Master software for computer graphics — and the world will turn to you at a gold mine. You can simulate, animate and render all that will get you to hand. And then (if desired) and still translate it all on film and leave to work in Hollywood.

Modeling animation and rendering:

Today we publish an overview of the best programs in its class from various areas of computer graphics and animation, and offer you useful tips on their use. Such programs with the demo version of the full catalog can be found on our CD. Study the “materiel” – and your life will change radically…

Part I. based on 3D-technology:

Over the past two years, 3D-graphics ingrained in our lives more and more engineering and design work is done in three-dimensional space, and nearly every computer game has 3D-tools. And how it all works?

Power of three-dimensionality cannot be overestimated. it brings more realism in computer art and computer games, revolutionizing the way we communicate with the machine. Computer-aided design and work with three-dimensional objects has been practiced for several decades, but only in the last two or three years, when even the basic models of home computers have become powerful enough, there has been real progress in 3D-graphics. But as shown by the computer three-dimensional objects on a flat screen? And what can be done to extract the most out of the hardware?

Let’s start from the beginning Modeling, animation and rendering:

3D-object – a surround body having a length, width and depth – properties that for many years, no computer images. In fact, 3D-objects exist only in the computer memory. The monitor displays them on a flat surface of the screen. The three-dimensional object is characterized by its inherent shape and surface texture. Form – is the geometry of the object, which is usually described by a series of interconnected points (vertices) in three-dimensional space, and of polygons (faces – closed two-dimensional figure with three or more parties). For example, the cube has eight corners and six facets. Moreover, for simplicity, in most cases, as base polygon the triangles are selected and are connected to one another by hundreds or even thousands of forming complex three-dimensional grid. The texture of the surface – it is a simple description of the properties of similar polygons surface: their color, transparency, reflectivity, and so on.

To display a 3D-object on the screen, the computer has to do some serious math. First, it finds out which parts of the object are visible from a given viewpoint. In addition, the object will not appear three-dimensional, if the image is not marked perspective. Therefore, a computer using depth information corrects the image so as to create a two-dimensional screen, the illusion of depth.

Now, the computer takes the information about the texture and figuring out how the object interacts with light: what color it should be, the amount of light to be reflected from each of its facets, should there be any shadows, and so on. Up to this point it was easy, but now we are talking about hundreds of calculations even for such a primitive object like a cube.

Now imagine that in front of you a more complex object – such as a crankshaft. How many polygons forming the object? Hundreds, maybe even thousands. That is why the display of three-dimensional objects – this is a very time-consuming task, even when it is only about imaging. If the object must also be animated, the computer has to perform such calculations to several tens of times per second. But what if such facilities are not one, but several? And what can we say about the whole 3D-scenes with multiple light sources, haze, fog and the like effects. But such scenes are found today in almost every computer game.

Displaying three-dimensional objects on a flat screen – is so difficult task that the major computer companies began to build 3D-features directly into the operating system, so programmers do not have to write them yourself. This is done through API (Application Programming Interface) – extensive library of functions that simplify working with 3D-objects and redraw the screen. On PC «family» API is Direct 3D, which (as part of DirectX) is supplied with Windows 95/98 operating system. On a Mac, this role is QuickDraw 3D.

However, apart from this, there are hundreds of other 3D API, focused on the implementation of a particular range of problems, whether it is a complex 3D-modeling, or simple “massacre” in Quake. For three games the most important factor is the speed that the game was interesting, you need to redraw objects on the screen as quickly as possible. In the same three-dimensional modeling tasks, on the contrary, it is important that the objects are redrawn as accurately as possible. Therefore, in such programs is not necessary every few minutes to run the rendering as it is very time-consuming procedure.

To speed up the display of 3D-graphics on the screen image redrawn in memory “virtual screens” – frame buffers – similar to screen shots in memory. In one of the frames can be recorded, the base form of the object in the other – overlaid with the texture, in others – the lighting, transparency, alpha channel (in other words – a mask), and other effects. Thus, prior to the issuance of an object on the screen computer may be at a full run to compile all the necessary visual effects and generate a smooth animation. The downside – the enormous amounts of “eats” RAM, and the higher your screen resolution, the more memory is required for such RAM-buffers.

In recent years, it has virtually all graphics cards are embedded 3D-accelerator that take on much of the CPU. On these maps is usually installed very fast special-purpose processor, the additional chip – 2D RAMDAC (digital-to-analog converter) and a set of very fast memory. Today, a typical card has 8 MB of memory, and some – 32 MB or more.

Initially, 3D-accelerator used 3D API, «home» for the platform for which they were developed: on the PC used DirectX accelerators on Mac – accelerators QuickDraw 3D. However, the fast-growing computer games industry has generated a lot of new API and the corresponding accelerator chips. Some of them eventually disappeared from the market, while others still thrive. Hardware manufacturers (such as 3Dfx) developed the Voodoo graphics chipset (later he replaced the Voodoo2). Due to its monstrous speed and relatively simple for programming API called Glaid this chipset gained extraordinary popularity among gamers, and among developers and manufacturers of graphics cards.

However, it is not suitable for 3D-modeling, as it can only render the image in full screen, rather than in a window. In addition, its capacity is limited only 16-bit color, texture maps relatively small and uncomplicated models (for games of all this is enough, because there is the most important speed).

Fortunately, recently appeared a potential solution and professional problems: language describing graphical data the Open GL . It was designed in 1992 by Silicon Graphics as a 3D API for high-end applications. Besides being able to display the objects with high resolution texture maps precisely calculate lighting scenes and introduce them in the fog, OpenGL also has cross-platform compatibility. Also incorporated in its procedures have sufficient velocity to be used in games. Of course, OpenGL does not provide a performance as 3Dfx Glaid, but small loss in speed compensated by the ease with which this API can be transferred from one platform to another and even from one graphics accelerator on the other, since most of them with the appropriate drivers It supports OpenGL.

Make your choice Modeling, animation and rendering

If you want to pick up a 3D-accelerator, you must first become familiar with the accepted in the art jargon. The complex world of three-dimensional graphics has generated a lot of terms, strange to the uninitiated mind. From the mouth of manufacturers and software and hardware vendors to 3D, you’ll hear words like «Z-buffer”, “bilinear” and “trilinear filtering” and much more. Fortunately, all this motley diversity there is a common denominator. This, of course, frame rate, ie, the frame rate – the number of frames that the card can handle in one second. This parameter depends on how complicated things are displayed on the screen, and the complexity of the models, but many manufacturers are called medium speed, typical of games, just as a starting point.

Modeling, animation and rendering  Best of all, if you do decide that looking for. If you have a new PC model with AGP port (Accelerated Graphics Port), you need a map just this type because it can communicate with the processor and memory of your computer much faster than the PCI-card with the port (Peripheral Component Interconnect). And the sooner these components interact, the faster the graphics displayed on your screen. Remember that 3D-program terribly greedy for memory, so buy a card with a maximum amount of RAM. For serious 3D-modeling and rendering, we would recommend to have a map 16 MB of memory or more. In addition, I would like to map OpenGL and it be accompanied by a set of decent low-level drivers, as a serious 3D-world is this API is now becoming the standard de facto. Most 3D-applications (and even some games) will use this API in the near future (for more details about 3D-maps, see the «3D-boosters” article).

Part II. Software for modeling

Modeling, animation and rendering  All modern packages are generally universal, i.e. combined, and the simulation and animation, and rendering, and some also have the additional modules for post processing training image compositing output on video recording on the CD-ROM or the publication on the Internet. Until now, however, there are certain programs that specialize in only one of these processes, or traditional strengths in one of these areas. Therefore, we consider for the beginning of the “star” of pure simulation.

Rhino 3D

Title: Rhino 3D, or Rhinoceros

Platform: PC

Manufacturer: Azteccad


Modeling, animation and rendering  Rhino 3D, or Rhino, conceptual design and implement a high-quality simulation for all applications. This package of unusual interface, but it is quite easy to learn, flexible and provides a consistently high simulation result. You can create, edit, and render any combination of curves, surfaces and solid models, and then export them to any format. Rhino – excellent modeler, widely known thanks to a wonderful NURBS -instrumenta similar to the famous Alias Power Animator. This program will take you from concept sketches to the realization of ideas in a 3D-model.

Product Features:

A full NURBS-modeler.

A wide range of methods for constructing curves.

Deriving from other objects using a variety of methods.

Editing of curves and surfaces in various ways.

Supports and solid body (solid models) and Boolean operations with them.

Analysis of models: the number of points, length, volume, curvature graph, and more.

Integrated rendering.

3D-capable digitizers.


Very powerful, but easy to use program.

Fast even on low-end non-specialized equipment.

It works with almost any other CAD-systems.


A little expensive for a specialized modeler.

There is a version for PC only and other not planned.

System Requirements:

Minimum: Pentium-90, 32 MB RAM, 10 MB HDD, Windows 95/98 / NT 4

Recommended: Pentium-200, 64 MB RAM.

The same strange, like his name 1 , this specialized package claims to market gain in 3D-modeling and rendering

Rhino has long been a rising star in the world of CAD and computer-aided design. Overgrown with legends of the process of maturation included a series of publicly available beta versions. In the end, came the publication finished version 1.0. But why do we need another modeler? And whether he really represents something completely new?

Rhinoceros – a small package, consisting of only one CD plus an extensive manual. And his records – one of the best, what we have ever seen. First, it introduces you to the terms of use interface, and then slowly and gently leads directly to the modeling of the most complex shapes.

Rhino interface borrowed from several simulation systems: icons are very similar to what we saw of Micro Station, and the general atmosphere reminiscent of Alias. Tools for writing and editing work in accordance with generally accepted methods – “viewports” and “modifiers”.

There are two main schools of modeling: CAD-old concept of manually entering the coordinates and the more modern school of thought click-and-slide ( «click and drag”). Somehow, inexplicably Rhino adheres both directions at once. If you are familiar with CAD / CAM systems, which are managed from the command line, then looking at the Command window, you feel that is completely in control. If you’re more accustomed to 3D Studio MAX, the interface you will like it too, because to get to most of the tools and means that you only have one or two mouse clicks.

A real gift in this interface – his incredible speed, which will be even more amazing when you realize that it is not Accelerated hardware. Even at a relatively low-power processor Pentium II the most complex surface NURBS-streamed on the viewports, as if spilled from the bucket.

The main screen is designed for simulation, can be divided into three or four windows. Embodiments layout workspace is loaded from the template, which is simply a standard Rhino-model. You can take a basic template and organize their work species panel as you prefer: to cut the window, as needed, or, alternatively, to remove them from the screen. His personal settings can be stored in the form of models and subsequently used as a template for other projects. The ability to change and reorganize species panel realized here so well, that the decision taken, for example, 3D Studio MAX, looks after that crude and clumsy.

Toolbars can be moved from place to place and do float. This means that, if necessary, you can clear the display, retaining only one viewport, which will have all the necessary details are visible. And since all the functionality of the tools available through the drop-down menu, and the command line, access to them there is no difficulty.

Practical examples are set forth in the documentation is very well developed, and with their help, you will very quickly learn to build NURBS-objects. In addition to CD package contains some extra lessons and materials in PDF format. They are especially useful, since you can directly on the screen to switch to the text on the back and Rhino.

To work out the lesson on any object, it requires no more than 30 minutes, and the object may well serve as a basis for your own project. If you feel that you need more help, on the Web-site Rhino, you’ll also find a lot of training examples.

Since Rhino is building facilities for further use in other systems, it was little surprise to meet here a very good renderer – a slow, but very high quality. It supports color, texture, lighting, and variable resolution. Of course, it can not be compared with the renderer 3D Studio MAX or LightWave 3D, but the result is quite satisfactory.

Programs MAX and Softimage are supported through import plug-in-modules. These modules can process standard files Rhino and transfer them to the target application. We tested the plug-in-module for MAX and found that in most cases it works fine, but sometimes he and problems with cut surface NURBS-. And it is not surprising: after all, MAX does not support some aspects of NURBS-geometry that supports Rhino. Perhaps it requires some refinement – but the MAX, instead of Rhino.

To make the process of constructing models Rhinoceros simple as possible, some alternative methods have been used in some cases. For example, you can download any viewport bitmap and then use it as a tracing paper. If you have different profiles quadruped or biped, then it is possible to draw three-dimensional shape quickly and easily.

If you have no drawings, but there is the object itself, then for such situations Rhino supports some advanced modeling techniques – dimensional digitizers. The program supports two models of such devices: Micro Scribe 3D company Immersion and Space Arm Faro firm. With their help, you can shoot a real point of the surface and build on them surface NURBS-. These devices are expensive, but they can significantly accelerate the encoding process objects.

Generally, Rhinoceros perfectly combines the power and handling, and if as a target medium you use 3D Studio MAX or of Softimage, then this version – just for you. The ability to export real surface NURBS-in both of these packages fully justifies the use of Rhino in addition to their internal modelers.

Rhino easily perform those tasks where other systems just head over heels sinking, and provides a set of features that are usually befits a highly professional CAD-systems costing thousands of dollars. As a modeling tool NURBS-object program is a quick and affordable solution that allows you to create complex curved surfaces, without getting bogged down in the details.

The program used to be called Rhino Nurbzilla. This name, perhaps even better corresponds to the mathematical monster like this package.

Part II. Animation

For obvious reasons, the net packages for 3D-animation virtually none (except, maybe, specialized programs, working with the equipment to digitize motion, – motion capture), but discussed below although it is a module 3D Studio MAX – written especially for character animation and even makes the hardware requirements of their own, distinct from the basic package.

Character Studio

Title: Character Studio

Platform: PC

Manufacturer: Kinetix


Specialized module 3D Studio MAX to animate biped.

Product Features:

The module Biped to create a skeleton of any two-legged creatures.

The structure and shape of the biped at any time can be adjusted.

Physique module automatically executes shell deformation.

Deformation of 3D-shells.

Weighted overlay.

Slip skins.

Swellable muscle.

Movement tendons.

Animation on the next steps.

Animation in the free form by using advanced means of inverse kinematics.

Animate using motion capture (motion capture).

Interpolation based on physical characteristics.

Imposing a number of different movements.

Support NURBS- and polygonal surfaces.


Gorgeous and simple animation on the next steps.

Support digitization of motion (motion capture) reduces production time.


Limiting the number of limbs in the model.

You can make a dent in your budget.

It requires total control.

Hardware requirements:

Minimum – Pentium 150 MHz, 64 MB of the RAM, 200 MB HDD, Windows 95/98 / NT 4, 3D Studio MAX R2 / R2.5.

Recommended – two Pentium II, 128 MB RAM, accelerator OpenGL, Windows NT 4.0.

Have you already bought a T-shirt, a cap and a mug with dancing baby Dancing Baby? Now please welcome the program, with which it all started. And the baby is ready for you to dance the rumba …

Although from a technical point of view, this is only an additional module (plug-in) for 3D Studio MAX 2, Character Studio R2 program itself is a very complex and sophisticated tools for modeling and animation. The purpose of this program, as you probably already guessed – to create and animate biped characters of almost any shape and size, using the most diverse and intricate techniques.

The program consists of two main modules – Biped and Physique. First, with the help of modeling tools MAX you form the main outer shell of his hero. This will require a fairly substantial work experience and skill, although the program includes several models-models (including, of course, and the famous model kid dancing bebop).

Then Biped integrated module builds a hierarchical structure of the skeleton: bone interconnected by the same way as in reality. This structure can be arbitrarily adjust and reconstruct – to set the number and length of the joints on each limb, gait hero and so on.

Animate simpler model when she was still not “wearing” the shell, and to do it in three ways. The first way – the free movement when you are in the usual way using standard tools MAX-Position, Rotation and Inverse Kinematics build keyframes. The second way – to place on the three-dimensional space prints steps. Biped on these tracks will automatically animate the movement of the hero with gravity, balance laws, the center of gravity position and the dynamics of the model. This method is useful to simulate normal walking and jogging hero to jump, punch and other more complex movements.

And the last method – import files with digitized motion (motion capture – mocap). In version 2 included strong support for the import and filtering mocap-file in Biovision format or layout files (marker files) for later post-processing. No matter what method (or methods by which) you use, the resulting animation can be applied to any object of any two-legged structure. Animation data itself will be adapted in accordance with the structure of the object being animated. With Motion Flow tool, you can also freely combine individual animation files, and the joints between them are completely invisible.

After that comes into play Physique module. In it the skeletal framework “put on” the volume envelope. For combining these key components used objects, such as the elbow or pelvis. For the success of this operation, it is necessary that each of the skeleton bone to fit the size of the relevant part of the shell. This work is tedious and takes a lot of time, but after the completion of the module surface in the Physique mesh will automatically be animated in full accordance with the movements of the skeleton, deforming and stretching it wrong.

The last step – setting of shell deformations that mimic muscle movement, the formation of skin folds and other subtle effects. This step is most important to achieve realism, but it is also the most difficult.

Character Studio – a tool that is aimed directly at professional animators, and to work with them not interfere experience with 3D Studio MAX and deep knowledge of anatomy and physics. However, all these works and investments can bring great rewards.

III. Stars-rounders

Nevertheless, experience has shown that the future – namely for wagons packages, and we consider them as “top-down” by the five most popular programs on the PC platform.

Maya NT 2.0

Title: Maya NT 2.0

Platform: PC / SGI

Manufacturer: Alias ??| Wavefront


Welcome to the big leagues, where the Maya, the outstanding project of Alias | Wavefront, is by far the most powerful and productive package for 3D-graphics and in the movies, and on television. Advanced particle system, rich tools for NURBS and polygonal modeling, inverse kinematics unmatched, unique styling of the skin and hair, flexible open interface and extensive programming capabilities using a scripting language the MEL , of course, put forward the package to the forefront. A means of interactive editing of materials – IPR (Interactive Photorealistic Rendering) – left a fantastic impression. In addition, due to the fact that the Maya package completely rewritten by new technologies, it is far ahead of potential competitors as possible interactive work, and in rendering speed. Moreover, the package can be easily extended to arbitrarily set by the user, to the fullest extent possible to meet any specific requirements.

Product Features:

Maya FX – rigid and soft-body dynamics.

Maya Artisan – modeling objects by drawing on their surface.

Maya Fusion – a modified version of the famous Digital Fusion program eyeon company for post-processing and compositing.

Maya Fur – means to “grow” realistic hair and fur.

Maya Cloth – the development of three-dimensional garments in the pattern and “dressing» 3D-models.

Maya Live – a three-dimensional rotoscoping.

IPR – Interactive Photorealistic Render.

Powerful animation tools.

Developed a system of particles.

Substitution of objects instead of particle effects and programming.

Controls the display of textures on the screen and in Multilister window.

Flexible scripting language MEL.

User customizable interface.

A complete set of tools for NURBS- and polygonal modeling.

Ultrafast Boolean operations on polygons and splines.

Built-in effects such as fire, smoke, etc.

Multiprocessor flexible rendering.


Everything you could wish for modeling and animation of three-dimensional characters.

Today is the holy grail – the source of immortality – for all 3D-animators.


Expensive ($ 9,000.).

It takes a long period of training.

For the money management could be better.

System Requirements:

Minimum: Pentium-233, a decent graphics card, 128 MB RAM, Windows NT 4, sp3.

Recommended: Pentium II-300, the OpenGL-accelerator, 256 MB of RAM.

Professional package for the three-dimensional animation of the characters and special effects from Alias ??/ Wavefront company today sells for half the price, but still nine thousand dollars – is not it too much?

In the end, the price of the software for 3D shaken and began to fall. The first on this road stood firm ElectricImage (now it belongs to the Play Company, Inc.), which brings together “cinematic» – Film and TV – Broadcast-version of its animation system in a single package (supplementing them with new modeler) and began to sell it for 2295 USD . instead of the previous seven thousand. Next was the company Alias ??Maya package, which can now be bought for half the price of the former! Finally, and SoftImage cut its base 3D-package so that it can compete with the Maya. In short, now is the best time to go to the store for 3D-Nirvana (assuming of course that you have the money).

However, the question arises: why are falling prices for 3D-applications? The fact that companies such as ILM, Disney and Pixar’s, can only buy a limited number of software, and the market – the market of professional animators – finally began to dry up. That is why the company Alias ??| Wavefront has decided to conquer a new market – one of the largest 3D-markets in the world – market 3D Studio MAX users.

For less than the price of two packages MAX (and if you do not consider the cost of numerous additional modules) 3D small-company (or even one, but a wealthy individual) can get a full set of Maya. Do not think that for this price you get only basic kit. No, now here and Maya Base, and Maya Rendering, and Maya FX, and Maya Artisan, and Fusion Lite, and converter EPS. All this is now called Maya Complete for the Windows NT. There is another version, Maya Unlimited, which includes and Maya Cloth, and the Fur, and Power Modelling, and Maya Live, and two additional licenses for rendering modules.

As a result, for both platforms (Windows NT and IRIX) will be built a whole line of products.

To the begining

To the begining

What’s in the box?

Maya – an advanced system for 3D-modeling, animation and rendering . From the outset, it was built in order to provide the user the necessary working environment with a high degree of flexibility. Its interface at first glance is stunning. For this, he does not look expensive applications as something special.

The main window, as usual, divided into panels and menus. In addition, the top and bottom of the screen there are strips with the main menu, tools for selecting objects, timeline and ribbon animations scrolling. To the right is a vertical bar, which shows all the available channels of the selected object animation. If you activate immediately all the elements of the interface, the operating 3D-space can be quite small – even for a 21-inch monitor, but the company Alias ??stashed in his sleeve a number of different tricks and tricks that will help you work more effectively in Maya. It is because of this, in particular, Maya did not initially make a strong impression. It is hidden a lot of secrets – just click.

The Maya used a system of “hot” windows ( HotBox ) and “custom” menu (Marking Menus), are popping up from under the mouse cursor when you press a key “gap”. This includes all Maya menu, so that you can remove from the screen all the main menu and set yourself plenty of working space. In addition, there are five regions HotBox that also provide access to menus and commands. You are free to reconfigure Marking-menu and thus to organize up to 15 sets its own menu, belonging to various Maya problems.

In combination with the context menu that opens when you press the right mouse button, it turns out that you can disable all the elements of the interface, in addition to working windows, while maintaining access to all tools and commands. The incredible flexibility!

Depending on the other

Working with objects on the screen, you can use graphical 3D-manipulators. They are available at any time when you need something to move, scale or rotate on the screen. Handling and movement scale (Scale and Translate) axes are depicted as a support point or an object in the center of a plurality of currently selected objects. The selected objects are marked on each of the axes of red, green and blue and are always visible through other objects regardless of the mode in which they are located – wireframe or shaded.

Rotate manipulator rotation appears as groups of three circles arranged at 90 degrees to each other (for each of three axes) and a fourth circle that is always rotated perpendicular to the current viewing direction. Edit the objects in three-dimensional space using the 3D-manipulators is very simple, so you can grab handle any of the axes, and to scale, move and rotate the object only along the axis which you are currently interested in (regardless of your current position in a perspective view) . Thus, manipulators, without canceling the orthogonal projections, provide an opportunity to work in the same, only the big, Perspective View window.

Orient and navigate in 3D-space is also very easy, however, as in other programs developed originally for IRIX systems (UNIX), you’ll need a three-button mouse. While one your hand hovering over the button Alt (or “gap” in HotBox), using various combinations of mouse buttons, you can perform the Dolly team, Zoom, Tumble and Track. by Maya Travel easily combined with HotBox, with interactive preview windows in tinted form and process simulation using manipulators and implemented a natural and intuitive way.

Maya architecture is based on the concept of the so-called nodes, depending (Dependency Nodes), according to which every event animation or modeling process can be described as the flow of data through the system nodes where one node output is the input of another. Maybe this sounds boring, but this concept provides an incredible level of control over the hidden process modeling and animation.

In the Hypergraph window provides a visual representation of nodes and links between them, and the connection can be in any way modified. For example, a simple NURBS-sphere consists of the Transform node, the node and the Input Shape node. If you add a texture to the sphere in the Hypergraph will appear several new nodes corresponding to the lighting, materials, rendering, and so on. To avoid confusion, you can consider the components from different angles: for example, you can make the visible were the only components that affect the attributes of shading spheres and their connection – incoming, outgoing and bilateral.

NURBS and other

Maya program provides an environment for full procedural modeling using surface NURBS-and polygons. Surfaces can be “stapled” to each other and build a smooth transition between them; the faces of the joints can be done and to round them chamfer – all under your control. At Extrude Polygon tool, you can help to build from the bottom of the spacecraft  – just highlighting the individual and pulling faces. In addition, a sophisticated set of 3D-manipulators can manage extrusion while maintaining symmetry on both sides of the model. When the construction of polygonal model in low resolution will be completed, it can be smooth, to give it a more organic, rounded shape. After that, all the editing operations performed by you on the model, will be in the Construction History list. In addition, for each node editing – such as extrusion or chamfering operations – you can open a list of attributes that, if desired, can also be edited.

Modeling operations and all manipulations are performed in the scene with lightning speed, especially with the use of OpenGL-accelerator. All materials and shaders are excellent, and although the final rendering in Maya would not so quickly as we would like, you can take advantage of a unique tool – IPR, which allows you to customize the materials already in the rendered scene. content management system, and texture (it is called Multilister) was not very intuitive and has caused a lot of headaches, but in version 2 Maya software introduces a new, much simpler materials system and the interface drug-and-drop, combined with the already mentioned IPR help you easily cope with any difficulties.

It’s simple – just the way you like

Once you calculate the interactive process of placing textures and hardware process of rendering and display will become for you a completely simple and open. In addition, Maya fully supports implicit grid (the so-called UV-coordinates), and you get absolute control over the process of placing texture using Texture View or IPR of the same window. In the Texture A View Take the UV-point model shown as if through a projection texture. Thereafter be isolated UV-point and to move them so that the pattern coincides with a texture map. Model geometry is not changed, just the texture is very precisely placed on its surface. And using IPR, you will see the changes directly to the actual object in your scene.

Animation in Maya is very deep, that is, you can animate almost everything. It uses either interactively customizable speaker, or key frames technology. Of course, Maya is intended primarily for character animation, and for this purpose there is provided a set of special tools. For example, for animation with seamless shell characters in Maya used skeletons with joints. Joints are controlled by certain points of the model surface. Using tools such as Flexors (flexors), Wire deformers (deformers framing grid), Sculpt deformers (Sculptural deformers) and Lattices (spatial lattice), the characters can “build muscle” to cover their wrinkles and create very beautiful pleats at the folds. Furthermore, by using Expressions (programmable expression) can be made so that the folds were dependent on the movements of the joints, and will not need to manually align the keyframe.

Conversion of persons (the so-called morphing) tool run Blend Shapes, which can be controlled by the user interface elements. In fact, user-defined interface can control virtually everything they want, so if you do all the hard work in advance, you can arrange to have stayed only a relatively simple set of knobs, sliders and buttons that will make your character run, jump, singing and even explode!

Stocked capacity?

Let’s say you can afford such a program. And how are you with the equipment? Will Maya work on a cheap PC? We ran this program on a PII 233, and while rendering lasted terribly long, modeling, animation and all speakers perform with extraordinary ease.

If you have at least 128 MB of memory (which is in fact a necessary minimum for serious graphics work), the only limiting factor for the use of Maya software (in particular, with the Artisan module) will be for you to choose a graphics card. We strongly recommend that you OpenGL-class accelerator Diamond Fire 4000 or Elsa Gloria XL (and the best results were obtained on the map ASUS V-5200 c 96 MB of RAM, Dual Glint + Glint Gamma, which costs about $ 2,500.). Only in this way you will be able to work in the Artisan module with the appropriate comfort.

Thus, Maya is the most comprehensive and powerful set of tools for all areas of 3D-graphics, animation and visual effects. This is undoubtedly the best package to date for professionals in the field of computer graphics, combines all the latest advances in one interface. Of course, such a program is expensive, but it’s worth it! And with the advent of Maya NT 2.0 finally erased the line between professional graphics stations and desktops. Now we can say with certainty: professional graphic station – this is where the Maya package can work!

Fast molding sculptures in the module Artisan

Maya + OpenGL = …

Whether dynamic!

Edit surfaces

Softimage | 3D 3.8

Title: Softimage | 3D 3.8

Platform: PC / SGI

Manufacturer: Softimage


Polygons, polygons, “patch” -patchi, a NURBS surface, and “bubbles” -metaboly (metaclay), excellent animation and spectacular special effects – all this is implemented in Softimage. The program has a wide popularity in the gaming industry and is used to create and animate characters in movies and on television. The only drawback of the package on the PC platform are its excessive demands on computer resources: you must have decent 3D-accelerator with support for OpenGL, large memory capacity and high processing power capabilities. However, programmers, animators and always recommend this package.

Product Features:

Reducing polygons (simplification of the model).

New training programs in architecture and animation characters.

The reconstructed primitive skeletons.

Actions – Actions.

New converters game file formats.

Maps rendering (Render maps).

“Digital Clay» – MetaClay.

Twister – interactive rendering.

Programmable rendering MentalRay.

Developed means to character animation.


One of the best animation systems available on the market today.


Archaic interface.

High system requirements.

It is not enough fast visualization.

It requires a large monitor.


System Requirements:

Minimum: workstation with Intel Pentium Pro or Digital Alpha processor; Windows NT3.51 SP4, Windows NT 4.0 SP3; decent graphics accelerator OpenGL; 64 MB RAM; 1 GB HDD; virtual memory file (swap file) at least 200 MB.

Recommended: CPU Pentium II; 128 MB of RAM.

Softimage – one of the best programs of 3D-graphics. But on the approach already Sumatra – a program of the same company, but a new generation. So is it worth paying the money for the new Softimage?

The program Softimage | 3D is widely known as one of the best animation systems. With this package (the ownership of which is now owned by the giant post-production – the company Avid) created a huge number of stunning special effects for a number of feature films, video games and television programs. The latest version of its software and without a huge tool, especially useful for developers of computer games, even more enriched.

Unfortunately, for the successful work in this package requires a powerful workstation (testing conducted on Intergraph TDZ 2000 GL2 with a 450 MHz processor Xeon, and a powerful graphics card).

We looked at Extreme-version of the program. Unlike base, it includes some important features such as the system of particles , rendering module MentalRay and MetaClay. However, for normal operation, we needed a decent graphic station with professional 3D-accelerator.

Old and experienced

Softimage software | 3D enough “old”: it began to develop about ten years ago, and since it is constantly being improved, all to a greater and greater extent to meet the needs of professionals in this rapidly evolving field like computer animation (although, as the Alias ??company experience | Wavefront, it is time to rewrite).

Softimage has already begun to develop programs designed to replace Softimage | 3D on this field, so that the version 3.8 will be the last version of it. Out in light of the new generation system, codenamed Sumatra is planned in the near future, so Softimage | 3D 3.8 is very little time to prove his worth. However, some features of the program – such as programmable animation (animation sequencing) and “action» (actions) – hint at what will be realized in Sumatra system and can help the most eager to get an idea of ??how to be built work in 3D in the near future.

If you get to the core Softimage methodology, the first thing that is striking – attention to detail, referring to the process and performance. While some may find it offensive to their personal desires freedom, access to scenes, models, textures, and the rest part of the project is strictly predetermined and controlled manner. You do not just haphazardly save objects and scenes to your hard drive – you must necessarily create a database that will tell the program where it is.

When you use of Softimage, you have your own directory database (Database Directory), containing scenes, objects, rendering results and the corresponding subdirectories. It is also possible existence of other databases. With the Database Manager (Database Manager) is possible directly from Softimage to create and destroy folders, move databases from directory to directory and database elements from base to base.

In the process of studying the package we constantly discovering new minor procedures and technological methods will undoubtedly demonstrate the depth and fullness of understanding of the authors of the program of the manufacturing process, which involved Softimage | 3D. This includes the ability to save different versions of files. For example, if the current version number 5 is set, every time you perform the save operation, will produce a new file, and the previous version will remain intact. When limiting the number of versions to be saved, the oldest one will be deleted. This feature of the program is called the set and forget ( «plug and forget”) means that you can always go back to the previous versions of their models or scenes without worrying especially about saving versions.

dinosaur Times

All this, of course, is good, but there are in Softimage and something not very pleasant. Firstly, this interface. There two ways about it: the archaic interface, similar to the dinosaur – and not just because of the age, but also because of their size and clumsiness. Forget about modern interfaces, configurable by the user. Here you will get a full WYSIWYG, that is what you see – and then have. The monitor, which had at our disposal, could not authorize more than 1280×1024, and the interface is allowed to operate with only two resolutions: 1024×768 and 1280×1024.

The design of the main window moved virtually unchanged from the workstations in the center – four viewports, at the bottom – the time scale at the top – with the color bar switch modules, and on each side – column menu cell. These cells can be developed to allow access to various tools and commands of the program. Each module has its own set of menu cells. By the way, the modules – it is divided into five sections, of which, in fact, is full of Softimage animation package. Modules are called Model (Model), Motion (movement), Actor (Actor), Matter (Material) and Tools (Tools).

Modeling is performed in module Model, rendering and texturing – Matter in the module and so on. First, it is resulting in confusion, – access to the cells of the menu because when unfolding panel is activated, the cursor disappears. When you move the mouse, the corresponding commands are displayed, and you can click to select one or the other of them, then the cursor appears again.

It should be noted that Softimage using a three-button mouse, and each menu cell has “memory”, so if any of them click the middle mouse button, you activate the last command executed from the cell. Enormous time savings! In addition, mouse actions and modification operations Softimage uses so-called Supra-keys (keyboard shortcuts, or “hot” keys, as we used to call them). Using these keys in combination with a three-button mouse, you can navigate through Softimage very quickly.

brick by brick

To construct the object in a program is provided variety of tools which can only be higher caliber 3D-system. These tools support and polygon and spline, and NURBS-objects.

Among the most notable of which are the following: construction of smooth transitions between the NURBS-curves (NURBS blending); deformation of objects on the basis of a curve or surface; mesh deformation (lattice deformation), as well as an advanced algorithm polygon reduction (polygon reduction). The latter algorithm, introduced in the new version, especially beneficial to game developers, where efficiency is paramount polygons.

Unlike other 3D-package in which computer animation characters skeletons used in Softimage animated model by directly binding these vertices smooth surfaces with predetermined patterns skeletal joints. Thereby, on the one hand, eliminated many common problems, such as undesirable effects on adjacent parts of the skeleton region, but on the other hand, while new problems arise, such as an organic create skin integument and muscular?

Some of these problems are easily overcome by the use of a bulk and cluster animation. Clusters – a user-defined group of points that can be animated as a whole. They are particularly useful in facial animation, because you can immediately move his entire groups of muscles of the face, such as the corners of the lips, eyebrows and so on. After you specify which points are included in the cluster, it will be presented on the display as a single null object with control knobs (for more visual simplicity, the points themselves will disappear).

And much more…

What else is hidden in this tremendous program? In addition to animation keyframing here possible procedural animation. For example, the procedure Flock Stretch-Q , which simulates the effect of inertia, as well as the dynamics of the collision objects and movements under the influence of gravity.

Of course, here there is a full set of inverse kinematics necessary in any serious 3D-animation package for the characters, but apart from that the program provides also an expression. This extremely powerful tool allows you to manage any animatable parameter of an object by any parameter of another object. For example, the position of the object may determine the visibility of another object, and the rotation angle of the joint of the skeleton can affect the shape of the surface of the muscle. The combination of clusters and expressions gives the user the highest level of control animated objects: they become subservient to you as puppets.

In addition, you can create in their scenes elements of the graphical user interface – simple sliders and switches that with the help of expressions can be linked to clusters. For example, moving the slider along the X axis can affect the Y coordinate of the handle cluster. Thus, it is possible, for example, to make his character blinking. By building a long chain of related parameters can be controlled by a variety of aspects of objects and build the most incredible complexity of movement from jumping to sneeze.

Animation is done the traditional method of keyframes, and for this purpose are provided in Softimage same time management tools, as well as in LightWave program. Below the screen is the timeline slider and Play buttons. Press Save Key menu command, you set keyframes and commit key values ??animate attributes. Clicking the middle mouse button, you can repeat doing the same menu commands, which greatly facilitates the process of fixing the keyframes.

If you want to see what you do, you will need Dope Sheet. This window is shown time position of key frames on the timeline. It is here that applies a new feature of the program – the Actions .

The Action (ie action or operation) – is a set of animation object (such as running, walking, sneezing, or punching), stored in a convenient, single “package”. This package can move, duplicate, move into the Dope Sheet and thus very quickly build animations from trial sketches blocks.

But what’s really nice to Softimage program – is its ability to interpolate the movement between individual actions. For example, you have a scene where the hero runs and then sneezes. Between these actions there is a gap. This gap is automatically populated with a piece in which two steps – running and sneezing – are interpolated with each other. Thus, a smooth transition between the actions. Unfortunately, the action is impossible to impose on each other, but in a non-linear animation system, Sumatra, and this option will be exercised.


Rendering in Softimage software has always been implemented well enough, but with the advent of the algorithm calculation ray – MentalRay its quality further improved. Only RenderMan provides better quality than MentalRay, but for best results, it is necessary to program seriously. MentalRay maintains its own library procedural textures shading algorithms, and learning how to write their own shaders, you further increase the efficiency of this program properties.

In addition, the package includes the Extreme particle system and MetaClay. This is a very powerful system with a “digital clay” of a metabolite for intuitive and organic modeling, which (in combination with OpenGL hardware support) operates in real time. Each ball can be scaled in any direction, and you can set the resolution of potential surfaces obtained at any time.

New converters formats, including support DirectX5, plus a special tool called RenderMap for game developers in the program are also provided. This module converts map objects with surfaces, as well as information about the brightness and shadow, which is included in texture. All this gives a special gaming realism without requiring additional rendering.

Soflimage – certainly powerful and development of 3D-system capable to satisfy the most demanding user. Since the prices for such products are constantly fluctuating, it is quite able to quickly recoup itself. In light of the expected appearance of Sumatra package worth Soflimage new version may be questionable, but the Twister – interactive rendering of the next generation – will work in conjunction with version 3.8. (This is due to the fact that this version comes out right in front of Sumatra.) In general, the Softimage – absolutely stunning as the program according to his ability, and in the ease of use. It can be characterized as one of the most powerful in this market sector. If you can afford such a luxury, it certainly will not be disappointed.

Precision transformation and functional curves

Softimage | 3D 3.8 Extreme

Lip Animation by key configurations

3D Studio MAX R3

Title: 3D Studio MAX R3

Platform: PC

Manufacturer: Kinetix


Software for modeling, animation and rendering a PC running Windows 95 / NT.

Today, MAX – it is one of the most popular, if not the most popular package 3D-graphics and animation. The oldest program on the PC platform now works not only with the “nets” (polygons), but with non-uniform rational B-splines (a NURBS), allowing you to use it for complex modeling. But the services of professionals in the field of video – and tracking movement, and advanced rendering and thousands of other opportunities that are successfully used in film and television. The results of this package you can see in many Hollywood films (such as “Lost in Space» – Lost in Space).

MAX has rich possibilities of modeling and animation. To create an object, you can use meshes, Bezier curves, particles and surface NURBS-. When an object is created, you can apply a number of modifiers that without destroying the object, its shape is adjusted to the required form. These modifiers preserve the order of its work on the stack, and at any time you can edit them. An example of how this can be used, – bending and twisting of the cylinder. Even after the operation is completed, you can go back and increase the number of polygons, “breaking” the original into multiple parts (tesselate), in order to achieve greater smoothness. When you finally got the desired shape, can be folded stack to simplify the scene and reduce the load on the processor. MAX gives you access to the tops and allows to enter the sub-object mode for fine editing.

All operations, even operations on vertices can be animated. To do this, just go to the desired frame, and adjust the object or use complex operations inverse kinematics, which are defined using the function curves or mathematical expressions in the Track View window. This type of project reminds the editor of keyframes (dope sheet) – it displays all the keyframes for each animated parameter. In addition, MAX provides a set of filters, which help to give a stunning flow of information digestible form.

MAX is able to share files with virtually any program; It supports all common input and output parameters. The file of any supported type can be used as texture or as a background. If used as a background AVI-file with sound, the same file can be downloaded to an audio track in the Track View hierarchy. This powerful method of image synchronization with speech – Movie actor, uttering phrases – can be directly compared with animatable character.

The program is easy to work with any textures. You can assign a particular object or layer (face level) UV-coordinates for texturing. For the object can be set multiple sets of coordinates, the two channels can be mixed to create smooth transitions between texture maps. MAX supports planar (planar), spherical, cylindrical and cubic (box) methods of display screens and patches (patches), as well as full UV-parameterization NURBS-objects. Materials in the program can be animated, and for each material supports 12 types of cards. For refractive and reflective materials can be used selective ray tracing. The MAX includes material called Matte / Shadow, which can be used for the construction of shadows from transparent objects, with full transfer of the background (which is ideal for green screen masking).

The open architecture, user-friendly interface, a large number of plug-ins and add-ons (plug-ins) – just for all occasions, provided this package unprecedented success and great popularity around the world.

New in 3D Studio MAX R3:

Using external links: the inclusion of specific objects or scenes from other files. Ample opportunities for the creation of scripts and macros: scripts can be specified button on the panel, edited and applied to any object. Customizable interface: create your own toolbars, moving and docking of any means of control, hiding and deleting anything; Loading and saving the configuration.

Recycled rendering: four new shader and 11 new filters for smoothing (anti-aliasing); Smoothing adjustment; New types of materials; interactive effects rendering. Organic Modeling: NURMS interactive grid antialiasing (polygonal) model; improved performance NURBS; New parameters patches and splines; change the surface texture (displacement map), for any geometry.

Displaying in a hierarchical scene flowchart. Hardware rendering a simple polygonal model for game inside MAX applications using a special graphics card. Easier imposition of texture coordinates and alignment control. Table of external links for use in modeling various files. Skin and bone deformities management at character animation and expansion dynamics capabilities.


In those cases, when Mach himself can not cope with the task, be sure there is a free or shareware module is ideally suited for this purpose. A large amount of literature, training courses and manuals.


It requires serious training. Weak inverse kinematics. System Requirements: Minimum: Pentium-200, a decent graphics card, 64 MB RAM, Windows 95/98 or Windows NT 4.0 SP3.  Recommended: Pentium II, OpenGL-accelerator, 128 MB of RAM.

And then, finally, there was the third version of 3D Studio MAX, which is changing the face of the popular 3D-packet. Is it an expression of the aspirations of all of its users?

The company, formerly known as the Kinetix today announced a new version of its famous package – 3D Studio MAX R3. Discreet – the media division of the Autodesk, which is now entered and Kinetix (. See the sidebar “Game Name” ), announced that there incorporated many new features required for game developers and visual effects. The new package has a new, more convenient and flexible interface significantly improved its performance and completely redesigned rendering module.

However, while the second version (R2) provided users with new capabilities thousand, R3 is less concentrated on the new content, and more – by increasing convenience and ease of use MAX package. “Highlight” of these innovations is a new, fully customizable user interface.

Now you can create your own toolbars by simply moving them to the desired button, or by selecting them from the list of commands. After the formation of the new panel, you can place it anywhere on the screen or dock with the existing one. The resulting configuration can be saved, and as a result the program is distributed to different types of interfaces, which will emulate the other packages. In addition, added a context menu that can generate its own list of options for each particular object or command and appear when you right-click on it.

Strengthening capacity

MAXScript, which appeared in the second version, in R3 is much enhanced by Macro Recorder. Yes, it was a powerful language, but it required a lot of time for development, and now it will be easier to use and you can automatically generate a result. Using Macro Recorder, you get the opportunity to record virtually any sequence of their actions, modifiers or commands (including the work of additional modules – plug-ins), and then save it as MAX Script standard. Thereafter, the script (description of your actions) can be placed on a dashboard as a “smart” buttons to apply to any object. In other words, the new interface – completely independent and object-oriented (such an approach – rumoured – will be incorporated in Light Wave 6.0).

Of the other small but useful changes should be highlighted: the ability to pan around an object in the simulation, visualization, transformation, blocking when creating any surface for easy alignment, clipping visualization and flashing (increased brightness) of the selected planes. The mineral “borrowing” it is possible to note the emergence of Schematic View window lets you view the scene in the form of block diagram objects with their hierarchy display.

Change rendering

One of the most criticized aspects of 3D Studio MAX has always been rendering (rendering of the scene). The R3 is completely redesigned with the preservation of the former speed, but with a significant increase in the number of parameters. All rendering steps (sampling, shaders, shader algorithms and smoothing) in the new version are the additional modules (plug-ins), and allow arbitrary replacement or writing custom programs.

As a result, there were four new shader that subtly alter the final image visualization: Strauss, calculation of multilayer glare (multi-layer specular highlights), Shellac, and Oren-Nayler-Blinn, and to display a realistic metallic effects and even added Anisotropic. Eleven new filters for smoothing (antialiasing) produce a variety of actions – from the familiar from previous versions of 3D Studio MAX species to style a la Light Wave crispness, full or “blur”.

There were also new rendering effects that are added interactively at the stage of post-processing and instantaneously appear in rendering. This means that when you add a new effect is no need to re-count the image – it appears immediately on top of the already finished image. Among these effects are included in the basic delivery of the MAX, you can select the star (Star), imitation DOF (Depth of Field) or “grainy” film (Film Grain), already familiar to users for additions.

In the modeling area remains which have now become standard surface NURBS-but also added so-called NURMS-grid. NURMS (Non-Uniform Rational Mesh Smooth) – is a non-uniform rational smoothed network in general is an extension of the polygon tools, which have been in MAX from the outset. Surface Tools (tools for working with spline surfaces) received a new object – Editable Patch and many new tools for working with splines and spline means. Working with NURBS significantly accelerated, as a useful means of texture distortion geometry (displacement mapping) now extends to any type of object.

MAX R3 finally got the long-awaited system “bones” for character animation and skin deformation control system, similar to what was implemented in Character Studio. In addition, significantly improved dynamics: added to simulate the effects of “soft body» (soft-body), allowing to simulate cloth, clothing and other flexible surface.

Forward and upward

3D Studio MAX R3 can not, of course, have all the features of other packages, but Discreet company listens to the wishes of its users (of which more than 90,000 around the world), meet customer requirements and make every effort to maintain the popularity of its package.

RenderMan and MentalRay come in MAX

LightWave 3D 6.0

Title: LightWave 3D 6.0

Platform: PC / Mac / Amiga

Manufacturer: NewTek


According to the company NewTek, LightWave is used more than 40 thousand digital artists, which in itself is a good incentive for the promotion of this inexpensive, but completely professional program. And really – is widespread, the most popular tool to create very intricate patterns, excellent animation and stunning effects for television (remember the “Babylon 5″ TV series), computer games and products for large screens.

LightWave – good spatial modeling tools, animation and rendering. Originally designed as a supplement to the Video Toaster package on the Commodore Amiga platform company, LightWave definitely outgrown his parents, and is considered one of the best 3D-packet. Only the fact that on the Mac, and PC, you can use the services of a powerful 3D-package at an affordable price, brings LightWave undisputed leader in the ratio of “price / performance”.

Due to extremely powerful tools for modeling, character animation capabilities and the ability to use directional lights (spotlights) as image projectors and video as a texture map, the system is dominated by the market and post-processing programs (post-production) for broadcast.

LightWave consists of two modules – Modeller and Layout. You are building facilities in Modeller, save them and then load into the Layout, where they can be animated. This program is based on key frames, and includes many features such as inverse kinematics, morphing and MetaNurbs, which makes the creation and animation of characters one of the strengths of LightWave. Once LightWave worked only on Amiga computers (and was one of the first 3D-packet transferred from there to Windows NT), and now it’s available on virtually any platform. The rich past is felt in the unusual appearance and unique structure of the program screen. Although the screen

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