If you ever wanted starting in 3D creation today, you probably need to know with which 3D applications package with you will feel better and which is the most suitable for you and business ?
Many new CG artists try many softwares before really starting their 3D business, that's of courses the best solution to try out and know if you feel coMfortable with one than other, so after you can't know all specs of all 3D softwares when starting in 3D...
Here is a comparison table with cons. and pro. for the most know today top industries 3D applications. This table isn't intended to be complete with all softwares features available but try to surround the common today 3D cg artist tasks.
All softwares listed in this table was deeply tested during a total of about 12 months, during this 12 months, I installed all releases and Service pack (EDU, PLE, full softwares,...) and try to use all of listed softwares to do the same work with when I created my students classroom projects like (Motion, Realtime, Mag.Print, Architecture, Lowpoly, texturing,...)
I used all of this 3D applications in 10 past years, when I was working for companies in CG area, now it's relativly easy for me to switch from one to others and I have a good feeling with softwares interfaces...of courses that's always a long and a painfull tasks to switching but when you learned 2 or more package in 3D applications, technical features is always the same, the most difficult is to know where to found !
As I'm now CG Teacher / Educator, I will always say to my students the most important isn't the package, but technical understanding and that's a triangle will always have... 3 vertices :-) as in Autodesk 3ds max, NewTek LightWave, Blender,...
Also switching from one applications to others often is bad because you lose you feeling and way of works. When you are ready with one just stay on, don't listen to the sirens ! Each 3D applications is good and no one can be better than an others, today all 3D package can do all your dreams, you just must have ideas to do...
3D DCC applications analyses from 12 last months :
First thanks to all 3D pro and geek who re read my work and give me a lot of feedback ! Artists who read this articles are from many CG area and differents countries (Belgium, France, Germany, Sweden, USA, Vietnam,...) , all of this reader have used more than one 3D applications before jump into business.
I also was in contact (Phone call or emails) with peoples(2 or 3 usually) who working in each listed softwares company to avoid mistakes, I was requested functions knowledges, sometimes SDK, discussed about imports/exports common troubles, interface ergonomic, parameters finetune,...
The tested applications is base package with the low prices for starting in 3D, of courses many softwares listed have highend production version available !
Here is few how-to tested parts (in no order) :
Modeling Speacker using polygons and splines
Procedural and bitmaps materials, how applications can handle heavy materials scenes ?
How is easy to found / assign or to re-use datas ? Drag and Drop, libraries, assets,...
Fine tune lights parameters, using lights layers, IES data, include/Exclude, negative lights, softshadow, area shadow,...
Backward compatibilities with old softwares releases import and getting back maximum datas
Stability when modeling and manipulating (vertex, polygons, edges,...) high polygons datas (Maximum in this test was 2 millions polygons scenes)
Rendering quality using default render
Speed of rendering for web (550x450 antialiased pictures), broadcast (720x576, motion blur 5, motion AA), print (A3 200 DPI) render quality
Imports Silo3D 2.0 and Zbrush 2.5 Objetcs with high SubD sculpted meshes
Assign default bones and wire quick IK setup
N-Sided Quidam models import with ready rig and materials
Get back motion capture data from FBX and Point Oven, cleanup motion key datas (Datas are from friends in film productions / motion capture / motion builder)
Fcurves and motion mixer testing with datas I get back from animator
Working with OpenEXR and HDRI import/export pictures
Use env. with xStream from Vue 6
Imports OBJ, 3DS, Collada and FBX scenes and try getting back importants datas (lights, cameras, materials,...)
Imports Moi3D IGES nurbs models
CAD DXF and DWG (when possible) imports with layers
Texture backing and re-apply it to projects before realtime exports
Exports scenes to 3D realtime VRML and X3D
Unwrap toolset and PeltMapping on human head and organic models
Datas exchange between xStream Vue 6 ! (OpenGL feedback and rendering quality/time)
Flash SWF exports for the web with and/or without plugins
Basic meshes scripting to do some rotation/translate, move along path and camera targetting
By far the most well know and used 3D dcc applications in the industries all around the world, so the prices for freelance is too much expenssive and old core based. The Bad since version 7 is the price vs poor new features, evolving !
One of the most know by popularity in the Film and VFX industries. Maya downside's is on learning curve interface not intuitive and !
A good all around application first for freelance. Blender downside's is on interface, who is not today "industries" common (no drag & drop, poor intuitive tools,...) and structured / centralised documentations, so it's the best free all arround solution.
Probably the most modern 3D software and it is being developed rapidly. Very affordable and has a super strong user community. Multi-threading and a super flexible user interface And 3D sculpting tools!
Very good all around application suitable for freelance/designer best quality tools for the price !Not enough popular yet !
An old but very powerful suitable first for VFX and VIZ market. LightWave downside's is on Rig tools, so Render engine and shaders are the best you can found !
No doubt for the prices the Foundation is the best all around, so Imports/Exports is the dark side, but for 450 euro you can't get better (exlude Blender for free !)
* Please note that prices (correct in April 2007) do not include VAT, any annual fees or subscription costs and are rounded !
* This article was last updated on 08/03/27.
As you view each softwares have their strong and weaks parts !
Of courses he is always users who are defending their favourite applications opposed to others, this comparison table isn't writed in this way, I don't wont here to push an application more than others and had try to stay independant / free from softwares editors, of courses each softwares editor naturally prefer to be the best, so for now there is not, all is bad and good, that's depend on what's you want to do and your working area.
I already know this articles bring me head Fireball and Thunder from softwares editors :) but I hope they read this article to improve their softwares or fix the wrong !
I also hope my goal is reach with this table and a long hard work, I hope you get more ideas on what's solutions is the most suitable for you !