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JohnJ
02-08-2009, 02:04 AM
I'm currently a Lightwave user. I'm not knocking the app. It's been great for me except in one area of what I want to do more of--character animation. The recent Core reveal has left little doubt that Newtek has no intention of developing the app in that direction except perhaps as some third party solution via their new open SDK. They've been talking about it since I signed on at v. 7.5 and each time I feel a little disappointed. Again, it's a fine app--I just feel like I'm going in a different direction than the company is leading it.
That said, although I use Lightwave at home and occasionally use 3DSMax at work, I once worked with an XSI guy who really got me interested. I just couldn't afford it at the time. Now that Lightwave is going to a subscription model (fanboys, please don't bother to correct me on this--we just see it differently), I've thought about looking into XSI again and paying what I need to get what I want.

My questions for anyone who can share:

1. After the initial purchase, what are your approximate costs for maintenance per year etc.

2. Is Maint. even necessary or adviseable?

3. How do you find the forums for help (LW is great but they get militant if you crit anything!)

4. Could you describe your XSI experience in a couple of sentences (and I mean, be real--the bad stuff, the good stuff, and the great stuff).

5. Does the purchase by Autodesk have you considering another app such as Maya (that is, how do you feel about the future of XSI)?

I'm just a hobbyist (but I have dreams) and although I wont' give up on LW just yet, I would like to look into an app that seems to have the tools I'm looking for.

I don't want to start an app comparison, I just would like to know the nitty gritty outlook of the people who use the app.

Thanks in advance!

JDex
02-08-2009, 02:30 AM
1. After the initial purchase, what are your approximate costs for maintenance per year etc.
2. Is Maint. even necessary or adviseable?
Totally up in the air ATM. Autodesk buying the company leaves a new uncertainty about what happens next with these aspects of the XSI experience.

3. How do you find the forums for help (LW is great but they get militant if you crit anything!)
The XSI community as a whole has some of this same problem. I can't rate it's prevalence compared to the LW community, but I can just say that an open mind and thoughtfully researched questions often merit a more positive response than questions easily found in the manual, or "I'm used to it working the right way, why can't XSI do it the right way" kind of questions.

4. Could you describe your XSI experience in a couple of sentences (and I mean, be real--the bad stuff, the good stuff, and the great stuff).
Overall, XSI has been a wildly great tool to learn and work with - both on my own and as part of a team. As with anything it's not perfect, but much of the app does what it does brilliantly - if you take the time to learn it and it's intangible "ideology" of workflow. The weaknesses that I've perceived over the years have often proved to be my own shortcomings (in terms of experience or plain misunderstanding) and many of those areas have been reduced in complexity and/or improved over that time. As a tool, it's not particularly lacking in any particular area anymore... though there's a million places for it to still receive some TLC and hopefully a continuous effort towards perfection.

5. Does the purchase by Autodesk have you considering another app such as Maya (that is, how do you feel about the future of XSI)?
I'm uncertain. I've been dabbling with other apps recently (Houdini, Blender, C4D - and probably CORE when that time comes). The future is a strange and foggy place. I hope that the great team that has steered this great app continues to guide it along the same ideologies (as I have perceived them), but it is only a hope.

I'm just a hobbyist (but I have dreams) and although I wont' give up on LW just yet, I would like to look into an app that seems to have the tools I'm looking for.

I don't want to start an app comparison, I just would like to know the nitty gritty outlook of the people who use the app.
It's certainly a tool that at it's heart is an artists tool, and is a good option for anyone to explore.

JohnJ
02-08-2009, 02:41 AM
JDex,
Thank you for the input. I'm trying to gather as much information as I can before "pulling the trigger" and your thorough reply was very helpful!

luceric
02-08-2009, 02:52 AM
if you're a hobbyist, try Softimage|XSI Mod Tool, it's the free version of XSI.

JDex
02-08-2009, 03:40 AM
if you're a hobbyist, try Softimage|XSI Mod Tool, it's the free version of XSI.
This would be a terrific way to get in there and get you feet wet without any financial commitment.

Beyond the Mod tool, you should be aware that many people use LW and XSI in conjunction with each other, and you could do this if you do pull the trigger while you get used to XSI. For instance learn the modeling, rigging and animation tools in XSI first and then assembling and rendering in LW using the Point Oven tools as an intermediary. Once your ready to learn the XSI areas of rendering, you could go on that journey.

pooby
02-08-2009, 10:36 AM
I use XSI for rigging/animation and pointoven everything over to LW for rendering.

Its a very easy and seamless process.

There is no need to feel like you're making a major switch from LW to XSI. The process can be an evolution as it was for me. This evolution might continue for me into the area of rendering but at the moment I'm too Fprime reliant.

I found and continue to find XSI a joy to use. Coming from LW, the combinability of the XSI tools and the constraints and parameter linking is just surprisingly excellent and the whole workflow and environment makes rigging and deformation genuine fun to play with.
It is very rare that you get to the point where you just can't do something. In fact, I can't think of a single incident where Ive got absolutely stuck.

I'd second (well, third) trying out the mod tool. You can do almost everything with it and pointoven back to LW and render it. For non-commercial use its just like having XSI for free.

adrencg
02-09-2009, 02:43 AM
I use XSI for rigging/animation and pointoven everything over to LW for rendering.

Its a very easy and seamless process.

There is no need to feel like you're making a major switch from LW to XSI. The process can be an evolution as it was for me. This evolution might continue for me into the area of rendering but at the moment I'm too Fprime reliant.

I found and continue to find XSI a joy to use. Coming from LW, the combinability of the XSI tools and the constraints and parameter linking is just surprisingly excellent and the whole workflow and environment makes rigging and deformation genuine fun to play with.
It is very rare that you get to the point where you just can't do something. In fact, I can't think of a single incident where Ive got absolutely stuck.

I'd second (well, third) trying out the mod tool. You can do almost everything with it and pointoven back to LW and render it. For non-commercial use its just like having XSI for free.

I miss FPrime....mental Ray truly is a PAIN to deal with, and there's always something in the render that can make you lose hours tracking down the problem.

Do you think LW's rendering is better and faster than Mental at this time?

Sniffet
02-09-2009, 09:49 AM
Im also a Lightwave user, but I've used XSI for a little more than a year now, and I love it! Thanks to the fact that point-oven is built in with XSI, its really easy to model in LW, rig/animate in XSI, and render it all out in LW.

I haven't bought maintenance, and I don't think I will. I will upgrade XSI when I need to, I don't know enough to use all the latest stuff and it probably take some years before I start hitting the roof of the application. So a new user has little use of maintenance I think...

The forums are great too. I feel that there isn't a LW kind of people, and XSI kind of people.. Everyone is helpful.

I think LW CORE and XSI will be like a nice married couple.. Both with Python scripting, Collada fileformat and so on.. You will benefit from both. All thumbs up from me!

WillBellJr
02-09-2009, 06:35 PM
Being that I own both LW and XSI - I'll just mention these coupla things:


1) It cost me $1800 last year to upgrade my v6 ESS to v7 ESS. I was up in the air about maintenance as well but I went with it since I was told by sales that

"...Since v7 is a brand-new architecture, I can promise you that the maintenance will be MORE than worth it in terms of upgrades released for the next year ;-)..."


I also wanted to show my support to Softimage for what I felt was some very innovative software engineering.

Well we all know that Avid dumped XSI awn the cheap - so much for my show of support to Avid / Softimage.



Welp this was in August and so far all I've seen is a 7.01 update - I was hoping to get at least a v7.5 update >which is always paid for with XSI< unlike Lightwave.

We'll have to see on that one - the clock is ticking...


Lightwave has always cost me $395 to upgrade - the math is quite clear on this one...


2) XSI has some of the best training out there for it so that's a plus if there's a certain aspect (character rigging, modeling, rendering etc.,) you need to come up to speed on quickly. (Digital Tutors)


3) The future of XSI pricing / updates etc., - unknown / the future of Lightware (CORE) - no word yet, unknown.



If you're leaving Lightwave simply for the cost, I can say you've missed the math between these two apps.

XSI is for the bigg-bois - you're going to need at least $1000/yr (sans maintenance) or more to stay current.

It may turn out to be even more OR less, depending on what Autodesk does - if they want XSI to be shareholder friendly OR artist friendly...


I'd suggest Carrara 7 Pro as a good full featured 3D app if $395/yr is a bit hard to swallow - give the demo a spin...


-Will

Megalodon
02-09-2009, 08:33 PM
The recent Core reveal has left little doubt that Newtek has no intention of developing the app in that direction except perhaps as some third party solution via their new open SDK.

I'd LOVE to know how you get that idea JUST from that one poor presentation.

mocaw
02-09-2009, 09:21 PM
Spend the extra $400-500 and get core, and dabble in the mod tool. If you like what's going on in the mod tool, then you'll most likely love the full XSI package. As far as I know, maintenance for XSI might actually go down with AD (with Avid it was 789 a year US I think).

In the end I'd say it's best, if you can afford it, to know and keep more than one app around, even it it means you don't update each one all the time. There are so many reasons to learn at least two applications, from costs, to application innovation, having render and animation options, more job options and even just supporting more than one company.

Core's video was flat out lame, yes lamer than the SI one on XSI7, but the guts of the program look very impressive to say the least if the faq are to be trusted- very forward thinking (even if Houdini did a lot of it first in not quite so elegant a way).

Currently XSI does almost everything I need- and I'm on a 2 year maintenance contract, so I'm not going to get CORE anytime soon. However, I do use LW on and off, and will be keeping an VERY close eye on LW 10.

Mental Ray can be a pain, but most of the time I find it a pleasure to work with mainly due to it's memory usage options etc- and they are trying to make it easier all the time for people to use (too bad I don't have the same controls over BSP anymore...). I LW has mr in XSI beat though when it comes to nodes- LW's node system for textures is much more advanced IMHO even if all the shaders are not. Then again- you can get a long way just using monolithic shaders like the arch viz one in XSI.

In the end, like I and others have said, get both and you'll have all your bases covered.

bblevins
02-10-2009, 10:59 AM
My questions for anyone who can share:

1. After the initial purchase, what are your approximate costs for maintenance per year etc.

Unless/until Autodesk revises prices, Essentials maint. is about $800 and Advanced maint. is about $1300 per year.
To be sure, contact sales (http://store.softimage.com/closed/default.asp). email 'em, they're very helpful.

2. Is Maint. even necessary or adviseable?

Maint. is not necessary, but I love it. Softimage tech support is the best I've used. As an example: Last year we found a problem with the 'match transforms' feature. Rotation was not saved correctly and would reset when a scene reloaded. We were able to work around the problem but I reported it anyway. A few days later Soft had made a fix and compiled a version for us to use in production. Fantastic! I've _never_ had a company do this for us, and so quickly.

Now there is no promise that Autodesk will continue this level of support, but as far as I can tell the same tech support guys are now at Autodesk, so for a least the short term, I think things will stay the same.

Another note: We have a mixed Maya/XSI pipline and are on Subscription with Autodesk. A big benefit is that we've been getting a couple of extensions per year recently which makes subscription a nice deal. The other thing I like is access to a large number of training videos and materials.

It's my opinion, but I do believe that Maya has improved quite a bit under Autodesk, and I am hopeful that XSI will as well.

3. How do you find the forums for help (LW is great but they get militant if you crit anything!)

I find the XSI forums less isolated than the LW forums. I do agree with JDex that you'll will receive better responses if you do your homework before posting. Spend some time browsing the threads and looking at training videos. Then just play.


4. Could you describe your XSI experience in a couple of sentences (and I mean, be real--the bad stuff, the good stuff, and the great stuff).

For me, XSI is the program Lightwave always wanted to be.

Bad stuff: I miss unlimited render nodes and the price is higher.

Good stuff: Referencing and render passes are the workhorse features I could never go back to LW without. And interface speed.

Great stuff: XSI is the probably the most modern of the 3D apps available. XSI doesn't have the legacy issues that LW has. Lightwave is an old program. I used it from version .9 on pre-release Video Toaster to v 7.5. I'm current up to 9.5. There is stuff in there that dates back to 1990. Undo? whats that?

5. Does the purchase by Autodesk have you considering another app such as Maya (that is, how do you feel about the future of XSI)?

I kinda answered this a bit above, but to expand a little: I think XSI is going to have a healthy future. Avid never really knew what to do with XSI. Because of that I don't think Softimage ever really received the budget to do everything they wanted. From reading the forums it is clear that the development team had to chose to develop one aspect over another because there wasn't the budget/crew to do more. They chose wisely IMO but some features stagnated over time because their wasn't the staff to support it. CDK and Netview come to mind. And with all that they were still able to develop ICE. That's a dedicated team.

My hope is that Autodesk will support the team and let them expand enough to make/improve the tools that they've always wanted to do. I also hope they get behind it marketing wise like Max and Maya.

I'm just a hobbyist (but I have dreams) and although I wont' give up on LW just yet, I would like to look into an app that seems to have the tools I'm looking for.

Getting the Mod Tool is great advice. or even try the 30 day demo of XSI essentials.

I don't want to start an app comparison, I just would like to know the nitty gritty outlook of the people who use the app.

Knowing lots of 3D and graphics apps is only a benefit. The more you know the easier they all get. I gravitate to XSI because it made 3D fun again.

Thanks in advance!

Sorry for running off at the mouth.

JohnJ
02-27-2009, 12:20 AM
Thank you to all who contributed to this.

I did consider CORE but am holding out. It's not the money, it's not the new licensing scheme...it's the attitude I'm seeing at the boards.

XSI and 3DS Max are possibilites in the near future and I appreciate everyone's comments.

JJ

JohnJ
02-27-2009, 12:21 AM
BBlevins, WillBellJr,
thanks for the maintenance info. That's the black hole that I could never find info on. I will contact sales as you suggest. Thanks!

JohnJ
02-27-2009, 12:29 AM
I'd LOVE to know how you get that idea JUST from that one poor presentation.

I haven't written it off but to be honest, the NT fanboy turnout was so distasteful and rude, it's not something I want to be part of. One user even used the expression "Step Off " in regards to anyone who had a dissenting opinion. I can do this because I'm still a hobbyist, but the sheer ferocity over at NT boards was disgusting. NT is a business, not a religion and people need to get their heads on straight.
I understand the users want to protect their app and it's fair to take sides, but I'm one of the people who feel LW has been promising a lot since 7.5 and delivering things I never even wanted or needed. Cameras, nodes all were added on the road to version 10, and if thats what users say they want, I say "more power to them." It's not what I wanted or needed. But I stuck by them for 8 and 9. Both upgrades were inexpensive at the time but the app isn't allowing me to do what I'd like to do more of (well, not very easily anyhow). For a couple of versions, I kept hearing CA is coming etc. They couldn't even manage IKBooster right.

I'm not knocking the app. I've loved using it. I'm just saying it's no longer for me. I hope you are right. I hope when CORE is released (and I can read a real feature sheet, not a wish list), that I'll sign up (and hell, I'll even admit it if they deliver). Until then, thanks but no thanks.

JohnJ
02-27-2009, 12:39 AM
I'd LOVE to know how you get that idea JUST from that one poor presentation.

Sorry, I didn't answer your question.

It wasn't just the presentation although it was lame. I read the FAQ and frankly, tear off menus wasn't something that was holding me up.
I've heard the promises for years. I could be completely wrong but I don't want to pay $395 just to find out. Like I said, if I can read a real feature sheet at Q4, and if it's for me, I'll pay my $695. I'd rather spend more and know what I'm getting than just drink the Kool Aid one more time.
If it works for you, great man, enjoy it in good health!

JohnJ
02-27-2009, 12:42 AM
I miss FPrime....mental Ray truly is a PAIN to deal with, and there's always something in the render that can make you lose hours tracking down the problem.

Do you think LW's rendering is better and faster than Mental at this time?

I think you directed this to Pooby but I wll say as a LW user I have never had any problem with LW's rendering.

ThE_JacO
02-27-2009, 02:56 AM
I did consider CORE but am holding out. It's not the money, it's not the new licensing scheme...it's the attitude I'm seeing at the boards.
Sorry, you mean LW boards or XSI boards?
Mind, we're all different, but I always thought XSI communities were some of the best behaved around. Far from perfect, and not for everybody since the occasional RTFM is still thrown around, but definitely attitude free compared to some others.
Unless you meant the LW ones, in which case just ignore me :)

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