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Old 02-06-2012, 09:18 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Maya, 3ds Max, Cinema 4D - which one?

Hi,

I am due to upgrade my Cinema 4D to R13. But as I have been doing more with SL with it I wondered if it is worth now going for Maya or 3ds Max for an more efficient SL pipeline/workflow. As my knowledge is pretty limited on 3ds Max and Maya I have some working knowledge - I wanted to get people's opinion on which application they prefer for SL specific work. It's a huge amount of money which I have saved up so feeling rather nervous on which option to select. The upgrade is cheaper but I need something sustainable for SL as I intend to be doing SL content for the mid-term at least.

I love everything about Cinema 4D for non SL work as a side matter.

The core issue I seem to have with C4D is baking textures for the SL part. I have been doing a workflow of creating the unw map for the object (some scenes have multi objects) baking texture first for shadows, then illumiance and colour etc. Faking the GI aspect in addition with those as the baker doesn't support GI. Taking each layer then combining in Photoshop - tweaking like crazy, then back to Cinema 4D replacing it in the colour channel for the final texture for upload via Collada. I create one model with shadows and one with out so people in SL with shadows enabled can switch the texture with a script. (So I do a second load of the textures for that aspect).

The two issues I have (a) Quality of the baking before optimizing for SL is hit and miss even with multiple variables tested, spot on UVW maps and settings including blur offset for floors sorted, super sampling then carpet bombing style with QMC etc etc (this could be user problem!) (b) workflow time is painful to say the least. Both could simply be my inept skillset! I have done further training to refresh in these areas but it's not appearing to improve either one.

I am excited to go and either upgrade (and get more training to figure out why I am so rubbish at baking textures) or get something new!
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Old 02-06-2012, 10:46 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I'm not using either of these (modo + Zbrush girl here!) but Maya seems to be more popular for SL content creation than 3ds max, judging from the convos I see on plurk and similar. Meaning, more potential help if you get stuck on something.

What's your issue with the baking quality? Grainy textures?
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Old 02-06-2012, 02:41 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Perhaps I need to go to Modo and Zbrush!! How do you find the combo for SL use?

In Cinema 4D -that's the exact issue - grainy on the colour or illumination channel bake (shadows is fine that I take from the environmnent).

I have a sneaking feeling I am missing something major for baked textures as I never used that aspect before for my non SL work. I have searched high and low for what consistutes a standard setting for bake texture for SL models and tried every combination I know of to no avail.

I am at the point of thinking about exporting into blender and baking there!
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Old 02-06-2012, 05:03 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Try blender. It's free, is as capable as maya and 3dmax, and the support community in SL is MUCH larger.
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Old 02-06-2012, 11:24 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Well, if you have an extended version of PS, once you do your bake in your 3d program, you can do all you texture work in PS and import the model to work on while you work in PS.

Creating a workflow takes time but mine is kinda model, ao bake or texture bake, import model to PS, apply textures in PS, finish in PS. Extended can import obj files and dae files.
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Old 02-07-2012, 01:30 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Hi maya is more heavy commercial use and a big investment to use for just second life wierdly i was reading this today Next Steps for Mesh Import by jack linen, you said here in 2010 you already purchased maya so maybe you saving for some other programme Next Steps for Mesh Import - Page 8 - Second Life and i click on your blog link it says you have spent most your time in maya so i mis understand perhapsi recommend blender as a good alternative for second life though
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Old 02-07-2012, 03:24 AM   #7 (permalink)
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If you're going to buy one of the heavy hitters you should probably base your decision on what else you want to do with it beyond SL. Max and Maya are both good for building meshes for SL, and AFAIK both have SL rigs available for doing rigged clothing and avatar meshes. Beyond that Max is geared at the generalist, game, and visualization markets. Maya is geared more for character animation and VFX work. Cinema 4D is most popular in the motion graphics market.

One additional plus that Max has going for it over Maya as far as SL work goes is that it has built in 3d paint tools (called viewport canvas). While not a competitor to more robust 3d paint tools like Zbrush, Mudbox, or BodyPaint, it's excellent for seam touchup.

If you're really just interested in doing mesh work for SL you may want to just add Blender to your toolbox and stick with Cinema4D for static mesh modeling and use blender for avatar assets. You'll save between $3000-$4000.
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Old 02-07-2012, 04:38 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Charlotte Bartlett View Post
Perhaps I need to go to Modo and Zbrush!! How do you find the combo for SL use?
If I had the $$ I'd go with maya in a heartbeat

It's not a bad combo per se, but it's not the best either. I don't have the newest version of modo so I have to manually transfer stuff from Zbrush and back which is a bit of an annoyance. The retopologizing tools suck in both programs, so I picked up Topogun. Neither of them has tools for rigging and weight painting so I use Blender for that. (Yes, Zbrush has its own version of armatures for poseable characters, but it's not useable for SL. I've heard that modo 50x has much better rigging / anim features but I'm still on 302, and I've been told that the 50x rigging features aren't useful for SL either) Neither has a cloth simulator. Zbrush's interface can be pretty at first, but I've grown to love it. There's quite a few folks using Zbrush for SL work, but I've only found two fellow modo users so far. modo 30x doesn't have a native Collada exporter and while Zbrush has a plugin for Collada / sculpt-map export, it doesn't handle rigged mesh, so again, I use Blender for that. modo's material preset library is so-so. And yes, with so many different programs in the pipeline, there's tons of things that can go wrong while transferring stuff back and forth.

So, um .. that's a lot of negative points. Positive ones: It's a very affordable combo, modo + Zbrush will set you back around 1500USD. I like modo's user interface, it's clean and easy and very scriptable (in perl, python and LUA). modo's licensing system is great - the license belongs to "you the person" and is not locked to a specific computer. It allows installation on multiple computers which you can then use as networked render nodes. I like modo's renderer - it makes pretty pictures with minimal poking - and if you have a modo version >= 401, there's various commercial addons with materials and studio lighting setups for reasonable prices (I think around 100USD each). Zbrush is very much fun, and with the addition of dynamesh it's again one step closer to "sculpt stuff and don't worry about topology". Also, all Zbrush upgrades have been free so far.

Quote:
In Cinema 4D -that's the exact issue - grainy on the colour or illumination channel bake (shadows is fine that I take from the environmnent).
I used to have issues with grainy textures in modo as well, it was .. um .. irradiance rays not high enough I think. There were a bunch of posts about such issues on the modo forums and I just went with all the recommendations until I found one that helped. I haven't been able to find good tutorials on baking, so I just go with the forums, looking for posts from people who can't figure out why their renders suck, and with photography websites to understand lighting setup.
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Old 02-07-2012, 07:14 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chip Midnight View Post

One additional plus that Max has going for it over Maya as far as SL work goes is that it has built in 3d paint tools (called viewport canvas). While not a competitor to more robust 3d paint tools like Zbrush, Mudbox, or BodyPaint, it's excellent for seam touchup.
Actually, Maya also includes built-in 3D paint tools. It's a very long time since I've used Max so I haven't had a chance to try the viewport canvas features , but after having a quick read through some online tutorials it does seem that Max's set of 3D paint tools is more advanced (then again I'm hardly a Maya expert, so could be mistaken).


I've been considering switching back to Max myself for mesh, since in the past Max was often a first choice for games designers working with low-polygon modelling, but first I think I'm going to have a play with hexagon/DAZ Studio 4 seeing as they were kind enough to give it away for free.
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Old 02-07-2012, 03:00 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Thank you I really appreciate the ideas.

Jacqal on the grain sounds similiar to what I am finding. I have found Unity by the way has a few simliar aspects to it for the import elements so some of their tutorials around baking are useful. My gap in experience I am fast trying to close is the SL compatability/import and prepping the models versus what I do for non SL. Thank you also for the feedback on the options you are using - I will take a closer look at those too.

Milia on C4D and Maya that was when I worked under a creative agency who also did SL projects. Upgrade / Licence costs as of now are my own to bear and I have saved for a fair while to make the leap so as I have to move to something by end of the week I am looking at options. Blender I have considered for some workflow aspects but for now it's not going to stand up for what I need outside of SL. It could be worth learning (and I have tried) to split my needs for SL and RL.

My original plan was to take the C4D licence with me and do the planned R13 upgrade. It does tick off everything outside of SL I need with the Studio edition. However the baker challenges that only impact the SL workflow made me question options as the SL part is super important to me too as I have the hybrid need for Mesh for SL.

Complicated by timing of having to decide what to do over C4D which is pretty much immediate or I could probably rule out the baking and workflow issue through eduction and kind help / information.

Eboni I am going to try out your suggestion tonight too so thank you as if I can clean up my workflow and find an effiicent compromise all may be well. The test models I have in SL took such an extreme time to bake for the texture aspect as I couldn't levreage enough of the GI outputs (then fix) per model (on top of the normal creation work). It's still not the quality I want for sale albeit testing people are giving good feedback so far you can see the flaws. So if I can learn from your example I will be super grateful!

Maya I barely use a tiny percentage of it's power so whilst I have working knowledge I don't have any professional need that can yet quantify paying to have solo.

Max I have never tried for SL content for end to end workflow but ditto on what Fluffy says so going to see if those work on Mac tonight if the downloads are still up. C4D also has bodypaint 3D but not sure how it stands up to Max.

Thanks again <3
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Old 02-07-2012, 03:09 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Btw, Zbrush has a free "30 days usage over 45 days" trial, and modo has 30 evaluation license that costs 25USD but comes with a bunch of tutorials and other stuff.
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Old 02-07-2012, 07:48 PM   #12 (permalink)
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If you are just going to be building structures, Blender and PS can do everything you need. Really.
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Old 03-03-2012, 01:25 AM   #13 (permalink)
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3DS- MAX

3DS MAX most resembles creation as it is in SL with prims and axis, rotation, etc.

With just a few yutube tutorials you can get to a point where you are building the mesh equivelent of your prim creations.

Also, the creators of the Sanctuarry Sim (Master Freebie Creators) use this program and have shown me some ungodly creations. After seeing that, I have to say there is no comparison.
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Old 03-03-2012, 02:02 AM   #14 (permalink)
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My vote is for Blender 2.62 (latest build), and if you still really want to drop some cash (donate to Blender!), pick up Primstar 2 or Avastar from Machinamatrix.

A fun and really useful addon for Blender is Bsurfaces (currently $39 but will be GPL soon).

Great Blender tutorials at:
Blender Cookie | Blender 3D Tutorials and Training

Mesh

Blender and Unity tutorials:
3DBuzz - Professional Video Training
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