Autodesk increase student pricing model by £4000


Just digging this thread up now to get a little (slightly off-topic) insight into Modo as an alternative.

I’ve just purchased the 30 day trial package to check out but I’m concerned that I won’t have enough time in that 30 days to give it a proper ‘test run’. I would ideally like to use it for a kind of trial project to see whether it works for me, but I’ve got to learn it first and last time I messed with it (back in 301 I think) it was a very different beast to the Max/Maya toolset I was used to. I’ll give it my best shot but I do want some opinions from you guys who are using Modo (solely Modo) in a production environment.

As I mentioned, my source of income will be Arch-Viz (and possibly some Product Viz stuff too if things go well and I can expand my options) so I don’t need any great character animation or rigging tools which I know is one of Modo’s well-documented shortcomings (although that’s been improved in 601 right?).

The things that stand out as a concern to me right now are firstly, lack of support from well-known model libraries. I tend to be kind of 50/50 on model libraries, if I’ve got time then I always like to model my own furniture/props etc, but in some cases (usually trees/cars) then I just go shopping on somewhere like Evermotion, but as far as I can see, they don’t offer a native Modo format. I’m guessing FBX works ok, but how much of a hassle is it setting up materials on things like cars which would have multiple sub-objects on the same material (not sure if that’s how it works in Modo).

The second concern is the renderer. As a long-time VRay user, I always try to get my scenes as close to final as possible as render output and do less in post, so the render quality is really paramount. I’m not as concerned about the speed of the renders but more the quality.

Finally, stability. I’m using a Mac, and unfortunately have one of the ATI GPU models which has meant my performance in Bootcamp with Max has been pretty awful, to be honest my system just isn’t optimal right now but I’ll upgrade this year and it will be to another Mac. Is Modo on OS X pretty stable? How about realtime performance, does the viewport refresh cope well with heavy scenes?

I’m really keen to get stuck in to Modo because I’ve heard such amazing things about its modeling toolset, and obviously pricing is very attractive so I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts.



modo is a great option in my opinion, I added it to my toolset once 601 came out, i’m also on 3dsmax subscription an have not really felt very happy on the last few releases…lack lustre and buggy, plus with the 45% price rise on subs for uk users [me] wanted a “plan b”.

modo’s renderer is excellent, the previewer works on cpu so not hassle with small gfx cards memory limits or open cl or cuda to consider.


Hmm I’m already finding myself missing a few things over my last few days trying Modo.

Firstly, is there no way to preview renderable splines in the viewport? Or convert them to a mesh? I use those a lot in Max and I can’t seem to find an option in Modo to do it.

Also, can you ‘create shape from selection’ like you can in Max?

I’m also concerned about the compatibility with model libraries. I imported a couple of Evermotion trees in OBJ and FBX and performance was pretty terrible.

I love the interface and the work plane/action center is awesome once you get the hang of it but I feel like it’s ‘not quite there’ to make the switch.

I think I’m just going to have to suck it up and find the £4000 for Max. In all honesty, it’s probably a silly idea to switch to something unfamiliar initially anyway, I don’t really want to be learning software on my clients time.


Render curves display in the preview renderer! Get used to using that it pretty much does everything and is the heart and soul of modo… The great thing about modo is you don’t need to many viewport approximations because the render view is so fast you can pretty much instantly see what your final result will be…

In terms of tree’s i know the xfrog library has now been ported to modo and fbx/alembic/obj/dae work reasonably well for me…

Can you explain some more what “create shape from selection” does?

Spend a bit more time with it and don’t try and use it like Max…


Yeah XFrog’s library is awesome. They only do trees though. My biggest concern is cars. I’ve got a project coming up for a car dealership and the prospect of re-applying textures and setting up materials to 10+ different FBX/OBJ cars is not exactly thrilling.

Can you explain some more what “create shape from selection” does?

Yeah it’s super useful. Say you’ve got a room made up of connected walls and you want to make the skirting board. Just grab the lower edge from the perimeter of the room and hit ‘create shape from selection’ and it gives you a spline from the edges you had selected.

A more useful example in Max would be for something like the piping on a leather chair or cushion, just select the loop of edges and extract it as a spline, make it renderable, collapse to editable poly and you’ve got a perfectly fitted mesh.

I know it sounds like a trivial little thing but it’s surprising just how much I use it and how much time it saves. That’s the issue, if it’s possible in Modo but requires a few extra steps, then those extra steps quickly add up over the course of a project and result in a fair bit of lost time.

I really want Modo to work for me, for cost if nothing else! But I’m really not finding the transition at all easy.


Check out these scripts i think they will sort out any issues you have…

I’ve bought in FBX format cars from 3dsmax to modo and all the material assignments and textures stuck…

It seems like the newer versions of fbx works much better.

You can create a curve from an edge by;

Select edges…

Press alt - 1 to convert the selection to vertex’s

Then press crtl - p for closed curve or shift - o for an open curve…


Ah good stuff, thanks.

So with FBX, when you say they came in with materials, do you mean material parameters too? So reflectivity for car paint for example? Presumably not since that’s software specific?

Ok cool so the edge to curve thing is possible, how about converting a renderable spline to a mesh, is there any way to do that? Also, with renderable splines, can you choose a profile shape other than circular? Like a rectangle or flange for example?


Might sound odd, but you should really have a look at Blender as well. The things you mention you want to do with splines are very easy to do in it - not to mention the fact that you can draw splines directly in the view on objects. And it has more of a ‘Max’ feel than Modo does. There is also a VRAY exporter, which means you would only have to buy a license of the standalone maya exporter (which saves even more money .

Just saying, since you are getting a feel for other software.


Yeah I’ve actually never used Blender, despite it being free and very popular.

So how does the whole VRay thing work? I know the standalone VRay is basically just a command line renderer right? How do you handle things like VRay Materials or VRProxies? I’m definitely interested if there’s a way of getting Blender output into one of the big renderers.


I’ve not posted here in absolutely ages (nice to be back!) but I saw this thread and wanted to chime in for a sec.

The advice many are giving to students to go with the free opensource programs out there is sound and makes a huge amount of sense on a purely financial level but in reality it’s not that quite that simple.

Students must take into account the fact that, for better or worse, our industry and various sub industries all revolve around the large well-known packages out there - max, maya, soft, houdini etc. and a few shops use lightwave and c4d etc. Almost no large studios, whether in film, games, tv/ads, visualisation or whatever else are using opensource. Studios large and small have very strict pipelines for a good reason, and they need people who can slot right in to that pipeline and get work out without having to spend too much time learning it, for obvious reasons.

If you spend all your time learning the free opensource packages, or the small-scale cheaper packages, you will definitely be investing your time wisely by learning the fundamentals and getting practice time in but you won’t be doing yourself any favours when it comes to experience and skill in the main packages that help get people hired. Some studios will hire regardless of your software knowledge or experience, but most won’t. Most “need” experience in certain packages.

It sucks for students that it’s harder than ever financially to get yourself trained up in relevant software packages and for sure the software is only one part of what you need to get hired and get into the industry, but it’s a very important part. I know from experience that I would never hire a fantastic modeler who has only ever used Blender because I’m a 3ds max shop and need people who can jump in and work within my pipeline very smoothly. It’s tough but that’s life. On the flipside computers and hardware in general is far cheaper than it’s ever been, and access to the main packages through demos etc. or other institutions is relatively easy and affordable, so it’s kind of a swings and roundabouts situation.

So, my advice is to grab the free/cheap packages and learn all you can, definitely, but if you can grab any time at all in the main packages do it right away because that will be extremely valuable and will massively increase your chances of getting a job down the line.

Also, just one thing - thousands of pounds/dollars for a bit of software sounds horrendous to all students for obvious reasons - but when you consider that you might well pay that off in one go with your first couple of gigs… well it doesn’t sound so bad any more. Software is a huge investment, alongside hardware and staff costs. Invest in both free/cheap and the main packages and you can’t go far wrong.


Great post, Alex, thanks, (big fan of your work too by the way).

The thing for me is, it’s not just limited to the fact that the big few packages are industry standard but also that when you’ve been working with them for the past 5 or more years, it becomes very difficult to switch to one of the ‘lesser’ packages and you really miss tools.

It’s like this Max to Modo thing; Modo is clearly very capable, and if I was doing a lot of hard-surface or organic modeling, and wanted some strong sculpting tools and a decent UV toolset, then it would be perfect. However, in my few days of using it I’m already finding little niggles and tools that I’m missing and sure there might be scripts, workarounds, or hacks but every time I use one of them, and they take longer than the few seconds that they do in Max, then it’s adding time onto a project which could end up being substantial.

Not only that but the interopability is an issue. With 99% of this industry using Max, AutoCAD/Revit and VRay, sticking with them means there’ll be very little in the way of compatibility issues. Again, I know the other packages have workarounds and file importers but it’s still not a seamless, and often not a very quick process.

I think the only sensible option would be to just suck it up and buy Max now, get some paid work under my belt and learn one of the other apps in my free time, then maybe next year when my subs are due if I feel I’ve got my Modo skills up to scratch then I can make the switch then. As you say, although it’s a lot of money to find initially, it will hopefully have paid for itself in a project or three’s time.

Not my ideal path of action, and given the choice, of course I’d rather find a cheaper alternative but if the industry isn’t going to budge, then neither am I. As much as I’d love to see a software related revolution in the industry, I don’t really think it’s going to happen, whether I support alternatives or not.


Thanks very much!

I think that’s a great attitude. Scripts and plugins are also a huge investment and I have hundreds here and I use many of them daily, so switching to another (non major) package would be a problem. And, as you say, interop with other studios (and people) is extremely important. I work with other studios regularly (we all do pretty much) and so having the latest versions of everything (and old versions!) is crucial. That’s expensive but it’s just one of the standard costs of running your own shop, and, as it goes, one of the smaller costs. Staff costs are always the biggest and hardest to keep going.


Except for Houdini (Apprentice edition) of course, which is free for students (or any other non-commercial usage).


Also every Autodesk program (though you need a .edu email address to download them).


All Autodesk has to do is convince universities to teach their software and it will always be the industry standard. 2013 versions of their software have reached an all-time low as far as ease of exporting to other 3D packages. I think these two things alone solve the mystery of why their costs have gone up so dramatically (you’re never going anywhere else, and they know it). The grass is definitely greener (imho) with C4D, but importing 2013 Autodesk files is more tedious than it should be as mentioned, and that is only going to get worse unfortunately. Good luck with whatever you decide.


Actually you don’t, you just need to create an Autodesk account and be able to somehow verify that you’re enrolled in an educational program. Students of online programs have access to these as well.


I stand corrected. Still, it’s not available to people who are self-teaching (though they could sign up for a class online or at a community college for a lot less then then the Maya license fee).


Yep, that’s why the Houdini Apprentice program is so great. It’s blanket free for non-commercial usage. (unlike the Autodesk education program)


They do offer"Tools for Displaced Professionals" that could probably apply to a lot of people. Agreed though, it’d be nice to have something like the old Maya PLE that everyone could use.


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