A:M. Even with issues, it's great


#1

Lately, I’ve been a little tough here publicly on the program crashing and I personally don’t care to mislead people through my words that Animation Master really is not a good program.

No, Animation Master is not a good program, Animation Master is a great program.

Many people here and elsewhere have cited some of the ongoing problems that… plague Animation Master. Some of the claims are true while others are false. Some claims are exagerated and some are dead-on accurate.

One thing I don’t see much of though is are many reasons why people find A:M is a good program. Usually, the only time I can read why people like or use A:M is when they are fending off attacks from people who say it “sucks”.

I think that’s ashame because Animation Master is a great program to use. When forums like this one heat up as they do from time to time “for” and “against” the program, a lot of good points made (on both sides) get ignored in the heat of the moment.

Since I’ve been a bit tough on A:M publicly, I would like to share with you publicly why I really like A:M.

Before I do that, I’d like to say that I am simply a customer of Hash Inc. I am not on thier payroll and never have been. I have never been in contact with them except to order a copy of A:M (and that was through their website) . So I am not associated in any with Hash Inc (besides being a customer and being registered on their forums).

Moving on…

I like Animation Master first and foremost because I can use its tool set and get what I want to get accomplished with it in the way that I wanted it done. I don’t need third party plug-ins to get the program geared up to animate since its ready to go out of the box. The price for all of this is excellent compared to other modeling and animation packages.

The entire user interface, tool sets, and project workflow is uncomplicated yet powerful. It’s powerful because nothing about it holds me back. This can be very deceptive to a person familiar with other 3D packages. I inititially dismissed the entire program because the interface was so simple and uncluttered. I could not even take the program seriously because I used to think the serious modeling and animation tools had to had some sort of complicated “industrial” presentation to them.

Animation Master keeps the interface lean and bloat free. I have not found any aspects of the program that get in my way when I am using it.

I find that the animation tool sets in Animation Master are phenomenal. They are truly geared towards getting aninimation work done without having to jump through hoops to do it. Even if you are not fully aquainted with the toolsets you can see that serious thought was put in to them and, more importantly, even more thought was put into making the tools easy to use by the animator.

The strentgh of the animation tools is usually what I hear cited the most when people compliment A:M but I find that there is one other aspect of A:M that is one of its strongest assets. That is its spline modeling.

Hash Inc’s splines and patch implementations are interesting. I’m surprised that another company has not created a program that imitates the way that Animation Master models. There are other programs that use splines but not in the straight forward manner that A:M does.

I have to be honest; when I first looked at A:M’s user interface I thought to myself “What!? No primitives? What kind of 3D program is this? This is some kind of joke!” But I looked at it again later on and started learning about how to model with splines. Then I learned why modeling with splines does not require ready made primitves to model with… primitves would only get in the way and slow you down.

Artists familiar with polygon modeling tools will find many of those tools missing from A:M’s tool set. In many cases this is not an oversight; many polygon modeling tools become null and void in the spline modeling environment and don’t have to be included for that reason.

Using A:M’s splines to model an object is like taking a direct route to creating the model one may want to see created. There is no need to take one step backward in order to take two steps forward. The shapes one wants as a basic foundation for their model are the ones that they can layout quickly from the very begining.

I’ve seen it mentioned that modeling in A:M is only good for organinc types of objects but not really for mechanical objects. That’s not true. A:M’s spline modeling approach is excellent for either. I think the strengh of Hash’s spline approach becomes even more apparent once one begins to rig and animate a character that was modled in A:M.

I suppose that A:M’s bones and constraint implementations could be considered to be part of its animation tools but these tools are so good I’d like to say one thing about them to users or prospective users who may be a little intimadated by using them.

Don’t be. It’s not hard at all. It’s only a challenge. The learning curve may be steep for most (like it’s been for me) but if you are working alone on your projects you are going to have to tackle the bones and constraint system anyway (regardless of which animation package you use). Learn how they work and I’ll bet that you’ll really appreciate them.

So, I like A:M because it is not bogged down by clumsy interfaces and I don’t feel like I need a PhD to use it. I like the modeling and animation tools (as well as the modeling and animation results) and I find the workflow very intuitive. The price for this kind of program is great when compared to other modeling and animation programs.

If you are looking for an animation program and the only thing that you know about A:M if that it crashes a lot then I would suggest finding out more about it. Yes it crashes (I’ll never gloss that over until that is improved on a bit) but its an excellent program nonetheless.

No program is perfect and A:M is not perfect but A:M is a fine program for me. If you don’t have it and are thinkng about trying it then I would say go for it. I’d recommend it even though it is not perfect.


#2

Wow. There has been a lot of negativity here. It got a little depressing. :sad: Thank you for sharing. You didn’t even get to touch on things like Fur, Bone Dynamics, the new Multipass render quality improvements, etc. And you know the crash thing. . . I have been working on a project for about 4 days now. Non stop in AM. EVERY SINGLE CRASH is due to something really really stupid that I did. Lame things like trying to hook a spline into a hook. Or try and save during an intense renderlock. Really lame brain stuff that Hash Inc. could never predict. After every crash I e-mailed support and got a prompt response. I think the whole crash thing will also soon become a bad memory. I hope.


#3

I totally back what you wrote Mechalphia…
Edit of late night confused writing!
I think A:M has evolved to the point were it offers some great animation tools. Despite whatever issues it does have with stability or things like that, it stands apart from other software. I crash A:M maybe once a session. at most. I think A:M has the best toon render out there. And rigging is a thing of simplicity.
The mainstream of 3D is so caught up in Maya or a studio’s proprietary tools that getting the masses to think of using A:M for thier work would be a tough go.
But I do feel that someone is going to make an animated feature film with the software at some point.

Mike Fitz
www.3dartz.com


#4

While on the one hand I sort of understand 3dartz’ post… on the other hand… wtf are you talking about? :smiley: I can’t make heads or tails of that… I’ll grant you it’s 2 am where I am so even later where you are too, but…

Anyway, I only have one of me but been spending years on something. It’s worked out like having ten of me work for a few months (which is depressing as hell, man). So eventually I’ll put something on the map… maybe just a thumbtack, but something.

Is that what you mean? :wip:


#5

Hey Dearmad, sorry about that confused writing, it was late!
My point is that I think A:M is more than capable of making great animation. For all of its road bumps, it has some very unique and powerful features. I sort of feel like it’s only a matter of time before someone uses it for something like a feature animation. Why not?
But, individuals obviously can’t do it alone, hence my need to clone myself a few times!
Sorry about that!
Mike Fitz


#6

Havn’t some Japanese folks already made feature films with AM?

I would agree about all the positive comments mentioned so far. I am predicting that pretty soon we will se a whole load of little films made with AM which will attract attention to it. Hopefully these will be mine.


#7

Grrr… Better get my nose closer to the grindstone. I think there are a few films coming out using AM.


#8

I’m not sure that a full feature film has been made with AM in Japan but some series and OVAs have.

the ‘Maho Yuugi’ OVA used AM for all the Character animation. It was just recently released in the US under the title of ‘Magical Play’ from ADV.

Another is ‘URDA’ which is a series of five 5 minute eps that is going to be released in the US very soon.

AM was also used to do somethig with the series ‘To Heart’. I haven’t seen it yet so i’m not sure to what extent AM was used for , however this one was announced to be released here too.


#9

In the interest of fairness, I should point out that while the character animation for Mahou Yuugi and URDA was done in A:M, the backgrounds and vehicles for both productions were rendered in Lightwave.

AM was also used to do somethig with the series ‘To Heart’. I haven’t seen it yet so i’m not sure to what extent AM was used for , however this one was announced to be released here too.

I’m pretty sure the “To Heart” anime was entirely hand-animated, and this work by Alchemy Atelier is intended as fanart: http://www.bekkoame.ne.jp/~krj/junk/walk_a.gif


#10

I just saw and bought A:M at SIGGRAPH because I had to see if it was as powerful as advertised for the $. I also own MAYA 6, so it will be interesting to compare the +'s and -'s of the two. I have seen that the bigget peeve most people have is the stability. I guess I’ll find out in the coming months of learning the UI and tools.

I am wondering why it is not used much in the studios since the (perceived) intuitive nature of A:M coupled with the price seems like it would be an attractive choice to production heads. Is it the “red headed step child” of the 3D animation world? Or is it the better choice but gets stomped on like in the early days of Win vs MAC, or VHS vs Beta? Why is it not more popular? Does it not play nice with other software or teams of people? Does Hash just need a better marketing department? What’s the deal? :curious:

Anyways, I got it do do my own animation films. I may get me some paying work hopefully but I am not holding my breath. I got Maya to be valuble to the studios but got A:M for me. I hope it will be worth it.:hmm:


#11

toonanim8r
intuitive nature of A:M coupled with the price seems like it would be an attractive choice to production heads. Is it the “red headed step child” of the 3D animation world? Or is it the better choice but gets stomped on like in the early days of Win vs MAC, or VHS vs Beta? Why is it not more popular? Does it not play nice with other software or teams of people? Does Hash just need a better marketing department? What’s the deal?

i would say it’s a little bit of all of those with the main two being :

1: the stigma of it being unstable fromt the v9 days ( this was the year they did a total rewrite of the app and was bound to have problems , looking back now it probably would have been better to release v8.5+ or something and leave the rewrite in dev for another product cycle, of course hindsight always has it easier and I dont’ have to think about any budget problems so…)

  1. It doesnt’ lend itself to being worked into an existing pipeline (almost the polar opposite of Motionbuilder). and It doesnt’ have anytype of existing plugins to use something other than the renderer it comes with. So while compositing stuff from AM is probably the way to go (if your not using it almost exclusivly) you need to learn how to get the most out of the renderer, and while it has really been improving it still really isn’t up there with renderman or brazil.

I’m sure Wegg and some of the other pros here can givr better/more reasons .

OR they could shoot me down and say I’m totally wrong :shrug:


#12

Our First Siggraph Noob. :slight_smile:

Welcome. Greg is a pretty amazing demo guy huh.

To answer your question. I believe it is the “doesn’t play nice with others” that makes it hard for studios to embrace. But like you said. . . use it for your private work and as you learn both apps. . . marvel at one’s amazing workflow and cry at the other’s insanity. Good luck and don’t be a stranger.


#13

AM ALWAYS was known as the “unstable” app, even when I purchased it in '99 I was told it was “good but crashes a lot”. V9 was the one that broke the back of a lot of previously die hard users (I didn’t experience it because I stopped upgrading for completely different reasons and stuck to 8.0 until last year) but it looks like things are looking up again.

Speaking of which, I just ordered my v11 :slight_smile:


#14

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