• Price When Reviewed: 415 . 105

  • Pros: Choreography enhancements, post shading system, more advanced Subdivision Surfaces, choice of user interfaces, OpenGL and hair rendering, compass menu, Public Rendering Service.

  • Cons: Windows only, fairly steep learning curve, and odd tool behaviour in places.

  • Expert Rating: We rate this 7 out of 10We rate this 7 out of 10We rate this 7 out of 10We rate this 7 out of 10We rate this 7 out of 10 We rate this 7 out of 10

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Realsoft 3D doesn’t look much when you open it – the Windows interface harks back to the CAD-based early days of 3D. However, there are actually a choice of environments to pick from, including some preset samples.

The GUI is very customizable and the lack of floating palettes seems to speed things up. A new network rendering system – the Public Rendering Service – has been implemented for higher speeds. This controls access to idle systems and performs crash recovery invisibly.

A compass menu is the first new feature you come across, accessed by dragging the right mouse button. This is a context sensitive menu that will be familiar to Maya users, giving you a much quicker and more intuitive way of activating tools.

Realsoft 3D is a hybrid modeller, combining polygons, metaballs, mathematically defined shapes, NURBS, and subdivision surfaces. The latter way of modelling presents a powerful selection of tools, including duplicate and mirror, flatten, fill holes, and unwrap.

Version 5 features a new hair renderer that can create hairs that interact with global illumination or water and provides very fine fur detail. An open-architecture, post shading system is included that allows you to quickly adjust shading components such as reflection intensity and colour, specular highlights, and shadow smoothness. It also improves rendering quality.

The UV editing toolkit now features an object hierarchy-based UV object, which lets you split model geometry into an arbitrary number of overlapping or separate surface areas. However, painting on an UV image highlights a few problems with the application – the airbrush doesn’t seem to work at all, and we had to adjust the UV co-ordinates on the NURBS model in a separate UV Editor window before we could work effectively.

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On the animation front, Realsoft’s choreography editor (above) has been boosted to allow more advanced animation control. Version 5 has several choreography classes in addition to the Keyframer and the whole choreography system is now construction stack-based. You can add a separate choreograph rather than keyframing whenever you want to add a new animation to the object.
Choreographs can be assigned weights to control how strongly they affect the object. Attribute-based choreographs, rather than time-based animation, can be used to set up predefined physical movements so that you can animate higher parent objects and leave affected objects to move automatically according to your definitions. Physical effects can be animated using Simulation tools to control an object’s motions, and there is a faster and more accurate inverse kinematics algorithm.
It will be unfamiliar territory for a lot of users, but Realsoft’s features and new educational pricing policy, which allows free sub-licensing to students, will attract many wishing to get into 3D. 
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