MattVG

Which 3D package is recommended (Lightwave, Cinema 4D)

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I know this has been discussed many times before around the internet, but most discussions I've found are several years old.

I've been using Blender for a couple years but I'm interested in what else is available out there. I've had experience with Blender, ZBrush, 3D-Coat, Vue 8, and, before those, Animation Master.

I'm looking for a 3D package for:

Illustration (coupled with Photoshop, Painter, ZBrush, 3D-Coat, Vue)

The animation of shorts (not the wearable kind)

Miscellaneous media: splash screens, logo, etc... (to a lesser extent)

The two packages that stood out to me are Cinema 4D which seems to be gaining ground in the industry; and Lightwave which 3D-Coat strongly supports. I've downloaded the demos and am trying them out as we speak, but I'd like to hear people's experiences and opinions on Cinema 4D and Lightwave. Which will serve me best with the least hassle? What do you recommend?

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Well of course it would depend who you ask. I personally am a LightWave user and recommend it to anyone. LightWave 10 is due out this month. 3D Artist magazine has a full page article on it in the current issue:

http://fb.me/LbBNebcs

BTW your avatar would fit in just perfectly on the NewTek forum.

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I suspect there may be strong bias toward Lightwave on these forums :)

@Phil Nolan: What do you like most about Lightwave and what are some things that you wish were different?

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Okay, Ill speak up for C4D. Probably the most user friendly (and customizable) interface around with all the tools one would expect from an up market app. :good:

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I know this has been discussed many times before around the internet, but most discussions I've found are several years old.

I've been using Blender for a couple years but I'm interested in what else is available out there. I've had experience with Blender, ZBrush, 3D-Coat, Vue 8, and, before those, Animation Master.

I'm looking for a 3D package for:

Illustration (coupled with Photoshop, Painter, ZBrush, 3D-Coat, Vue)

The animation of shorts (not the wearable kind)

Miscellaneous media: splash screens, logo, etc... (to a lesser extent)

The two packages that stood out to me are Cinema 4D which seems to be gaining ground in the industry; and Lightwave which 3D-Coat strongly supports. I've downloaded the demos and am trying them out as we speak, but I'd like to hear people's experiences and opinions on Cinema 4D and Lightwave. Which will serve me best with the least hassle? What do you recommend?

There isn't one that stands heads and shoulders above the others. They all can get the job done, but you may have to buy plugins to get the features you're really after. C4D has Mograph for Motion Graphic artists. Max requires FumeFX or Afterburn to get great smoke/fire/explosions (but they are exceptional). Lightwave has the stigma of having comparatively poor Character Animation tools, so many LW artists instead rely on Messiah studio for that.

Softimage and Maya are probably the most complete (without need for plugins). I am a Max head...I love it (I think the modeling toolset is arguably the best in the industry and the choice of 3rd party renderers is what sets it apart), but I could be comfortable with any of them. The question, however, shouldn't be framed as "What application is best"...there is no objective answer there. The real question to ask is, "Based on my situation, what application makes the most sense?" If you plan to work for a studio, it matters more than if you are a hobbiest or freelancer. And even if you do freelance, there will be some short term openings to freelance on site, and application experience weighs heavily in those situations, too.

If you are a Graphic Artist, you simply HAVE to be aware of what the most common applications are in that industry...lest you find yourself on the outside, looking in when browsing job openings. It's not much different in 3D. What industry do you plan to work in? Browse the job openings to see which one is the most prevalent. When people say "Maya is for film, Max is for games and Arch Viz, etc.," they are saying those are where the jobs are, respectively. There are jobs in any one of them, but some are more scarce than others. That is one of the reasons I sold my seat of LW and just stuck with Max.

As for pricing, there isn't a large a gap as many LW artists claim. If you have an EDU license of Max, Maya or Softimage, you can upgrade that to a full commercial version for about $1200 at any authorized Autodesk reseller. If you are not or have not been a student, with an EDU license, then why not Blender? If price is so terribly important that it steers you toward LW, then Blender makes even more sense. For freelancers, without prior experience in the commercial 3D apps, it is a perfect fit, in my opinion. Lightwave may seem to make sense to legacy users, but I personally don't feel like there is anything there to lure users from other applications...especially when you consider that it's development is in somewhat of a state of flux, currently. It will likely be 3-5yrs before CORE is ready to replace the legacy LW. And let's be honest...there is a reason they scrapped plans to replace sections of LW at a time and just start from scratch. There is only so much they can do with the current legacy architecture. I wasn't willing to wait years for Newtek to catch up with the rest.

If you have been using Blender and aren't looking for studio work now or in the near future, I'd recommend staying right where you are and just continue to build on your experience with it instead of trying to take on another steep, steep learning curve and financial expense.

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Are you looking as a hobbyist or for professional use? Are you planning on getting a job somewhere where your choice of software matters, or does only the finished result matter?

Tom

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I have Lightwave myself. but it's an older version. I've been looking around also wondering if I should stick with that and upgrade, or try something different. I have to agree with what Abnranger said, " why not Blender?" I've been looking at that recently, and it sure looks tempting. you say you've been using that for a few years. Are you not happy with it?

I've also been looking at Modo, it is looking pretty good too.

I think that unless you need skills at a particular package for career reasons, you should pick something that you personally "click" with. Different programs

have different personalities. One person might love the interface and the way it works and someone else might hate it. Most of the good software has way more power than most people use anyway.

Tom

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It depends on your budget really.

If you have the budget I would go straight to maya,xsi, 3dmax. Steep learning curve and probably not know the package fully even after several years. But you will hit less walls when you know it in and out.

If you dont have the budget but want a software that is also used in the industry, go for lightwave. Easy to learn to model and render quality stills. You will hit a lot of walls when dealing with complex animation and effects. Plugins can get expensive added up.

C4D is very strong in motion graphic work. But I would check the cost of the modules since they actually cost as much as the top 3 software from AD.

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Lightwave has the stigma of having comparatively poor Character Animation tools, so many LW artists instead rely on Messiah studio for that.

Many people also believe this is a misconception, just look at Rebel Hill's rigging tutorial that shows just how much character animation can be done that rivals the other apps on the market. Or his Rhiggit plugin that sets it all up for you:

http://rebelhill.net/html/products.html

As for pricing, there isn't a large a gap as many LW artists claim. If you have an EDU license of Max, Maya or Softimage, you can upgrade that to a full commercial version for about $1200 at any authorized Autodesk reseller.

There's a huge gap. Your example uses educationl pricing. If you're a student you can get LightWave for under $200 with a free upgrade to the commercial version of LW 10 before it's released. A lot less than $1200. Even without the free upgrade you'd be paying $200, then $500 for the pro upgrade, which is still a lot less.

http://www.journeyed.com/item/NewTek/LightWave+3D/46801776F

Not to mention 999 free render nodes, free customer support, and many things included for free that other apps make you buy as plugins.

As for what I like about it aside from the price, there are a lot of things but mostly the ease of use. The workflow just makes it very fast to get rthings done. Probably the next biggest thing is the community. It's a lot like the 3DC community with people willing to help and share with each other instead of hoarding techniques to themselves. I often recall one point where I got stuck with something on the forum and a fellow member kindly wrote a plugin for me that solved my problem.

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Many people also believe this is a misconception, just look at Rebel Hill's rigging tutorial that shows just how much character animation can be done that rivals the other apps on the market. Or his Rhiggit plugin that sets it all up for you:

http://rebelhill.net/html/products.html

There's a huge gap. Your example uses educationl pricing. If you're a student you can get LightWave for under $200 with a free upgrade to the commercial version of LW 10 before it's released. A lot less than $1200. Even without the free upgrade you'd be paying $200, then $500 for the pro upgrade, which is still a lot less.

http://www.journeyed.com/item/NewTek/LightWave+3D/46801776F

Not to mention 999 free render nodes, free customer support, and many things included for free that other apps make you buy as plugins.

As for what I like about it aside from the price, there are a lot of things but mostly the ease of use. The workflow just makes it very fast to get rthings done. Probably the next biggest thing is the community. It's a lot like the 3DC community with people willing to help and share with each other instead of hoarding techniques to themselves. I often recall one point where I got stuck with something on the forum and a fellow member kindly wrote a plugin for me that solved my problem.

Where did you get this information about upgrading from EDU to Commercial (free before 10 is released)? I'm taking some Maya and life drawing classes locally, so I may look into it and pass the news along to some of the students and faculty. Can the student with an EDU license get access to CORE and Beta version of LW10?

Regardless, though...the point I made about the Autodesk pricing is that the price gap is not totally out of reach for someone coming out of school. That is generally the segment that can't afford the $3k+ pricetag. Again, if one is making a living with the software, it generally should pay for itself, and then you can deduct it from your federal income taxes...so that Uncle Sam essentially buys it for you instead of wasting your hard-earned money funding bogus and offensive art, or building a bridge to nowhere. :p:

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I'm a graphic designer and illustrator by trade and would like to bring more 3D into my 2D work as well as begin (as a hobby) developing some short animations using stories I've developed over the years.

I started with Blender a couple years ago but didn't really start using/learning it until the advent of Blender 2.5 beta and the new, friendlier UI so I'm not exceptionally versed yet in all Blender's ins and outs and idiosyncrasies. Blender has served me well and I've generally enjoyed using it.

So why not Blender? As I work with it I often feel as if I'm pushing against an invisible, yet somewhat pliable, barrier that keeps my definition of decently uncompromised quality just out of reach. I admit the greater part of this is because I've much learning yet to do, but I also wonder if, in my quest for the "inexpensive", I've settled for less. I'm not saying this is the case, but since I've no real experience using industry-standard/"big-boy" packages I have nothing to form an educated opinion with. Note: I'm on a Mac so Max is out of the question and Maya is too expensive.

I'm in awe of how quickly C4D renders GI and caustics at high resolutions and how good the renders look (I've only looked at the example scenes). Lightwave 10 (in videos) looks to have some amazing, drool-inducing features. Blender, in comparison, feels old and slow, but In Blender's defense, it's in beta still and many features haven't been incorporated yet.

So, will Blender work for me? Yes, for now… but… I wish to taste a few of the delicacies I've heard so much about and then decide which course will best sate my appetite.

So keep the info coming!

On another note:

I've heard people referring to plugins as being quite costly and also necessary. I can't find anything on the Cinema 4D site referencing plugins. Is Lightwave the same way regarding plugins and are these plugins a necessity… is the package "crippled" without them?

EDIT:

@AbnRanger: Educational version with free upgrade to 10

And actually there are several other sites that appear to have the same offer. Just go to Newtek's shop and scroll to the bottom.

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Where did you get this information about upgrading from EDU to Commercial (free before 10 is released)? I'm taking some Maya and life drawing classes locally, so I may look into it and pass the news along to some of the students and faculty. Can the student with an EDU license get access to CORE and Beta version of LW10?

I know it because that's how I got it. In fact this is even better, my school got me a $300 deal, then I upgraded to pro for free because the next version was coming out soon. NewTek always offers a free upgrade if you buy between the time one versions is announced and when it's released. I will admit that I'm not quite sure how they're doing it this year though because of the recent announcement that CORE will be released later in the year while the main LW10 app will be released sometime this month. Since their HardCORE discount is continuing until CORE is released, I'm not sure if they're stopping the free upgrade now or at the CORE release. I'll have to ask about that.

I started with Blender a couple years ago but didn't really start using/learning it until the advent of Blender 2.5 beta and the new, friendlier UI so I'm not exceptionally versed yet in all Blender's ins and outs and idiosyncrasies. Blender has served me well and I've generally enjoyed using it.

So why not Blender? As I work with it I often feel as if I'm pushing against an invisible, yet somewhat pliable, barrier that keeps my definition of decently uncompromised quality just out of reach.

I've heard people referring to plugins as being quite costly and also necessary. I can't find anything on the Cinema 4D site referencing plugins. Is Lightwave the same way regarding plugins and are these plugins a necessity… is the package "crippled" without them?

This often a touchy subject so I try to tread lightly in these types of threads as it's easy to step on people's toes. Personally I am not fond of Blender's interface (new or old), many may say you can rearrange it to your liking but you would have to spend a long time with it in order to know how you'd like it. I don't spend a lot of time in their community so I can only go by what I hear. I have heard some people complaining that due to the open source nature a lot of new tools come in, then the devs get bored and never finish them. Again this may be completely wrong, I'm only passing on what I've heard.

LightWave does have some great plugins available but there aren't many that I can think of as being required. For example people used to get plugins like Sasquatch to do hair and fur, but now LightWave comes with FiberFX to handle that. Also FPrime for realtime rendering, now LW10 has VPR built in. While not required, the only one I'd really highly recommend is LWCAD for modeling. I got a free version with one of my previous LW upgrades and bought one upgrade for it. I use it on every model I think. There are tons of free plugins out there too, just check Flay.com and the LightWave Plugin Database.

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So why not Blender? As I work with it I often feel as if I'm pushing against an invisible, yet somewhat pliable, barrier that keeps my definition of decently uncompromised quality just out of reach.

In what area do you feel that way? render quality? the tools? maybe if you could define what's missing it would help to find what you're looking for.

Tom

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I'm a graphic designer and illustrator by trade and would like to bring more 3D into my 2D work as well as begin (as a hobby) developing some short animations using stories I've developed over the years.

I started with Blender a couple years ago but didn't really start using/learning it until the advent of Blender 2.5 beta and the new, friendlier UI so I'm not exceptionally versed yet in all Blender's ins and outs and idiosyncrasies. Blender has served me well and I've generally enjoyed using it.

So why not Blender? As I work with it I often feel as if I'm pushing against an invisible, yet somewhat pliable, barrier that keeps my definition of decently uncompromised quality just out of reach. I admit the greater part of this is because I've much learning yet to do, but I also wonder if, in my quest for the "inexpensive", I've settled for less. I'm not saying this is the case, but since I've no real experience using industry-standard/"big-boy" packages I have nothing to form an educated opinion with. Note: I'm on a Mac so Max is out of the question and Maya is too expensive.

I'm in awe of how quickly C4D renders GI and caustics at high resolutions and how good the renders look (I've only looked at the example scenes). Lightwave 10 (in videos) looks to have some amazing, drool-inducing features. Blender, in comparison, feels old and slow, but In Blender's defense, it's in beta still and many features haven't been incorporated yet.

So, will Blender work for me? Yes, for now… but… I wish to taste a few of the delicacies I've heard so much about and then decide which course will best sate my appetite.

So keep the info coming!

On another note:

I've heard people referring to plugins as being quite costly and also necessary. I can't find anything on the Cinema 4D site referencing plugins. Is Lightwave the same way regarding plugins and are these plugins a necessity… is the package "crippled" without them?

I don't know that I would characterize LW's CA tools as crippling...just not on par with others on the market. There are "plugins" such as Maestro and even better, Messiah Studio, that fill the gap fairly well. This is one area that Newtek has acknowledged as being in need of improvement, and in my opinion...an area they really should address early with CORE, if they really want to regain some momentum in the industry. Nevertheless, for your purposes, either Blender or LW would fit. I think Blender is actually, overall, the better application right now, compared to LW in it's current state.

The one saving grace for LW has will continue to be, it's rendering...especially now with the interactive VPR. That is very nice. Previously, you had to buy a plugin renderer called FPrime, to get that level of interactivity. I think it may be the one thread that has held LW together these past five years or so. It's been ahead of it's time and only recently have other applications gotten on board with Interactive renderers.

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My advice would be to buy blender :) and V-Ray Standalone. You can't go wrong with that combination.

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the liquid and smoke simulators in blender look really nice as well. From what I've seen.

Tom

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On another note:

I've heard people referring to plugins as being quite costly and also necessary. I can't find anything on the Cinema 4D site referencing plugins. Is Lightwave the same way regarding plugins and are these plugins a necessity is the package "crippled" without them?

The current version (12) of C4D no longer uses modules. It is now ordered by function (Studio, the most complete; Broadcast and Architectural).

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The current version (12) of C4D no longer uses modules. It is now ordered by function (Studio, the most complete; Broadcast and Architectural).

Are features still missing from each bundle?

If on a mac i would go with lightwave. Only two must have plugins i say is lwcad and maestro. A third is exrtrader but if you dont work in linear workflow its not crucial.

That would be very cheap and people sell used license which you cant do with other soft.

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But again if your qn advance user of blender, the animation system it has is more advance. Lw has the most basic ca system. Maestro makes it easier to rig and animate while rhiggit is only an autorigger which blender has for free btw. No animation layers and no procedural rigs, no nondestructive workflow.

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In what area do you feel that way? render quality? the tools? maybe if you could define what's missing it would help to find what you're looking for.

Tom

Render quality, render speed, and render features for sure. One can make a good looking scene but it takes an inordinate amount of work. If you want indirect lighting or caustics then you must go with an external renderer. Modeling tools are dated, though there are plans to bring Bmesh (similar modeling to 3DSMax) to Blender. Blender sports many idiosyncrasies in the UI and tools such that there are times when I'm not sure if something is a bug or a feature and unless I can figure out how to work around it, I must alter my vision for the finished piece (particles are awfully iffy of late). Now, again, part of this is because Blender is in beta and some of my frustration stems from my last project that should have been a simple one-day event but stretched to three and still turned out less than I'd hoped.

Oh, I thought of an example: if you want to use rigid-body dynamics you must switch over to the built-in game engine to set it up. It works, but it feels unrefined, like an afterthought and something you would intuitively realize.

I don't know that I would characterize LW's CA tools as crippling...just not on par with others on the market. There are "plugins" such as Maestro and even better, Messiah Studio, that fill the gap fairly well. This is one area that Newtek has acknowledged as being in need of improvement, and in my opinion...an area they really should address early with CORE, if they really want to regain some momentum in the industry. Nevertheless, for your purposes, either Blender or LW would fit. I think Blender is actually, overall, the better application right now, compared to LW in it's current state.

The one saving grace for LW has will continue to be, it's rendering...especially now with the interactive VPR. That is very nice. Previously, you had to buy a plugin renderer called FPrime, to get that level of interactivity. I think it may be the one thread that has held LW together these past five years or so. It's been ahead of it's time and only recently have other applications gotten on board with Interactive renderers.

I'm definitely interested in seeing how LW fares with the upcoming release of version 10. Strong character animation tools are one thing that I'm looking for. I think Blender can probably handle it fine, but again, I'd like to see what else is out there.

My advice would be to buy blender :) and V-Ray Standalone. You can't go wrong with that combination.

Oh, I guess I didn't realize V-Ray had a standalone version. That's quite tempting. Maybe I'll spend my money on a decent external renderer instead of a new modeling and animation package. There's also a V-Ray-Blender plugin in development.

the liquid and smoke simulators in blender look really nice as well. From what I've seen.

Tom

I can't speak for the liquid simulation but the smoke simulator is quite nice. For rigid body dynamics and such Blender uses Bullet. Blender seems to have a pretty decent simulation suite.

The current version (12) of C4D no longer uses modules. It is now ordered by function (Studio, the most complete; Broadcast and Architectural).

That makes more sense now. Thank you for clearing that up.

But again if your qn advance user of blender, the animation system it has is more advance. Lw has the most basic ca system. Maestro makes it easier to rig and animate while rhiggit is only an autorigger which blender has for free btw. No animation layers and no procedural rigs, no nondestructive workflow.

I'm still exploring the shallow end of the Blender animation pool so I'm not yet aware of just how strong the animation toolset is. It's good to know the LW animation system is fairly basic, but perhaps that'll change with version 10.

@geo_n: Here's the product comparison for C4D. They add and drop various features based on the perceived function. For instance, you don't get dynamics or thinking particles outside of the Studio version.

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Oh, I guess I didn't realize V-Ray had a standalone version. That's quite tempting. Maybe I'll spend my money on a decent external renderer instead of a new modeling and animation package. There's also a V-Ray-Blender plugin in development.

You can go here http://blender.bevice.ru/ and download the vray/blender script. It already support many features

like normal,disp, sss (you can use texture to contol it), animation, etc... For me the most important area is rendering

and I'm ready pay for it. And V-Ray renderer is top notch at the moment. With this combination I know that I have paid only

for features that I really need. Nothing extra.

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I can't speak for the liquid simulation but the smoke simulator is quite nice. For rigid body dynamics and such Blender uses Bullet. Blender seems to have a pretty decent simulation suite.

LW 10 also uses Bullet physics. Also, while it is a plugin, Turbulence 4D also does some pretty nice smoke and fire in LightWave. The author is planning to add a liquid shader to this as well.

Examples:

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I nominate this thread for "Best discussion of multiple platforms held in a constructive manner without any participants getting burnt by flames"

:yahoo::drinks::clapping:

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I'm still exploring the shallow end of the Blender animation pool so I'm not yet aware of just how strong the animation toolset is. It's good to know the LW animation system is fairly basic, but perhaps that'll change with version 10.

@geo_n: Here's the product comparison for C4D. They add and drop various features based on the perceived function. For instance, you don't get dynamics or thinking particles outside of the Studio version.

It won't change in lw 10. The only changes in lw 10 are those announced features like vpr, geometry cache, linear workflow, etc. Nothing in the animation department. Theres some people selling lw for less than 400US at newtek. Check it out.

Just as I expected, c4d is still crippling their versions. The renderer has been very crippled in the other versions. But thats ok the renderer of choice for c4d is vray anyway. But no dynamics, limited mograph, thinking particles. Too bad.

Blender plus vray. Probably a very good idea as well. Modern 3d software with best in class renderer. If you don't exchange files with other people to work with, like in a studio, you don't really need maya,3dmax,c4d,xsi,lw to produce your own final work.

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Of course one thing to consider as well, is the unknown. What kind of free updates might come with the purchase you make over the course of the year or whatever until the next paid update comes? Remember when 3D-Coat 3.0 was released and people bought in voxel sculpting and the new UI were brand new features. Think of all the updates that have come since then. Now with Andrew we're lucky and get lots of updates before version 4 comes and we have to pay up again. Some other apps may not get many free updates or none at all.

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