Modeling/Rendering Programs

So, one of the oft-overlooked aspects of having divorced parents is lack of communication when it comes to gift-giving. As a result of said gift-giving, I have found myself in possession of both Maya 8.5 and LightWave 3D 9, with one of which I will be replacing Strata 3D CX, which I've used for years now. So this begs the question: which should I use and which should I return? (Barring money concerns, the Academic Superstore discounts make each a few hundred dollars instead of in the thousands.)

From what I understand, Maya is generally seen as a superior product. Along with this, the learning curve is also generally seen as astronomical. This may be abated to an extent in that along with the program I received a guide called "Mastering Maya® 8.5."

However, many also seem to see LightWave as the #1 program for modeling and rendering images for computer games. I know that ATMOS used LightWave for Nova, and that Blizzard still (I believe) uses it, although they switched to Maya for cinematics. This seems like a hefty endorsement. One final factor I'm considering is that the majority of the pre-made models that I may wish to use at some point are LightWave files, so in terms of compatibility LW would probably win out.

So, from the experience (first- and secondhand) of the dev community, which program would you recommend for Nova graphics?


I've used both, for the same purpose. If you're looking to make models and visuals for computer games, LightWave is both easier and quicker to use.

If ultimate flexibility and extensibility are your goals, then Maya is probably your better bet, but it truly sucks to use. Requires a totally different mindset than most 3D tools.

I recommend LightWave.

Well, that pretty much seals that one. Since as an amateur hobbyist I'm not really looking for extensibility, I think based on what you say, LightWave is my best bet.

Thanks for the prompt response! I was probably about 10 minutes away from a migraine looking over interface tutorials for Maya and was starting to get that impression. Coming from Strata (baby's first 3D design program), it was daunting to say the least.

Besides, I guess that if you can do this with LightWave as of 15 years ago, it should be good enough for my purposes. :laugh: Yes I know we're talking about professionals here, but I think I've about hit the "potential ceiling" for Strata. It's a good program, but it tends to get buggy when you get down to little nitty-gritties like complex polygon mesh editing that really makes ships "pop out" and seem more lifelike.

(edit)Wait, what? Isn't that a Minbari transport in the foreground? Strange, have to look that episode up.

This post has been edited by Archon : 23 April 2009 - 11:49 PM

Ah, Babylon 5. A goodly amount of inspiration for some of our artists and writers came from that show.

I think Nova holds up as a good example of what amateurs can do with it. I've yet to see any good amateur Maya work, mainly because it was always so darned expensive!

When I was doing modelling for the planetarium in college, I attended a few workshops at a conference. The professional FX guys said that Maya had more power and was better at things like volumetric rendering and keeping track of complex fractals, but it was a giant pain in the nethers to use. Lightwave 9 has a little less in the way of features and power, but for ease of use, it's a much better program. I've only played with Lightwave a little bit in the workshop, but it seemed intuitive and easy to use.

I know you're asking only about Maya vs. Lightwave, but I've heard great things about the workflow, features, and flexibility of Vue d' Espirit. Ryan Bliss of Digital Blasphemy uses a combo of Lightwave and Vue d' Espirit, and he's created some extraordinary pieces of art with them.

QUOTE (pipeline @ Apr 24 2009, 01:19 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Ah, Babylon 5. A goodly amount of inspiration for some of our artists and writers came from that show.

I'd always assumed so, until I saw this episode. Then I knew so. 😄

On a related note, looks like someone else took a wrong turn at Palshife…

This post has been edited by Archon : 29 April 2009 - 08:00 PM

QUOTE (Archon @ Apr 29 2009, 08:29 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>

On a related note, looks like someone else took a wrong turn at Palshife…

Interestingly, the article suggests that ship first appeared in a film from 1999 – two years after Escape Velocity was published. I suppose the design is a fairly simple one to reach, but even so… Perhaps Matt made a brief stopover on his trip from Escape Velocity 's universe into EV Nova 's.

I noticed that as well. You could be right in that Matt had a brief layover at 2262+ after EVC, but my guess is that he's been holding something out on us. While it's true that that ship wasn't seen until 1999, it was the logical result of adapting the White Star's Minbari/Vorlon technology to a capital ship.

Somewhere, on Epsilon III, there is a wanted poster of one Matt Burch: the one and only time-traveling White Star-stealing Ranger-gone-rogue the galaxy has ever seen. This would also explain why Matt's Kestrel is indestructible, but it makes me wonder what he did to all the others to weaken them…

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