View Full Version : expanding toolset and augmenting pipelines

03-10-2012, 10:09 AM
******caveat: this is in no way wanting to start any kind of flame war
or troll hunt. it is a serious and grown up question from myself (a 3d professional) aimed at the other 3d professionals on this board. apologies if this is against the forums posting policies or is in the incorrect subforum******

ok here goes ... has anybody any experience, thoughts or comments regarding adding any other 3d software to their pipelines?

i've been a lightwave user since my amiga 4000 days and still use it on a daily basis, both personally and at the small studio i work (which is lightwave based) here's the thing. here in the uk, the lightwave user base has always been very small and to be honest we've had problems finding good freelancers when needed. the other issue is client confidence, with a lot of people not being aware of lightwave and what it can do. i do think this is a uk issue (maybe europe?) as it is considered the underdog by many here.

my logic is for us to add another package to our pipelines which will enable us to find staff when needed as well as add bonus features that other apps are stronger at. I AM NOT LOOKING TO REPLACE LIGHTWAVE merely expand our toolset.

a few of the things i'm considering that may be worth bearing in mind...

- compatibility with lightwave (mdd, fbx, obj, etc) both back and fourth
- user base/popularity in the UK and/or europe
- stability and maturity

so here's the list as i see it, these are full production packages rather than job specific (mudbox, zbrush, motionbuilder etc)

- 3ds max
- maya
- softimage
- blender
- cinema 4d
- modo 601

in all honesty, my knee jerk reaction is to say its between maya and 3dsmax as these seem to be used everywhere.

i'd love to get to play with both modo and softimage(i really like the look of soft's animation\rigging and the new modo looks great) but i can't help but feel that i'd be jumping from one small userbase to another, plus modo's animation system is still VERY young. cinema 4d falls in the "i personally know no one who uses it" category, even if the after effects integration looks amazing. blender i tinker with and have used for numerous specific effects, i like what it can do but seem to always struggle with its interface and pipelines.

so anybody any thoughts? i'd love to hear from anybody who has any thoughts or experience. if you disagree with my knee jerk thoughts, feel free to enlighten me as i've only really started looking into this.

i'd be really interested to hear from anybody over this side of the pond.

ta very muchly


03-10-2012, 10:36 AM
I would go with maya.

03-10-2012, 12:45 PM
Modo 601 or Softimage, but Modo would probably get my vote overall.

03-10-2012, 01:00 PM
whats ur main thing that ur looking to be able to expand into more easily? You mention the animation stuff of modod, or SIs rigging... but then there's the c4d side, and afx which is more fancy motion graphics users.

I think the choice comes much more down to which way ur leaning.

Ofc, the catch all chioce is maya.. but its a hefty beast to wield.

03-10-2012, 01:34 PM
Initially it'll be rigging and animation, with probable mocap usage. I am however interested in exploring other renders that are out of lightwaves reach.

I will however have to acquire an understanding of most of the workflows associated with any new package. Modelling, texturing, surfacing,lighting,
rigging, animation as well as rendering and effects. (just an understanding of workflow as opposed to a full working knowledge)

So pretty much a generalist approach to whatever package.

03-10-2012, 01:38 PM
For additional generalist usage, but with more industry street cred, I'd probably go with Max ... but then rigging and animation ... probably Maya ... that doesn't help does it?! :D


03-10-2012, 01:59 PM
If you're finding it hard with Lightwave and you've been considered as an underdog for that, I don't think Modo is going to help you. Besides LW animation capabilities are stiil better than his youger brother IMO.

I've always though that Cinema4D was huge in Europe, I was shocked to hear: "i personally know no one who uses it". Wow, I was so wrong.

I'd add Blender to my pipeline, you have nothing to loose and it's looking very good. I don't know if Blender will help you get that "We're stronger" attitude, but it won't hurt.

I'd say go with Softimage, IMO is the best, strongest overall software out there, I don't know if you'll find it hard to recruit SI users in the UK, so the second choice will obviously be 3ds max (as much as I hate it) the userbase is huuuuuuge and it's well known around the world.

Hope that helps and good luck.

03-10-2012, 04:04 PM
This is a tough question, but for user base, I have to side with Maya. For a nice package all around, I'd say it is Softimage hands down.

Rendering, I am afraid you'll likely come back to LightWave.

There are some nice rendering solutions out there that look very sexy. But the problem is after you rip the cellophane off of the shiny package you realize how it is not compatible with this or that in the host program. This is true for Maxwell, 3Delight and Vray. Probably three of the best solutions. If you want to keep it simple you'd probably want to learn - as difficult as it is to use - Mental Ray. Because it is at least well integrated and you won't find out in the last hour that it does not do volume lights or some other feature you need.

These other render solutions all tout faster, better. But the trend is not really toward faster (maybe except Arnold) but definitely better. And when you add it up, LightWave handles much of that equally as well with Interpolated turned off. (for animation). I have been testing quite a bit and render times are all in the same range for the quality you see in the sexy video teasers. If you want to spend the render time, you can get a lot of the same effects in LightWave for around the same render hit.

The problem then becomes getting things in and out of LightWave. Softimage comes with point oven and it works a charm to get Mdd in and out.

If you are really looking to expand and increase your user base and you are willing to spend, you might consider the entertainment suite from AD. With a competitive upgrade from LightWave and a smart purhase/upgrade path, you can get an entire suite for around 4 gs USD. For example Maya, Softimage along with Mudbox and Motion Builder. That would cover all the bases and also give you the best of all options with Maya and Softimage (or you could pair it with Max) but I'd lean toward Maya.

You could then connect that pipeline up to LightWave as needed by way of fbx and mdd.

03-10-2012, 04:55 PM
Initially it'll be rigging and animation, with probable mocap usage.

Well again as has been said many times before... unless ur looking to create large character pipelines which really NEED the advantages of things like scene referencing, user scriptable tools and the like... then u may well find that LW can handle a lot more of that stuff than its given credit for.

Otherwise... maya would be the choice here. However, Id say that mainly on account of HIK... its like a lil mini motionbuilder lite, and ofc uses the fbik rig. So if a lot of what you're doing is biped stuff, then go for that.

Now if ur after having maya to do custom rigging... great... but it IS going to be far more heavily involved than LW, and the only way ur gonna reli get to all the fancy stuff maya can do that LW cant, is via a very deep knowledge of rigging, and, most of all, a good chunk of MEL.

I will however have to acquire an understanding of most of the workflows associated with any new package. Modelling, texturing, surfacing,lighting,
rigging, animation as well as rendering and effects. (just an understanding of workflow as opposed to a full working knowledge)

So pretty much a generalist approach to whatever package.

And this goes completely the other way...

Maya's not an app you can be a generalist in reli... its just too big. Sure, u can learn the basics of all the tools, but not deep or well enough to be able to produce cracking work with them... that'll require focus in certain areas.

So, yeah... tough call reli.

03-11-2012, 12:56 AM
thanks for the replies so far.

so it would appear my problem is that i'm wanting a lightwave style generalist friendly piece of software. maya is and can be uber complicated, i'm not saying i want to be a master i just need an overview knowledge of its main principles. i know not much more than the very basics of rigging in lightwave, but enough to know what to look for in 3rd party plugins and tools to help with it. its that broader "bigger picture" stuff i need to feel confident with.

of the generalist "one man bands" i know, most of them use max as their base app. out of the people i know in games its maya, but they generaly specialise ie, modeling or animating and generally know very little about lighting or rendering.

i think maya is still the forerunner at this stage

interesting though, doing job searches on uk based sites and both maya and max come up with 9 or 10 results. soft, lighwave, c4d, modo and blender = ZERO.

whatever i decide on, i'm going to have to look into a learning path. i see digital tutors do some beginners project based training. taking a project through modeling,texturing, animating,fx and rendering. could be interesting.....maybe.

anybody actually proficient with maya or max and still use lightwave? any tips?

thanks a bunch

03-11-2012, 05:04 AM
One thing to think about before you purchase or even download a trial. Nice thing about Digital Tutors is that you subscribe and it allows you to watch tutorials in all of the software. In my opinion this is a great way to get a feel for different apps and help you decide. If you download simple tuts or even advanced tuts it is a good way to see how the various features are implemented. It saves a lot of time poking though manuals, going on line and asking questions and so on. All of which also help. But being able to search through and skim through videos that cover the subject you are interested in is very efficient in that it is visual and highly informative. At least I found it so.