Which 3D animation program for OS X?

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by jrv3034, Feb 12, 2004.

  1. jrv3034 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2002
    #1
    Hello, all. I did a search for 3D programs for OS X, but it wouldn't let me search the term "3D" (requires 3 letters at least). So I'm starting a new thread.

    I'm looking for a 3D animation program, to run on Panther. I know of Maya and Lightwave, but they cost $2000 and $1500, respectively. Is there anything out there that's cheaper, but still good?

    I'm new to 3D animation, and would like to try my hand at CG short films. I know Maya has the Personal Learning Edition (free!), but it can't be used for commercial purposes. I need an inexpensive ($150-$300) app. Is there such a thing?

    I appreciate your feedback!

    EDIT: I'm not a student, so I can't get edu discounts. :(
     
  2. jsd macrumors member

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    #2
    I use Cinema 4D XL myself. But you'll pay more than $300 bucks for that one, too. I started out years and years ago with Strata Studio Pro (now it's called Strata 3D). I think you can download that for free and they'll sell it to you for $300. Personally, I got sick of Strata because it was horribly unstable and slow. I heard that they had improved the product's stability in recent versions, but I haven't used it in years. It was pretty good software to get started with, though. It's easy to use and it has a lot of preset textures and objects you can use.

    Just bear in mind that if you want to go and make something as complicated as a short CG film, you'll probably need one of the more expensive programs. Furthermore, it'll probably require a lot more work and patience than you think. I've been doing 3D for seven years now and I still keep biting off more than I can chew (in a reasonable amount of time). But what the heck! It's a lot of fun.
     
  3. janey macrumors 603

    janey

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    #3
  4. jrv3034 thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    Oct 23, 2002
    #4
    Oh, don't worry. I have no doubts that it takes years of mastery, and that there is a very high learning curve. I dabbled with 3D when I was in college, and really liked it. I also do a lot of work with digital video, so I have experience with the storytelling aspect of it.

    I'm sure they're both wonderful programs, and capable of amazing things. I simply don't have that kind of money right now, and probably won't for quite a while, since I just spent it on the computer itself. :D

    I saw the link you posted, but most of those are for PC. I guess what I'm looking for is the 3D equivalent of Final Cut Express or Garage Band. Any info would be greatly appreciated.
     
  5. janey macrumors 603

    janey

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    #5
    why dont you try the maya personal learning edition thing for a while until you get used to it, maybe by then you'll be able to splurge :)
    on the other hand i think cinema 4d is like $400 or something...

    edit: oops, just noticed that it was already mentioned :p
     
  6. blackfox macrumors 65816

    blackfox

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    #6
    3D software recommendations

    You might look at Electric Images' offering-Universe. Have not used it personally but its' feature set is impressive for the price point...costs about $1000 (more than you want to spend, but less than Maya etc.) Good Luck...but if 3D animation is like editing software, you might want to think carefully and towards the future, as they all have a fairly steep learning curve and different interfaces etc. You wouldn't want to spend a great deal of time with a program, outgrow it and have to relearn a new program from scratch...so try not to go too budget initially if you are serious w/ this endeavor...you will regret it. Also, although I don't advocate this, you might download copies of competing 3D software from the web to see which interface you feel most comfortable with before shelling out the cash...hope this helps
     
  7. jsd macrumors member

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    #7
    If you buy Cinema 4D by itself, you can get it for a few hundred bucks. But I wouldn't attempt any serious animation projects without at least the XPresso module. The Mocca module is pretty useful too, although a tad immature, and requires some serious processing power (although that's not a problem, obviously). I'd hate to try animating without Mocca's posemixer functionality, for example.

    You could also look at Pixels: 3D. I've never had much luck with it, but I never tried very hard either.

    After Effects has some fun 3D features if you wanted to do 2.5D project. Plus, it's a darn useful tool, easy to learn, and everyone should own it that works with video (unless they have Shake or Combustion, I guess).
     
  8. jsd macrumors member

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    #8
    Cinema 4D has the nicest interface of any 3D program I've used. Strata's wasn't bad either, when it was working. Maya's takes some getting used to, but it works well. 3DS Max's interface feels semi-finished to me, but it works well, too. They're actually all pretty similar. Sometimes they have different names for things. That's annoying.

    I think most 3D skills are pretty readily transferable between programs. For example, setting up shaders, lighting, and animation, and even modeling and scripting, are all pretty similar from package to package. Math is math and timing is timing, and aesthetic sense is aesthetic sense. But I think blackfox is right: spending a little more for a program you won't outgrow immediately is a better investment than a cheap program that you'll have to replace with an expensive one later.
     
  9. zim macrumors 65816

    zim

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    Jan 5, 2002
    #9
    I use Lightwave, version 8 will be out soon. Lately I have been playing around with an open source 3d application called blender ( http://www.blender.org/ ). Blender seems to be able to do everything that I want, and best of all it's free :)
     
  10. jsd macrumors member

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  11. elmimmo macrumors 6502

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    Spain
    #11
    I heard long ago that Animation:Master by Hash, Inc. was a very cheap package ideal for beginners and low budget projects (like lower than a fully professional TV commercial), and that came cramped with lost of features to start animating right awya that high-end programs such as 3dsMax lack (although being more open those high-end apps have the potential to have better tools, if you dump more money) such as inverse kinematics with skeletons affecting mesh deformations, gestures and whatever.

    That was like 4 years ago, thoguh, and i am not really into any 3d sw, so you'll have to ask someone else to verify that.
     
  12. Simon Liquid macrumors regular

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    Jul 4, 2001
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    Iowa
    #12
    try blender

    It's not exactly on the level of Maya, but Blender is a quite capable program. If you're just going to be playing around for a while, it could be perfect.

    Pros:
    +The program itself is completely free.
    +The program itself is a miniscule download, something like 2-3 MB See the part about Documentation though.
    +It's open source and seems to have a lot of momentum behind development.
    +It has at least 90% of the features you probably want.

    Cons:
    -That last 10% might irk you sometimes. I'm someone who just picked it up for fun. My previous experience was playing with Ray Dream studio back in high school, so you might be more demanding. But the program is still evolving, a recent beta release included the first ray tracing rendering.
    -The interface can be confusing, see next.
    -Documentation. The most recent version of the documentation is print only. There is a pdf form available, but it lags behind the program by a couple of point releases and a largish user interface change, adding to the problem of being somewhat unintuitive at first. You can find tutorials for the UI and it IS possible to learn to use the program from the old manual. Just harder than it ought to be.

    There's my 2 cents as a complete amateur in the field of 3d modeling and animation. I personally got some kicks out of Blender and hey, it's free.

    http://www.blender.org/

    Edit: sorry if i trod on any toes-didn't notice blender came up already. hope the post was still useful
     
  13. jsd macrumors member

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    Orange, CA
    #13
    Animation Master

    I had totally forgotten about Animation: Master! I've seen it used to great effect. It has a decent modeler and renderer and it has good animation tools (and a free hair generator). And it costs $300. I think it fits the bill rather perfectly, don't you? Remember the guy from MacAddict who was using it to make a big movie of "The Sorcerer's Apprentice?" Whatever happened to that I wonder?

    www.hash.com
     
  14. jsd macrumors member

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    Oct 15, 2003
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    Orange, CA
    #14
    Raf Anzovin. That's who it was. I used to be jealous of him because I was younger and did the same stuff, and MacAddict never responded to MY query letters. But that's alright. Raf was cool. I loved the articles he wrote with his dad. I wish MacAddict was still publishing stuff like that. They seem more consumer-oriented than they used to be. Either that, or I'm becoming less of a typical consumer, because it's no longer a very interesting magazine to me. That's why I let my subscription expire last month. It makes me sad, actually.
     
  15. pimentoLoaf macrumors 68000

    pimentoLoaf

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    #15
    Have MayaPLE, but you could try Cararra Basics for $99, available from Eovia.
     
  16. bensisko macrumors 6502a

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    #16
    I use Cinema 4D CE 6 which I got for free from Computer Arts magazine (you could probably get a back issue). I like it, but I like Maya even better. (I keep hoping that Apple would buy 3DSMax along with the other video stuff from that company).

    If you just want to do some really elementary 3D stuff, especially for Web, give Swift3D a try. it's under $200. It's a cool program and version 4 is due out very soon. It's not going to do alot of the fancy stuff, but it's great for rendering out raster and vector animations. It will allow you to import dxf files (so if you do decide to go higher end in the future, you will still be able to render your good models as vector stuff for web use). I often model in Cinema 4d and animate in Swift.
     
  17. snickelfritz macrumors 65816

    snickelfritz

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  18. Mr. Anderson Moderator emeritus

    Mr. Anderson

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    Nov 1, 2001
    Location:
    VA
    #18
    Lightwave 7.5 has a bug with Panther that causes some issues .... these will be fixed with version 8.

    http://vbulletin.newtek.com/showthread.php?s=&postid=93160#post93160

    These aren't things you'd necessarily have to worry about as a beginner, but for doing animation the graph editor is where all the tweaking happens.

    If you are a student, the price for LW is awesome. Its a great package and unlike Maya, you can start animating almost immediately. The learning curve with Maya is quite a bit steeper.

    D
     
  19. jrv3034 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2002
    #19
    Thank you all for the replies! :)

    I'm going to give Blender 3D a try, and check out Swift3D, and Carrara Basics. This is exactly what I was looking for. I just can't spend $1500 for Lightwave or $2000 for Maya right now. And I'm not a student, so edu prices don't apply.

    Again, thanks for all the suggestions, and if you have any more, keep 'em comin'! ;)
     
  20. zim macrumors 65816

    zim

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    #20
    I think that you will be very happy with Blender, be sure to use the online manual and tutorials. The good thing about Blender is that it is free plus, the concepts that you will learn will be applicable to any 3d application.
     
  21. DavidLeblond macrumors 68020

    DavidLeblond

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    #21
    I use Blender all the time. True there isn't much documentation, but there are enough user created tutorials out there to suffice. Reflections use to be a big pain, but now that they have a built in raytracer that is a non-issue (the raytracer is no longer beta in 2.32.)

    Definately worth the price! :)
     
  22. CmdrLaForge macrumors 68040

    CmdrLaForge

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    #22
    Cool ! Never heard about blender before. I will definitly try it. I am completly new to 3D animation as well but always wanted to try it.

    Cheers
     
  23. snickelfritz macrumors 65816

    snickelfritz

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    #23
    I saw what looked like a pretty good book on Blender at Barnes & Noble the other day.
     
  24. ewinemiller macrumors 6502

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    #24
    Try Carrara

    Carrara from eovia. It's about $400 new. Has bones, global illumination, nice shader system.
     
  25. kparvez macrumors member

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2003
    #25
    3d creation software

    I've been using Bryce 5 and Poser 4 for my PC and when I migrated to a 12 inch powerbook, I now use the MAC versions of Bryce 5.0 and Poser 5.0. Poser is great for creating people, etc and Bryce is fabulous for landscapes and backdrops. Checkout http://www.renderosity.com for image galleries and available software.

    Hope that helps.
     

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