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Old November 21st, 2011, 08:37 PM   #1
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Picking a 3D program to learn, how?

Awhile back I started a thread, and asked what the next step up from After Effects was. It got me looking into 3D programs. I've been doing a lot of reading on match moving, and programs for that, as well as 3D programs. They all seem to do similar things, so I was wondering if there was a simple response to a complicated question?

What's the difference between 3D programs, and what factors in to deciding which to learn?

I've been looking at Maya, 3ds Max, and Cinema 4D. My main interest is for use in Indie film making. I think I read somewhere that 3ds Max was big for video game development, and Cinema 4D was big for tv. I only started looking in Maya, cause I have a friend who's been job hunting, and she mentioned she's seen a lot of interest for people who knew Maya, and that's what she wanted to learn. Are there other options I have learned about? Eventually I'll have the time to take some fxphd.com courses, but til then, it's pretty much books and Internet research.

Ive watch Video Copilot tutorials and he's used 3Ds Max.

I can't say I'm interested in learning a 3D program to seek employment, but if my love for moving making,and having this skill, got me out of the day job, I wouldn't object, but that's not my main interest. I'd like to learn a 3D program, so I can use in my own film making projects. So with the goal of film making in mind, is one program better then the next?
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Old November 22nd, 2011, 06:42 PM   #2
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Re: Picking a 3D program to learn, how?

Hi Jeff. General wisdom seems to be that Cinema 4D has the best integration with After Effects (meaning easiest, I suspect, as it creates a compositing file that imports all rendered layers directly into AE), and that it is a little easier to learn than the others. (Contrary opinions are welcomed.) The programs you mention are all at the top end of the market and can give outstanding results once you put in the considerable amount of time required to learn them so, yes, basically they all do the same things and have many things in common. Importantly, all of the primary skills you learn (modelling, texturing, lighting, animating etc) will hold you in good stead should you decide to switch from one program to another at some time.
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Old November 24th, 2011, 03:34 PM   #3
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Re: Picking a 3D program to learn, how?

Out of curiousity, did you choose fxphd the first time with AE??


I'm curious about it & thinking of joining in January for it. Lynda.com has been ok for me, and I find videocopilots tuts a bit too much 'ctep by step follow along' for me. Read AE Apprentice by the Meyeys & thought that was great. I suppose I'm looking for that 'next step' myself.
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Old November 24th, 2011, 03:40 PM   #4
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Re: Picking a 3D program to learn, how?

I've been working way through a few different AE books. Would love to have more time for fxphd, but haven't yet.
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Old November 24th, 2011, 07:08 PM   #5
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Re: Picking a 3D program to learn, how?

To learn the mindset and the skillset, Blender is a great option and doesn't require the initial $$$ investment.

The "Blender Survival Guide" and the Tutorials at blenderguru.com and blendercookie.com are really good.
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Old November 24th, 2011, 07:29 PM   #6
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Re: Picking a 3D program to learn, how?

I have looked into blender a little. For anyone that knows about it, can camera tracking data be imported into it, just like other 3D programs? Since it is a free program, I'd love to learn it, and gain an understanding of 3D modeling, while being able to import footage and camera data, to add 3D elements into my scenes. Or is it just a modeling program?

Jeff

Last edited by Jeff Troiano; November 24th, 2011 at 09:37 PM.
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Old November 24th, 2011, 09:36 PM   #7
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Re: Picking a 3D program to learn, how?

Been sitting here watching the tutorials, wish I had found these a while ago. It's nice on my 30 inch monitor.
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Old November 25th, 2011, 09:33 AM   #8
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Re: Picking a 3D program to learn, how?

Camera tracking is working its way into the main program as we speak... not sure how they're handling iimporting data... but they're adding a tracking solver: GSOC Tomato Branch: Camera Tracking Blender Cookie

and yes, those survival guide videos are the ones that made it "Click" for me... I used blender for my senior thesis for my Archaeology degree (solving 3D interpolations of unexcavated portions of sites based on minimal data from the the excavated portions -- improving fence diagrams). This is one seriously powerful program, but as with most 3D packages is really complex in the interface design. I found that once you overcome that hurdle, the whole thing just unfolds before you.
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Old November 25th, 2011, 10:05 AM   #9
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Re: Picking a 3D program to learn, how?

I've watched the first 5 tutorials of the "Blender Survival Guide". Their awesome. I also searched out, and yes, syntheyes can import camera tracking data. So instead of wishing I had $4k to geta 3ds Max, I'll be learning Blender, and move up when I can.
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Old November 25th, 2011, 10:59 PM   #10
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Re: Picking a 3D program to learn, how?

And the host of the guide is none other than our own Paolo Ciccone (from 2ndunit.tv as well).
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Old November 28th, 2011, 10:28 PM   #11
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Re: Picking a 3D program to learn, how?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff Troiano View Post
..... So instead of wishing I had $4k to geta 3ds Max, I'll be learning Blender, and move up when I can.
And when you decide to "move up", don't overlook Newtek's Lightwave 3D as an option. Somewhat more affordable, but still a professional application.

-Ken
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Old November 29th, 2011, 09:38 PM   #12
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Re: Picking a 3D program to learn, how?

I fully support the use of Blender.

However, if you are going to use a 3D program and need to comp in 3D space, you'll do much better with either:

1. Blender and Nuke, or
2. Maya and Maya Composite

Each 3D software has its own strengths and weaknesses. You might want to assess what your goals are, and then research which software will get you there the fastest.
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Old January 18th, 2012, 11:28 PM   #13
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Re: Picking a 3D program to learn, how?

I started out wit Lightwave and then started studying Maya - I really liked its structure and workflow, but at the time they basically required you to sign up for maintenance if you ever wanted to be able to upgrade for less than the price of a whole new license. I didn't much like their attitude so I went the Cinema 4D route instead - in the end I wound up with the full package and a maintenance contract but it was easier to get started. Now that Maya was bought by Autodesk I'm glad I didn't go down that path - my opinion of Autodesk as a company isn't printable in a polite forum. I was using a couple of programs that were bought up by them and they almost immediately stopped selling them and merged the functionality into some of their other programs with 4 digit price tags - users were bolted (bolts are like screws except the bolts thread into the nuts )

I get the feeling that Lightwave is sort of falling out of favor for high end stuff but it is a really capable package and sells for about what the entry version of C4D used to sell for. And FXPhD is great - I was a member for a few years but have been waiting for them to get more new courses before signing up again.
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Old January 24th, 2012, 05:07 PM   #14
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Re: Picking a 3D program to learn, how?

My 2 cents: if you are using AE a lot, then Cinema 4D is by far the best option due to its ability to export AE ready assets that allows far more control once you import a rendered project and all of its separate passes into AE. Also, I believe there is an awesome new feature in C4D r13 that works with AE but I can't recall at the moment - I just remember reading about it and knowing that I had to upgrade soon.

For FXPHD, this new term has some great C4D courses including "One Man Band VFX in Cinema 4D".

ALSO, with your FXPHD membership, you get to use the latest C4D software for free as well as other programs.
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Old February 26th, 2012, 11:10 AM   #15
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Re: Picking a 3D program to learn, how?

Of the 'Pro' programs C4D integrates with best with AE and I've found its user workflow the easiest an most logical to learn. Blender, which I also use, is a little more 'tricky' to learn. Compared to C4D, Blender's like learning to drive an old stick shift car with a manual choke as opposed to driving automatic transmission car with ABS and an electronic fuel injector. Also Blender uses the 'Z' axis as up and the 'Y' axis depth, not the industry norm.

On the positive side, it can be fast, it's free, it is powerful, and it's got a great community behind it. Also try Blender Cookie, Blender Newbies and the Blender Artists forums for other tutorials and help. The Blender Artists forum should have people that can answer many of your questions about camera tracking, which I believe has been added recently. Blender.org is where you can get the finalized versions of the current Blender, which updates sometimes as fast as a month or two and the next update in April, which adds B-Mesh (thus adding N-Gons to Blender) will be a biggy.
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