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Taking the Leap to Modo


A couple of months ago, I had to renew my license for Maya and had to face the disappointing realization that as a freelance Surfacing and Lighting artist, I'd have to fork over a whopping 185.00 a month simply so that I could render . As you could imagine, that didn't sit well with me and after re-evaluating my finances, I decided that I wasn't going to renew my maya license, until I was sure it was something that I absolutely needed,

The following month, I tried out Maya LT , a cheaper , stripped down version of maya that cost a much more agreeable fee of 35.00 a month, but only 10 days in to using it, I realized that Maya LT was useless for my needs. I learned that I couldn't render ( there was no render buffer), I couldn't use plug ins or scripts or 3rd party plugins like v-ray to make up for the lack of a render view port . I had access to the hyper-shade, but without a renderer or the ability to plug in my own rendering engine, I realized I couldn't make shaders/materials. To top it off, XGen was stripped from this version.

Maya LT did support playblast export and two animation layers, and I quickly realized that this incomplete 3D package was built for animators and game artists who would eventually move their assets to a world building engine like Unreal or maybe to a full 3D packed like Maya for production pipeline. In all honesty, Maya LT seemed to be a great package, as long as you weren't a lighting/shading artist or a dynamics artist.

I learned everything I know about 3D with Autodesk products. I started my 3D journey in Maya and my texturing journey in Mudbox. Midway through my education, I switched out Mudbox for Mari and became an avid user of Nuke, both Foundry Products. Today, I still use Maya, along with 3Ds Max at my current work- but at home , I have begun to use Modo, another foundry package. I am currently about 12 days into my 45 day free trail of Modo 11, and I think I have found my new favorite 3D Package.


Unlike Autodesk Maya, Foundry's Modo only has one license for each of its versions, meaning that should you choose to pay for the program ( weather you get an indefinite license of a monthly license ) you can rest assured that you are getting a full package. Modo has a sleek built in renderer that works interactively out of the box, a powerful nodal based particle system and some of the best polygonal and procedural modeling tools and workflows that I have ever played with. It also has helped to bridge the gap between game engines and asset creation. In Modo, you can create Unreal and Unity materials that can be ported directly to their prospective packages. Modo supports Substances more effectively and efficiently than Maya, with quick load ins and more interactive tweaking.

There is so much to learn about Modo, but so far the transition has been pretty easy and everyday I open the program, I feel inspired. Content creation is a breeze and I find myself more free to explore ideas because there is so much more flexibility in the UI. Prototyping and iterating on ideas is fast , meaning I can get more done than without planning than I ever could have hoped to have done in Maya. The UI is pretty flexible , making it easy to swtich to the toolsets you need for particular tasks. Compared to Maya ( which is still a great program , just more difficult ) , Modo feels like a sandbox to play in. I have even ventured out of my comfort zone , playing more with particles and rigging because I feel unencumbered by the technicality of the program and free to just click around and explore until something works.

For the appealing price of 59.00 a month, I am seriously considering transitioning to Modo when my trial for the product is up. I am beyond impressed with it, and with that kind of price tag, I'm more than willing to hop on board.

I am taking baby steps to fully understanding Modo and I have only scratched the surface of the things it has to offer. So far, I have learned the basics of particles and dynamics, Modeling and Retopology, Sculpting and Fushion Meshes ( like booleans) , basic proceedural modeling and basic material assignment. I still have so much more to learn, like lighting, creating complex materials and material editing , animating , rigging, and rendering, Sometimes thinking about all I still have to learn feels overwhelming, but I love that I feel like I can do it all. Maya is such an enormous, monolithic feeling program, it is easy to skim over its scope and just learn the things I need than to explore all of its possibilities. Luxology did a great job in building a program that was intuitive enough to make me want to explore every corner of it


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