By Michael Burns | on September 25, 2008
Price When Reviewed: 559 . 1369 . 2399
Pros: Faster operation; 64-bit support on Mac OS X; Projection Man; rendering enhancements; non-linear animation; ghosting; Doodle tool; custom brush and Collada support, BodyPaint 3D included with core application.
Cons: Some bugs; no Linux support; more expensive than nearest competitor.
Another big plus is non-linear animation in the Timeline, offering two methods of combining recorded data. The motion-layer method allows you to set up an animated sequence from a series of keyframe animations, either imported from motion-capture data or created manually.
These can be converted into motion sources – basically self-contained animation presets – and motion clips which reference the animation data contained within. The motion clips contain no keyframes of their own and can be mixed together in a similar fashion to video editing. They are arranged horizontally on the timeline and you can add transitions to create a seamless morph from one clip to the next.
The second method uses Animation Layers, which stack the animated moves in hierarchical fashion. So you could have a character shake its head on one layer, move forward on the next and bounce up and down on the third.
Stacking the layers in this way allows a sequence of movements to be applied simultaneously, but also leaves it open to quick editing by turning on or off layers in the hierarchy.
The Mocca animation module adds a 3D ghosting function, allowing a motion path to be displayed in onion-skinning mode to give an impression of the movement of an object prior to and after the current frame. It’s simple to activate through the Display tag, where a dedicated dialog box includes draw modes, frame ranges and custom colours for ghosts. Traditional character animators will welcome this facility and also the level of finetuning.
Another tool for animators is the Doodle tool, which allows you to annotate directly in the viewports – useful for adding comments to a scene in a studio environment. The Doodle tool can be animated and has options for creating notes or sketches.
Maxon claims R11 renders about twice as fast as version R10.5, and it does seem like a rapid application all round. While its competitor LightWave 3D is slightly less expensive, the core application, bundled as it is with BodyPaint3D, is still well-priced and specified for single 3D artists. Studios, however, will probably find the best value in buying one of the bundles.