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Thread: Which Is A Better 3d Modeling Package For Movies?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2003
    As you know I'm a low-budget film-maker, and will eventually have use CGI in my movies... I can get either software, no problem.

    I've MAX 4 and have read the entire introductory tutorial, thing is, that tutorial just scratched the surface and I only really learnt the basics of it, but I am familiar with the way Max works, I have The 3D Studio Max Bible and I'm thinking that if I read that and use the lessons etc, I'll become very profecient in Max.

    But, I've heard that Lightwave 7 is much easier to use than Max and is very powerful, I know it's powerful because there is a list of films that it's been used in such as DareDevil etc. I think it's very encouraging to know that you'll be using a program that is used in mainstream films (are there any films that use Max)

    I don't know whether I should carry on using Max using the 3DSMAX Bible or get Lightwave and get a book called Inside Lightwave for around $24 on special, (although the book doesn't seem as user friendly as the Bible for Max and expects you to know the basics already)

    There are some things that the bible might make clearer than the tutorial such as mapping etc. Are Max and LW equal in terms of power or does Lightwave have alot of advantages over Max and is recommeneded for a just-over-beginner in moddeling or should I just learn how to use Max inside out? Will I be able to create very realistic CGI with max, like I said before, I know it;s possible to make these high-quality CGs in LW because so many films use LW.

    What should I do?

    Is Lightwave meant solely for movies? I need to learn the program that will give the best results for film CGI...

    I also guess the main question is, Is Lightwave more POWERFUL than Max? By the looks of it, it is, seeing as it's been used on almost every blockbuster for the last 10 years. MY friend was an absolute pro in max and he upgraded to LW and says it's much easier. But now that I've started learning MAx I don't know if it's worth my while to just go an learn a whole new program.

    5 things that will convince me to use LW

    1. It's easy to just jump into and have lots of primitives to start with.

    2. Has a nice, friendly interface.

    3. Is meant to be used to create stunning CGIs for film

    4. Has a very good and easy to use material editor. and is good and easy at animation, lights and cameras


    why would one company choose to use one program over another? Eg, Lightwave over 3D S Max...

    I have a photo editing program called Photobrush which I guess is supposed to be like Photoshop, but you can tell that it lacks many of the features that Photoshop lacks. There must be some things that Lightwave has that 3D S Max doesn't that would make people want to use it over 3D S.

    Like I said before, on a scale of 1/10 my familiarty with MAX is around 3... I know my way around, I can do some animation and some video post effects, I can modify objects and make some particle effects but this is just from playing around. It would obviously be easier to just pick up a book like the 3Ds max bible and read from that because I have a little experience. Lightwave doesn't make any sense to me, niether does the manual, they've written it for people who aren't absolute beginners and they don't realize that. I seem to enjoy Maxs workflow and interface more, but the thing is I don't want to learn a program that, in the end, Is not going to be able to help me.

    Lightwave has all these features like SkyTracer, Hypervoxels, Sasquatch hair and fur creation, Caustics, radiosity etc... These all look like things that would make great additions to films and I'd like to know if Max can do similar things, or I can get plugins that do. Take a look at the Lightwave brochure on and compare that to MAX and it just seems that lightwave is more powerful.

    In other words, which modeler/animator will create seamless looking CGI in a low-budget movie?


    Ardeth In Pre-Production

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  3. Software & Hardware   -   #2
    Join Date
    May 2003

    Ardeth In Pre-Production

  4. Software & Hardware   -   #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    North-east england UK
    3D max is very powerful and is fully capable of doing what you are asking. I find it alot easier than lightwave and generally the better program

  5. Software & Hardware   -   #4
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Thanks for the reply, but like I said, it's so much more encouraging to know that you're using a program (lightwave) that has been used to create all the SFX for almost all the big blockbusters since 1993! It's nice knowing that you're sure it's possible to create mind-blowing effects, because you're using the same program.

    I can get a copy of LW of Kazzaa for like 62 megs, but it misses the whole Content part of the installation, what is included in Content?

    Here are examples of 3ds Max usage in major motion pictures:

    Black Hawk Down
    Uncharted Territory
    Reign of Fire
    Thru The Moebius Strip
    Xmen 2
    The Core
    Panic Room
    Quo Vadis
    Check Into Disaster
    The Imposter
    Murder By Numbers
    Kaena The Prophecy
    Minority Report
    Lewis and Clark
    The Majestic
    Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back
    Jeepers Creepers
    Tomb Raider
    Cats & Dogs
    Dr. DoLittle II
    The Mummy Returns
    Dr. T and the Women
    Battlefield Earth
    Soul Keeper
    Mission Impossible II
    For The Cause
    South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut
    The Green Mile
    Inspector Gadget
    The Insider
    October Sky
    Deep Rising
    I'll Be Home For Christmas
    Mighty Joe Young
    Return To Paradise
    Lost In Space
    The Truman Show
    Great Expectations
    The Newton Boys
    A Simple Wish
    Con Air
    The Craft
    The Crow 2: City Of Angels
    Johnny Mnemonic

    Here are examples of Lightwave usage in major motion pictures:

    Lara Croft Tomb Raider 2
    The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
    The Matrix Reloaded
    The Matrix Revolutions
    The Adventures of Pluto Nash
    Auto Focus
    Black Hawk Down
    Blade 2
    Brotherhood of the Wolf
    Collateral Damage
    Death To Smoochy
    Bond Die Another Day
    Half Past Dead
    Halloween: Resurrection
    Hart's War
    Jane Goodall's Wild Chimpanzees (Imax)
    K19 The Widow Maker
    Kung Pow! Enter the Fist
    Master of Disguise
    No Good Deed
    Panic Room
    Race To Space
    Scooby Doo
    Star Trek: Nemesis
    Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones
    The Time Machine
    Undercover Brother
    A.I.: Artificial Intelligence
    Behind Enemy Lines
    Black Knight
    Corky Romano
    Final Fantasy
    Going Back
    Jason X
    Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius
    Jurassic Park III
    Kate and Leopold
    Lara Croft Tomb Raider
    Max Keeble's Big Move
    Megiddo: The Omega Code 2
    Monsters, Inc.
    Scary Movie 2
    Shipping News
    Spy Kids
    The One
    The Others
    3000 Miles to Graceland
    Battlefield Earth
    The Cell
    Charlie's Angels
    Dracula 2000
    Dungeons and Dragons
    Final Destination
    How the Grinch Stole Christmas
    Little Nicky
    Mission to Mars
    O Brother, Where Art Thou?
    Pitch Black
    Red Planet
    Rules of Engagement
    Scary Movie
    The Sixth Day
    Deep Blue Sea
    From Dusk Till Dawn 2
    My Favorite Martian
    The Astronaut's Wife
    The Thomas Crown Affair
    The World Is Not Enough
    Toy Story 2
    The Avengers
    The Big Hit
    Blues Brothers 2000
    Chairman of the Board
    Deep Impact
    Lost in Space
    Shakespeare in Love
    The Siege
    Conspiracy Theory
    Devil's Advocate
    The Fifth Element
    Free Willy 3: The Rescue
    The Jackal
    Men in Black
    Mortal Kombat II: Annihilation
    Red Corner
    Star Kid
    Courage Under Fire
    Lord of Illusions
    Jurassic Park
    Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country

    As you can see, Lightwave just seems so much more powerful and there must be a reason why it's been used so much more than Max.

    Ardeth In Pre-Production

  6. Software & Hardware   -   #5
    Join Date
    May 2003
    anyone else?

    Ardeth In Pre-Production

  7. Software & Hardware   -   #6
    Neither program is used soley for the purpose of film-making; both are used for modelling in general. I'm a poly-modeller, so I stick to ZMod (a freeware program made for modelling cars). As far as 3DS Max vs. Lightwave goes, it's all dependent on taste. Apparently you feel a tendency to use Lightwave; so download it and try it out. If you don't like it, get 3DS Max instead. You could also try Rhino, Maya, etc., though 3DS and Lightwave are the two best modelling programs. If you'd like to see them in action, go to and check out the Picture Post & Commentary thread under the Vehicle Mod Showroom. Alot of the people there use such programs and create true-to-life renders, some of the models reaching as high as 16 million polys (sub-D frozen mesh). But like I said, it's a matter of taste.

    This guy uses 3D Studio Max:


    3D Studio Max again:

  8. Software & Hardware   -   #7
    Join Date
    May 2003
    See, I'd only want to use Lightwave because it's been used on so many films... I prefer the workflow of 3d s Max, but I'd rather have the best program than the easiest.

    Ardeth In Pre-Production

  9. Software & Hardware   -   #8
    Join Date
    May 2003

    Ardeth In Pre-Production


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