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3D Training Time

I have recently decided to beef up my 3D skills, I primarily use Google / Trimble Sketchup for my set design work and anything else that needs it but I have long wished to develop skills in a more advanced package. Sketchups quite fast and with the various Ruby scripts available is able to produce just about anything I need but I would like to try my hand at some more organic soft form shapes and even animation. Things which are well outside of Sketchups wheelhouse.

This is my desktop with Sketchup in use. The design is literally what I was doing today for a Gillette special event to be aired sometime next week. Production Designers love Sketchup as it is easy to use and accurate enough for them to produce the sets under the crazy tight deadlines we deal with…

Sketchup in use

Sketchup in use

There are many programs available and each has good points and bad, strengths and weaknesses, like anything I suppose. Of the industry standards Maya and 3D Studio Max are probably the widely most used. their price is high and from what I know the learning curve is very steep. At my stage in career I really don’t have the time or energy to devote a year or more to just learning the basics of software.

years back I did some work for a now dissolved company in CA that specialized in Architectural Illustration. My position was what they called an imager, we called it digital gardening. Basically we would take shots out of the 3D department and create still images for use in sales materials. The work was pretty mind numbing but it did spark my interest in 3D and also provided me the impetus to get out of there and back into freelancing for the entertainment industry. The company used 3D Max to produce their assets and the work was very impressive to me at the time, below are some examples of digital gardening have no idea who built the models : )

Architectural Vis using 3D Studio Max

Architectural Vis using 3D Studio Max

I need something I can use if not now then within a half year at the most this is my primary concern. My computer is full of software I have purchased with ” good intentions ” but have had neither the time nor inclination to truly master. The second major factor is price as for the more advanced packages you can expect to spend thousands just for the program and even then they usually need multiple plugins and add ons to do advanced work. Like everything in my career it takes money to play unless of course you go the route of pirated software… not something I would recommend for a number of reasons.

I currently own Luxology’s Modo which is a relative new comer to the advanced programs it was developed by the guys from lightwave I believe. Its primary use for me right now and last 2 or 3 years has been rendering which it does quite well and very fast. Unfortunately I find the other tools in Modo to be really incomprehensable. I even have peers who have taken multiple classes in it who are still unable to use it for anything other then rendering.

Thankfully its price is lower then most of the advanced programs at right around $1,000.00 . It is still an option but one I will reserve for after I give my chosen application a shot.

Here is an is an example of my current workflow. This was a project recently done for an interior designer in Las Angeles. He needed a Key art piece to present to his clients for a restaurant re-design job. I used SU to model the interior based on site photos and his direction. In Su the space is detailed but lacks the ” Ommph ” needed. Skecthup is a strong design tool because of its flexibility and speed but completely lacks any rendering function and its antiquated design does not take advantage of modern processors, so for involved scenes it can be a bit painful.

The finalized design in Sketchup. All of the elements in here with a few minor exceptions were produced custom for this job its important in y line of work to be able to interpret ” chicken scratch notes and sketches. As you can see SU only displays the design there is no real texturing or lighting here. One nice thing is a Ruby Script I have which allows me to export the camera from here into Modo so that my final rendering will match the view.

Fork In the Road Sketchup

Fork In the Road Sketchup

Exporting the scene as an OBJ file I can then bring it into Modo to apply textures and lighting, the final touches are done using Photoshop. Not the most exciting piece I have done for sure but the client was very happy. Like I mentioned earlier you can’t really beat Modo for rendering speed it handles even huge scenes with relative ease…

Fork In The Road Final

Fork In The Road Final

Back to the point of this post. I have decided to go with a software package that first caught my eye back in 2006 when I purchased a license with the idea of learning it, see above mentioned ” good intentions “. Maxon’s Cinema 4D R14 is a fully developed program that can achieve very impressive results in the hands of someone with knowledge. With this new version Maxon has beefed up its modeling tool set and added some features that really caught my eye. One very specific one is its ability to easily place your 3D assets into a correct orientation based on still photography. This has direct correlation to my work. It also has some very impressive animation abilities which I will hopefully get too in the near future. there is a strong user base and good industry tie ins especially in the motion graphics industry. As a side note it also seems to directly integrate with many other programs like After Effects, Photoshop and even Zbrush.

Just a shot of what Cinema 4D looks like inside. the look is similar to Modo…

Cinema 4d R14

Cinema 4d R14

A small side note Maxon seems to have some issues when it comes to support not sure what that will mean in the future but I had a real issue trying to download the trial software. The representatives were pleasant and helpful but even then it took days to get the demo. From what I can see online and searching various forums there really is no good training books available for Cinema so for my training I have decided to use Digital Tutors.

This is an online service specifically offering training in software for Visual Effects, Game Development and Design. The training is only available online with a subscription although they do offer a free account where you can whet your appetite and see if the teaching style works for you. Its not cheap I opted for a one month package to test it out which cost around 50 bucks, but compare that to the cost of a class at Art center and its a real bargain.

This is inside the Digital Tutors site just showing the wide variety of training available, If it works as well as I think it will I will upgrade my membership to a yearly one which I believe will go for around 450 bucks…

The various software packages available for training

The various software packages available for training

My first training course its quite long 109 segments and supposedly starts from the very basic ending with a fully rendered and animated scene.

My first Training Cinema 4D

My first Training Cinema 4D

Hope you enjoyed this my next post will be about what I am learning…

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