3D Animation Software Review

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Why Buy 3D Animation Software?

3D animation is a beautiful medley of art and math, where numbers and colors collide to create alternate worlds so tangible that it has become hard to draw a line between where reality ends and make believe takes flight. With an intuitive 3D animation software package at your fingertips, you can build characters, objects and landscapes to populate new worlds of your own devising. Bring them to life as well, with colors, textures and movement. Although the technical skills required to master the best 3D animation software can be daunting, no other tools pack so much unbridled creative power. The best 3D animation maker and creator software packages are intuitive and easy to work with, even though the task is a complicated one. There are many factors to consider, but don't worry – at TopTenREVIEWS We Do The Research So You Don't Have To.™

Purchasing high-end 3D modeling software is a major commitment that you might have to live with for a long time, so be selective. Most 3D animation software packages share some basic modeling and animation tools, but their specialized toolsets are often diverse and unique. After you've climbed the learning curve the first time, you probably won't want to switch over to a different application, so choose wisely. We recommend Autodesk Maya, Autodesk 3ds Max and Autodesk Softimage. These veterans of the 3D animation multiverse have been instrumental in the creation of many blockbuster movies, five-star games and top-rated TV shows of our day. For the best 3D animation software comparisons and reviews, check out the articles in our learning center.

 3D Animation Software: What to Look For

Each of the products we reviewed are powerful and intricate, which makes choosing between them difficult. To help you decide which application is right for you, we have highlighted the most import aspects of the best 3D animation software packages: features, the user interface and software extensibility.

Modeling Features
There are multiple modeling styles, including polygon, subdivision and NURBS. Most 3D animation software packages specialize in the polygon and subdivision modeling methods, but the best packages offer NURBS as well. This curve-based modeling technique is ideal for building smooth, organic surfaces necessary for creating things like cars. We also recommend that you look for a soft-selection tool for easy, accurate modeling.

You should select software that simulates a wide range of materials, like muscle, fur, hair, liquid and skin. These materials go a long way towards creating believable characters and settings for your animations. Having them available within your application (without a cumbersome plugin) will make them much easier to apply to your models.

Animation Features
Your character models can really come to life in the animation stage of production if you have the right features at your disposable. We recommend software with support for multiple animation layers with editable motion trails and extra tracks for audio effects. Pose blending also makes the process of animating characters a pleasant and efficient process.

Intuitive User Interface
Those uninitiated in 3D modeling may find themselves lost at the helm within the ocean of features and tools packed into the user interface before them. Unless you have prior experience, you should choose an application that is easy to understand. Intuitive placing of buttons and features will allow you to find what you need without fighting through manuals. We also recommend a customizable user interface for the professionals out there — creating a workspace that fits your unique workflow style can greatly increase your productivity.

Extensibility
3D animation software packages can do a lot, but the scope of thier functionality can't possibly cover everything you might want do. That is where extensibility comes into play. If your software can't do what you have in mind, you can extend it with plugins and scripts. This gives you the freedom to add functions and features to meet your specific needs.

World creation is extremely complex, and there are innumerable functions and toolsets you will have to master, but it is doable. The best 3D animation software packages give you all the power you need to take those ideas out of your head and give them lives of their own. So go on—build. You are the creator of your world.

 
 
Software » Multimedia » 3D Animation Software Review
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Rank #1#2#3#4#5#6#7
10-9  Excellent
8-6    Good
5-4    Average
3-2    Poor
1-0    Bad
Autodesk Maya Autodesk 3ds Max Autodesk Softimage CINEMA 4D Houdini LightWave modo
Autodesk Maya Autodesk 3ds Max Autodesk Softimage CINEMA 4D Houdini LightWave modo
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Lowest Price
Visit Autodesk Maya 2014
$195.00
Visit Autodesk 3ds Max 2014
$195.00
Visit Autodesk Softimage 2014
$3,145.00
Visit CINEMA 4D 13
$1,610.25
Visit Houdini
$1,995.00
Visit LightWave 11
$1,195.00
Visit modo 501
$995.00
Ratings
9.88
9.75
9.25
9.00
8.75
8.63
8.50
10
9
8
7
6
5
4
3
2
1
10.00
10.00
10.00
9.38
10.00
10.00
9.38
10.00
9.38
10.00
9.38
8.75
10.00
8.13
10.00
8.75
8.75
8.13
9.38
10.00
8.75
8.75
8.75
7.50
10.00
8.75
8.13
8.75
7.50
10.00
7.50
8.13
7.50
9.38
10.00
 
Modeling features
Primitives
Polygons
Subdivision Surfaces
Soft Selection
NURBS
  
Sculpting Brush
 
 
Bezier Curves
 
Textures and Materials
Bumpmapping
UV Mapping
Toon/Cell Shader
Cloth
Baked lighting
Global Illumination
Skin
 
Particles
 
Rigid body dynamics
 
Paintable Textures
 
 
Hair
 
Fur
  
 
Soft body dynamics
 
 
Fluids
 
 
 
Muscle
  
  
Animation Features
Inverse Kinematics (IK)
Forward Kinematics (FK)
Pose Blending
Motion Capture
Scripted Animation
Keyframe Animation
Procedural Animation
Layers
Stereoscopic Rendering
Multiple Audio Tracks
  
 
Timewarping
  
 
Python Scripting
 
Embedded Scripting Language
 
 
 
Non-destructive Animation Retargeting
 
 
Editable Motion Trails
      
Footage Motion Tracking
   
  
Ease of Use
Customizable UI
Rippable Menus
 
    
Help & Support
Email
Tutorials
Discussion Groups
  
Phone
  
Supported Configurations
Windows 8
 
Windows 7
Vista
Windows XP
Mac OS X