Every new movie, domestic or international, uses VFX in one form or the other. Some use it to enhance the video produced, some use it to add effects, some use it to add CGI seamlessly, there are tons of utilizations. To achieve this, VFX artists rely on computer softwares or applications and choosing an application for use is one daunting task. There are so many available on the market. All provide amazing features and brilliant customizations. This article will help you choose the best VFX application out there.
Try before you buy-
This is the most important step before commiting yourself to using a single software, you must try all the others. Doing so will ensure you are not let down by immediately purchasing the application and later finding out it doesn’t work out well for your kind of work. It’s as simple as preference, if you’re not limited to a software you’re using, there’s no reason not to set out and explore which application you prefer.
Thankfully, many proprietary softwares have day-based trials, which means that you can use their full product for “x” number of days. It should be enough for you to get the look and feel of the software, familiarize yourself with the tools and various plugins available, and also look at the community forums for references and help. This is often supported with detailed tutorials and numerous sample projects to get you started. You have to realize that you will eventually purchase an application, so it’s important to understand the price points for each of them and start with the ones in your budget.
Maya is probably one of the most widely used 3D application today. It is a extremely popular 3D tool in Hollywood. Most 3D artists are trained with Maya, and it’s very commonly taught as a primary tool. It offers animation, modeling, simulation, rendering, and compositing and a comprehensive creative feature set for 3D computer animation, modeling, simulation, and rendering on a highly extensible production platform. It provides high-end character and effects tool sets along with increased productivity for modeling, texturing, and shader creation tasks. You can try Maya for 30 days here.
3ds Max is another extremely popular 3D application in Autodesk’s arsenal. It is more common among smaller productions and in game production, but it has been used in many Hollywood films too. It provides a comprehensive 3D modeling, animation, and rendering solution used by architects, designers, civil engineers, and visualization specialists. Validate and sell designs before they are built, and get rapid iteration of designs, accurate daylight analysis, and high-impact visuals and animations. Get the trial version of 3ds Max from here first.
Currently, all Autodesk products are available on a subscription basis. The subscription for Maya is 185$ per month and for Maya LT it’s 30$ per month. 3ds Max also has a subscription fee of 185$ per month. Be sure to check out the free student versions of these softwares available for students here
Cinema 4D (Release 17):
There are many different versions of Cinema 4D focusing on specific tasks. Cinema 4D Prime is used for 3D modelling, texturing, animation, etc. and costs 995$ for a single license. Cinema 4D Visualize is a tool mainly by Architects, Designers and Photographers alike. It has numerous useful features like lighting, rendering, customization, etc. and costs 2295$ for a single license. Cinema 4D Studio is the ultimate application that includes all the features of Prime, Visualize and Broadcast while also providing advanced features such as hair, physics engine, advanced character tools, and an unlimited client network for rendering. It can tackle any project you throw at it with ease. It costs a whopping 3695$ for a single license. You can see the product comparison yourself here. Remember to check the trial version first here.
MODO is one flexible program for possibly every task that a VFX artist requires. It has numerous features like Modelling, Painting, Rendering, Animation, Sculpting, Rigging, Hair and Fur, and plenty more. The best part is that it isn’t as expensive as the others listed above. It’s base price is 1799$ for a single or floating license.. There are many add-ons or plugins available as well which are available for purchase separately. You can grab a 30-day trial version of the software here.
Houdini includes a wide range of features to model, animate, render and composite. It is also ideal for character animation and includes advanced muscle rigging tools. It costs 1995$ for a single workstation license. Houdini FX is the all comprising advanced version of Houdini. It is a 3D animation and visual effects software renowned for its node-based procedural workflow. It focuses specifically on the visual effects side of things like particle simulations, fluids, dynamics, etc. It costs 4495$ for a single license. Houdini Indie makes all of Houdini’s animation and VFX tools available under a limited commercial license to independent animators and game makers. It costs 199$ annually. You can download the apprentice version here.
When it comes to pricing, Blender takes the cake on this one. Blender is an open-source 3D application, meaning it doesn’t cost anything. While it is free, it doesn’t mean it’s not powerful. It is immensely popular among hobbyist and indie developers, mainly because of it’s user support and frequent updates and improvements to the software. Check out the software here.
This is Part One of the most widely used VFX applications. To continue reading, click here for Part Two.
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