I've been a fan of Softimage since my days at Disney, but I could never justify buying a seat for personal use. I always liked the layout and workflow, even back in the old pre-XSI days.
For obviously reasons, that all changed last week, making XSI almost an impulse buy for me. Who in their right mind (with $500 available) could resist? Certainly not me. And with over $200 worth of DVD training thrown in? Yow!!!
I'm only coming out of the closet NOW because I'm realizing that nobody is really jumping all over my offer to sell my copy of Messiah:Studio. I was trying to keep my reason <*cough* Softimage *cough*> for selling Messiah on the QT, but I might just have keep my copy. :( It's a great package with killer animation tools, but even after only a week, Softimage is rapidly becoming my tool of choice, and I haven't been double-clicking the Messiah icon much at all in the past week.
In fact, out of all of the packages that I've used in the past (and believe me, I've used quite a few), for me, Softimage has the best overall workflow that I've ever seen. It's so "right" for me that I'm actually having an emotional response to the software.
It isn't just "new toy lust", either: I'm in the process of switching over to Softimage for a real project that I've been working on, and the amazing thing is how much actual work that I'm getting done, just in the past few days. This software is EXTREMELY deep, so I know I'm just scratching the surface, but for the bulk of my "everyday" work, Softimage just seems to work for me. I HAVE spent some time with each part of the software (modelling, animation, rendering, simulation), going through some of the tutorials, and even though I'm focused on modelling and animation at the moment, the interface and flow seems to be of high quality throughout the entire application.
As an example of some "real" work, I spent some time yesterday doing character rigging, then some rough animation for pre-vis animatics, and the experience was REALLY smooth. I found a fundemental pleasure in the process because nothing about the software seemed to be "fighting" me. Admittedly, I'm not up to doing this stuff at high speed yet. I still have to look at the documentation for even some basic tasks that aren't burned into my memory yet. And I'm fairly sure that I'll reconfigure some of the hotkeys and other interface elements once I'm truly up to speed. However, the HTML docs are so well organized that, even as a noob, I can quickly find what I'm looking for, and the result is invariably something that makes me say, "Oh yeah... that makes sense."
Anyway, as they say, "It isn't the tool, it's the artist"
However, I can't help but feel like working with Softimage is going to open up a lot of possibilities for me, and free me up for some real creative flow.