An old friend revisited…

In the last few weeks I have been working with Softimage on a couple of projects for a client. I’m normally a hardcore 3D studio Max dude but their pipe were Softimage. Not that I dislike Softimage. On the contrary, I quite like it. I got pretty deep into it back when XSI7 was released and I’ve finished a couple of projects in it. Anyway, I got the chance to dig deep into it again, this time setting up lots of render passes, some modeling etc.

I realized something that I will be missing like crazy going back to max ( or any other highend 3D software ), the explorer in Softimage. Once you get in to a workflow organizing and setting up renders passes, Layers, working with hierarchy etc, not having it feels like working with tools from the 90’s. And this also makes me wonder why Max, still to this date, don’t have any solid way of setting up lots of different render passes right out of the box. Sure, state sets are new and I’ve used quite a bit by now. However, while being very helpful, it’s still in its infancy and that means it’s pretty unstable and buggy. Even if the state sets feature in max are a great add, I feel that it doesn’t even come close to the explorer and render passes in Softimage.!.

Image from wikipedia.

That feature alone have made me think if I should switch over to Softimage and abandon Max. Ok, maybe not. But I do really like softimage and hope I will get more time to really dig deep into it. ICE is something I have yet to explore (no pun intended) and would love to have a closer look at, as well as face robot. But everything isn’t Sunshine. One hugely annoying thing is that you can’t seem to save a scene without saving a project and not possible saving outside of a project. Another thing is that you always have to specify what camera you want to render from in the pass settings. That’s fine when getting to do the final renderings but lets say I want to do a simple test render and I want something more than the viewport quick render (hotkey Q ), the preview render is what’s mostly used for this. Normally in Max I could just hit the render button and it would render the camera I have in the viewport, but in softimage it will only render from what you have specified in the passes. annoying when you are working from multiple cameras or simply just haven’t setup any specific camera yet.

With all this said I do miss Softimage! And every time I get to use it I’m always thinking of making a switch in my pipepline. It makes me wonder though, as powerful Softimage is today, why more studios don’t use it? A few use it, but comparing to how many today use Max or Maya it’s odd that it’s not quite up there with those numbers.


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