3DSMAX - is there a lower priced alternative

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3DSMAX - is there a lower priced alternativeExpand / Collapse
Posted 12/28/2012 2:47:01 PM



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No way this guy can pay 3,500 for a 3DSMAX, especially since I only intend to use on a very limited basis.  I don't plan to be a for pay content provider or anything like that.  Yet, I am pretty well persuaded I should start working with it now.

I am sure not to be the only person like me.  If I were full time animator using it to make my living I wouldn't hesitate to plunk down the green.

As it is, I am more of a hobbyist making animated videos for non-commercial use.

I was wondering if there is an easy way "financially" to get into 3DSMAX without a huge outlay.

No.. I am not a student.

Maybe there is another alternative software that will work as well. I would be interested to look into it.  Someone mentioned Blender, then the caveat..."It is extremely difficult to learn" and I know how that goes. The open source community is pretty awesome, but when things get a bit too difficult the devs can leave you out in the cold.

Standard excuse Open Source = Well you got the software free you can at least figure out the problems.  That works OK with some programming, like HTML.  It doesn't cut it when there are keystrokes not easily discerned and the GUI isn't up to par.

Anyway, nuff said.  Any suggestions welcome.

Post #143923
Posted 12/28/2012 2:52:44 PM



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Well, for my 2cents... I am using Blender and if I can muddle through the learning process anyone can. Since you are looking for something just for your own development, I'd go with that. There are tons of tutorials on it. Is it difficult to learn? It sure can be, but max is no walk in the part either from what I can see. LOL They are big, powerful programs with a lot of things to work with.

For the record, I hope to get 3dmax as soon as I can afford it, (if I hadn't spend several thousand on Reallusion stuff in the last few months I could have it already hahahaha, but no regrets whatsoever!), but I'm not patient enough to wait. I figure as long as I'm learning, those skills will transfer over when I get 3dmax to a great degree. If not the exact methods, the ideas behind how and why things work, and the basic ideas will.

To my knowledge there is no middle ground between free open source Blender and expensive 3dmax that gives the same power. So, I'd say go for what you can afford now... learn what you can, and when you can afford it, if you think it's necessary, go for 3dmax.

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Post #143925
Posted 12/28/2012 3:03:43 PM



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It all depends on what you want to use it for. For character development, I think 3DMax with the iClone plugin is still the way to go, although I believe the current plugin is not compatible with Max 2013. To use other applications you need to go via 3DXchange, using FBX, which may be a hit or a miss.

To develop props you can basically use any modelling program, Blender among them. None of these programs are click and go. You will have to invest time in finding one you like and then sticking with your choice and learning it.

If there is a community college or something like that in your neighborhood, they may give classes in 3D modelling and you would learn a specific program. That's how I learned 3dMax many years ago. I could buy it as a student, but I couldn't afford to keep it up.

Post #143926
Posted 12/28/2012 3:03:54 PM



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any software that you expect to find that does as much as 3DS Max does is going to cost you, either in money - or in tutorials to learn blender.

Maybe you should consider this on a more modular approach as there are a plethora of free tools that do 1 or 2 things that 3DS max does.

what exactly is it that you want to do ? the broad approach of I want everything that 3DS Max does but for much less money isn't going to work, I know this because I've spent a very long time trying to find it myself. If you were more specific about the tasks you want to achieve maybe we can help you find tools to do those specific things.

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Post #143927
Posted 12/28/2012 3:35:28 PM



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What do I plan to do with it.

I'm not quite sure what all it does, so that is tough question for me.

Things I think about:

1. - develop my own avatars if necessary

I worked on a project recently and never could find any infant baby avatars. Kids yeah, walking and talking babies, but no infant movements, sucking on bottles, diaper changes or bouncing babies on the bear skin rug.

2. - build and edit props - I think this would probably the biggest usage for most of us.

3. - build or edit effects, particles or elements if I need to do that.

4. - maybe make some special clothes for characters if I have to.

5. - Build some motions and clone bones for them

6. - Create faces and heads with hair for special uses

I recently bought the RL SCI-FI Collection and found many of the prop items for the 3 robot types are just stuff. They have no connections possibilities between the props or anything that makes sense. I mean, the video is moving and things that don't go together...don't.
Yet, it is very hard to pick out the junk movements with the props and such. Yes, I would like to modify some of the props and how they work together and such.

Maybe, I'm too technical and should just do the workaround bit as best I can. Yes, that is what I have done so far, but it is difficult to cover some the workarounds for best visual appeal in videos.

Anyway, I am not altogether happy with some of the things from RL, which are professional quality for the most part. Yet, there are exceptions to this. If I had some ability to work with some of the items at the level they were created I might be able to improve them for better application in my videos.

Post #143929
Posted 12/28/2012 4:04:47 PM



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there are a lot of free toyz to do that ... Houdini has the free version thats awesome for making particle effects - blender is actually pretty bad-arse for effects as well ....it sounds like you would make great use of blender if you only focused on learning one or 2 things ....

Paid / low cost - you would probably really enjoy 3D Coat, get the student / non pro user version ..much less than pro version - same functions but more on legal limitations and some features you would probably never need anyways .... I personally love sculptris myself - so simple and straight forward - then you also have Messiah which is known as one of the best tools for making motions and rigging ..at least in it's price range.

If you haven't tried 3D coat yet, it seems it covers a big portion of your list as far as modeling is concerned. People try to compare it to Zbrush, obviously Zbrush has the upper hand ...but has a steeper learning curve and more expensive and many hard core modelers would rather have both than say one is better than the other.

Also I just found out myself recently that Mixamo does free rigging for models under 10k faces - which is gaming size, but it's a superior rigger that will give you 3DS Max like results with a very easy to use interface ...granted no facial rigging , but that is a moot point anyways when importing to iclone. - Daz is a great software also with their packages - but that "free" software is going to run you a few hundred bucks anyways to get the character builder packages and decimator software.

For making characters - you can use Make human - Im personally not crazy about that one myself because making clothing to fit a pre-existing character can be a real PITA - it's doable and has a pipeline to blender ....

and you also have http://www.wondertouch.com/htmls/special_effects_software/index.htm which has some really nice presets but can be a little pricey if you only want to do 1 or 2 effects.

For making faces, I personally like getting creative ...like I'll use this free site http://www.morphthing.com/ and mix and match faces then use in iclone to put on characters, that can be fun ...I made a baby with Don King and Marylin Monroe, and another with Maralyn and a monkey - extremely fun and hilarious with the combos you can do!

everything I'm mentioning so far is either free or in the hundreds, not thousands....
I'd recommend first checking out 3D coat though, it's fairly easy to get quick results without having to spend a ton of time on tutorials so you can get a feel for it. - but for more advanced stuff you will have to spend some time learning the subtleties in it.

For props - sketchup is hard to beat ....if you get good at it ..you can get freelance gigs as many people ask for sketchup models.

also , don't let the the fact that it's free and the simple concept of sculptris fool you...with skilled hands you can do some amazing things with it ..check out this video ...

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Post #143931
Posted 12/28/2012 4:54:24 PM



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Houdini is a formidable software that has the apprentice version around 100 dollars.

Not bad may be Animation master, by Hash. It looks very easy to learn an costs 300 dollars, but i don't know it in deep.


Post #143934
Posted 12/28/2012 11:47:59 PM

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and then there is Carrara owned by Daz 3D
C8.1 the current production build and even the older C6 & 7 versions will export easy to do rigging that can easily be retargetted in 3Dxchange for non facially animatable characters.
A solution for this is to create headless characters and use the Zack clonebone head linked to the head, it is just a pity one can not then saved two linked characters in the menu and scenes cannot be merged.
The head can be exported and also reshaped so long as vertex order remains intact.
The 8.5beta allows FBX import of iClone avatars with rigging and animation (production build mangles them) but so far I have only gotten Chuck and Gwynn back into iClone from it with lots of issues, can attach skeleton and weightpaint stuff to them but transforms end up locked and changed pivot information results in wild transforms.
Also using attach skeleton on hair will crash 3DX5pipeline, or at very least lose the standard avatar state with facial animation, eyewinkers end up moved but replacing head can fix this however crashes are more likely in most cases.

for headless characters the free Daz studio can also be used, heads hidden and in iClone, iClone figures with invisible bodies attached, has a nice bridge to Hexagon for reshaping which is also free, Decimator is your only main cash outlay.
You can rig stuff in it too, modeling in Hexagon or another app, using the transfer tool adds Genesis bones to a lined up figure, I am still new at that but it works a lot like Carrara I am familiar with.

Post #143954
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