Looking for reliable alternative to A:M


#1

Hi. Ive been stugling with A:M for 3 years. I started with v 9.0 and that was a real strugle. The problem I run into over and over again , is that after working on an animation project for a while, it gets corrupted and crashes continually. For the record, I save new project versions regularly, and save every few minutes, or less. This doesn’t help. :cry:

I would love to figure out how to get A:M working for me, but I just want to animate my stories and not spend huge amounts of time trying to figure A:M out by trial and error.:banghead:

So the question is, what would you folks suggest as a reliable alternative to A:M. I know that leaving A:M means using a poly modeller and that is ok, as long as it works well most of the time, and I can do character animation in it. Cost is not a huge issue, for the right software, and I use both a Mac and PC, although I preffer the PC for animation because it is much faster. All I really want is a good basic modelling and CA package. I might even consider Poser 5 if I knew I could easily import models and scenes.

I would really apreciate any feedback.


#2

That’s a tough break having all those crashes, wasn’t the latest version supposed to be pretty stable? …anyway, Cinema 4D is a good rendering and animation package but charcter animation has been known to be tough unless you have the MOCCA module with it. Actually if you want to try one without paying you could look into Blender. It’s come a long way and the 2.34 version has some nice features added to it (it should be out pretty soon but 2.33 is great too). Modeling is kind of tough for beginers because the UI is odd but for the quality you can achieve from it you can’t go wrong with free. Some good programs just for modeling would be Silo and Wings3d. Wings3d is free and Silo is 109 USD but that’s a steal for the quality of the program. Just try downloading as many demos as you can and see which program you click with.


#3

I would suggest you look into Project Messiah. It’s new renderer is very feature ritch and it’s animation tools have always been great. Always a close second to Animation Master without the “glitches”. Wings3D, Silo and this new Modo program look like great alternative modeling apps.

Don’t give up on AM though. Maybe we can start to figure out what the heck is making it un-stable for you.

What kind of system do you have? How fast do you work? Are you like me and kinda wiz around with all the keyboard shortcuts slicing and dicing and getting into the “grove” and then BAM! Ooo hello Desktop. Wait. . . where did AM go!?! :slight_smile:


#4

Gotta agree with the recommendation of both Blender and Messiah. I’m a VERY happy user of both.

Wings3D is a great recommendation too. These days, I tend to use Wings for a lot of my modelling. Then, depending on what I’m trying to do project-wise, I import the model(s) into Messiah:Studio or Blender.

I’ve been a Blender user since the 1.5 days, and I’ve used Messiah:Animate with LW since 3.3. However, I recently sold my copy of LW, and upgraded to Messiah:Studio 2.0

Blender is a solid, VERY stable, all-around package that does all of what I need MOST of the time. It also has a sh*t-fast hybrid scanline/raytrace/radiosity renderer, and is well integrated with Yafray, a free, yet powerfull external renderer that can produce even more amazing imagery if you’re willing to wait a bit.

However, Messiah:Studio has the most robust character animation tools that I’ve ever used. Sorry, A:M users, that’s just the way that I feel, and this is coming from a guy who used A:M from the Playmation days, all the way up to v9.5x.

Messiah’s renderer is really capable of some stunning images and animation as well. With Messiah:Studio, GI (Global Illumination), Photon Mapping, etc. is an integrated part of the renderer, and the materials editing is freakin’ phenomenal. Oh, and check out the new displacement mapping. wow! Unfortunately, even with the recent GI optimizations, the renderer can still bog down, and M:S is a much greater memory hog than Blender, so it’s all a tradeoff.

Now, from personal experience, version 9.x of A:M was total crap, as far as stability goes, so that’s when I gave up on it completely. However, it’s my understanding that version 10.x or 11.x is MUCH better, so although I almost certainly won’t be switching back anytime soon, if you already have a lot of time and learning invested in A:M, it might be worth giving a later version a try if it’s not going to cost much.

But really, try Blender. It’s free, and if you can get over the “learning the interface” hump (much easier now with the UI enhancements), you might end up quite happy.


#5

If cost is not a huge issue, you might be interested in Maya. I used it on some SGI machines a while back and it rarely crashed. I think Maya though isn’t really geared for the single user like A:M is. You could go with messiah:animate and use it with the Cinema 4d base package or use it with Lightwave. I think it also works with Maya. I think there’s pros that use messiah and use it with whatever software there company has.

www.projectmessiah.com

www.zoogono.com is a site with some helpful tools for messiah.


#6

Thanks for the feedback. I have tried Blender and it looks interesting, and I love the idea of being able to copy/flip/paste bones. I kinda wonder if I should be looking at mainstream apps, just incase I get good enough, one day, to get in with a studio, or at least be compatable with a large part of the CG animation world.

Wegg, I would love to solve my A:M problems, but I have to admit I have ny doubts. On this latest project, which was planned to be a 1 minute music video, I first got into trouble when trying to blend actions. I narrowed the problem down to adujsting the percent for add or blend. I’m still not clear on the difference. I got through that by making the blended pose start in a very similar postition as the one being blended with. All went fairly well, except for the camera constraints getting messed up, often, models that diassapear in real time, but show up in render, and other fun stuff.

I had finished the first six seconds of my character wlking into the room and standing infront of a desk. Next, she is going to set down, so I saved out the cho to import and embed in a new project. I did this because I didn’t want to screw up the work I had so far. It seems that saving out the cho was my downfall. Even though I re-embeded it in the new project, it crashes every few minutes no mater what I’m doing; saving, clicking a mode button, clicking on screen, etc. I went back to the good project and saved it under a new name, but I get the same result. So, any thoughts?

I was using A:M on a Mac, but went to a PC because A:M isn’t supporting Macs well and PCs are much faster for the money. I also found out that A:M works a bit differently on the PC and I preffer it. I use a Toshiba P20 laptop with a 3.2 ghz P4 and an Nvidia GeForceFX5200 Go card with 64 meg DDR memory. It’s quite a rocket after my Mac G4/400. :thumbsup:

While I’m at it, how can I delete the walking to the desk part and start at time 00:00 with her sitting down? And how the heck do you change the cho length and get it to stay. Every time I add an action, the cho lengthens, as expected, but after I blend the actions, I want to shorten the cho to fit the timing, but it won’t stay!!!

Maya is a posibility, but for now I am a studio of 1. I am keeping an eye on Animation Mentor which is on online cg animation school that is bundled with Maya.


#7

Wowa. If your having troubles with Animation Master’s Non Liniar editing. . . DO NOT SWITCH APPS! Most other apps don’t even come close to AM in that area. I used to use action blending all the time in 8.5 and it worked very predictably. I can’t answer your specific questions because it has been a LONG time since I have used those features.

The gras is NOT greener on the other side for what your trying to do my friend. Sorry. :-/


#8

Thanks for the info Wegg. I din’t realize that action blending was anything unusual. The only other apps I’ve used are Poser 3 and Strata StudioPro. How do you do things like adding a hand wave in the middle of a walk cycle in other apps? I have thought of going back to 8.5, another A:Mer sent it to me the last time I threatened to quite, but I wonder if it is more stable than 10.5. I also don’t now if I want to spend the next few weeks redoing my project in 8.5, only to find out it doesn’t work.

I have to admit that I’m at a low point right now, but I am determined to get through it. I want to animate, even if it’s just for myself, and I don’t care what software I use as long as it helps me get the job done.


#9

Well in AM you just create a new hand action for your model. . . drop it onto your model in the cho and position it where you would like the hand wave to happen and maybe animate the influence it has over the motion “below” it. If it doesn’t look quite right you can always pop back over to the action and tweak it a little. Pop back to Cho and see what that did. Done.

In Messiah. You have to load up your scene making sure it has NO animation, create a group for the bones and nulls that control your model, animate a hand motion. Create a motion clip for that group. Save the motion clip. Close the scene, load up your walk scene, re-create the group EXACTLY as you did in the motion clip, create a new track in the Compose tab. Load in your clip, select the track and add the clip to the track. Make sure to turn off any translating bones, make sure that the clip was added to the right group. Then move it to where you want it in the timeline and pick the blending mode till it looks right. Heaven help you if you screwed up or don’t like the results cause. . . you’d pretty much have to go back and do that all over again.

Trust me. . . AM is 1000 X more intuative. Anyone who tells you different has never used it to it’s fullest.


#10

Sigh, so what you’re saying Wegg is that I already have the best 3D app for what I’m doing, except that I am having a lot of trouble keeping it running. :argh:


#11

:sad: Sorry.

Hound tech support and talk about your problems openly in here. Nothing will change if you just sit in your kitchen animating. . . ALONE!


#12

Ok, thanks Wegg, good advice. I don’t have much faith in Hash support, I seem to have a lot of problems they can’t reproduce, but I have learned a bit from the forum today that has helped. And I don’t animate in the kitchen, way too noisy with 2 kids running around. I work inthe basement where it is cool and quiet. :thumbsup:


#13

Well in AM you just create a new hand action for your model. . . drop it onto your model in the cho and position it where you would like the hand wave to happen and maybe animate the influence it has over the motion “below” it. If it doesn’t look quite right you can always pop back over to the action and tweak it a little. Pop back to Cho and see what that did. Done.

Wowa. If your having troubles with Animation Master’s Non Liniar editing. . . DO NOT SWITCH APPS! Most other apps don’t even come close to AM in that area. I used to use action blending all the time in 8.5 and it worked very predictably.
Billy, THANK YOU SOOOO MUCH for the KIND words.

You the MAN!!

And Graham,

If there is anything that I can help you with, please don’t hesitate to ask.

A:M Rocks,
Greg Rostami


#14

I agree, blender is coming along nicely ! I don’t want to offend anybody here in this A:M forum but there are some nice samples to evaluate the current quality blender is capable of.Most users of other packages thinks that because blender is free it must be crappy and thats totally false ! It’s very stable, comes with NLA support, has nice fur and YafRay kicks ass !

Some Animations :


http://members.lycos.co.uk/blenderaki/Zasz_180.exe


http://members.lycos.co.uk/blenderaki/final_Face_c.avi


http://members.lycos.co.uk/blenderaki/Head.exe


http://members.lycos.co.uk/blenderaki/final_Dart_c.avi


http://www.blender3d.org/_media/gallery/movies/mindfields_low_osx.avi

Or watch the awesome SIGGRAPH Demo
http://blender3d.com/%7Ebart/siggraph_movie.avi

Some Stills :



Here the newest versions (2.34) :

98/ME/2000/XP
http://download.blender.org/release/Blender2.34/blender-2.34-windows.exe
http://download.blender.org/release/yafray.0.0.7/yafray-0.0.6-7-win.zip

Mac OS X 10.2
http://download.blender.org/release/Blender2.34/blender-2.34-OSX-10.2-powerpc.dmg
http://download.blender.org/release/yafray.0.0.7/yafray-0.0.7.pkg.zip

Mac OS X 10.3
http://download.blender.org/release/Blender2.34/blender-2.34-OSX-10.3-powerpc.dmg
http://download.blender.org/release/yafray.0.0.7/yafray-0.0.7.pkg.zip

Linux i386 2.2.5
http://download.blender.org/release/Blender2.34/blender-2.34-linux-glibc2.2.5-i386.tar.gz
http://download.blender.org/release/yafray.0.0.7/yafray-0.0.7-2.i386.rpm

Documentation
http://download.blender.org/documentation/BlenderManualIen.23.pdf.zip ([size=3]a must have !!!)[/size]
http://download.blender.org/release/Publisher2.25/PublisherUserDoc.pdf

Some blender files to play with
http://download.blender.org/demo/test/test234.zip (feature samples)
http://download.blender.org/release/yafray.0.0.7/test007.zip (YafRay samples)
http://blenderchar.weirdhat.com/models/blendo.zip (rigged character)

and don’t forget to visit this sites :
www.blender.org
http://blenderchar.weirdhat.com/
http://www.enricovalenza.com/
http://members.lycos.co.uk/blenderaki
http://www.artificial3d.com/
http://www.blenderwars.com

Bertha (a blender & A:M user)


#15

I thought I’d post s followup. I figured out what the problem was. I spent a half hour recording what I was doing when A:M crashed. It crashed 6 times. With a little deductive reasoning and intuative guessing, I figured out that a model that had it’s draw mode set to “not show” in the PWS was the problem. Once I set it to show, all has been fine now for several hours. Testing my hypothisis with another model confirmed this.

Now I’m happy to be able to work in A:M again, but I’m shaking my head at how such a simple thing can bring the app down. Unfortunatly, this is very typical of A:M. BTW Dearmad, I am using 10.5.

Thanks to all for the support and suggestions, and thanks to Bertha Big for posting the Blender stuff, very cool. Even IF A:M keeps working, I want to give Blender a try to see how to model in polys.


#16

If you can repeate that. . . zip that puppy up and send it to support@hash.com. Please.


#17

Graham, glad i could help ! I also use A:M (11.0m) but i seem to have the talent for crashing it every 10 minutes or so. I hardly get anything done. This was the main reason for me to look into Blender. At first i was totally lost by the strange UI but i gave it a few days of serious work and now i really start loving it. Don’t expect a workflow like in A:M (the only reason i didn’t returned A:M to Crash Inc.) but the results are quite rewarding ! The Yafray Renderer is great ! It has awesome quality and speed. There will be a new Blender Release 2.34 in the next days with a lot of new features. Beginners should take their time to get used to the ‘funny’ interface and search for samples and docs. I also use Wings 3D and both programs work perfectly together. I still hope that Hash will work on stability and render speed because A:M is really fun to use !

There is a nice (fully rigged) character to play with :

http://blenderchar.weirdhat.com/models/blendo.zip

and visit the character animation site

http://blenderchar.weirdhat.com/

Bertha


#18

Graham said that he was using version 10.5. I am as well.

Will Hash inc. even look at bug and crash reports form 10.5 now that they have moved to 11?

If they don’t why bother to send in the report?

Anyway…

I was going to give up A:M long ago because I am a bit fed up with it crashing as it does but…

I have yet to figure out how to model with polygons.

I have found it quite a challenge to adjust to polygons.

I even own a copy of MAX and I can’t even get past it’s user interface yet.

It’s frustrating too because right here at CgTalk I see so many great models that were created with polygons and many of them with MAX.

I think to myself: How do these artists create these models from boxes??? Its amazing to me. I think I’ll figure it out soon enough though.

I think that A:M is a WONDERFUL program and I still use it a lot but it still does crash way too much (especially during modeling).

Hash really still needs to zero in on and fix those (now legendary) crashing issues.


#19

The “I love it . . . but” attitude is pretty common among users of any software.

I love After Effects BUT. . . I HATE it’s animation controls. It’s motion curves are the most un-intuative pile of poo I have ever had to deal with. I ALWAYS run up against it and always have to come back to it because there is nothing else out there that produces cleaner/faster results that I have found.

I love Messiah BUT. . . I HATE it’s workflow and goofy method of applying “tools” and “modifiers” etc.

I love Lightwave BUT. . . I hate it’s interface, it’s material editor, it’s modeler. . . hmm. . . maybe I don’t love lightwave.

I think the point is. . . A:M is not unique in it’s quirks. I think most users in here are here because they believe A:M is the diamond in the rough. . . and that it’s quirks are worth putting up with for it’s other attributes.

Hang in there. Develop a relationship with the support people at Hash. . . and let us help you when we can.


#20

You should visit www.3dbuzz.comThey have free (video) tutorials for beginners. Also check Michael Comet’s Web site (http://www.comet-cartoons.com) He has a lot of 3DSMax Tutorials & Scripts.

I found this great box modeling tutorial a while ago :

http://www.maxoncomputer.com/tutorial_detail.asp?tutorialID=142&site=

http://www.maxoncomputer.com/tutorial_browse.asp?category=PROJECTS

They use Cinema 4D in this tutorial but you should be able to apply it to every other package as well.

I’m not a techno geek. I can’t recreate the steps before the crashs occur. Most of the time i simply use UNDO or do a Quickrender and KABOOM ! They don’t even bother to test the weekly patches with the project files from the CD ! (remember the particle samples or rigid bodys a few releases ago ?). And what about the cloth feature ? I never got it to work without crashing. And still i won’t give up on Hash ! (at least until the end of this year :wink: ) but you can’t blame someone to look for alternatives !

Bertha