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Re: Seeking recommendations for 3D software

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  • Brad Thompson
    On Thu, 29 Nov 2012 12:48:00 -0500, Drew Gilmore ... I haven t used Blender in ages, so I m not the person to give you a
    Message 1 of 15 , Nov 29, 2012
      On Thu, 29 Nov 2012 12:48:00 -0500, Drew Gilmore <dotsandlines@...>
      wrote:

      > I know there are plenty of Blender fans out there, and I'm all for free
      > stuff. But taking cost out of the issue, are there good reasons to favor
      > 3D Max, Lightwave, Maya, Cinema4D or something else over Blender?

      I haven't used Blender in ages, so I'm not the person to give you a
      feature-for-feature rundown, but I would say that the biggest reason to
      favor one of the commercial packages is the ease with which you'll be able
      to find professionals trained to use it. More high-end companies use the
      commercial stuff, and because of that, more schools teach it and more
      plug-in developers develop for them. That's important if you plan on
      assembling a team.

      > Could I (as one person doing most of the visual work) get much more out
      > of commercial
      > software than I could out of Blender? Are there specific pros or cons,
      > strengths or weaknesses for one package versus another - especially for
      > someone just getting started?

      That depends on exactly what you need to do. Blender, from what I
      understand, is a acceptable all-arounder that's getting better and better
      each release, and has the huge advantage of costing nothing. It may be
      all you need. Of course, learning one of these packages deeply is a huge
      commitment, so it's wise to think about where you want to go in the future.

      Here are the key points for the rest, from my point of view: 3dsMax's
      advantage is it's plug-in architecture. The best plug-ins for fluids
      (realflow), smoke (fumeFX, pheonix), and particles (krakatoa, thinking
      particles, pflow) are all for 3dsMax. Of course you have to buy those
      separately and they don't always work nicely together. 3ds Max's modeling
      tools are very strong too. Maya can do anything well, but it has two
      killer features... it's high-end roots make it more suitable for large
      studio pipelines, and it can use renderman renderers. C4D has a great
      motion-graphics tools, from what I understand. I don't know much about
      Lightwave, but I know it used to get heavy use in places where fast
      turnaround was paramount, like TV production. Houdini's strength is in
      dynamics and natural phenomena, and how it can integrate them. It also
      has a great free learning edition that you should try out, but be sure
      that you understand the cost of the full package first. Softimage has an
      awesome visual programming language called ICE. It was also the first
      animation software I ever used, but I haven't kept up with it enough to
      know how it stacks up today.

      Most of what you'll be using these programs for is not really different
      from how flat-screen producers use them. You may want to visit CGtalk. A
      lot of really experienced people hang out there. They are strictly
      against software comparisons though, so be careful how you phrase your
      questions.

      > And without intending to start a holy war on the list, is there any
      > consensus on which software package is more useful or more commonly used
      > for fulldome work? It seems all over the map what people are using.

      3ds Max got an early head-start in fulldome production because it was the
      first for which a fulldome renderer was available commercially. Most of
      the others have caught up though, so that's no longer an advantage.
      Today, all the packages are in play. Anecdotally, it seems that 3dsMax
      and Maya tied for most popular, with some C4D, lightwave, and blender
      sprinkled in. Houdini seems to get some use too, but I don't know of any
      fulldome producers using it exclusively yet. It seems to be used as a
      supplemental package. For the record, we primarily use 3ds Max with tons
      of plug-ins, and a little bit of Maya on the side. We also use Z-Brush,
      Realflow, and Eyeon Fusion.


      --
      Brad Thompson - bthompson@...
      Digital Animation & Design - Spitz, Inc.
      http://www.spitzinc.com

      -- "Hush, may I ask you all for silence? The dreamer is still asleep"
    • Tom Casey
      Drew, I ve used Maya since day one... even go back to Maya s predecessor, the original Alias software starting with version 0.9 in 1986. Through all those
      Message 2 of 15 , Nov 29, 2012
        Drew,

        I've used Maya since day one... even go back to Maya's predecessor, the original Alias software starting with version 0.9 in 1986. Through all those many years we have been constantly marketed to switch to one software of another... sometimes even being given free year-long trials to tempt us. For fulldome, we currently work alongside animators, depending on the client, using SoftImage, Max and Lightwave... dividing up scenes depending on each softwares strengths.

        Honestly, although I feel that Maya has the most overall capability, software preferences are more a case of what you already know and feel comfortable with... in other words, after you've spent months or years learning to use one you just don't want to learn all over again. The truth is, the tools are all rather complex and have steep learning curves. And fulldome adds a big plus to the complexity because of what it is.

        One advantage to the Max, Maya, SoftImage apps (all owned by Autodesk) is the fact that they have some import/export capabilities between them with the Autodesk FBX file format, so if you work in one, there is somewhat of a path to pass files between the programs (not everything is ever as transparent as you would like with software). This allows us to work with planetariums using those tools with some advantage.

        From my knowledge, Maya and Max are the two most used by a large number of the fulldome community who are not using the free Blender app. We like Maya, since we also do other higher-end work outside of fulldome and, as I said, we've "always" used. The Mental Ray renderer that is part of Maya has some advantages for fulldome work. Being a production studio, Maya's open architecture also gives us some ability to write our own code at times when needed. Maya also comes with closely tied-in compositing and motion tracking tools and has a large user base with lots of on-line tutorials, shaders, scripts, etc., etc.

        As a single user I would think Max may be a good choice... somewhat less complex to learn and usually what is developed for Maya's high-end user base eventually finds its way into Max because they are both owned by Autodesk. We've hired several animators over the years who started with Max and rather quickly learned Maya when they started at HRP. Max also has a large user base with online tutorials and plugins, etc.

        If you want, get in touch with me offline and I would be glad to discuss further details of our experience... by email or telephone, a call to speak in person would probably be easier.

        Tom



        On Nov 29, 2012, at 12:48 PM, Drew Gilmore wrote:

        > I know there are plenty of Blender fans out there, and I'm all for free
        > stuff. But taking cost out of the issue, are there good reasons to favor 3D
        > Max, Lightwave, Maya, Cinema4D or something else over Blender? Could I (as
        > one person doing most of the visual work) get much more out of commercial
        > software than I could out of Blender? Are there specific pros or cons,
        > strengths or weaknesses for one package versus another - especially for
        > someone just getting started?

        ************************************************************
        H o m e R u n P i c t u r e s

        Tom Casey
        President & Creative DIrector

        100 First Avenue Suite 450 Pittsburgh, PA 15222 412-391-8200
        HomeRunPictures.com

















        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • Jason Fletcher
        More than a few times I ve seen AE users jump into C4D and start making some beautiful work within a few tutorials. The dynamics and particle systems make me
        Message 3 of 15 , Nov 30, 2012
          More than a few times I've seen AE users jump into C4D and start making
          some beautiful work within a few tutorials. The dynamics and particle
          systems make me jealous. C4D is definitely made for the motion graphics
          genre of the 3d market and I think that forces them to make it easier to
          use.

          Maya is a truly huge toolset and its steep learning curve is in
          understanding when and how to use its tools in tandem. Issues at rendertime
          can be utterly crippling sometimes. Using the DomeAFL fisheye lens
          shader actually doesn't bring any limitations or glitches into Maya
          fulldome production. Maya is what we use in all our fulldome productions (4
          animators) and we love it.

          My understand is that many people lean towards Max because it has no limit
          of render nodes for renderfarm usage. But it seems that Max is more
          oriented to video game design. (Seeing as how both Maya and Max are both
          made by Autodesk, the softwares have different angles)

          Blender can do pretty much anything that the other CGI toolsets can do. The
          main difference is just how optimized and streamlined the workflow/approach
          is going to be.

          Any CGI software can be setup to output fulldome frames by using a hemicube
          camera rig or installing a fisheye lens shader (if available). A good place
          to start learning any of these softwares is to get a subscription to
          DigitalTutors. Best of luck to ya! Feel free to emails me with any
          questions.

          --
          Jason Fletcher
          Science Visualizer
          Charles Hayden Planetarium




          On Thu, Nov 29, 2012 at 12:48 PM, Drew Gilmore <dotsandlines@...>wrote:

          Hi all,

          First of all, by 3D I mean modelling and rendering 3D or volumetric objects
          - not stereoscopic shows. I have so far worked mostly in After Effects for
          show production and feel pretty comfortable there.

          We're now looking to add 3D animation to our production capabilities. I am
          realistic that we aren't going to produce a full, beginning-to-end, 3D
          modeled extravaganza right out of the gate (or necessarily ever), but it's
          time to enhance our tools and skills. We have been granted some funding for
          production software and training in the coming year, so we have a couple
          questions for those with experience.

          I know there are plenty of Blender fans out there, and I'm all for free
          stuff. But taking cost out of the issue, are there good reasons to favor 3D
          Max, Lightwave, Maya, Cinema4D or something else over Blender? Could I (as
          one person doing most of the visual work) get much more out of commercial
          software than I could out of Blender? Are there specific pros or cons,
          strengths or weaknesses for one package versus another - especially for
          someone just getting started?

          And without intending to start a holy war on the list, is there any
          consensus on which software package is more useful or more commonly used
          for fulldome work? It seems all over the map what people are using.

          Thanks

          Drew
          --
          Drew Gilmore
          Asst. Director
          Sudekum Planetarium
          www.SudekumPlanetarium.com

          Just a guy made of dots and lines.
        • Andrea Carvey
          I ve use lightwave for years. I m happy with its capabilities but it has a different paradigm thanmaya so if you are familiar with one the other seems
          Message 4 of 15 , Nov 30, 2012
            I've use lightwave for years. I'm happy with its capabilities but it has a different paradigm thanmaya so if you are familiar with one the other seems difficult & confusing. They both have pros & cons and can be used to do different things in the same project but that usually doesnt happen since there are " maya" people & "lightwave" people. My experience is that maya practcally requires structured training to become
            Proficient whereas w ligjtwave it is easier to learn on one's own

            Andrea
            ------------------------------
            On Thu, Nov 29, 2012 12:09 PM MST John French wrote:

            Drew,

            Recently we hired some MSU students to do some 3D animation work for us. We have 3dsMax, but the students were using Maya in their classes. So at least here, the university students are trained on Maya (I think because it has a better educational discount). They were able to pick up Max quick enough but it would have be easier had we used Maya.

            Just my 2 cents.

            John French.

            On Thu, Nov 29, 2012 at 12:48 PM, Drew Gilmore <dotsandlines@...>wrote:

            Hi all,

            First of all, by 3D I mean modelling and rendering 3D or volumetric objects
            - not stereoscopic shows. I have so far worked mostly in After Effects for
            show production and feel pretty comfortable there.

            We're now looking to add 3D animation to our production capabilities. I am
            realistic that we aren't going to produce a full, beginning-to-end, 3D
            modeled extravaganza right out of the gate (or necessarily ever), but it's
            time to enhance our tools and skills. We have been granted some funding for
            production software and training in the coming year, so we have a couple
            questions for those with experience.

            I know there are plenty of Blender fans out there, and I'm all for free
            stuff. But taking cost out of the issue, are there good reasons to favor 3D
            Max, Lightwave, Maya, Cinema4D or something else over Blender? Could I (as
            one person doing most of the visual work) get much more out of commercial
            software than I could out of Blender? Are there specific pros or cons,
            strengths or weaknesses for one package versus another - especially for
            someone just getting started?

            And without intending to start a holy war on the list, is there any
            consensus on which software package is more useful or more commonly used
            for fulldome work? It seems all over the map what people are using.

            Thanks

            Drew
            --
            Drew Gilmore
            Asst. Director
            Sudekum Planetarium
            www.SudekumPlanetarium.com

            Just a guy made of dots and lines.
          • Paul
            ... For volumetric I use scientific codes. The following is a full ray casting volume rendering of MicroCT data http://paulbourke.net/exhibition/mv2009/ Some
            Message 5 of 15 , Dec 1, 2012
              > First of all, by 3D I mean modelling and rendering 3D or volumetric objects

              For volumetric I use scientific codes. The following is a full ray casting volume rendering of MicroCT data
              http://paulbourke.net/exhibition/mv2009/
              Some of the Dark production is also volumetric, since even though the simulations are particle like, they have a cloud of influence and thus get rendered volumetrically, again with custom code I wrote
              http://darkthemovie.info

              > And without intending to start a holy war on the list, is there any
              > consensus on which software package is more useful or more commonly used
              > for fulldome work? It seems all over the map what people are using.

              Increasingly the choice of 3D modelling software will depend on what you want to achieve and which package meets your needs. For Dark we probably used at least 4 packages, Cinema4D, Vue, PovRay, and custom 3D rendering code. In the past there may have been favourites based upon fisheye generation support but I think (hope) things have matured since then.
            • Amr El-Laithy
              Andy , I m working for planetarium post-production for 3 years now , based on our workflow in cinema4d , and it s nice . we start produce the dome master just
              Message 6 of 15 , Dec 2, 2012
                Andy ,

                I'm working for planetarium post-production for 3 years now , based on our workflow in cinema4d , and it's nice . we start produce the dome master just like the old schools with the 5camera Rig which is working nice even now . then we start to use the Dome shader for c4d and other plugins.and i may publish one of my tutorials for how to produce dome master in c4d .

                Amr




                ________________________________
                From: Andy Dolph <acdolph@...>
                To: "fulldome@yahoogroups.com" <fulldome@yahoogroups.com>
                Sent: Thursday, November 29, 2012 8:46 PM
                Subject: [fulldome] Re: Seeking recommendations for 3D software


                 
                I know that Alex Lindsay at Pixel Corps strongly recommends people start in Cinema4D for both learning curve and workflow reasons. I have a lot of respect for his opinion, but that's general advice, not dome specific and I don't know what would be required to get dome masters out of Cinema4D.

                Andy

                Sent from my iPhone

                On Nov 29, 2012, at 12:48 PM, Drew Gilmore <dotsandlines@...> wrote:

                Hi all,

                First of all, by 3D I mean modelling and rendering 3D or volumetric objects - not stereoscopic shows. I have so far worked mostly in After Effects for show production and feel pretty comfortable there.

                We're now looking to add 3D animation to our production capabilities. I am realistic that we aren't going to produce a full, beginning-to-end, 3D modeled extravaganza right out of the gate (or necessarily ever), but it's time to enhance our tools and skills. We have been granted some funding for production software and training in the coming year, so we have a couple questions for those with experience.

                I know there are plenty of Blender fans out there, and I'm all for free stuff. But taking cost out of the issue, are there good reasons to favor 3D Max, Lightwave, Maya, Cinema4D or something else over Blender? Could I (as one person doing most of the visual work) get much more out of commercial software than I could out of Blender? Are there specific pros or cons, strengths or weaknesses for one package versus another - especially for someone just getting started?

                And without intending to start a holy war on the list, is there any consensus on which software package is more useful or more commonly used for fulldome work? It seems all over the map what people are using.

                Thanks

                Drew
                --
                Drew Gilmore
                Asst. Director
                Sudekum Planetarium
                www.SudekumPlanetarium.com

                Just a guy made of dots and lines.
              • Drew Gilmore
                Just wanted to thank everyone for your responses. A lot to absorb! -- Drew Gilmore Asst. Director Sudekum Planetarium www.SudekumPlanetarium.com
                Message 7 of 15 , Dec 6, 2012
                  Just wanted to thank everyone for your responses. A lot to absorb!

                  --
                  Drew Gilmore
                  Asst. Director
                  Sudekum Planetarium
                  www.SudekumPlanetarium.com (http://www.SudekumPlanetarium.com)

                  Just a guy made of dots and lines.
                • cpm5280
                  Drew, We are primarily a Cinema 4D shop, for a variety of reasons. It s fast to pick up, which is important considering our workforce, many of whom aren t
                  Message 8 of 15 , Jan 7, 2013
                    Drew,

                    We are primarily a Cinema 4D shop, for a variety of reasons. It's fast to pick up, which is important considering our workforce, many of whom aren't fulltime 3d professionals. It is still extensible, and there's are two extensive scripting systems (Python & Xpresso), etc. Particle system & volumetric shaders seem to be biggest weakness, but can be worked around.

                    We have also begun to integrate Vray (for c4d) as our renderer of choice, both because its texturing system is quite nice (and cross platform) and because the forthcoming 1.5 & 2.0 updates will allow it to do distributed rendering across unlimited nodes, supports GPU acceleration at render time and in the viewport, etc.

                    Maya & 3D Studio will both have an eventual place in our workflows, but as adjunct tools, not as primary platforms.

                    Other solutions -- Lightwave, Blender, Bryce, Vue - are all interesting & useful, but I don't consider them in the same league.

                    --- In fulldome@yahoogroups.com, Drew Gilmore wrote:

                    Just wanted to thank everyone for your responses. A lot to absorb!

                    --
                    Drew Gilmore
                    Asst. Director
                    Sudekum Planetarium
                    www.SudekumPlanetarium.com (http://www.SudekumPlanetarium.com)

                    Just a guy made of dots and lines.
                  • Carlos Matias
                    Hi Fulldome Community. First : Best Wishes for this new year ! My point of view about 3D software for fulldome creation is simple : the faster the rendering
                    Message 9 of 15 , Jan 10, 2013
                      Hi Fulldome Community.

                      First : Best Wishes for this new year !

                      My point of view about 3D software for fulldome creation is simple : the
                      faster the rendering process, the more I'll focus on creation.
                      So, using a 3D soft that handles 180 fisheye rendering out of the box is
                      good for the movie quality. The problem is that some render engines wont
                      make a good job on all the aspects of 3D rendering / textures / shaders.

                      My actual choice is 3DS Max with V-ray (integrated VrayDome Camera) and
                      Krakatoa Plugin for particle intensive rendering. Krakatoa has a camera
                      modifier for fulldome rendering.

                      I'm also testing the Clarisse Fx. It's not a modeler but some sort of
                      after effect for 3D scenes.
                      The Clarisse FX team just added support for fisheye rendering to 360°
                      (http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=407104316035714&set=a.355599397852873.86087.149946391751509&type=1&theater)

                      Best regards.
                      Carlos Matias
                      http://fulldomeart.com


                      Amr El-Laithy wrote:

                      Andy ,

                      I'm working for planetarium post-production for 3 years now , based on
                      our workflow in cinema4d , and it's nice . we start produce the dome
                      master just like the old schools with the 5camera Rig which is working
                      nice even now . then we start to use the Dome shader for c4d and other
                      plugins.and i may publish one of my tutorials for how to produce dome
                      master in c4d .

                      Amr

                      ________________________________
                      From: Andy Dolph >
                      To: "fulldome@yahoogroups.com "

                      Sent: Thursday, November 29, 2012 8:46 PM
                      Subject: [fulldome] Re: Seeking recommendations for 3D software

                      I know that Alex Lindsay at Pixel Corps strongly recommends people
                      start in Cinema4D for both learning curve and workflow reasons. I have
                      a lot of respect for his opinion, but that's general advice, not dome
                      specific and I don't know what would be required to get dome masters
                      out of Cinema4D.

                      Andy

                      Sent from my iPhone

                      On Nov 29, 2012, at 12:48 PM, Drew Gilmore wrote:

                      Hi all,

                      First of all, by 3D I mean modelling and rendering 3D or volumetric
                      objects - not stereoscopic shows. I have so far worked mostly in After
                      Effects for show production and feel pretty comfortable there.

                      We're now looking to add 3D animation to our production capabilities.
                      I am realistic that we aren't going to produce a full,
                      beginning-to-end, 3D modeled extravaganza right out of the gate (or
                      necessarily ever), but it's time to enhance our tools and skills. We
                      have been granted some funding for production software and training in
                      the coming year, so we have a couple questions for those with experience.

                      I know there are plenty of Blender fans out there, and I'm all for
                      free stuff. But taking cost out of the issue, are there good reasons
                      to favor 3D Max, Lightwave, Maya, Cinema4D or something else over
                      Blender? Could I (as one person doing most of the visual work) get
                      much more out of commercial software than I could out of Blender? Are
                      there specific pros or cons, strengths or weaknesses for one package
                      versus another - especially for someone just getting started?

                      And without intending to start a holy war on the list, is there any
                      consensus on which software package is more useful or more commonly
                      used for fulldome work? It seems all over the map what people are using.

                      Thanks

                      Drew
                      --
                      Drew Gilmore
                      Asst. Director
                      Sudekum Planetarium
                      www.SudekumPlanetarium.com

                      Just a guy made of dots and lines.


                      --
                      Carlos Matias
                      http://fulldomeart.com
                      Ph : +33 950 822 822
                      email : carlos@...
                    • amr.ellaithy
                      i have heard that c4d has a fisheye modifier now ? any news
                      Message 10 of 15 , Nov 6, 2013

                        i have heard that  c4d has a fisheye modifier now ? any news 



                      • Chris Maytag
                        There is a cylindrical lens post effect, but it s not terribly useful. Have not seen any new dome-related feature in R15, unless I m missing something. We
                        Message 11 of 15 , Nov 6, 2013

                          There is a “cylindrical lens” post effect, but it’s not terribly useful. Have not seen any new dome-related feature in R15, unless I’m missing something.

                          We use vray (in c4d) as our primary renderer and get great directly-usable results from its “VrayCameraDome” tag attached to the camera. Plus, you get the benefit of vray’s cooler texturing system, which is something we like.  Vray for c4d 1.8.x is new, and its distributed rendering is a work in progress, but we think it’s evolving into a great platform for this kind of work. It’s also now mostly core-for-core up to date with current Vray releases (excluding 3.x) for other platforms feature-wise, with some exceptions that don’t matter much to us.

                           

                           

                          ---
                          Chris Maytag

                          Studio Manager

                          Fiske Planetarium

                          University of Colorado Boulder

                          303-492-5002

                          maytag@...

                           

                        • Jason Fletcher
                          I haven t heard of any updates that adds an internal fisheye to C4D. Here is a list of the current plugins for C4D. http://software.multimeios.pt/wfcam4d/
                          Message 12 of 15 , Nov 6, 2013
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