My Tribute to Softimage

My Tribute to Softimage

My Starting with Softimage XSI

thumbnail I started using Softimage XSI later in 2004, version 4.2, before that I was using 3ds Max. I always wanted to learn it since when I saw a making of on a magazine, showing the production of Jurassic Park made by ILM in Softimage|3d, for Silicon Graphics Irix stations. At first I found it a very weird software, but then I understood well the workflow, with the help of some DVD classes. I thought the modeling in 3ds Max was excellent, but when I try to do some character modeling, it would take a lot to get a good result, when adapted in Softimage, found it amazing agility in modeling, in the selection of components, in general or partial modification of the mesh, actually a step forward in all aspects, and realize how much workflow in 3ds Max was limited, disorganized and slow.



Softimage XSI is the newest and modern software of the 3 (Softimage, Max and Maya), Softimage XSI 1.0 was released in 2000, but based on Softimage|3d, released in 1988 used by Industrial Light and Magic to animate the dinosaurs, from the movie that revolutionized the digital effects in 1993, Jurassic Park and other major productions. Jurassic Park and Starship Troopers were the main movies that influenced me to work with 3d, and in the games Myst, Riven, Final Fantasy VII.

Intro to Softimage|3d


Softimage|3d in The Mill, Aldis Animation, FrameStore, ILM

Some movies made with Softimage|3d:

  • Abyss
  • Alien Resurrection
  • Deep Impact
  • Dragonheart
  • Godzilla
  • Jurassic Park 1, 2, 3
  • Matrix
  • Men in Black
  • Prince of Egypt
  • Spawn
  • Star Wars Trilogy
  • Starship Troopers
  • The Mummy
  • Twister


Some games made with Softimage|3d:

  • Daytona USA
  • Exile (Myst III)
  • Metal Gear
  • Residente Evil
  • Riven (Myst II)
  • Super Mario 64
  • Tekken
  • Virtua Fighter
  • Zelda Ocarina of Time


Softimage XSI

Launched in 2000, the Softimage XSI was a complete restructuring of the Softimage|3d, using all the knowledge and experience already tested in major productions effects, with a new architecture, interface, and improved workflow focus on the artist.

Softimage is also the best option for artists freelancers or small studios, as it comes with enough tools to any task, without the need to install several plugins and scripts to start working, you don’t need to have a knowledge of programming to get more sink on a task, using ICE (Interactive Creative Environment )is very easy modify, create a tool, or access and modify data.

Among the main features of Softimage compared with others DCC I highlight:



In explorer I can see and access everything in the scene, objects, hierarchy, render passes, materials, deformers, scripts, images, sound, I’ve never seen another software I can do this in a single window.




 Render Passes

The best management system of render passes, very intuitive and powerful.


Face Robot

Automated facial rig system.



Animation transfer between different Rigs, and also to transfer the mocap to rig, roughly speaking does what Motion Builder does.



For transferring texture UVs, envelope weighting, and other data between objects that don’ t share the modeling relation, such as high and low-resolution versions of the same character.


 Animation Mixer

A very intuitive and powerful way to edit and mix multiple animations, objects, character rigs, shape deformers, particles caches…


FX Tree

A node-based compositing system that besides the composition itself, can be used to modify, animate textures, without needing a pre-render. Can also be used in conjunction with ICE to interact with objects in the 3d scene, I never seen similar interaction in other software.



Creating tools, modifiers, rigs, particles, fluids … all in other softwares would need a script or a plugin, in Softimage depending on the complexity you can resolves by yourself, without having an advanced knowledge of scripting, simply connecting nodes, more advanced than that only in Houdini, but Softimage is more artistic friendly.



Crowd system based on ICE.


SOFTIMAGE Sumatra Demo at Softimage User Group Meeting (SIGGRAPH 1999)


Softimage XSi 7 Testimonials Reel


Softimage Eye Candy Reel 2007


Loom, a short film by Polynoid


Nissan Altima


Nike “The Last Game”


The Lego Movie



Some movies made with Softimage XSI:

  • Avatar
  • District 9
  • Elysium
  • Happy Feet
  • Lego The Movie
  • Predators
  • Sky Captain
  • Spiderman 3
  • Superman Returns
  • The Hulk
  • Thor
  • White House Down

Some games made with Softimage XSI:

  • Metal Gear Solid 3, 4
  • Devil May Cry 4
  • Ninja Gaiden 2
  • Army of Two
  • Lost Planet 1, 2
  • Final Fantasy 7 Dirge of Cerberus
  • Half-Life 2
  • Okami
  • Onimusha
  • Silent Hill 4
  • Assassin’s Creed


 Softimage x Autodesk

Softimage is one of the best softwares for visual effects, unfortunately fell into the hands of a wrong company. After purchasing Softimage from Avid on October 23, 2008, Autodesk has stopped all marketing of the software, never saw an ad in magazines and websites. Although Autodesk has always said that the Softimage would have a bright future in Autodesk, in March 2014 they announced that the version of Softimage 2015 would be the last. But the main goal from the beginning was to end with the competition because Softimage after developing ICE in version 7.0, started to gain much attention in effects productions, highlights on websites of the area and the number of users began to grow.

Being at Autodesk the development was gradually stopping and the team that developed the software was transferred to the development of the Maya. Although Autodesk was spending too much with the development of the Maya buying new tools, Softimage continued to have increasingly featured in productions, so the most cowardly attitude was ignore users and productions and finish with the software, trying to get users to migrate to the Maya mainly.

Autodesk wants Softimage users to migrate to the Maya or 3ds Max, but how do I migrate to these softwares if I can’t find similar tools, like these that I mentioned in any one of them? I will continue using Softimage mainly for freelance work and personal work, because I know it’s a software that is very forward in relation to the others, even if his development stop, it will still take a while for Maya have similar tools, mainly in relation to the ICE.

Softimage is a unique software, there is no other that can do the same things at the same speed. Only with Softimage, no other software or plugin, I can make a character, automate a rig for body and face, create multiple character animations, edit animations in a non-linear system, take this character and put in a crowd system alternating between various animations clips and behaviors for each situation, create automated particles and deformers interacting with the behavior of each one of the actors in the crowd system, make various custom render passes, after the render can compose on FX Tree.

Here is a nice demonstration of the same workflow in Softimage and Maya, achieving the same effect.

In this case the Dorrito Approach, a control deformer on top of shape deform. In Softimage is a very short process, otherwise in Maya is a painful process, I am not saying that Maya is bad, but this video shows clearly that the Softimage is a more improved tool, especially for an artist, this video is made by Emilio Hernandez.


The most important thing we going to lost with the end of Softimage is time, many softwares are trying to get where it’s already reached, my indignation is not from a Softimage fan, I’m sure that my work will be more time-consuming if done in any other software, I’m not talking about my specific knowledge of each software, but the workflow for each tool, because before using Softimage I used 3ds Max from version 1.0 up to 8, have basic knowledge in Maya and Houdini, then I can say that in general there is no tool like Softimage in productivity.

I thank the whole team that developed this excellent tool, unfortunately is a technology that now will be lost in some HDD on Autodesk, the dream would be to have the code of Softimage opensource to community, and soon we will have a software that would quickly be the most used in effects and games, but of course that’s not going to happen.



Paulo Duarte





Leave a reply