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General 3D discussion thread
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Magi
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Old Apr 2, 2006, 04:38 PM Local time: Apr 2, 2006, 02:38 PM #1 of 16
General 3D discussion thread

Lets talk about 3D, 3D software, 3D modeling, animations, and trends within the field.

To start off: I am just wondering if anybody here besides Ulysses have experience with 3D animation software? Do you work with 3D what type of 3D software do you use? Which animation software do think is the best and why?

I was going to start off with some introduction to a freeware 3D software, and some basic usage and modeling/animation, but I am not sure how much interest there would be.

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Meth
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Old Apr 2, 2006, 06:21 PM Local time: Apr 2, 2006, 05:21 PM #2 of 16
I've taken a few classes in Maya, (I'm currently in an animation class) and I like it a lot. It's pretty overwhelming at first since there are so many billion little parameters to set with stuff, but after a bit of experiementing and some help from the instructors and tutorials, it's not too bad. I have yet to experiement with MAX, but I'll be taking an intro class in the fall.

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Old Apr 2, 2006, 06:29 PM Local time: Apr 2, 2006, 04:29 PM #3 of 16
Well, if you can get around in Maya, I think 3DsMax should be no problem. How come we never see you post stuff you did with maya?

Say, what type of modeling method do you prefer?

As for myself, I have been using mostly Box Modeling, and more recently edge extrusion for modeling. This is mainly due to the limitation of Anim8or, though.

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Old Apr 2, 2006, 06:48 PM Local time: Apr 2, 2006, 11:48 PM #4 of 16
I don't know about that. I've been using MAX for years but Maya seemed really different to me. I have a book on how to learn it but i've just never really had the inclination to read it through. I probably should though, as Maya flies on AMD hardware compared to MAX.

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Magi
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Old Apr 2, 2006, 06:58 PM Local time: Apr 2, 2006, 04:58 PM #5 of 16
Its definitely different, but I am just saying that base on Maya's reputation for being difficult to use and have a steep learning curve. Isn't you who are the one who told me that "No one ever truly get "good" in Maya, but rather, learn enough scripting to make it do stuff."

I was speaking idiomatically.
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Old Apr 2, 2006, 07:25 PM Local time: Apr 3, 2006, 12:25 AM #6 of 16
I probably said that it has great native scripting abilities, which it does. MAX is relatively late in coming up with decent scripting, but now on either platform you can (if you are more technically minded) create scripts that will do things that aren't in the default features. I'm wondering how the two will square up against one another now that Autodesk has acquired Maya and all IP relating to it.

I get the feeling that, due to MAX being somewhat "shoddier" than Maya (in terms of reliability, certain features), many people see it as the poorer brother to Maya, and there are also a lot of great artists who show just what Maya can do that raise its status (Meats Meier [http://www.sketchovision.com/], Steven Stahlberg [http://www.androidblues.com/] etc). I do believe, however, that anything Maya can do, MAX can do too, in the right hands. The trouble is, MAX relies heavily on third-party plugins to gain functional parity with Maya, which is annoying. A proper integrated muscle-system would be nice for example.

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Meth
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Old Apr 2, 2006, 08:47 PM Local time: Apr 2, 2006, 07:47 PM #7 of 16
Originally Posted by magi
Well, if you can get around in Maya, I think 3DsMax should be no problem. How come we never see you post stuff you did with maya?
I guess I could post some stuff, but I'm still so new to it, that none of it is very impressive at all. I really just need to practice a lot more.

I mostly stick with polygon modeling instead of nurbs or sub-d's for now. I'm trying to learn to model for games, keeping a low poly-count budget. I would however, like to get to the point of doing photorealistic stuff.

How ya doing, buddy?
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Old Apr 25, 2006, 05:39 PM Local time: Apr 25, 2006, 10:39 PM #8 of 16
So, for the last few days I have been evaluating Maya, with ample assistance from a downloaded (and VERY long) Gnomon training DVD. I was expecting a lot from this software, based on the views of many people who have used it. They extol the virtues of Maya like an Apple fanatic would about the latest Mac hardware.

Since I already know how to model texture and render things in other 3D programs, I was basically wanting to see how the equivalent tasks are done in Maya.

The first thing that strikes you about the application is that, by default, the Maya interface is cluttered. Of course, it's easy enough to switch unused panels off but still, when learning something new it's nice to have everything in its default position, which is why both Maya and MAX have the option of resetting everything to a default state.

There are buttons literally everywhere. This makes the software very flexible and open to adaptation, but in my opinion, it's just a waste of space. I run my computer at a resolution of 1280x1024 and yet the default Maya interface gives me claustrophobia.

It's made clear almost immediately that you NEED to use keyboard shortcuts to navigate the viewport, and manipulate objects. We're talking pressing and holding SHIFT, CTRL, and ALT in any combination together with the mouse, to achieve certain results. By default there is no obvious way to do this using the mouse alone. In a way, it's like playing a PC game, where you have one hand on the keyboard and one hand on the mouse. There are are keyboard shortcuts for ust about everything on Maya, which makes it very fast to use once you've learned them all. However, MAX has these too, so there's no real difference there except that it's easier to acheive things using the mouse alone in MAX, and so people naturally tend to exploit buttons more.

A lot of on-screen manipulation is done by, surprise surprise, a manipulator which is basically a context-sensitive tool, consisting of three axes. Whenever you click and select an object, this little manipulator appears at the pivot point of the object (the point around which it rotates, by default the geometric centre of the object). The main things you can use this for are to move the object, scale it, or rotate it in any of the three dimensions. Most users of 3D software would be familiar with this concept. If you hover your mouse over one of the axes, it'll highlight, and then you can drag and scale, rotate, or move your object. MAX actually is superior in that you can limit the number of dimensions in which you deform/translate the object with no intermediate step. With Maya, you must click a few extra times, and use a shortcut which seems pretty pointless to me.

Maya has quite a few quirks to it which seem to overly rely on your ability to learn most of the shortcuts there are. A friend who was familiar with Maya said that, for example, the snapping system was superior. For those of you who don't know, snapping allows you to basically align objects with other obects. So for example, you could create a cylinder so that it was exactly on the surface of, say, a cuboid. Anyway, the snap tool in Maya is VERY sensitive. For whatever reason it was touch and go as to whether or not it would snap properly; generally you have to zoom in a lot to get it to work, which is weird. It will also move things in dimensions that you can't actually see. What I mean by that is, if you're in a side view, you're looking straight at the side. There's no perspective in this view. Yet, the snap tool will still allow objects to snap "in to" the screen, along the viewing direction; in other words, along an axis that is straight ahead. Without perspective, an object that is nearer or further doesn't change size, so you can't see that this has happened. In MAX you have a snapping menu; you pick whatever you want to snap to by ticking a box, and it works quite nicely. Not as slick, perhaps, but then nothing is very slick in MAX.

Then there are differences with how you access hierarchies, objects, sub-objects and so on. You can select, or rather, you can filter what items can be selected through the use of the status line. So for example, you could toggle a button and it would allow you to select say, a whole continuous surface (like a polygonal cube for example). Pick a different button and you can select sub-objects, for example the vertices that make up the cube (a cube has 8 vertices that make up each corner). You can also access these things by right-clicking on an object. In MAX this is done, like pretty much anything, either through the dragable sidebar on the right, or you can right-click as well.

I could go into the fun I had playing with a NURBS cube as well but it boils down to the fact that it doesn't behave the way you'd expect. By default a NURBS cube in Maya is an open group of 6 surfaces. In MAX if you click and drag a NURBS cube, it moves... shocking, but it's true. If you move a piece of it, the cube distorts smoothly and as you'd expect. In Maya, the NURBS cube is in pieces. So if you select a surface and move it, it just moves on its own, leaving its friends behind. The justification here is that a NURBS cube is not a continuous flowing surface (like a cylinder or sphere for example). Yet, a polygonal cube IS a single surface.

Well, there are other weird little things like that that i've encountered so far. Irritations really that I suppose you could get used to. In general, some things are better, some things are worse, but there are lots of features that both applications share, it's the implementation that varies subtley. I've still only brushed the surface so far and I have many more hours of video to study, so don't take this as a damning, final judgement of Maya. I've seen people do great things with it, and work at insanely fast speeds with it once they know the different shortcuts. However, i'm still waiting to be blown away by its claimed superiority. MAX has borrowed a lot from Maya, but in the process refined it and made it more cohesive. That's from the very basic tools i've used so far.

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guyinrubbersuit
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Old Apr 26, 2006, 03:37 PM Local time: Apr 26, 2006, 01:37 PM #9 of 16
Originally Posted by Ulyesses
It's made clear almost immediately that you NEED to use keyboard shortcuts to navigate the viewport, and manipulate objects. We're talking pressing and holding SHIFT, CTRL, and ALT in any combination together with the mouse, to achieve certain results. By default there is no obvious way to do this using the mouse alone. In a way, it's like playing a PC game, where you have one hand on the keyboard and one hand on the mouse. There are are keyboard shortcuts for ust about everything on Maya, which makes it very fast to use once you've learned them all. However, MAX has these too, so there's no real difference there except that it's easier to acheive things using the mouse alone in MAX, and so people naturally tend to exploit buttons more.
If you want to become proficent in a program, its almost a must to know the shortcuts. This applies to anything.

I have some experience with Maya (you can see a shor animation I did in the program) and I'll be taking a Max class next semester. I really don't see the point in favoring one program over another for other than aesthetic choice. Any and all 3D programs can do the same thing and if not achieve the absolute same results, come very close. It really depends on the user who is using it. These are just tools that you can exploit, but if you don't have some sort of art talent, or even technical talent you aren't going to go far.

I really do want to improve myself to make some beautiful pieces of work, and I'd love to learn ZBrush.

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Old Apr 26, 2006, 05:00 PM Local time: Apr 26, 2006, 10:00 PM #10 of 16
I can't really draw, but I like to think that my "artistic" abilities using a 3D app a a tool are pretty good. You're right, you can do most things in most packages. It's just that when I was doing my arts masters last year, a lot of the traditionally trained artists said how much better Maya was than MAX. I've been using MAX on and off for years so i'm comfortable with it, but I still though i'd try other packages. I'm also testing out Modo, but I think that while it's good to know a range of packages, each one is so complex that it's hard enough to master just one. I am also interested in getting used to Maya because a lot of game developers use that. Well, Dave Crook (last I know he was still lead artist at SCEE) told me they pretty much exclusively use Maya, but that it's easy to adapt from one application to another.

ZBrush looks so good, but as you said, you need artistic talent to "draw" onto 3D models rather than polygon edit stuff, so I think that would be a real barrier for me, since i'd only have a mouse to use. Still, I want to use it because it would save on a lot of memory usage and rendering time to create a normal map for a low-polygon model rather than add all the details as geometry (which is what I did for my alien model and it took a LONG time, and very difficult to rig because of all the vertices).

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Old Apr 26, 2006, 06:12 PM Local time: Apr 26, 2006, 04:12 PM #11 of 16
Actually, Ulyesses, you address pretty much the same sentiments that I carry with Maya and Max.

One of the biggest differences between Maya and Max, and usually the more Maya adept artists proclaim this difference, is that Maya is very shortcut-based, and Max is very list based. Seasoned users of Maya will tell you how to get something done by telling you the shortcut keys. Seasoned users of Max will tell you how to reach it in the list on the sidebar, and perhaps will tell you the shortcut if there is one. Noobies to Maya won't be able to tell you jack about how to do anything in Maya. Noobies in Max will tell you how to reach it in the sidebar and the shortcut key if there is one, and if they know.

The point I'm making here is that pretty much the biggest difference is the interface ofthe two programs. Max's interface you can kind of guess where a tool is. In Maya you sort of have to figure it out yourself, and that can be a frustrating ordeal since the principles of CG are already enough to deal with as far as something to learn.

One of the other differences, I'm told, is that Maya's scripting is far superior to Max's. Now, I've had some experience scripting in Max. Some of it is a bit like QBasic (very basic C++), a little bit of math and a little bit of programming smarts will get you far enough in Max. However in Maya, the scripting allows to to a lot of things that Max can't really do. However, don't take my word for it as I am a bit shaky on the details.

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Old Apr 26, 2006, 06:26 PM Local time: Apr 26, 2006, 11:26 PM #12 of 16
Maya apparently doesn't hide the fact that everything it does is controllable through scripting, and that's one reason why you see so many more MELscripts that MAXscript. Again it's one of those areas where MAX has borrowed from Maya, but I don't think MAX is built on a purely command-driven system like Maya is. I think it would be great if Autodesk simply went ahead and re-wrote MAX from the ground up, but hopefully they'll take a chance to fix some very old inefficiencies as they refine MAX 64-bit.

Since Autodesk now owns both platforms, i'm not sure what the future holds for these two applications. After I followed the video tutorials for Maya, I just thought for a laugh i'd use the same shortcuts while using MAX to see what happened, and surprise surprise, they did the exact same thing! If anything, the video will make me a better MAX user as well as teaching me Maya.

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Meth
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Old May 1, 2006, 12:25 PM Local time: May 1, 2006, 11:25 AM #13 of 16
In case nobody's seen it, you can check out an animation project that I made in Maya in my thread.

http://www.gamingforce.com/forums/cr...ost104613.html

I was speaking idiomatically.
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Old May 5, 2006, 03:23 PM Local time: May 5, 2006, 08:23 PM #14 of 16
I placed a link to an animation in my journal, although it hasn't got a plot or anything and is brief.

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Meth
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Old May 5, 2006, 03:51 PM Local time: May 5, 2006, 02:51 PM #15 of 16
Nice, a 3 legged walk cycle. I bet that's a bitch. I think it's arms move kinda funny how they bend in simultaneously at the elbows. But he's your alien, so you decide how he normally moves.

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Old May 5, 2006, 05:27 PM Local time: May 5, 2006, 10:27 PM #16 of 16
A lot of people said that, but after doing a thought-experiment, I decided that since at no point is he at risk of toppling sideways (unlike a human), his arms wouldn't need to swing in opposite ways, as there's no toppling to counter-balance. At any one time two legs are on the ground ^_^.

You should see the run cycle, that... is really messed up lol. Works though.

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Last edited by Why Am I Allowed to Have Gray Paint; May 7, 2006 at 02:22 PM.
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