MODO: Q&A with Brad Peebler


Hi Everyone ,

Me and Mdme Sadie were at macworld this morning and we had a lenghty presentation of Modo from Brad Peebler. Brad was kind enough to answer all your questions , so here goes:

- What file formats it can adress?

File I/O is handled via an extensible data exchange system. The initial release of modo will support the formats of the most popular animation systems and a few other useful formats.

- Also how long till modo goes GM?

Because software development is a very fluid process , we’ll only announce a concrete shipping date when we have one. Luxology understands that many people like to know approximately when the software will be released so they can make informed purchase decisions , however , we feel it is a disservice to those customers to project a date that may (and most likely will) change as the program evolves.

- Are there any real Nurbs and solid modelling features?

No. While the modo architechture is extensible and allows for new geometry types to be added , we believe that focus is our best approach. Modo r1 is designed to be a highly focused , extensible subd platform.

- Does modo have Symmetry modeling features?

Symmetry is possible on the X , Y or Z axis.

- Local and World cordinates?

The tool operation axis is part of the “tool pipe” in modo which means it can be changed on the fly , as well as having new coordinate systems added by 3rd parties.

- Are all modelling tools interactive? Like Arrays , Clone , Rail Extrudes , etc.


- Does it show TRUE transparency? and not like LW “doted” transparency.


- Does it have construction history?

Modo has a command history , which will allow users to undo/redo through their modelling session. Modo also utilizes a new convention called the “Tool Pipe”. This will allow the user to combine tools with various tool modifiers to create live editable custom tools. this approach allows us provide maximum flexibility and power without suffering the weight of a complete construction history.

- Does it have Endomorphs like Lightwave?

Modo will support LW endomorphs and has some nifty tools for editing them. Also , modo will convert Maya blendshapes into embedded morphs for editing inside modo to provide the editing benefits of “endomorphs” to Maya users.

- Does it have Spline editing tools?


- How do booleans perform?

Modo booleans can generate ngons which work fine with modo subpatches. However , there are methods for modyfying these to quads for safe export to systems that do not support N-gon subpatches.

- UV construction , are they more power and friendly like in Maya?


- Can we have two windows , one showing the model in sub-d mode and the other in poly mode ala XSI?

Not currently , but thats a good request!

- When will the fist module be released? This year or next?

Modo will certainly be released inside 2004. Keep your eyes on for more specific information as it becomes available.

- How much of the LW modeller code reside in modo?

Modo was written from the ground up to make certain it would benefit from the most up to date development tools (such as Xcode) and allow us to create a far more extensible system than was previously available.

- How is the viewport performance?

As in most software applications , the final stage is one of bug fixes and optimization. rest assured that edit speed is one of our highest priorities.

- OPENGL? DirectX? Quality? Speed?

The 3d drawing in modo is currently OpenGL with support for vertex and fragment shaders for extensibility and advance modelling views. Due to the generic and open architechture of modo viewports , it is possible for game companies (or third parties) to create their own viewport and use any drawing system they like.

- PC / Mac / Linux comparisons (pros/cons)

We have officially announced support for OS X and windows. Luxology uses a unique propretiary development toolkit that allows concurrent platform development. %95 or more of the source code is written in a platform generic manner so that the application is identical across platforms. It is also designed to allow each platform version to utilize specific technologies on the target platform so that , for example , we can take advantage of technologies such as Quartz Extreme on OS X , etc. This toolkit is one of our most valued pieces of intellectual property.

- Does modo have a surface editor?

Yes. The modo surface editor is intentionally rather basic allowing the user to add and edit material properties such as image maps and basic material attributes. This design allows us to connect to many different 3d host applications where it is more appropriate for advanced texturing , such as procedural textures , as those systems would provide the rendering services.

- Are Plug-ins possible?

Absolutely. In fact , many of our included tools utilize the same API’s that will be provided to 3rd party developers. The modo architechture provides interfaces for C++ and C. The modo scripting engine has a direct link to PERL via a thin layer interpreter. This scripting interpreter can also be replaced so that modo scripting can be connected to other popular scripting systems such as Python , etc.

- Is there any indicator of the number of selected poly/points like in Lightwave Modeller?


- Can we customize the colors of the Interface?


- If I load a Lightwave object for example , will modo subpatch it noticably different than Lightwave or is the result same?

The modo subdivision surface engine is also extensible and can be replaced by third parties. In modo r1 we have included 2 subdivision algorithms. The default modo subd engine is designed to support ngons and edge weighting. The alternate subd engine is visually identical to the Lightwave 3d engine. This allows the user to model in that style , or simply use it to check for artifacts prior to export.

- When can we expect the animation portion to be released?

There has been no announcement about an animation system or module. Modo is designed to connect to the existing 3d pipeline applications , just as messiah or Motionbuilder provides augemented animation functionality to other programs , modo is designed to augment the modelling process.

- What rendering engine will it use? (or will it be custom?)

Modo connects to any rendering system that connects to the same host application. In other words , if you use modo with Lightwave you would use the Lightwave render engine , if you use modo with Motionbuilder and Mental ray , I suppose you would be using Mental Ray.

- Will there be a painting module in the texture editor?

Not in r1.

- Will there be any cross grade pricing for existing owners of Lightwave , Maya , XSI , etc.

Because of the number of years we spent in the Lightwave community , there will be a “friends and family” upgrade price for Lightwave end users , including a special bonus for users of Lightwave 8.

What are the minimum and recommended sytem requirements to run modo?

System requirements will not be determined or announced until the application has reached GM and has been properly evaluated on a myriad of systems.

- What are some of the coolest/innovative tools modo offers (aside from the fully customizable UI)?

We’ll keep these secret until we are close to the release date. No point in tipping off the competition.

- Will modo be able to do brush modelling like in Z-brush?

There are some “brushing” tools in modo.

- Does it have tablet support?

Modo supports alternate input devices.

Hope you guys liked it.

Cheers ,


Sheep Factory - What was yours and Mdme Sadie impressions of Modo now that Brad was showing it?


Nice job, Sheep. Thanks for doing the interview and writing it up. Good stuff :slight_smile:

Sounds pretty interesting.


Thank you from all the donkey-holes out there :applause:

I just wanne see this program in action - I doubt I’ll be converting - but I still wanne see it.

And I’ll be DAMNED if Pixar/Blizzard North decide to change their programs to Modo!


Hmm, sounds pretty mediocre to me, and kinda reeks of LW in its reliance on 3rd party plug-ins for some basic expected features. ONe good thing though, is that they aren’t being like Newtek in their handling of launch dates. I’ve been burned twice by Newtek with LW in regards to that (versions 4 & 6) and never again.


On a side note ,

Brad said he’ll be making some new videos to show modo in action which will be coming out pretty soon , so stay tuned to

I’ll write a short review of what I thought about it (which is quite different than my last one) as soon as my wrist stops hurting :slight_smile: , I just typed all this stuff lemme rest a bit guys :stuck_out_tongue:




Thanks for the Info

Sounds like a good option to the other packages that are also developing open bridges/connections to any app whether its animation or Rendering.
My wish list of connectable apps Modo, Messiah, Brazil :smiley:

Would like modo to be out soon like everybody else though :confused:


Modo sounds like it’s going to be great. :slight_smile:

Thx. for doing the interview, Sheepy.


Really interesting stuff, Sheep :slight_smile:


thoughts on modo huh… hmm. well i have to admit i went along feeling fairly skeptical to begin with, but after the demo and explanations given i really do think Lux are taking this the right way, and they explained why all the vids about the interface.

basically they’re taking the route of creating an extensible architecture that just happens for the start to be a subd modeler. in essense it’s an OS, and they’ve then supplied the parts that make up what appears to be a pretty solid subd modeler.

imo this is a very wise move, it essentially means that any third party or indeed luxology themselves could add in bits to make a compositor, add in animation stuff, you name it… build in a render engine… anything. it also by it’s very nature makes this a pipeline tool which is where it’s niche will most likely be.

the focus on this being an OS also explains why all the videos were about the interface rather than the modeling in modo, though they never really got the point accross imo in those vids.

the real trouble for modo is the profusion of modelers out there right now, even if modo takes all the best bits from all over it’s still going to have a tough time if they concentrate on that side marketing wise rather than on the pipeline aspect, but then again price comes into that equation too. we’ll see if any studios pick it up.

to put it another way, Modo looks really nice, it has the potential it could become another industry standard app, just because of it’s extensibility. But it will have a hard time breaking in via the modeling route imo (and that’s regardless of how good a modeler it is, and it does look like it’s a good one).


Thanks Sheep for the info.

I just got re-excited about Luxology. I only wish they had their whole suite ready, rather than just the modeler. But I think their 3d OS innovation is wonderful.
Talk about dropping the ball, whoever let Allen and Stuart go to create this technology was not very wise IMO.


It’s interesting that Luxology decided to do a total rewrite of the modeling program, considering that Lux’s Stuart Ferguson owned the code of Lightwave’s modeler (if you look, the copyright notice is on LW Modeler’s info box).

The extensibility will make MODO much more appealing to the major studios than most other modeling packages out there. I guess this is one of the benefits of rewriting the package.

Rewriting also would have given them the option to write the Mac version in the “objective-C” programming language, but it seems like they didn’t, if both Windows and Mac version come “95%” from the same code base.

Thanks for the interview, Sheep. You did a better job and asked more relevant questions than most 3D magazines would have!


Thanks Sheep :beer:


Thanks Sheep and mdme,

That was a great interview.


For Sheep Factory

Offtopic: Your avatar is werry avesome.:thumbsup:
I want a bigger picture with it. If is possible please link or PM.:beer:


regarding the UV tools and Brush tools ala Zbrush:

the uv editor was pretty nice looking , all the modo tools can be used to modify uv’s such as falloff tools , move points , dragnet etc. There was a really nice relax tool , which Brad said will be interactive in the final release. But even in the current release he layed out the UV’s of a face in no time.

The brush tools are not as comprehensive as Zbrush , which is not a handycap in my opinion , Z-brush excels in brush technology and Modo excels as a sub-d modeller. The included brush tools are your regular push\pull\smooth\etc type brushes.

Also the interface customizability is real nice. You can scrap the whole UI and have a Maya Hotbox type workflow. only its more customizable and prettier looking than the maya hotbox :slight_smile:

Overall I was really impressed with what Brad showed us and I am sure most of you will be too after seeing a proper demonstration. Those videos that came out so far does not do justice.

Cheers ,


Thanks for the Q&A. Some informative answers. I appreciate you guys taking the time to ask them all.


I wonder if Modo will have a function that u can launch it instead of modeler in layout, like alternate the F12 shortcut?!




Ok, sounds good thus far, but… which will be the more intuitive modeler to use, Wings3D or Modo? Personally due to the fact that I am not employed in the industry thus not utilizing some far out pipeline it all comes down to which is the better modeler to crank out some poly critters and like… I am thinking that should it be as good as say C4D c/w Mesh Surgery along with NGon support then yahoo, but should it not be as powerful in the ole boxmodeling as C4D+ms then, well, back to Wings unless perhaps Clay comes along to dethrone all above mentioned…

What’s your take on this Sheep? Mdme Sadie?