View Full Version : 3d Modeling & Animation Software

18th April 2005, 02:53 AM
I'm looking to extend my design knowledge into 3D modeling and animation and was wondering what software other members are using. I need some guidance and objectivity in your reviews. I'm looking at purchasing one of the following programs: Maya, 3Ds Max, Cinema 4D, or Bryce? which is the better or are they stronger in different areas?


Edit: Spelling, my bad!

18th April 2005, 07:05 AM
Give Maya a go, last I recall they have a free learning edition available...

18th April 2005, 07:06 AM
yup get maya PLE and give it a try
bryce is also good but its not at the level of maya.
it may be worth looking at thought if you just starting out

18th April 2005, 07:21 AM
You did'nt mention lightwave, my personal fav, i love it.

18th April 2005, 07:36 AM
Originally posted by OziMac@Apr 18 2005, 07:05 AM
Give Maya a go, last I recall they have a free learning edition available...
Maya's price tag proves its one of the best. Something like $50,000. But yeah, they have an education version you can get for FREE. It is the full edition, has everything, but whatever you "output" will be watermarked big time ;)

18th April 2005, 08:15 AM
Maya is the main player at the moment - but really it usually boils down to personal prefenence, as the interfaces between the main programs are quite different. I think you're best getting your hands on trial versions to test out which one you find easiest to use. After all, easy interface for you = faster learning.

If you spend up big on something like Maya, chances are you'll only end up using a small amount of what it's capabale of. It's a big investment. do some hands-on research first.

Maya Unlimited: US$6999
Maya Complete: US$1999

Cost varies depending on whether you need stuff like fluid and cloth simulation.

Bryce is mainly for terrain generation and rendering, so you can probably cross that off your list.

I'll finish by saying that it's not how good the software is - it's how good the artist is.
Make sure that it will be worth the investment, or else you may want to look at free software like Blender3D (you can get some real nice results outputing through a free RenderMan-compatible renderer). Even some of the cheaper retail software is good if you can make the most of their tools.

18th April 2005, 08:49 AM
Hi, I used to sell and have used most of the ones mentioned so hopefully this info will coe in handy:

First, Maya is probably the be-all and end-all of 3D modelling and rendering. It does come with a hefty price tag, though. The plus is that you can download the free Personal Learning Edition (Maya PLE), and have a play with it.

LightWave comes in a very close second - it is used in a lot of feature films and I actualy prefer LightWave's interface to Maya's. I think the pricing is cheaper than Maya, too. I have used LightWave more than any other app and it's probably my favourite. If you go with this one, let me know, I can recommend some books for you. LightWave also offer an Academic version for about 75% off regular RRP, if you're a student.

GEEKTECHNU is right about Bryce, it is purely for rendering landscapes. Yes it does have generic 3D modelling tools, but they are thrown in almost as a last thought to make the program appeal to a wider audience, but at the end of the day all it does well is landscapes.

As for 3DS Max and Cinema 4D, I honestly had trouble selling these when I worked in AppleCentres - I found that it very much came down to personal preferences regarding the interface and workflow, so if you can, try to get hold of trial & demo versions of all before you decide to buy.

Also some tips on hardware (I assume you're going Mac, but this applies to any platform):
- When you're modelling, and previewing your work, you mostly use your graphics card (GPU). When you go to render your work, you use the CPU. Consider this when choosing your hardware...faster CPU = faster render times, faster GPU = faster modelling. When you start using the program and have a few hundred polygons in your basic models, it will fly and you'll wonder why you need a fast GPU, but once you have complex scenes with say 200,000 polygons and complex volumetric effects, you will be glad you do.
- A big screen is a big plus. I know several users who have two 17" screens - one for their workspace, and one just for palettes! Personally I can say that a 17" screen is OK when getting to learn the program, but you will amost certainly outgrow it. Think more along tthe lines of a 23" widescreen, or 20" 4:3 aspect display. Note: FYI, Samsung is the only major brand to offer a true zero-dead-pixel warranty on their 19" and above displays.
- Don't skimp on memory! 3D modelling and rendering will eat whatever memory you have. I have had 2GB and run out of memory when working on compex scenes. Don't even think about anything less than 1GB.

Good luck, and please let me know if I can help further.

18th April 2005, 09:24 AM
Thank you all for you advice.
I have a diverse background in film (digital production), photography and graphic design in addition to my hand drawn aninations, so I am covered in the creative side.
My Powermac G5 is a dual 1.8 with 2.5Gb ram with a 256GPU, with a 20" apple cinema display and a high end 19" sony lcd so i'm not concerned about my hardware.
My budget does cover Maya complete which I have been leaning to as i have the free version already.
Thanks again.

18th April 2005, 10:14 AM
Originally posted by michaelbarnard@Apr 18 2005, 09:24 AM
I have ... so I am covered ...
Lucky you. I am envious. Got any sneak previews for us?

18th April 2005, 10:50 AM
Maya is definitely the way to go in my opinion. Along with 3DS Max, it's the leading industry standard for Games Dev.

I used 3DS max for over four years before changing jobs, and having to change software as well. So glad I did. And the fact that AliasWavefront have invested heavily into Mac versions of Maya is brilliant, and in my opinion deserves the support.

The modeling & animation tools in Maya are pretty hard to top, and although there are some tools in Max which I dearly miss, in all I feel that Maya is the more complete package. In saying that, I haven't used the latest version of Max, and have heard that it's pretty good.

18th April 2005, 11:29 AM
If your budget covers Maya, and you've already taken a look at its interface, then that's probably the way to go.

Personally, I've only used Maya for low-poly work for UT2003, but no doubt you've seen what Maya is capable of in big-budget films (combined with good video compositing, of course) - the sentinels from The Matrix immediately springs to mind.

If you don't require stuff like the fluid dynamics & cloth simulation, Maya Complete will serve you very well for modelling, animation & rendering.

18th April 2005, 11:49 AM
You mentioned 3D Studio Max, which is PC only, so assuming you do have a PC, I would suggest Softimage XSI. It walks all over Maya in terms of modelling tools and its integration with Mental Ray. I can not comment on the animation and particle/simulation side of things though, as I have never used them.

XSI Foundations is $795AU now. And there is a 30 day demo on their website: www.softimage.com

Also, as for modelling, you might have a peek at Modo, which is also light years ahead of Maya when it comes to modelling (Maya's modelling toolset is pretty sub standard).

Luxology have a 30 day demo, extendable in 14 day increments available for Mac and PC at www.luxology.com

It is a modeller only though. No rendering or animation capabilities etc.

Silo (www.nevercenter.com) is also a stand alone modeller, $109US, with a 30 day demo for Mac and PC. Their main claim to fame is the topology brush, which enables you to paint your desired mesh flow over a 3D form.

Zbrush from Pixologic is a 3D sculpting and detailing program. Currently wowing just about everyone in the field for either free form sculpting or for adding insane amounts of detail to models created in other applications, either through actual geometry or via normal maps.

They have a demo of the previous 1.5 version of their app, also extendable.

Lightwave has been losing users of late due to issues with their development team (their core team, and some co-founders left Newtek to form Luxology). Development of Lightwave virtually stalled at 7.5, and only minor changes were made for 8.0. Users leaving the platform seem to migrate towards Cinema4D or Softimage XSI.

That said, Newtek just hired a bunch of new developers and people seem to think this could really reinvigorate the package.

24th April 2005, 03:06 PM
Hmm... Funny that somebody mentions programs that just do one thing. My favorites are Poser (http://www.curiouslabs.com) and Daz|STUDIO, which primarily do people modelling. They are the best at manipulating and moving people around in an animation, if this is primarily what you want to do. D|S is free, and uses standard Poser runtime content. Poser isn't free, and also uses standard runtime content.

http://www.daz3d.com has a lot of free Poser/D|S content, as well as downloads for D|S. If this is what you need, or part of it, then I'd suggest that you go ahead and take a look, especially with D|S, it's not like you're out anything, and if it's not what you need, then at least you have it around if you ever find that you need/want it.

If you're looking for a general purpose program, then you might also try Shade 7, Curiouslabs.com has got a demo, and I believe that it's included with Poser6SpecialEdition. (a designer/le version anyway.)

I have heard that it is extremely popular in Asia, and possibly even Austrailia/Europe. curiouslabs is trying to generate interest in it in the United States and Europe and probably other places in the world too... I'm actually interested in seeing if it might ever become a major player in the 3d industry like Cinema4d, Maya, Lightwave, 3dsmax, and softimage.

Tommy PDA
24th April 2005, 03:51 PM
Try "Production Suite" try out Motion or Zbrush

30th April 2005, 01:56 PM
I would suggest Maya PLE for learning too, but what if you want to present a demo reel created in this edition? Would it be illegal?

Also, is there any applications (free if possible) :) for learning traditional animation (that contains x-sheets)?
I will be the happy owner of G5 2.3Ghz with Geforce 6800 Ultra and 1 GB RAM and 20" Apple Display Monitor in a next few weeks so I'm preparing myself for creating 3D short movies.