Pros - can I have your honest opinion?


#1

Hello,
This question is directed to those of you who use Animate or Studio professionally. I would appreciate it if you would give me the benefit of your hard won experience and your outlook on the CG industry. I would like to make the jump from a “wanna-be” to a “gonna-be,” and it is time for me to make some choices about key applications now and for the future. I am concentrating on setting up a one or two person operation, and I would have total control over what gets used for production and what doesn’t. I have used LightWave for years, and have been generally pleased with it. However, this latest revision has left me feeling somewhat uneasy. (Before I go too far along this line of thought, I would like to make it plain that I have nothing but respect for those people who work hard trying to make their software the best it can be. I have NO desire for this thread to turn into an application flame war, or anything of the kind. I know there is no such thing as the “perfect” application, and every program I buy now or later will have it’s own fair share of flaws; or should I say, “undocumented features?” :slight_smile: )
Anyway, lately it seems that LightWave has been… I guess I want to say…“stuck.” I went for their latest $500 upgrade deal because it came with a compositor (which I didn’t have), but the new features in LightWave itself have left a lot to be desired. (“IK Boost” :surprised - 'nuff said.) Now LightWave has a very large consumer base, and there is a massive amount of community involvement with the software. It seems that eventually someone will come along and “plug the leak,” wherever one is found. BUT, to me it gives everything a “patched-together” feel, like everything that should be integrated is more or less “bolted on top.” I’ve always felt it was better to try to really master just one or two applications instead of being a player at many and a master of none. I had Animate 3, and gave up on it because of a softbody dynamic issue (that seems to have been addressed in one form or another). I focused all my attention on LightWave, and was excited when the new features were introduced. At the time it seemed I made the right choice. Now I’m not so sure.
I have been checking out the newest features of Animate and Studio, and I have to say I’m impressed. The $500 upgrade fee to Studio is well within my price range, but I’m hesistant to make another sizeable purchase so soon without knowing what you pros really think of Messiah and its future. I’m kind of concerned about the smaller user base, which means less community support, like plugins and add-on features (and who’s going to help me when I get stuck?:slight_smile: ). pmG has a small development team, which might mean longer times between updates and bug fixes (although to be fair, some big development teams take a really long time between updates.) Long term use may also be an issue, but then again, no one can predict the future of the CG industry. But let’s also look at the opposite side of the coin. There are some very strong reasons to make Animate and Studio part of a production pipeline right now. Those feature videos were amazing. Muscle jiggle and weight. Armatures. Subpixel displacement renders. Faster GI. The list could go on and on. I am impressed, but I’m easily impressed. I would rather hear from those of you who don’t play around and are really out there in the CG trenches making it happen every day.

What do you think?


#2

Hi michaelb,

I agree with your feelings on LW and the “bolted-on” feeling about it. As most people know, most of the new tools were available as free plugins before being acquired by NT. Much of it was never truly “integrated” but “slapped-on”. But, that doesn’t bother me as much as having prepaid a year in advance … I digress.

In my humble opinion, messiah’s architecture feels more modern and integrated. It’s such a breath of fresh air to be working with an app that feels so zippy - it’s got speed in spades. There’s real-time dynamics, being able to layer multiple effects, simple but powerful expressions, etc…

My feeling is that pmG has laid down the ground work for a very comprehensive 3d app. It’s still growing but it can only get better because of the solid foundation that’s there. For now, I don’t think you can go wrong by continuing to use both LW and messiah together as do most users on this list. As messiah’s momentum continues, you can slowly ween yourself off of LW if need be. Or continue to use both for their strengths. Presently there are some things that LW can do that messiah can’t and vice versa. I use both for now. It’s true that messiah has a small but close community of users - but that’s part of the charm. How many 3d companies are there in which you can interact directly with the developers? If you have a suggestion, they will listen. You can directly help shape the future of a software app. Lyle and the pmG team are very committed to the success of messiah. When they become a big successful 3d juggernaut, I just hope they’ll remember us little guys that helped out in the beginning. :slight_smile:


#3

messiah’s core doesn’t have the baggage of history. That’s an advantage. It still needs to get rounded off in scope and some interface elements, but I feel inspired when using it. Expect great things once the community expands and folk like Thomas H. get additional shading packages developed.


#4

I have to pretty much agree with all that was said about LW and messiah. However LW for the time being will remain in my arsenal for the things that it is still good at, or that Messiah completely lacks, volumetrics and fur/hair being a couple of them. I hope they (Newtek) still pull through… after all competition is a good thing for the end users :wink:

cheers

Serg

btw, like me before I started using messiah, you are refereing to its Displacement feature as “Subpixel displacement” … see this thread :wink: http://www.cgtalk.com/showthread.php?t=158159


#5

Thanks for taking the time to reply. It always helps to get another perspective on things. Anyone else care to chime in?


#6

Ok, I don’t start talking about [LW]8, I simply don’t see a long term perspective at NewTek anymore after the last two years.
Other than that, LW 7.5c or even [8] is still cool in my opinion for everything messiah is missing in the render and simulation department (for now), but (character-) animation wise, messiah is years ahead of LW.
I personally look forward to maybe move over to XSI and drop LW completely within the next year. It is the easiest “big tool” to learn from a LW/messiah background and the shaderflow is quite similar for instance.
Hopefully a messiah plugin for XSI will be released or maybe Mark Wilson will put it on the list of supported apps of his PointOvenPro :drool:

But everything is in flux as far as 3D is concerned - let’s see what Siggraph will bring :slight_smile:


#7

Yeah, XSI was on my shortlist too… I found it really easy to learn, yet retaining the flexibility that a modern architecture allows. In leap of faith when Studio2 came out, I decided to give it a go (reduced risk involved by buying a 2nd hand copy), in the hope that it would evolve to great things, or as an interim solution till something else comes out.

But even with XSI, you will still miss a lot of LW’s feafures.
Although LW is put together with scotch tape and bluetack, some indidual bits are really cool. I’ve heard it being compared with a vehicle out of the Madmax movies… a lot of it is really handy, but dont expect it to hold together if you want it all (or even a little most of the time) firing at the same time.

Serg


#8

I’ve heard good things about XSI too, but it’s WAY out of my price range. :sad: I know it’s hard to give a direct answer to my question, because nobody can predict exactly what will be the best apps to be using 5 years in the future. I can pretty much make LightWave do what I want for now, but in my mind I have to seriously question staying with it long term. I’m looking for smooth workflow that I can master and get good results from for a very long time. I think I might have found it in Messiah, but it’s hard to decide. I don’t think my $500 upgrade to LW8 was a total waste, but I’m sure wishing the new stuff would have worked like it was supposed to. I can’t just plunk down another $500 for Studio without having some kind of reassurance that it won’t just happen all over again. I used to be able to spend money more freely, but I’m leaving my present job soon (it drives me crazy!!!) and money might get kind of tight later.
Thank you for your valuable comments. I know in the end I will have to decide for myself, but I appreciate hearing from all of you as well.


#9

OK - deep breath - here goes . . . I also run LW[7.5c]. I’ve been doing pro 3D for 9 years now and have used a number of various tools. Up to a few weeks ago I researched current 3D tools for my move to feature charatcer animation. I downloaded demo versions and tested them. I also studied company track record, where they are now, how they have been moving along in the past 1 or 2 years, their tech support, what are many people saying about them (bearing in mind that many of those who are happy don’t always say so online).

Remember that my focus here is character stuff and physical based things like cloth, hair, soft- and hardbody dynamics, liquids, lighting, and excellent rendering. It may sound like I really need an advanced all-in-one solution like Maya Unlimited or XSI’s top package (can’t recall the name right now). Truth is most 3D apps who nowadays want to be seen as worthy need good character tools, good dynamics, some solution for cloth and hair, some kind of SDK/script language, and a good production renderer (or support for a 3rd party renderer). Of course I’m generalizing here.

Lightwave didn’t have that stuff until relatively recently and now they have and now they’re swimming with the big fishes. Same goes for Cinema4D. Maya and softimage had those things long ago. Max is kind of inbetween. Everyone’s been playing catch-up. But now we see what I call “new generation software” appearing, lightweight apps which specialize and really perform well. Reknowned studios are relying on these very same $100 - $1000 apps for high profile film projects. Personally I like what I see. Now for relatively little I can get Silo3D, ZBrush and Rhino and have a heavy modeling arsenal, and each of those really does their job well. The same is happening with renderers and with character rigging and animation apps, of which messiah is one. You no longer have to throw your money into one basket. What I like about m:Studio is that it’s animation component is one of those new generation packages tightly integrated with new generation rendering. It is true that m:Studio does have a way to go. What messiah probably needs before everyone in the industry really takes big notice is well integrated cloth and hair/fur (and perhaps one or two other key features).

If I can see these things from the sidelines, then surely pmG also knows these things and they are probably working steadily according to a list of key priorities to get their product to that point. They know the industry will shine a spotlight on them once they get their software fully featured enough and used in enough key projects. But until then, I get the feeling they are maintaining a kind of a low profile, readying their product, spending intimate time with their individual users and some studios who are basing a part of their pipeline on messiah.

So with these observations (and a sprinkling of gut feel and good faith) I’ve decided go with m:Studio. I’ve done it because I can use it right now and I believe that a year or two from now I’ll be able to rely on messiah as the core element in my production pipeline. And if pmG takes a bit longer (as often happens in a quest for perfection), then they’ve already given us interfaces to the other proven apps. I just personally like what they have created and if they continue to keep their wits about them and keep listening to their users’ needs, then they have an excellent product with a very good foundation which they can steer wherever the industry demands (within the bounds of their vision of course).

Another thing is that 3rd parties usually start developing plugs for a product if the product has a sound and open architecture, if there’s a growing user base, and the product starts gaining reknown for its use in a few high profile projects (these are just my observations). Once the 3rd party developers start supporting m:Studio big time, then suddenly the messiah landscape will also change for the better. But the key thing is that pmG spends these first years in developing an excellent platform - which as I understand, they have done. I personally believe we should start seeing some of this happening over the next year - just my feeling.

But it’s not all just investing into the future. messiah is production ready right now. The degree to which messiah will increasingly form a part of a pipeline should change in the future.

At the end of the day it is a personal / subjective choice and based very much on trial and error of what works for you in your situation and time frame. My project’s time frame gives me another year or so before I have to really start considering hair and cloth and final rendering. What’s pmG going to come up with during that time? What 3rd parties will be supporting messiah a year from now? For that matter, what can I (and you guys) contribute towards messiah during the next year?


#10

Have you thought about maybe just upgrading to m:a 5 for $249? There’s more than enough new features to keep you busy until your financial situation changes. And, of course, everything you learn will carry over to m:s 3.0. You’ve already invested a chunk-a-change in LW8 - so, that should last you through LW 8.x. Just an idea. :slight_smile:

Speaking of XSI, I would highly recommend the book “experience XSI 4”. Even though I don’t have XSI - it’s very inspirational and every page is full color with lots of pretty pictures. A lot of the concepts can be applied to messiah. Well worth the asking price. :thumbsup:


#11

I am not sure messiah really needs cloth or hair/fur for the industry to take considerable notice.
What is really missing IMO, is support for a format like FBX. This would give it a better chance at being intregrated into an existing pipeline. Things like Rigid body dynamics would be easier to intregrate using bone driven animation than PLA for example. While the potential for messiah to add in these features looks good, what is needed now and the forseeable future is a means for better intregrate with existing tools, so we can do things with our cloth and hair/fur proven tools.

Cheers,


#12

I agree, I got the book as soon as it came out, since I am getting back into XSI, and it is definitely a worthy book to have with great info for anyone using any app, but particularly XSI.

Cheers,


#13

I believe that this is true for m:Animate and, on the short term, your statement is also true for m:Studio. My focus was only m:Studio which appears to be edging towards eventually competing with the big 3D packages, and would therefore require some integrated cloth and hair and stuff. On the short term, integration and 3rd party support would go a long way to giving messiah acceptance.

With m:Studio having its own renderer, it only stands to reason that at some point (and here I’m not saying it is THE most vital next must-have) hair, particles and other render effect goodies should be addressed. What’s the use of having a renderer if you still have to render via Max or whatever just so you can have hair or other special effects? I see these things as issues for m:Studio. m:Animate caters for a different niche.


#14

What is wrong with Studio’s current particle system? And my tests with Random cloner on “hair” have been very very encouraging. I’m pretty damn sure I’m using Studio for everything from now on. Now we even have the beginnings of real darktree support! Yay!


#15

So post your results and let’s get m:Studio finally declared “a full 3D pipeline in a box!”

Seriously though, remember that I’ve also made the move to messiah, so I’m not bashing messiah, but I’m also not overlooking what still needs attention. I’m just trying to be as objective as possible, hilighting some realities and possibilities - all from my point of view of course. I’d certainly like m:Animate and m:Studio to be the best it can be.


#16

I did. A while ago over in the Renders topic. Messiah rendered a TON of blades in no time. We went on to do dynamic tests that all worked just fine. I can “comb” it with weight maps, even uv the instanced objects for things like. . . feathers or scales etc. When Super Blender 2 comes out I’ll even be able to drive the morph of each instance with an effector! Now THAT will rule. It is a “brute force” solution but a valid solution none the less.


#17

Excellent Wegg! Sorry for my ignorance. I certainly look forward to testing these things in messiah myself. I’m sure that working with messiah should open up my understanding a lot more. At this point I’m going with what has been learned from various online sources pieced together with my own 3D experience. If I find that m:Studio is much more capable than everyone has been letting on, then I’ll blame pmG for undermarketing their product.


#18

You should take that understating or undermarketing as a MAJOR plus to using Messiah. I believe the results from people using this new version are going to advertize the product more than any mass market campain ever could. Most package go on and on about the number of features they have printed on the side of the box. . . “world class” “Industry leaders” blah blah blah. Most of these features end up being so horribly bolted on, un-intuative, flaky or “custom code” intensive that they soon become a source of resentment to that package’s user base. I don’t think you will ever get that with pmG. What Messiah lists as a feature. . . WORKS. And if it doesn’t you only have to speak up and Lyle is all over you like a friggen rash trying to figure out how it doesn’t. Autorig was a bit of an exception there. But generally that is the rule.


#19

Wegg:
where does all that exitement come from suddenly? <LOL>

I think Paul is right. I am far from bashing messiah - I just love it more every day - but let’s stay serious:
Particles & softbodys are far from even being comparable with LWs.

From the very old Siggraph 2000 list, “Develop” and volumetrics are still missing, Expressions still can’t be renamed by search and replace (“Left” to “Right”) - you name it.
(What would I have given for develop - doing all those interfaces for “AoN” by hand was quite a pain :slight_smile: )

I am confident that these things will be bolted down, but if I had to choose one package today, I still would point at LW as the far more complete solution.
No way around that.
That is why I hope that pmG with the new addition of Taron with his deep view into real productions will make it happen soon enough for us all.

This is said with the deepest respect for what pmG has done so far :bowdown:


#20

I’m the damn Moderator here! I wouldn’t be if I weren’t just a LITTLE bit excited about pmG’s products. :wink:

There was a post with some particle tests from Messiah a few days back. Seemed to work just fine. A car flipping over or something. I’d probably just composit in Hypervoxels if I needed a particle shot done but. . . I kinda doubt I will for quite a while. We don’t generally get “FX” type work here.

And didn’t that dude’s zombie have a volumetric light beaming from above? Or are you thinking of some other volumetric. . .

I have never written an expression in 12 years of doing this so. . . I’ll have to take your word on those features not being in place.