There are hundreds of 3D animation software options to choose from, so where should you start? The answer depends on how much technological background you have, as well as what kind of 3D needs you have. Luxology’s modeling and animation software is still relatively new within the industry, yet it’s already seen use in various game and movie companies around the world. This is an outline of Luxology’s polygon, subdivision surface modeling, animation, 3D painting, and rendering software package.
Made by many of those who were responsible for the birth of LightWave 3D, Modo – or “modo” as it’s often called – started after a disagreement on how to continue to develop software at NewTek. Luxology was created, and then all the code was rewritten from scratch for a different approach to memory management and mesh manipulation options. Just like ZBrush, Modo users can paint textures right onto their 3D models.
According to Luxology, Modo boasts the “most advanced polygonal and subdivision surface 3D modeling environment available.” Of course Luxology would have a high opinion about their own product, but digital droves of film special effects teams, game artists, and industrial designers all agree that “The modeling speed and flexibility are really impressive and enticing for designers, even to those who’ve been scared off by other packages. … It’s a huge advantage.”
Modo deals with typical vertex, edge, and polygon tools that help define the “flow” of your 3D model, but at any time you can convert to subdivision surfaces or specifically Pixar subdivision surfaces that intuitively anticipate the parts of the model you wish to sharpen. This ease of use allows most users to deal with just one perspective view instead of the standard 4 view workstation windows that show your model from top, front, side, and perspective. For sculpting based models where you don’t want the precise bevels and curves that its suggestion pen and snap points offer, then you can add clay-like detail with mesh based or image based design.
The one modeling feature that most raises my eyebrows is that Luxology claims that their UV editor is truly as simple as “Click. Unwrap. Done. And with Modo, you can build your UV map then create morphs with topology changes and not be concerned with wrecking your UV’s.” Perhaps I had been underestimating Modo for these past few years, because that’s certainly better than Autodesk’s tedious pelting process in 3ds Max. Another thing that has me considering software migration is Modo’s Toolpipe system that allows you to create uniquely tailored 3D tools much like the 2D brushes that you can assemble in Photoshop to meet your specific needs.
Furthermore, Modo – like ZBrush – allows you to paint textures directly onto your models in real-time and see the results. You can see a short video example here. Make sure you take the time to browse through the complete list of Modo 501 features and system requirements.
Modo has seen adoption throughout all entertainment industries to the point where it’s now ubiquitous in under a decade. Zoic Studios has used it on television shows like Fringe, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Cold Case, Flash Forward, Human Target, and True Blood. World renowned ILM (Industrial Light & Magic) has also put Modo to use in recent years, with it playing a key role in Confessions of a Shopaholic and Iron Man 2. Zoic Studios used it to develop Microsoft Kinect Adventures as well as their first CG TV series.
Modo has also seen professional use by IGLOO VFX (Alice in Chains, Dentyne gum ads, Toyota commercials) in Toronto, CoSA VFX (Wolverine, FlashForward, Fringe, and Undercovers), DigitalFusion, The Embassy, Animation World Network, PACK, Thompson Design Group, and countless individual artists across the globe.
Modo Community and Pricing
Before making up your mind, take the official Modo 501 Feature Tour for a better look at the many great tools this software offers. Be sure to flip through all of the pages; the second and fourth pages show off some spectacular render technology advancements from Modo 401 to Modo 501. You can purchase Modo 501 for Windows or Mac for a steep thousand dollars, so I recommend first taking advantage of the free trial demo here.
As for the community, it’s not very extensive but it does have about 70 tutorial videos on its official YouTube page. Those with deep wallets will benefit more, due to Luxology offering various pricey seminars and official training centers.