View Full Version : 3DS Max v. Lightwave

03-11-2003, 09:28 AM
so my boss asked me yesterday what i knew about 3D Max. seems he has seen or heard something and wanted to know how it compares. i don't want to have to learn new software on his whim, as i am really getting into LW now. can anyone help with any comparisons (as unbiased as possible) as to why lightwave is better. i really don't have any experience myself and wouldn't know where to begin. any help would be appreciated.


03-11-2003, 10:49 AM
3DSMax is PC only ... no mac version.

03-11-2003, 07:48 PM
Max's biggest problem is that it has a lousy renderer. Max users are always looking for other renderers to do the job. All those Max plug-ins can't help them there.

If you want superior image quality, stay with Lightwave.

03-11-2003, 10:32 PM
beam pretty much nailed it...
without plugins max doesn't stand up... and even with plugins... max's renders dont stand up.

unless you get/write a plugin renderer.

most of the tools that make LW a modern 3d package come in the box... not so w/ max... and while i'm at it... LW has the best rendered output.
max ain't even in second place there.

03-11-2003, 11:15 PM
In it's defense, Max does have some very good tools, including a construction history for modeling, and a number of great plugin packages. The best argument for Max would have to be in a *discreet environment, where it is being used with combustion, smoke, or flame, because its native image format (.rla, .rpf?) can be tweaked extensively in the other packages without rerendering, which can be a huge time saver. I also think you can transfer 3D motion data between the packages as well.

It also has a dopesheet (though not my favorite), something Lightwave continues to lack. (Hello Newtek!)

That said, for some reason I never really cared for it that much... perhaps it was the renderer, as mentioned earlier.

Guess I'm not much help... :rolleyes:

jin choung
03-12-2003, 12:04 AM

max is pc only.

if that's not an issue, it has some very good and smart poly tools for developing game assets. provides a lot of access to data that you might need to pass onto programmers and such. (point order id, poly order numbers, etc. lw didn't use to have such data until 7.5).

it's also well organized though not very ELEGANT. although it can feel clunky, it's always consistent.

this is almost the opposite of lw where it's frequently very fast in the workflow but god only knows what kind of logic was used to prescribe the way it was laid out.

one tremendous downside to max is a legacy reliance on CHARACTER STUDIO. i hear good things about it but it is VERY VERY VERY EXPENSIVE! about as expensive as max itself and that's saying it's pretty g32d234ned expensive.

although max has indeed adressed most of the shortfalls that used to REQUIRE character studio, most companies that use max also by default use character studio and a lot of the community tutorials reflect this bias as well.


another downside is that discreet is a bunch of right bastards - when everybody but everybody was cutting the price of their packages, they released a press release that said they weren't going to in a ludicrously self righteous manner.

perhaps not as much 'bastards' as idiots.... basically they're saying that they're gonna charge what they're gonna charge irregardless of the outside world.


and on top of it all, max is not even the BEST choice (it is now almost the MOST EXPENSIVE however at about $5000. another $3000 i believe for character studio. that's ONE SEAT!).

if your boss wants to go mainstream and popular and read about his software in every cinefex, you should steer him toward MAYA.

it is as organized and well thought out as max but is elegant and fast to boot. it is a really well thought out and designed piece of software with a very nice default layout and extreme flexibility in customizing.

and now it comes with mental ray and subdivision surfaces (along with polys and nurbs).

to add insult to injury, maya complete (which is pretty much what anybody except large fx studios needs - and even if you need UNLIMITED, every seat probably doesn't need it) goes for $2000 and all its character prowess (which is renowned) comes right out of the box.

unlimited goes for about $5000 i think....

imo, there's no reason to go with max over maya.


03-12-2003, 07:25 AM
thanks to everyone for your input. while being only pc based may make him cringe, it wouldn't be enough to totally turn him off to it.
the lesser quality of the renderer may be the point to dwell on, as we deal in the hires print world where realism is the most important. does anyone know of any side by side comparisons of render quality or any other issues that i can lay in front of him so i can put this to bed.
thanks again,

03-12-2003, 09:35 AM
I use both, LW kicks 3ds ***.
3ds has more a CAD feel to it.
3ds costs like x2 more, plugins costs heaps more, tutorials online are almost non exhistant.
Stay with LW, it has the best community and is dual platform on one cd. 3ds market is being overtaken my c4d users.

03-15-2003, 09:34 PM
Max is one bugger of a package to get into. I've been using Max for four months now for 3D modeling class here in Seattle and I tell ya, you have to click your mouse at least four times to perform one opperation. Lightwave is just not like that. Lightwave feels like silky smooth heaven. When you want to make several simple moves I can get there at least three times as fast especially when modeling.

JP Westmas

03-17-2003, 02:08 PM
I've been using 3DS Max and LW for 4 years. Lightwave has always been the one I use the most (all the time). I only use Max for intergration into our engine format and animation.

When I model in Lightwave I feel like I'm sculpting, in Max, it feels the opposite. Like using a bazooka for a soap-scuplture.

The only thing I like about Max is the edge's. Even then I use them like 3 times a year.

Character Studio blows, it's like a crutch for people who don't take the time to animate/rig.