There’s Photoshop, there’s Painter, there’s … Gimp? Well, there aren’t many 2D pixel packages around. Photoshops rises high above the competition. This may for some part have to do with the fact that Adobe holds patents to many algorithms of pixel manipulation that are quite crucial to creating such a package.

How different is the situation with 3D packages. Maya is often called the ‘best’ 3D package around, others will say it’s 3D Studio Max but they’ll probably grow together in the long run since the Alias/Autodesk merge. Then there is a whole bunch of high quality 3D-packages: Lightwave, Cinema 4D, Softimage, Rhino, Strata, Carrara, Houdini, Blender and the list continues extensively.

How did this happen? It seems as though the technology, the coding to create a 3D package, is a hell of a lot more complicated than the technology to create a 2D package. I know it’s like comparing apples and pears, but I’ve been really flabbergasted by the amount of 3D programs. Is it perhaps because the 3D market is probably going to grow in the next years and some people know this?

A program like Newtek’s Lightwave is considered ‘old’ now. Its engine is outdated and its management probably not capable of keeping the program competitive. Will it die? How many other applications will die a slow death in the coming years? Will Blender (and open source in general) really become something for professionals to consider in the future? Or will it never be able to compete against large companies that hire the best of the best to do their best full-time in a tightly structured organization? Is Cinema 4D really the new kid on the block?

How can so much time and money be invested in such complex technologies for such a relatively small group of users? I can really undestand that Maya can keep up now when the’re selling their stuff for €7.000,- per license. But will it be able to compete against cheaper apps that are becoming better and better, and most importantly … more intuitive? Take Cinema 4D. Of course, it’s more generic in its workflow and its options. But is one of the best understandable 3D packages around, especially for newcomers. In Cinema, if you change the child of an object that’s cloned, by default all the clones change too, and all the clones can be edited directly. “Not logical” says the Maya oldtimer. “Handy,” says the 3D newcomer “can Maya not do that?” Oh yes i can.

Maya can do anything. It can do so much and it’s so open ended, that its users must adapt to Maya’s way of working, instead of the other way around.

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