19 May, 2006


As a 3D artist with Asperger's, when I find a 3D animation package I like, I like to stick with it. Change is hard for us Aspies. For many years, that package was Electric Image Animation System - the premiere 3D package on the Macintosh for many years. It was used widely by Lucas and Industrial Light and Magic for 3D matte paintings and "hard body" animation - things like flying space ships and the like.

Well, when I started at Screen Life two years ago, I had to move to 3d Studio MAX, a Windows only 3D animation package. At first I hated it with a passion. After a while, slowly but surely, I got used to it. After some time, I finally became comfortable in it and actually grew to really appreciate some features and aspects of its work flow. There were a number of annoyances that I never did warm up to however - not the least of which was the fact that it was on Windws with all of the crap that comes with Windows.

Well, having lost my job at Screen Life, I was back to square one. By now, I had very definitely moved past Electric Image which has fallen behind the rest of the industry. There are just too many things that EI does not do that I need a 3D package to do. So, I had a choice. There are several high-end choices, Alias (now Autodesk) Maya, Lightwave 3D, 3D Studio MAX, Cinema 4D, and SoftImage.
  • I have 3 Macs and 1 pc in my studio. Anything that is PC only is out, it has to run on the Macs. (I truly do hate working in Windows)
  • It has to have all of the high-end goodies such as fluids, cloth, fir, hair, etc.
  • It has to have a very good renderer
  • I have to like it.
That leaves MAX adn SoftIMage out of the equation. That leaves C4d, Lightwave and Maya.
  • C4d is just not up to snuff as far as being able to really access all of the parameters. It seems too limiting.
  • Lightwave is in some trouble as a viable product. Plus, its workflow is just too obtuse. I am a visual artist, I need a visually based user interface. It just could not get into it.
  • Maya is a hodgepodge of a user interface but, it is a visual interface. It has all of the high-end goodies - and they really work.
  • It has a industry standard renderer (Mental Ray) which is very good plus, its own renderer has gotten to be not bad.
  • I had also had training several years ago at Art Center and that training has stuck with me.
So, Maya it is. No to making that difficult transition from the package I know to one I am not used to. It has been a struggle over the past few weeks but, I am finally starting to get a handle on Maya. It looks like Maya is actually goint to work for me. One of my chief complaints with Maya was that it user interface is a mess with a huge number of menu items under a huge number of menus choices. Plus, the whole node thing is taking some really getting used to. But, I am doing it, I am getting over that first initial hump and it is startng to work for me.



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