What 3D package does your studio use?



We at Incredible Technologies are a max house, but as of today, I had the subscription cancelled. We’re going to keep one seat active on it, just to test out the latest releases, but otherwise, close to 20 seats have now dropped out. We still have 2008 and 2009 sitting unopened, so we’re good on upgrades for a while.

We have some ZBrush around, but coin op development is a little behind the technological curve, so nobody has had a real need to use it for production. I am slowly introducing the staff to its wacky ways as we step into the world of shaders, normal mapping, and all of that good stuff.

We have a couple of Motion Builder seats, but we have not had reason to capture new mocap data for some time, and the little animation we do need here and there is keyed in max.

On a personal level, my curiosity in Blender is gaining steam. I just have to find time to learn it.


I fear you’re missing out the wrong Max versions Alan. :): Max 8 was a great update for games and 2008 (which I’ve just moved us to) has proved very solid too. Way faster for large scenes which is great. 9 and 2009 are both rendering releases so not of much interest to game folk. Good luck with Blender.

I’d be keen to hear from people experienced in modeling in Max that have moved to XSI. Every time I’ve tried it I’ve found that despite having lots of cool features (like ICE), the basics are just not there. As with Maya I have a hard time doing any architectural or environment modeling in it.

For instance- There’s no real world scaling, there are loads of apparently needless hotkeys (about twelve just for selecting wheras I have exactly none in Max, I just stay in Move mode), not all selection modes work the same way (some select through, some not, you can’t stay in move mode, you have to constantly go back to select to fire off modeling tools, the snaps are very basic, you end up having to move the pivot every second move. The uv tools don’t seem to have much for mapping landscapes (although I do use a few scripts in max for that stuff). I haven’t found any automapping or unfolding tools at all.

But then I’m very green to it. I’d like to hear from people that have made the move that are finding it faster. I appreciate that both XSI and Maya are great for animation, but we don’t really do that at our place. Any animation is done externally. It seems to me that there isn’t really anything like Max for environment modeling and mapping. There’s definitely room for improvement there, but everything else seems designed for characters.


Max for pretty much everything (except environment/level modeling). We’ve been using Max for so long that we’re pretty comfortable with most of it’s bugs and issues and can usually work around things quite fast…

We looked at Maya when starting our current project but it had pretty much the same core issues we have with Max (inaccurate snaps, confusing material system, weird bugs here and there) and not having the Maya ninjas in-house it became a non issue.

I think we will be looking at XSI 7 at some point, just because the ICE stuff seems way cool. We have a few seats of Maya and XSI in subscription just so people can really test if the grass truly is greener on the other side. Usually it looks that way but it doesn’t taste as good as it looks. :slight_smile:

We do some anim work in Motion Builder, but every now and then I think it’s more of a headache than really worth it.



max and motionbuilder for the animators.

zbrush and mud for whoever prefers.

maybe one day we can use xsi - i can but hope! :smiley:


Mostly Max, Maya and Zbrush here and the odd other package.
The problem is a lot of people have strong feelings which package between Max and Maya should be the one everone uses.

It seems like we are being forced towards one way


Max here, though rumoured to be moving to Maya in the future. In theory we could use whichever, but mixing packages in one pipeline could prove to be a pain in practice.


It’s actually not too bad, just depends on where the split is and how you get data into the engine. If you’d like to discuss some implications ever, PM me and i’d be happy to spill the beans. . .or at least some of em.


Thanks! But it’s looking like we won’t be mixing seats on a single project…not in the foreseeable future anyway.


It’s funny, XSI seems to be the package that everyone (at least technical artists) wants to work, but nobody does. I wish I had more time to play around with it, but the reality of switching an entire studio over is just not going happen.


Yeah, it seems like both Max and Maya are rooted in very set methodologies, ie Maya is pretty much married to film and Max is kinda set on creating games the ps2/xbox/ps1/etc way (ie last gen), and no one seems to really want to make the leap to the way we’re making games now, that sorta weird hybrid between games and film. Blah, i guess that’s why we’re all employed tho, eh?:laugh:


What people (especially non-technical directors and leads) don’t understand, or don’t want to understand, is that it is all about tools and pipeline now. It has been in film for a long time, but games over the past years have met the pipeline requirements a big film project needs (and may even surpass them in the future?). Which is why programs like Max are showing their age and don’t fit the changing paradigm, as djTom points out. For any large studio, pipeline should be the #1 factor in an app, and Max sucks badly in that regard. For smaller studios, the built-in features are nice, but all the crap it lugs around makes it difficult to work with. At what point is the backlog of tools and code less important than a future filled with problems and hassles? I think that is what keeps people from switching, I know very few TA’s that, all things people equal (if they knew both softwares equally, no backlog of code) would choose Max.

For what its worth, I will refuse to use 3dsmax in my next job, and will try to target XSI houses. After spending all day today with Max CTDing because it thinks it is in an endless recursion, when it isn’t, I didn’t know it was possible to have this much hate for an inanimate object/software.


While what you say is true, there still doesn’t seem to be any other package which incorporates something as simple and flexible as the Modifier Stack.

Sure, you can try to set up some crazy input/output hierarchy in Maya to get a similar effect, but your graph will look mad (to an almost unusable extent) and you still can’t get the same toggleable efficiency as you can with Max’s Modifiers.

As far as I’m aware, XSI doesn’t have anything equivalent to the Modifier Stack, and I’m pretty sure that Modo doesn’t either (I seriously hope people have stopped looking on Lightwave as a sensible solution at this point).

Until another app gets a system where I can model a plane, Shell it with an outline spline, add a Turbosmooth and then still be able to jump back and forth between all these levels and tweak them parametrically without building up a huge “history” of other unrelated operations, I’ll stick with Max for modelling (even if I’m sticking with Maya for scripting).


That’s why I wanted to hear about people’s experiences of moving from Max to XSI Mop. It’s cool that it’s good for TA folks, but we don’t have any so I’d be concerned we wouldn’t be able to get things done quickly enough with the base package. Same problem we had with maya really. Good for fancy rigging, but something of a nightmare trying to do basic stuff without any code backup. Just simple stuff like moving things around with snapping took twice as long since you have to move the pivot every time.

BTW you kind of have a stack in XSI. The history is divided up into various sections for modeling, animation, post animation modeling and so on and you can put operators in each which roughly does the same as basic stack stuff. And you can freeze it at each stage which gets around the millions of needless nodes issue. Probably does everything you’d want for animating characters, but it seems a bit of a hack to keep the history without doing a full on stack (which might be an Autodesk Patent, I don’t know).

They’re adding new sections to deal with things like ICE so it’s growing to have loads of stages now. I’ve never really felt the need for a History in anything- I don’t want every vertex move logged, it’s impossible to find the right one to correct, I’d rather have layers of Edit Polys with them in, like Photoshop layers, which is exactly what Max does. There’s probably a reason for histories that I totally miss out on, but I’ve never found them useful for the sort of stuff I do.


I wonder if any TAs have taken a serious look at Houdini? From what I gather it’s almost completely exposed for scripting, has a seriously deep operations stack, and it seems to be one of those in-demand-apps for film fx production.

I also hear though that it’s not easy to start using, and not very “friendly” to the less-technical artists.


I agree 100%. And modellers should be free to use whatever allows them to model faster. The benefit of having a program powerfully set up for pipeline is that you have less problems integrating things like modellers using a different app (you could potentially have an XSI pipe that reads ma scene files without even having to export to anything from Maya… not so with .max though).

Eric: I haven’t tried Houdini but I hear it is great for FX people as well… I don’t know any studios that use it in main art production, though.


For what it may be worth, everyone at Siggraph I talked to that said they work in R&D also mentioned Houdini.

It will take a while for Houdini to really show up in game studio pipelines. Side Effects has been working super hard to re-invent themselves. New interface and standardized workflows to attract Maya/Max/XSI users, insane price drops, multi platform support including OS X, and as of early this year they started adding in exporters for various game engines and fbx support etc.


There’s a free “apprentice” version of Houdini which appears to have all the modelling tools available, although no export and limited render capabilities.


Might be interesting to check out, see how the modelling aspects are in there - I’ve been aware of Houdini for a while but never really considered it as an alternative to Max, XSI or Maya.


We’re mostly XSI, but have a few seats of Maya and ver few of Max. We’ve done the latest film on Max 8, XSI 6.5 and Maya 8.5, but for the next project, we’re switching to XSI 7, Maya 2008 (hopefully 2009) and as for Max, well, it looks dim for Max here, so we’ll see. But I hope to get at least a seat for me :smiley: of 2008 or possibly 2009.

We also have one Cinema license (mostly for BodyPaint jobs), some ZBrushes etc…


We’re an Arch. Viz company with almost 9 years of dev. in max… We’ve a ton of tools and are almost %100 v-ray in materials with gigs of vray proxy stuff as well… ( I hope Vlado stays healthy! )

I wouldn’t see us changing anytime soon…



Whew, the thread keeps growing. I thought I should speak up for the Maya users :wink: EA Redwood Shores is primarily Maya, has been for a long time. We do have the occasional seat of XSI, and Zbrush is used a lot by the character modeling staff. IMO, they’re all just tools, and people get used to your tool. But now that Maya has Python support, it’s an even better tool (yeh, I know all about XSI…). Every so often there is some initiative to push us to switch to something like XSI, but I can’t imagine the nightmare it would be to write years of tools in a different scripting language. And as my first post, I’d just like to say, it’s nice to be here :wink: