View Full Version : Alternative program recommendations for currently limited needs

01-15-2004, 11:20 AM
Hello, I am a stop-motion animator new to CGI and am considering purchasing Lightwave in the future for my small animation studio. I worked very briefly (2 weeks) with Lightwave in school many years ago and was able to get very good results for what I needed. I have since purchased AC3D and done very well at it, but have outgrown its modelliing limitations. It lacks the spline-curve, squash, stretch and other calculus-generated functions that lightwave has. I have downloaded the Lightwave 3D 7 Demo, hoping to build a handful of projects and get a feel for your product before investing the money. The program seems a bit too far ahead of where I need the computer in my work right now, with a stupefyingly comprehensive range of features more suited to a much more advanced user of digital animation media, not for a beginner who is simply trying to build objects and interiors in 3d space for the first time. My work with the computer for now really only requires that I build simplified sets and objects inside the computer for pre-production work on 3d stop motion storyboards in real perspective, enabling me to get a more accurate look and feel for scenes than I have previously achieved with freehand drawings which consequently tended to suffer from imperfect perspective when depicting interesting or extreme angles or views, not to mention being much more laborious and time consuming than simply modelling an architectural structure inside the computer only once and then moving my POV around or inside the model at will, freeing me to experiment and concentrate on more artistic considerations than making all my drawings correlate to the same space. I still intend most of my work to be built and rendered using tradional methods, but this is made prohibitively expensive and prone to errors merely working from drawings. Using Lightwave for advanced lighting, mood setting or atmospheric effects is certainly in the works for the future, as I believe there are special effects and other things best achieved with a computer, and not with traditional craftwork, but this is still in the future and I am still too new to this to tackle such projects. I am considering investing in Lightwave primarily for the long-term dividend it seems to promise as my work grows integrated with digital media effects. But for right now, I still need to graduate from AC3D's more clunky building methods to the more organic curves Lightwave, or other programs offer.
I believe investing in Lightwave right now would be getting in over my head, as I am not likely to use it for more than advanced storyboarding and conceptual work for a few months or years. I was attracted to Lightwave because of a brief familiarity, and because I know it has the curve-sensitive deform and twist commands that AC3D lacks, but maybe there is another product that can fulfill my presently limited requirements and allow me to play a bit more before investing in a staggeringly more expensive program. I was advised by the Lightwave Tech dept. to ask the members of this forum, as they are all users of not only Lightwave, but many other products as well, and are much more at liberty to discuss the merits of each. I am very new to computers in general and may be unaware of a score of simpler, more affordable programs that can build models more organically (with curve, squash, stretch, bend, deform, etc. functions) than Ac3D with some very simple lighting and can serve as a middle school before graduating to an industry-level product. I would greatly appreciate any advice or product recommendations anyone may offer. Thank you.

James Ortega
[email protected]

01-15-2004, 12:15 PM
I always recomend Blender (blender.org) to anyone starting in 3D who doesn't want to invest money. In excahnge you will need to invest time learning its strange and weird interface. Try it, it's free.

01-15-2004, 12:19 PM
I would check out Carrara Studio 3 (or even the previous release, Studio 2 or Carrara 1 which can be found on ebay, brand new, for around $30.00).

Carrara Studio boasts some pretty impressive features, and costs $399. Check out the Eovia website www.eovia.com.

Carrara Studio 2 can be found on ebay for around $100 - a true steal.

The biggest argument against using Carrara I've heard is the unconventional interface, which some have argued is so unlike other interfaces it inhibits the transfer of talents from Carrara to other 3D apps. I, for one, absolutely love the interface.

An earlier iteration of Carrara was used to create Rustboy (www.rustboy.com) whch shows what a truly innovative artist can do using a package with limited capabilities.

01-16-2004, 05:21 AM
I recommend Blender 3D. It will not cost you a dime. Also they have a new manual coming out ot cover the new release, I own the other manuals and they are real good. The community is pretty cool also. If Lightwave is in your futire plans Blender will help you make the transition to it easier.
check out
If you use AC3D (I give you serious credit for using that) you can rock on Blender. I used AC3D on SGI o2.

01-17-2004, 12:01 PM
My thanks to Titus, rpurvis, and Nakia, who responded to my rather long request. I have downloaded Blender and am thoroughly confused. It looks nothing like AC3D and does not seem to respond well to foolery (Tentative lines disappear, dotted rays shoot out of the origin to my cursor and there's this target-crosshair thing that distracts me) I am hunting around for my cherished "Create:Box, Spheroid, Cone, Torus,etc." so that I may at least have a handle on this new animal, but have found nothing. However, I trust your recommendations that it is a very good beginner's program, once you get used to the weird interface. I went to the Blender Gallery and was impressed by what people can do with this freeware. I had actually heard of it at the same time I heard of AC3D, which was in Issue 38 of 3d World. I had actually downloaded it before but was as befuddled then as I am now, and the mag's tutorial (building and animating a roller coaster) assumes you are a little along with using the program.
Nakia, you mentioned you have older guides to Blender. Would you be willing to sell them, much cheaper than the guide advertised on blender.org? Do you feel they would still be relevant or helpful? Please let me know what you could recommend for some tutorial help, perhaps online (like AC3D's)
Thank you again.

James Ortega
[email protected] :)