3D Animation Software Suggestions

My computer doesn’t fit the minimum system requirements for Autodesk Maya. :frowning: Does anyone have animation software suggestions for the Game Animation challenge?

My system specs are:
OS: Vista (SP2) 32-bit
Processor: Intel Pentium Dual T3400 2.16 GHz
**Hard Drive:**223GB (40GB free)
Total Available Graphics Memory: 1.2 GB
Dedicated Graphics Memory: 64 MB

I realize that it isn’t the best computer for graphics, but I still am hoping that I could enter something… :slight_smile:

Alright let me break this down.

Your options are:

  • Autodesk 3ds Max
  • Autodesk Maya
  • Autodesk Softimage (XSI)
  • Cinema 4D
  • Blender
  • Houdini

When I entered the very first Design a Game Animation I had two lonely dual processor Dell’s with 4GB of ram. I used 3ds Max and went on to take first place. Shortly thereafter I used those very Dell’s as nodes in a small renderfarm to create the official game animation for Clean Sweep. Long story short, your machine can do this it will just require some extra effort on your part and some smart decisions.

I would highly recommend Maya or 3ds Max. Maya is the industry standard for animated content whereas Max is used much more in the architectural side of the industry and in game design.

C4D is generally used in the television industry as an extension of motion graphic work, however C4D is a fully capable 3D package aswell.

XSI is primarally a modeling package but it has been shown that animations are possable with XSI. See Pigeon Impossible.

Blender for the longest time was a swear word in my book, but recently they have revamped the package and shown that it is indeed very capable (if you hire two programmers to create an entire toolset for you), nevertheless a fantastic group has created a very awesome short film using this package. See Sintel.

Houdini is a visual effects package. Not meant for full animations but highly capable. See Houdini Demo Reel 2010.

I personally currently use 3ds Max, however I am quickly learning and converting over to Maya.

Hope this helps, please keep the questions coming.



Thank you for the quick reply!

I think I’ll try 3ds Max - I know there’s at least one person with a lot of experience with it on these forums… :wink: My computer also almost fits the requirements.

I’ll let you know how it goes.


3ds Max will do fine, but you have a fair amount of learning to do.

The 3ds Max built in help manual is actually VERY useful for specific topics, but not so much so for broad topics. I find myself using it whenever I want to know exactly what a particular button, option or modifier does.

Grab a good book or training series. Or better yet, you could do what I did and subscribe to the holy grail of training series - Digital Tutors.

Digital Tutors is a bit pricey, but the amount of content is immense!


Thanks! I do have one general question: I know in CAD programs, it is *not *acceptable to “eyeball” things. However, when I was watching a couple of “essential skills” videos, it seemed like the instructor was just eyeballing things… Is this just a bad example from the instructor, or is eyeballing things more common in 3D animation/modeling?

EDIT: When you read this, don’t be afraid that I’m going to ask you all of my questions - I am the type that generally likes to research before asking questions…

Sorry for the delay, lots going on in my world.

GREAT question, with a not so strait-forward answer.

Generally in CGI, eyeballing is the name of the game. Why? Because CG is art and artists eyeball everything. However, there are cases where eyeballing is not acceptable.

For example, say I’m working on the stadium’s podium, a background prop that barely gets seen, I’ll do that model without looking or caring about any of the vertices positions except I will make sure that the bottom of the object is aligned to zero. I’ll also pay attention to symmetry, but as you’ll discover that is easy.

With this said, proportions are extremely important. What I mean is, if something is noticeably off, you got a big problem.

Things that you SHOULD pay attention to and create accurately are things like the field, game objects, etc. The robots can be fudged a bit, just make sure the wheels actually touch the ground plane.

I would recommend working in a real unit scale if using 3ds max. Generally you might want to start with an accurately sized primitive then use it to create a less accurate finished object.

One thing that you’ll find is that CG is perfectly capable of creating exactly perfect models, materials, etc. Once you master this, you may go after a more realistic sense, meaning you begin to realize that “perfect” looks wrong. Because the real world isn’t perfect.

Hope this half-way explains that, watch what the instructor pays attention to and what he doesn’t.


Thanks! I think that wraps up my questions… (for now, at least:))