messiah:studio opinions

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  11 November 2003
Question messiah:studio opinions

Quick backstory:

I'm working on a short film in Animation:Master and the final output is to be film - rendered at 2k resolution. A:M's renderer has made great strides in the past few revisions but it's still way too slow. So I'm looking for another way to render my film... and since A:M doesn't play with other renderers, that means I have to find another way to animate my film as well. Besides... I need to learn software that's a bit more mainstream anyway.

I had basically decided to buy Maya until I read some of Wegg's comments on Messiah over in the A:M forums. I downloaded the demo for version 4 and I'll be damned if Wegg's not right. The messiah interface and worflow just make a lot more sense to me. So now I'm waffling again....

The questions:

1. Has anyone used the new renderer from messiah, and are there any third-party reviews out there? The stuff on pmG's web site is really impressive.

2. Do I need Lightwave if I had messiah:studio? I can still use A:M for modeling and then export to messiah... Or I could use Wings3D which, by some bizarre chance, is both awesome AND free.

Thanks!
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  11 November 2003
Yes you can use wings , messiah loads OBJ files just fine. I modelled all my models with wings too.
 
  11 November 2003
While I have not used the renderer as much as I'd like to, I'd have to say that it will be shaping up to be phenomenal.

I have used it mostly for compositing passes(i.e. the fuzzy transparency is awesome). Check around CG-talk for a few threads about getting Darktree plugins working in M:Studio


As for Messiah in production, it works great! Listen to Wegg, he knows what he's talking about.

I transitioned from A:M to LW/Messiah after wrestling with an interim experience with MAYA(I own all three, and Messiah gets the most workout) I use Wings3d for my main modeler, followed by Lightwave(for endomorphs) and Maya(general cleanup for SubDs).




Here are some advantages by going to messiah(even if you just choose to purchase animate 4 instead of studio)

1. your Animation pipeline is separate from your rendering pipeline. You can finish up an entire sequence with the animators before you even have to think about getting it to the lighting and texture artists. The TDS can work on separate scenes and you can patch in when you're ready.

2. You can use many host applications for rendering. Messiah plugs into Maya, MAX, C4D and lightwave. Many users are making great Efforts to expand this connectivity (do a search for Mark's PointOven Lite for an excellent example)

3. you can alter your Model files mid-production. Messiah has a very sophisticated Auto-weighting system that lets you swap out models once you've got a final version.

4. Messiah's Expressions engine is by far the easiest to learn and implement when compared to other applications,such as Lightwave and Maya. Messiah Scripts are also the easiest to write and use, and can be called from expressions, too.

5. The API is free to users and is one of the easiest to use when writing new plugins.

6. you can customize the 3d view with interface 'armatures', that let your animators control their characters intuitively. set up Synoptic character views, add interface commands directly to the 3d view, so your animators dont have to wander through the interface to find a particular function.

7. interactivity is phenomenal. We've had up to 6 hero characters in a scene while still maintaining good interactive framerates. Animatics are a breeze. messiah has handled 21,000 frame animation sequences (just over 10 minutes) while still running excellent framerates.

8. Effects. Messiah's effects(such as bones, splineIK, spherize, morphtargets) are a layerable system, you can apply several effects on top of another. Deform a face with Morphtargets, then distort it with Bones, then ripple it with several spherize effects, all while it melts into the floor. :-)

9. Messiah is built for animators. We've been able to animate up to 60 seconds a day for multiple characters, just due to the interactive framerates, and the way messiah's keyframes and motion splines work.
 
  11 November 2003
Quote: Originally posted by JoeCosman
i.e. the fuzzy transparency is awesome


Hi Joe, have you got an example render of this?
I'd love to see what you're referring to.

Southern Law: I can only speak for messiah:animate as I haven't had time to try out the renderer yet. But it has changed the way I work. I'm bitten!
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  11 November 2003



the top left is the render from Messiah, top right is the Lightwave render

its a tunnel zoom through.

bear in mind that this was Rev 9 of the preview. to see better examples of Translucency and fuzzy transparency, go to projectmessiah.com
 
  11 November 2003
Joe,

Do you feel this could be used to fake SSS in compositing?
 
  11 November 2003
Gotcha. Thanks!
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  11 November 2003
A very similar backstory

I too come from an Animation Master background. I either own or have access to all the major programs out there and for character animation the only ones that are any good at all (as far as CA workflow goes). Max has an extremely primitive NLA and not much good without plugins, Maya is so "heavy" not only in learning curve but system requirements, and Lightwave is missing key features (reliable IK, dopesheet, multiple undo.....).

Let me tell you my experiences jumping back and forth from AM and Messiah. I exported my AM models as 3DS Max files and converted them to Lightwave because messiah plays nicest with them. The only problem is that these models can't make use of subdivision surfaces and so have a much higher poly count than a Lightwave model created with SDS. You can render directly in Messiah if you have Messiah Studio but I have nothing but problems with the renderer. I'm sure I'm doing something wrong but shadows never look right and the Global Illumination renders were taking about an hour per frame. Since render speed was what I wanted I'm not planning on rendering in Messiah now.

The best way is to model in Lightwave (that way you get SDS and endomorph support), animate in Messiah and render in Lightwave. That way you get more particle FX and hair rendering.

The only problem I had with that workflow was because my models were so high rez, Lightwave would slow way down. Messiah ran fine, but since you must have both interfaces open at once at some point (in effect, you're loading the same models twice into memory) I had a heck of a time getting some good renders out of the process.

I am not trying to talk anyone out of Messiah. The bone tools and softbodies are awesome. Just wanted you to hear what I had gone through so you will know what pitfalls to avoid. It's too bad AM's renderer is so lacking. Other than the renderer and having to use those stupid "fan" bones it's just about the best CA tool out there.
 
  11 November 2003
Re: A very similar backstory

Quote: Originally posted by bugzilla
Let me tell you my experiences jumping back and forth from AM and Messiah. I exported my AM models as 3DS Max files and converted them to Lightwave because messiah plays nicest with them. The only problem is that these models can't make use of subdivision surfaces and so have a much higher poly count than a Lightwave model created with SDS. You can render directly in Messiah if you have Messiah Studio but I have nothing but problems with the renderer. I'm sure I'm doing something wrong but shadows never look right and the Global Illumination renders were taking about an hour per frame. Since render speed was what I wanted I'm not planning on rendering in Messiah now.


But why did you never respond to resquest from me and other users for more info on your problems? We all would have been glad to help, we just needed more info than just stating that you were getting grainy renders.

That's not meant to sound negative. I'm just trying to understand why you didn't want help with the problems you were encountering...

-lyle milton
-pmG

ps: you don't have to translate to LW to get objects into messiah.
 
  11 November 2003
Wow! This is quite a response in just a few hours.

Thanks for all of your responses... especially Joe. Man, you should get a commission from pmG - I think you just sold me on messiah.

However, I still don't get a good vibe about the renderer. Except for Joe's comment that it's "shaping up to be phenomenal". I've also read other posts on cgtalk about difficulty in assigning shaders to surfaces - of course the post was from early this year and I have no idea which version it was referring to.

What I need is a fast, easy to use, no frills renderer. I don't need hair/cloth/particles/radiosity/latest do-hicky. I've already figured out how to fake most of the special effects I need anyway.

And to give you an idea of what I'm rendering... I have three basic scenes in my film. The first and last scenes are very complex but each is fairly short. The bulk of the story takes place in the second scene which consists of about 8,000 patches. (I don't know how that would translate to polys or sub-d's, maybe Joe knows)

The 8,000 patch scene with *very* basic lighting is taking around 2 hours per frame to render in A:M at 1920x1080. I need to render about 6 minutes at 24fps... you do the math.

The current model for the final scene consists of over 50,000 patches in A:M and it's still growing. I don't know how long this one will take to render. I'm afraid to start it up.

So... um... I did have a question here somewhere...

Ah yes! I'm not slated to start the final renders until the end of 2004 so would it be worth going ahead and buying Lightwave for the renderer or should I save my money and wait for the next version of the messiah renderer?

I'm starting to ramble now, aren't I? Sheesh... my eyes are getting blurry too. I think I should probably unplug for a while and play with my dogs.

Thanks again for all of your help!
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  11 November 2003
Well before you buy LW I would check out C4D. I use it with Messiah studio and it works fine. I'm just starting to play with the renderer in Messiah so I cant help that much but I do know you can get good renders from it. Some of us were talking about testing a scene so we could come up with a bunch of basic settings that you could tweak from there. I think the modeling tools in C4D are 10 times better them LW but that is just me I dont like the LW GUI and edge, face and point weighting is great in C4D as well as the GUI.
 
  11 November 2003
Quote: Originally posted by SouthernLaw
Ah yes! I'm not slated to start the final renders until the end of 2004 so would it be worth going ahead and buying Lightwave for the renderer or should I save my money and wait for the next version of the messiah renderer?

I'm starting to ramble now, aren't I? Sheesh... my eyes are getting blurry too. I think I should probably unplug for a while and play with my dogs.

Thanks again for all of your help!


Hi Southern,
If you really have that much time, it may be worth just getting messiah:animate 4, for now. So, when you're really ready to start looking at renderers, you can determine at that time if you'd like to upgrade to studio.

Having said that, we are just as serious about our renderer as we are about our animation tools. So, you can expect to see very good things from us in coming months. And your voice will be heard; you get the opportunity to help drive the direction of the software.

Even if you choose to render with other software after working with studio, you really can't go wrong because it can still plug into LW, C4D, max, & Maya (and more to come) for character animation. And at messiah:studio's price-point, it makes it possible to have another robust rendering solution on hand.

I hope this info proves useful.

-lyle milton
-pmG
 
  11 November 2003
The renderer is shaping up. It packs a lot of power but its really not that easy to use but its neither diffcult. Its knida in between and i wouldn't bank a project on the renderer right now. Without lensflares, glows, particle render and a larger procedural presets is the reason i have been slow to use it. Maybe other ppl have lesser needs, thats just me.

The animation tools in messiah are just great. heck, its what others are setting their standard to.
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  11 November 2003
There also is no depth based shadow map feature as of yet. The renderer is shaping up though, and I will be testing it in the near future for up coming test projects.

Cheers,
 
  11 November 2003
Well that settles it! Lyle from pmG responded to my question! I'm a sucker for a company that is actually interested in it's customers.

Seriously though... My passion is character animation and the more I look into messiah the more it seems to be head-and-shoulders above the rest. I wish I could take advantage of the deal pmG is running right now but I won't be able to make the purchase until after Christmas... probably around February. But even without the special deal I can still get animate, upgrade to studio later and it will still be almost half the price of Maya.

Besides, if I get antsy and want to produce some nice stills I have friends with LightWave, I'll just get one of them to render something for me.
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