, you stupid lunatic, please take the habit of re-reading your posts. You often do that idiot mistake of writing the opposite of your idea.
WHAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN WRITTEN IS: I don't think 3ds max is easier to pick up than XSI.
Now stick that in your hydrocephalic brain or I'll enforce you!


My two cents
Bernard

Ablefish
01-07-2005, 07:42 PM
I haven't used Max, but I definitely found XSI a lot easier to learn than Maya. I was able to get up to speed much faster just because of its cohesiveness and consistancy in general. And making use of web/mailing list archives you'll find that almost every question has been asked before.

But I agree that mental ray is no walk in the park... though I'm guessing it's easier to deal with in XSI than in max or maya.

There's no reason XSI can't be picked up by a newbie.

MJV
01-07-2005, 09:35 PM
I think XSI is newbie friendly only if you're main goal is to do character animation, because the CA tools are so good, plus you have the different rigging guilds that are just phenomenal, and I love the ease with which you can envelope a character in XSI.

jaymackey
01-08-2005, 01:41 AM
MJV, what about modeling? I think XSI has great character animation AND modeling. I've been using XSI for a little over two weeks and I'm really liking the modeling features and workflow. I'm starting to think that MR is the only real achilles heel in the whole package. And that's only because a newbie probably can't just spend two hours in XSI and produce a cool looking render. However, in two evenings, I've pretty much gotten basic texturing, Final Gathering, and simple toon shading figured out.

toto poto
01-08-2005, 04:06 AM
my first approach to 3d was with cinema 4d. i found it very newbie-friendly. it is supposed to be the newbie-friendliest 3d-app out there. and it is really a good and solid package. i am now using xsi, too. i started to learn it about 1 month ago and i found it easy to learn. it is hard for me to tell how it is for people who never worked with a 3d app before. i generally knew what tools i needed and learned xsi pretty straight through a small project i wanted to do. after beeing used to work with c4d, i found the xsi-interface pretty intuitive and the workflow is incredibly straight-forward. it doesn´t have shiny and colorfull icons which make it sometimes easier for beginners to feel at home in a package but everything is well organized and right in place. cinema 4d is well organized, too, but funnily some tasks must be completed in a more abstract way and less straight forward than in xsi where things often make more sense (thats how i feel, at least).

gaiXyn
01-08-2005, 05:05 AM
hey guys, okay, so I've heard that XSI is good for character animation, rendering and the modeling, but what about the others? Such as special effects/dynamic creations. Currently I'm using Maya, and it's great, but I have been considering giving Softimage a try. Does XSI have fur/hair dynamics or cloth? if so, how easy is it to use/learn?

Atyss
01-08-2005, 06:53 AM
Are we talking about the ease of learning of XSI or are we comparing various feature for feature?

The XSI worfklow is very consistant throughout the whole interface, so wether you're doing simulation, modeling, texturing or whatever, you can except the same approach.


Cheers
Bernard

livatlantis
01-08-2005, 06:55 AM
Wow, thanks for all the replies.
I do have the will to learn, so I guess I won't really have that much of a problem aside the more technical parts like MR. Well, difficult for me would be more like a workflow problem, but I'm glad to read (in many places) that XSI has a great workflow. I'll take those technical parts as they were Linux and get through them lol, then :P

I want not just how to do 3D, but what exactly it is I'm doing and how it works. So that's it, I'm NOT ruling out XSI because I read its not the best for the newbie. I'll evaluate if I feel at home with it, and if I do, I'll go for it! :D Thanks for all your help.

MJV
01-08-2005, 07:35 AM
MJV, what about modeling? I think XSI has great character animation AND modeling. I've been using XSI for a little over two weeks and I'm really liking the modeling features and workflow. I'm starting to think that MR is the only real achilles heel in the whole package. And that's only because a newbie probably can't just spend two hours in XSI and produce a cool looking render. However, in two evenings, I've pretty much gotten basic texturing, Final Gathering, and simple toon shading figured out.
I haven't gotten that far with modeling yet, but I did just noticed that there is no extrude along normal function, which I would say is about as basic a take-it-for-granted tool that I can think of. Not having it is a pretty big omission, so I'd say it doesn't fill me with confidence about the rest of the toolset.

Shinova
01-08-2005, 09:32 AM
hey guys, okay, so I've heard that XSI is good for character animation, rendering and the modeling, but what about the others? Such as special effects/dynamic creations. Currently I'm using Maya, and it's great, but I have been considering giving Softimage a try. Does XSI have fur/hair dynamics or cloth? if so, how easy is it to use/learn?


XSI has hair and rigid/soft dynamics. I hear that Maya's are better.

And apparently Houdini is better than both in that area.

FunBucket
01-08-2005, 10:46 AM
XSI ADVANCED has hair and rigid dynamics. Essentials also has rigid dynamics. Foundation (the $500 version) doesn't include hair, but it does have soft body dynamics.

RayenD
01-08-2005, 11:18 AM
hey guys, okay, so I've heard that XSI is good for character animation, rendering and the modeling, but what about the others? Such as special effects/dynamic creations. Currently I'm using Maya, and it's great, but I have been considering giving Softimage a try. Does XSI have fur/hair dynamics or cloth? if so, how easy is it to use/learn?
For heavy FX work, I'd rather choose Maya or Houdini at the moment. Not that XSI cannot do it - it can, but some effects are easier to achieve in other packages.

But rumors are that it might change in next version or two.

Basic cloth is even in foundation, but advanced has Syflex, which is much better. Fur/hair only in advanced (it's pretty good implementation of Shave&Haircut).

IMO right now, two main things XSI needs to be a complete package is renderman interface and better particles (fluid dynamics, particle shaders). That and integrated 3D paint (which I am almost 90% sure is coming, SI3D ahd it, why not XSI?) will make me happy like kid.

livatlantis
01-08-2005, 01:47 PM
Well, XSI sure looks active in its development. Gave Lightwave a shot, couldn't take it, guess I'll go there later when I'm more capable.

In XSI, there's a material editor, right? -- like in C4d, where you can specify deformations, bumps, noise and the sort. What's that called in XSI?

Integrated 3D paint like what Bodypaint does? I know not all software have this, but when it doesn't, what do you use? Do you make the texture with other paint software and import it onto the 3D software? What does on do in XSI for painted textures?

Thanks for all the help :)

MJV
01-08-2005, 02:26 PM
Well, XSI sure looks active in its development. Gave Lightwave a shot, couldn't take it, guess I'll go there later when I'm more capable.

In XSI, there's a material editor, right? -- like in C4d, where you can specify deformations, bumps, noise and the sort. What's that called in XSI?

Integrated 3D paint like what Bodypaint does? I know not all software have this, but when it doesn't, what do you use? Do you make the texture with other paint software and import it onto the 3D software? What does on do in XSI for painted textures?

Thanks for all the help :)
In XSI there is not a material editor like in C4D, LW, Max, etc., there is only a node based texture tree editor. You have to build textures by linking nodes together, without the aid of preview globes. Many people will tell you that texture trees are the more versatile method of texture building, but there is no reason why such a system can't have a front end to make things easier, which XSI is lacking.

ThE_JacO
01-08-2005, 02:36 PM
In XSI there is not a material editor like in C4D, LW, Max, etc., there is only a node based texture tree editor. You have to build textures by linking nodes together, without the aid of preview globes. Many people will tell you that texture trees are the more versatile method of texture building, but there is no reason why such a system can't have a front end to make things easier, which XSI is lacking.
you seem to have missed a couple of things mate :)
extrude along normals is there and can be achieve in a number of ways.
from duplicating ANY element and translating it in it's local space (along Y will usually be along its normal) or using the "extrude along axis" tool with all its subdivision, offset etc. options.

as for texturing etc. you are sort of right, as in XSI only exposes this at a core level, but it's also true that since V4 there's an amazing thing called relational views, to build and manage custom subsets of interfaces, and the dev team has been so kind to provide a few very useful examples/implementations, like in application>view>material editor (includes a viewport with a dummy sphere/torus/cube for preview).

also a lot of tools in the rendering toolbar will simplify the tasks creating branches and bits of trees for you without the need to open the rendertree.

agreeably enough it's not exactly like having one of those funky all-in-one hardcoded frontends, but I think it's a good compromise between NOT hiding anything from the powerusers and yet giving an easier frontend then the sole nodebased system.

livatlantis
01-08-2005, 02:55 PM
Node-based texturing? Rendertrees? Okay, I'm lost here. For all the apps I tried, I liked "material editor" and found C4D's to be the best. I don't know max7, but I have gmax, and it's OK. But Rendertree? Could anyone please post a screen shot as to how one can make textures with this technique?

Oh, and with this technique, I can create bumps, displacements with noise, different opacity and the whole nine yards? A screenshot would REALLY help :rolleyes:

MJV
01-08-2005, 03:10 PM
Hmm, yes it does seem that XSI has the ability to extrude along the normal, which is strange because it didn't seem to work the first several times I tried extrude along axis. (I must have been in the Create section instead of the Modify section -- a mistake I've made several times already) When I searched this forum, I found several threads about Extrude Along Normal not being in XSI, including this one (http://www.cgtalk.com/showthread.php?t=176187&highlight=extrude+normal) which points to a 3rd party tool (mindthink) that can do it.

you seem to have missed a couple of things mate :)
extrude along normals is there and can be achieve in a number of ways.
from duplicating ANY element and translating it in it's local space (along Y will usually be along its normal) or using the "extrude along axis" tool with all its subdivision, offset etc. options.

as for texturing etc. you are sort of right, as in XSI only exposes this at a core level, but it's also true that since V4 there's an amazing thing called relational views, to build and manage custom subsets of interfaces, and the dev team has been so kind to provide a few very useful examples/implementations, like in application>view>material editor (includes a viewport with a dummy sphere/torus/cube for preview).

also a lot of tools in the rendering toolbar will simplify the tasks creating branches and bits of trees for you without the need to open the rendertree.

agreeably enough it's not exactly like having one of those funky all-in-one hardcoded frontends, but I think it's a good compromise between NOT hiding anything from the powerusers and yet giving an easier frontend then the sole nodebased system.

TheLostVertex
01-08-2005, 05:31 PM
http://www.aldis.org.uk/3DResources/Tutorials/Rendertree/RenderTree_1.htm

http://www.aldis.org.uk/3DResources/Tutorials/Rendertree/RenderTree_2.htm

and

http://www.xsibase.com/forum/index.php?board=5;action=display;threadid=16083;start=15

Too give you a basic over view of the render tree and how it work.s, and it in action

For me, learning XSI has seemed very intuitive. I like the work flow, and everything thing feels much more organized than, say, lightwave. Some people learn one way, other learn a different way, give it a good hard try and see how you like it.

Apoclypse
01-09-2005, 02:10 AM
I agree about the rendertree. Its one thing that when I first started using it in XSi I fell in love especially coming from mayas hypershade which I don't happen to like at all. The only thing that was hard for me to grasp until recently was the bump mapping for the most part i woulduse the in texture bump ampping but i recently went to the softimage web site nd they had some great video tutorials explaining the rendertree and they had one on bump mapping, it was pretty basic but it shows you all you really need to know in less than ten minutes, great stuff.

Atyss
01-09-2005, 02:25 AM
Jaco, sorry to go against you, but I don't think XSI has the kind of extrude along normals the users coming from other packages expect. The form of extrusion along normals you can do in XSI will extrude along individual vertex normals. However a "true" extrude along normal, if such thing exists. will extrude along an avered vertex normal. If you do a move along individual components, there is no way to get tha behavior.

See this image.

http://www.bernardlebel.com/img_remote/3D/XSI/falseExtrudeAlongNormals.gif


A "true" extrude along normals would have resulted in something more like this:

http://www.bernardlebel.com/img_remote/3D/XSI/trueExtrudeAlongNormals.gif


Hope you see what I mean.



livatlantis: sorry pal but your question really deserves a felt rtfm. No hard feelings I hope.


shinova: do you have any experience with these things? Maybe you should try out stuff for yourself because voicing opinions. Maya and Houdini might very well be better, but you do not do any good by reporting things that you have no knowledge of.


RayenD: what rumors?


Cheers
Bernard

livatlantis
01-09-2005, 03:51 AM
Hey Bernard,

First off, I don't have XSI, and thus, no manual. And yes, no hard feelings ;) Oh, and I really liked your post at XSIBase on how you did those bump maps (I've saved all those screenshots).

This rendertree thing is something I consider a negative point for me, personally. I know how XSI wants to get down to how things really work, but I'm sure this technique is another visual representation as to what's really happening. Oh well, maybe I can learn to like it after actually using it in the Mod Tool.

Cheers, thanks for all. :)

ThE_JacO
01-09-2005, 12:15 PM
I can't see your pictures Bernard.
assuming you posted something alike to LW's smoothshift (an extrusion where the edges connecting the old polys' positions to the newly generated polys are aligned to the old vertex' normals) I have to agree that XSI doesn't do it directly, but using extrude along axis with an inset will give you a roughly similar situation, except it won't work fine if your selection isn't living roughly in the same plane (like when you select the middle ring of polys of a sphere).

in that case what you do is duplicate the polys, select>adjacent>points and then move those points along Y with "transform components independantly in local mode" on.

that solution can be easily scripted into a single command, if this doesn't work for you could you give me an example of a situation where you'd expect a different behavior please? and post pics on a server that will link fine (or if they work for other people but not for me please email them).

edit: seem to be having problems with the main router's firewall, that's probably why I can't see pics. will see on monday.

livatlantis
01-09-2005, 02:36 PM
<aside>
Here's informing that, in an unusual twist of fate, I've selected 3ds max to be my platform for learning. There's gmax for me to play around with, 3ds max trials and a lot of resources (back here in Nepal as well).

I'll be applying my knowledge in XSI and Cinema4D demo as well, just so that I'm not max-dependant ;)

Thanks to all for help! :D You'll be seeing more of me at CGTalk now :P
</aside>

SheepFactory
01-09-2005, 05:15 PM
Please continue discussions here:

http://www.cgtalk.com/showthread.php?t=200673