f



misc: any point to this?

I am new here, so I don't know how this group does things...


not too long ago (about the end of 2005) for my own uses I went and wrote a 
3d animation program. all in all it works ok (does what I need, eg, basic 
animating tasks).

note, it is not online, but my intent is to make it available (well, with 
most of my other stuff) under the gpl at some point (problem: it just takes 
too long to upload stuff to sourceforge, and my projects tend to get large 
enough to make this unmanagable...).

note: most of my code is plain c. I did venture into c++ land a few times, 
but had little compelling reason to stay there.


I just wonder if there is any hope to this?
is there somewhere a free 3d animation program that doesn't suck and is 
somehow superior than anything I could ever make?

then again, it was my inability to find one that made me do my own...
all I could find was commercial stuff, and freeware stuff that was largely 
crap imo (typically broken in some major way or another...).

one of the better ones imo was milkshape, but even that had a lot of 
annoying problems (and the whole timelock thing going down...).


in a lot of ways, my tool is similar to milkshape (its general approach to 
the task of animating, eg, keyframing, ...), apart from some major 
differences:

the interface is full 3d (which can be both useful and awkward sometimes, 
one has to move their view around to get a good angle for positioning things 
in some cases, but it is a lot easier to see what one is doing...).

basic operations don't require clicking on things, instead, the mouse and 
keyboard can do nearly all that is needed (selecting, translating, rotating, 
....). in general, basic operations (positioning things while animating) can 
be done with less total steps than milkshape (no "set keyframe" step, ... as 
this is inferred).


I don't use euler angles, instead most things are done with matrices.

I use custom bone/anim formats based around line-orientated text files, 
meshes are stored in the AC3D format usually. could have used smd, but I 
still don't like euler angles...

it does multi-bone weighting (I have a system of attaching a bunch of 
primitives to the skeleton which are used for determining which bones have 
an effect and their relative weight). because ac3d can store info about 
skeletons, this is presently the only real way to assign vertices (well, 
apart from not including any primitives, in which case it does signle bone 
weighting based on whatever bone is closest).

....


recently, I got back to working on it some, mostly fixing some user 
interface problems, and am starting to transition to a widget based 
approach, vs. drawing stuff at fixed locations on screen and largely using a 
console for entering more involved commands (recently had to go write the 
api for drawing forms/widgets and handling input for them, all drawing is 
done in gl so the gui is drawn along with everything else on-screen).

in some ways, aspects of the new ui are being based on gimp, eg, reverse 
clicking summons up a menu of various operations and stuff, with the menu 
generally sorting things catagorically, ...

not that many menu options yet, mostly just things for summoning up the 
load/save dialogs and a few help catagories.

I may start adding forms that pop up where people can enter stuff 
(parameters and similar). thing is at present I don't have that much where 
this is used (where it would be used, eg, creating the bone-attached solids, 
is presently done via manually editing the bones file...).


another considered feature was adding IK type features, but thus far I 
haven't gotten to this (mixing ik and keyframing seems like it could pose 
issues though, this is largely related to internal representation and 
conversion issues...).

....


I don't intend presently to do modeling in this tool though.
more likely, I am going to need to get around to writing another tool that 
handles other tasks (modeling and skinning), which are presently handled 
poorly by what tools I have (I wrote a modeler before, which was usable for 
some things, but it was too limited in many ways).

then again, I could always add "modeling" and "skinning" modes (along with 
the present modes, eg: bone, animate, and mesh). so I don't know (adding 
actual gui type stuff opens a lot of possibilities, so I am not as 
constrained to trying to keep the tool simple...).


or something...


0
cr88192
4/14/2006 4:13:49 AM
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cr88192 wrote:
> 
> I am new here, so I don't know how this group does things...

It's not that active a group - well.. compared to some others.
 
> not too long ago (about the end of 2005) for my own uses I went and wrote a
> 3d animation program. all in all it works ok (does what I need, eg, basic
> animating tasks).
> 
> note, it is not online, but my intent is to make it available (well, with
> most of my other stuff) under the gpl at some point (problem: it just takes
> too long to upload stuff to sourceforge, and my projects tend to get large
> enough to make this unmanagable...).
> 
> note: most of my code is plain c. I did venture into c++ land a few times,
> but had little compelling reason to stay there.
> 
> I just wonder if there is any hope to this?
> is there somewhere a free 3d animation program that doesn't suck and is
> somehow superior than anything I could ever make?

Depends on your definition of 'free'. There are some open sourse
programs out there that don't cost anything - Blender3D and
OpenFX are two just off the top of my head. Blender is probably
the best know free 3D program and one that is very much on par
with many of the packages that cost $s. But you can also get
some pretty nice commercial packages for 'free' too. There are a
number of UK magazines such as 3DWorld, Computer Arts, Digital
Creative Arts, Digit, PCFormat, and a new one called ImagineFX.
All of these magazines come with a cover CD that usually have
some sort of interesting software on them. For instance, the
last issue of PCFormat I picked up at the bookstore (Barnes &
Nobel) came with a DVD that had about 9 gigs worth of stuff -
one package which was something called 3DPlus 3 and another
package was WorldBuilder. Most of these free versions on these
cover CDS are older versions of these packages that the software
companies are giving away a free license to so that people can
use them and maybe later spend the money and upgrade to their
newest version (some of these companies even give you a discount
when you upgrade from one of their free licenses). I did this a
few times myself - for example, I got a free license of Vue 2
off one of these magazines cover CDs and liked the software so
much I bought their Vue 4 package a few weeks later. Anyway -
it's a way of getting some pretty nice 'free' stuff - as even if
some of the licenses are 'old' (last years or the year before)
it's still very useable stuff. I've heard that a few of thse
magazines are going to be offering a free license of Carrara
Studio 2 soon. Carrara isn't an easy package to get use to using
- the GUI drives some people mad, but it does have a nice bones
system - which is something many cheap or free packages don't
have.

As I mentioned these are magazines from the UK - but they are
imported and sold here in the US, you can usually find them in
the magazine secetion of any of the big name chain book stores.
Each issue goes for around $14-$15 each. They also have really
good tutorials and articles on the 3D industry.

Another freebie that just came to mind - is DAZ3D's DAZ|Studio
which is sort of like Poser. You can download a free license off
the DAZ site or there was a license included on the introductory
issue DVD (001) of ImagineFX magazine.
 
> then again, it was my inability to find one that made me do my own...
> all I could find was commercial stuff, and freeware stuff that was largely
> crap imo (typically broken in some major way or another...).

Any particular package that you had a bad experience with? Just
curious.
 
> one of the better ones imo was milkshape, but even that had a lot of
> annoying problems (and the whole timelock thing going down...).
> 
> in a lot of ways, my tool is similar to milkshape (its general approach to
> the task of animating, eg, keyframing, ...), apart from some major
> differences:
> 
> the interface is full 3d (which can be both useful and awkward sometimes,
> one has to move their view around to get a good angle for positioning things
> in some cases, but it is a lot easier to see what one is doing...).
> 
> basic operations don't require clicking on things, instead, the mouse and
> keyboard can do nearly all that is needed (selecting, translating, rotating,
> ...). in general, basic operations (positioning things while animating) can
> be done with less total steps than milkshape (no "set keyframe" step, ... as
> this is inferred).
> 
> I don't use euler angles, instead most things are done with matrices.
> 
> I use custom bone/anim formats based around line-orientated text files,
> meshes are stored in the AC3D format usually. could have used smd, but I
> still don't like euler angles...
> 
> it does multi-bone weighting (I have a system of attaching a bunch of
> primitives to the skeleton which are used for determining which bones have
> an effect and their relative weight). because ac3d can store info about
> skeletons, this is presently the only real way to assign vertices (well,
> apart from not including any primitives, in which case it does signle bone
> weighting based on whatever bone is closest).
> 
> ...
> 
> recently, I got back to working on it some, mostly fixing some user
> interface problems, and am starting to transition to a widget based
> approach, vs. drawing stuff at fixed locations on screen and largely using a
> console for entering more involved commands (recently had to go write the
> api for drawing forms/widgets and handling input for them, all drawing is
> done in gl so the gui is drawn along with everything else on-screen).
> 
> in some ways, aspects of the new ui are being based on gimp, eg, reverse
> clicking summons up a menu of various operations and stuff, with the menu
> generally sorting things catagorically, ...
> 
> not that many menu options yet, mostly just things for summoning up the
> load/save dialogs and a few help catagories.
> 
> I may start adding forms that pop up where people can enter stuff
> (parameters and similar). thing is at present I don't have that much where
> this is used (where it would be used, eg, creating the bone-attached solids,
> is presently done via manually editing the bones file...).
> 
> another considered feature was adding IK type features, but thus far I
> haven't gotten to this (mixing ik and keyframing seems like it could pose
> issues though, this is largely related to internal representation and
> conversion issues...).
> 
> ...
> 
> I don't intend presently to do modeling in this tool though.
> more likely, I am going to need to get around to writing another tool that
> handles other tasks (modeling and skinning), which are presently handled
> poorly by what tools I have (I wrote a modeler before, which was usable for
> some things, but it was too limited in many ways).
> 
> then again, I could always add "modeling" and "skinning" modes (along with
> the present modes, eg: bone, animate, and mesh). so I don't know (adding
> actual gui type stuff opens a lot of possibilities, so I am not as
> constrained to trying to keep the tool simple...).
> 
> or something...
0
Rowley
4/14/2006 7:02:29 PM
"Rowley" <rowleykmREMOVE@excite.com> wrote in message 
news:44400DA5.E3BEB446@excite.com...
> cr88192 wrote:
>>
>> I am new here, so I don't know how this group does things...
>
> It's not that active a group - well.. compared to some others.
>
yeah, I had noticed, but it seems more active than some groups I post to 
sometimes (hell, there a number of posts here just from this month...).

note, I am a programmer, and not really an artist, so my motivations may 
seem "odd" here...


>> not too long ago (about the end of 2005) for my own uses I went and wrote 
>> a
>> 3d animation program. all in all it works ok (does what I need, eg, basic
>> animating tasks).
>>
>> note, it is not online, but my intent is to make it available (well, with
>> most of my other stuff) under the gpl at some point (problem: it just 
>> takes
>> too long to upload stuff to sourceforge, and my projects tend to get 
>> large
>> enough to make this unmanagable...).
>>
>> note: most of my code is plain c. I did venture into c++ land a few 
>> times,
>> but had little compelling reason to stay there.
>>
>> I just wonder if there is any hope to this?
>> is there somewhere a free 3d animation program that doesn't suck and is
>> somehow superior than anything I could ever make?
>
> Depends on your definition of 'free'. There are some open sourse
> programs out there that don't cost anything - Blender3D and
> OpenFX are two just off the top of my head. Blender is probably
> the best know free 3D program and one that is very much on par
> with many of the packages that cost $s.

not heard of openfx, but have messed with blender.

I have my compliants about blender as well:
it doesn't do that much of what I want;
in the past, it has difficulties working (syntax error in some python script 
or another, ...);
can't figure out how to make it do much useful (me, being lazy, liking 
things with a more straightforwards ui);
....

the point being that anymore, unless there is a good reason, I don't need 
most of the programs, just it is a matter of "point".

if something particularly good exists, then there is no point, if not, I can 
continue to do my own thing.


also, blender isn't that much of direct competition I think, as blender 
(assuming it being actually usable) seems to focus on a different target 
domain (generalized scenes and "prop centric" animating, vs. focusing on a 
single model and animating via skeletons and forwards or inverse kinetics).

in my case, I do scenes/maps using a different program (ending up being 
written by me as well). before I had made use of quark, but quark had some 
hassles (mostly just not getting along that well with how "I" was doing 
things), so I wrote my own program (with a lamer ui in some ways, but being 
less awkward in others). ui was also partly influenced by hammer, but 
(unlike both these programs) the ui is full 3D...

like other mappers, it is based around brush-based csg stuff. had considered 
some features (procedural construction, ...) but thus far haven't gotten to 
it (it is in need of a similar reworking to what I have done with the bone 
tool)

a lot is deciding where to draw the lines between programs, so, the expected 
toolset is something like:
bonetool (the one I was mentioning originally), does bones, forwards 
kinetics, and keyframing;
mapper (just mentioned) handles the world and the placing of objects;
mesher;
skinner;
....

mesher. would deal with creating/working with meshes. wrote something like 
this once before, but the last one is nearly unusable and was one of my 
first major ventures into c++ land (in my case, the main side effect of me 
trying to use c++ is awkward misuse of language features...).

skinner. this could be done either in the mesher or the bonetool, or as a 
seperate program. this would deal with attaching skins to meshes. this a 
problem poorly handled in nearly every modeler I have used thus far (usually 
they will give a small rectangle for the texture and give you a few options 
for projecting the model to the texture, but often little else...).

my thought is I would take a geometric approach to skinning, eg, primitives 
are defined, eg: spheres, rectangular sections of a plane, ...
these would map parts of a model to a particular texture (it is stated which 
parts of the model can use which texturing primitives, or the whole model to 
all primitives if nothing is specified).

this info could be stored seperate from the model itself, possible to aid in 
later altering and reskinning a model, as altering meshes may or may not 
destroy correct skinning (or may be stored in the model if I end up doing a 
custom format).

storing ST coords in the face vertices, though good for rendering, is imo 
not that good for working with the models, so my thought is to seperate the 
model geometry from how the textures are applied.

another possible option is further decomposing the model, eg, the model 
refers to 1 or more "meshes", each of which could be stored externally as a 
raw triangular mesh (supported well enough by most apps I have used). 
tacking the meshes together and doing skinning would thus be left to the 
"mesh" file (then again, I could include the actual meshes in the mesh file 
as well, or continuing to use ac3d but ignoring the internal 
texturemapping...).


> But you can also get
> some pretty nice commercial packages for 'free' too. There are a
> number of UK magazines such as 3DWorld, Computer Arts, Digital
> Creative Arts, Digit, PCFormat, and a new one called ImagineFX.
> All of these magazines come with a cover CD that usually have
> some sort of interesting software on them. For instance, the
> last issue of PCFormat I picked up at the bookstore (Barnes &
> Nobel) came with a DVD that had about 9 gigs worth of stuff -
> one package which was something called 3DPlus 3 and another
> package was WorldBuilder. Most of these free versions on these
> cover CDS are older versions of these packages that the software
> companies are giving away a free license to so that people can
> use them and maybe later spend the money and upgrade to their
> newest version (some of these companies even give you a discount
> when you upgrade from one of their free licenses). I did this a
> few times myself - for example, I got a free license of Vue 2
> off one of these magazines cover CDs and liked the software so
> much I bought their Vue 4 package a few weeks later. Anyway -
> it's a way of getting some pretty nice 'free' stuff - as even if
> some of the licenses are 'old' (last years or the year before)
> it's still very useable stuff. I've heard that a few of thse
> magazines are going to be offering a free license of Carrara
> Studio 2 soon. Carrara isn't an easy package to get use to using
> - the GUI drives some people mad, but it does have a nice bones
> system - which is something many cheap or free packages don't
> have.
>

before I had gotten a free version of xsi.

my complaints are:
too many legal encumberances;
can't figure out how to use it that well (it is complicated and with a poor 
help system);
....


> As I mentioned these are magazines from the UK - but they are
> imported and sold here in the US, you can usually find them in
> the magazine secetion of any of the big name chain book stores.
> Each issue goes for around $14-$15 each. They also have really
> good tutorials and articles on the 3D industry.
>
in my case, I am not in the us proper (the magical land of guam if you have 
ever heard of it...). nearly anything technical (magazines, books, or even 
computer parts) are largely absent around here (have to be ordered, and 
often lost in transit...).

> Another freebie that just came to mind - is DAZ3D's DAZ|Studio
> which is sort of like Poser. You can download a free license off
> the DAZ site or there was a license included on the introductory
> issue DVD (001) of ImagineFX magazine.
>

yeah, largely by "free" I meant "opensource" (like gimp, or linux...).
blender is in this catagory, but most other things don't really count.

>> then again, it was my inability to find one that made me do my own...
>> all I could find was commercial stuff, and freeware stuff that was 
>> largely
>> crap imo (typically broken in some major way or another...).
>
> Any particular package that you had a bad experience with? Just
> curious.
>
going and downloading things like 'k3d' and 'aztec' and endless other free 
programs...

typical poor results, and an ever growing suspicion that nothing good 
exists...

then again, this may give me a chance, if I can do anything better...


a set of "general purpose", "easy to use", and "generally useful" tools 
would be quite helpful, especially if all a single toolchain (as then all 
the formats are compatible and the pieces play well together).

also, if the format is as open and easy to work with/convert as possible, 
that is good. though xml holds some promise, I am more putting my bets on 
line-based text formats (in my case, largely unstructured tabular formats, 
where each file may contain a seperate piece of the information).

tools will open the pieces of data in question, and largely ignore the rest 
(most of the files try to remain loosely coupled where possible, so changes 
to one file do not necissarily effect the others). most often names are used 
for cross-referencing, vs anything like, eg, line numbers, object indices, 
.... (as each of these is local to the file in question...).


a problem here is some manner of packaging would be nice (having a bunch of 
files in a directory in inconvinient). one possible option here is zip. 
other thoughts have been considered as well (eg: for a fully read/write 
compressed format), but this goes against the "open" ideal some (instead, I 
would need to supply a packer/unpacker with the toolchain).

the option is partly one of scale:
read/write usage of zip is limited in terms of total scalability (how much 
can be reasonably kept in memory and rewritten during save). a custom format 
could handle much larger sums of data, without requiring keeping everything 
in ram (and be fully read/write).

if anything though, this format may be used more for general app data (which 
in my case tends to both get large and requires read/write access, and 
storing it in an internally-compressed manner makes some sense).

the format borrows some ideas from, among other things: zip, id's pak 
format, and ntfs.


or such...


0
cr88192
4/15/2006 4:46:06 AM
cr88192 wrote:
> 
> "Rowley" <rowleykmREMOVE@excite.com> wrote in message
> news:44400DA5.E3BEB446@excite.com...
> > cr88192 wrote:
> >>
> >> I am new here, so I don't know how this group does things...
> >
> > It's not that active a group - well.. compared to some others.
> >
> yeah, I had noticed, but it seems more active than some groups I post to
> sometimes (hell, there a number of posts here just from this month...).
> 
> note, I am a programmer, and not really an artist, so my motivations may
> seem "odd" here...
> 
> >> not too long ago (about the end of 2005) for my own uses I went and wrote
> >> a
> >> 3d animation program. all in all it works ok (does what I need, eg, basic
> >> animating tasks).
> >>
> >> note, it is not online, but my intent is to make it available (well, with
> >> most of my other stuff) under the gpl at some point (problem: it just
> >> takes
> >> too long to upload stuff to sourceforge, and my projects tend to get
> >> large
> >> enough to make this unmanagable...).
> >>
> >> note: most of my code is plain c. I did venture into c++ land a few
> >> times,
> >> but had little compelling reason to stay there.
> >>
> >> I just wonder if there is any hope to this?
> >> is there somewhere a free 3d animation program that doesn't suck and is
> >> somehow superior than anything I could ever make?
> >
> > Depends on your definition of 'free'. There are some open sourse
> > programs out there that don't cost anything - Blender3D and
> > OpenFX are two just off the top of my head. Blender is probably
> > the best know free 3D program and one that is very much on par
> > with many of the packages that cost $s.
> 
> not heard of openfx, but have messed with blender.
> 
> I have my compliants about blender as well:
> it doesn't do that much of what I want;
> in the past, it has difficulties working (syntax error in some python script
> or another, ...);
> can't figure out how to make it do much useful (me, being lazy, liking
> things with a more straightforwards ui);

I think that the source code for blender is available - or at
least there are open groups that are working on various versions
of it. Maybe you could add in the features / functions that you
want. 

Another application that came to mind after sending my post
yesterday - there is something called POV-RAY, www.povray.org/

Not sure if it does animation, but I think it's something more
for programmers. Think there are usenet newsgroups for it as
well.

> ...
> 
> the point being that anymore, unless there is a good reason, I don't need
> most of the programs, just it is a matter of "point".
> 
> if something particularly good exists, then there is no point, if not, I can
> continue to do my own thing.

Whatever makes you happy.
 
> also, blender isn't that much of direct competition I think, as blender
> (assuming it being actually usable) seems to focus on a different target
> domain (generalized scenes and "prop centric" animating, vs. focusing on a
> single model and animating via skeletons and forwards or inverse kinetics).

Isn't that pretty much what most 3d animation programs are too.
Pretty much all such programs are going to be aimed at being
generic design and based on what the majority of the potential
users might have a need for.
 
> in my case, I do scenes/maps using a different program (ending up being
> written by me as well). before I had made use of quark, but quark had some
> hassles (mostly just not getting along that well with how "I" was doing
> things), so I wrote my own program (with a lamer ui in some ways, but being
> less awkward in others). ui was also partly influenced by hammer, but
> (unlike both these programs) the ui is full 3D...

Reminds me of what I've seen watching some of the
'how-they-did-it' features on some of the animation feature
films dvds. When most of them talk about what sort of software
they used - many of them mention that they only use the
off-the-shelf stuff for making the early pre-visualization
stuff, and that when it's time to do the real work it's all done
using their in-house designed/created software.

You know, there has to be some place those people hang out on
the web and talk - maybe you could find it. My guess a starting
point would be some of the SIGGRAPH sites. I use to be a member,
but let my membership drop years ago. They were always sending
technical material to their members, and I never really got past
programming basic C/C++ stuff.

Here's an example of some of their technical papers (note: Tim
is no relation to me).
http://www.cs.brown.edu/~tor/sig2003.html
http://www.cs.brown.edu/~tor/sig2004.html
http://www.cs.brown.edu/~tor/sig2005.html
 
> like other mappers, it is based around brush-based csg stuff. had considered
> some features (procedural construction, ...) but thus far haven't gotten to
> it (it is in need of a similar reworking to what I have done with the bone
> tool)
> 
> a lot is deciding where to draw the lines between programs, so, the expected
> toolset is something like:
> bonetool (the one I was mentioning originally), does bones, forwards
> kinetics, and keyframing;
> mapper (just mentioned) handles the world and the placing of objects;
> mesher;
> skinner;
> ...
> 
> mesher. would deal with creating/working with meshes. wrote something like
> this once before, but the last one is nearly unusable and was one of my
> first major ventures into c++ land (in my case, the main side effect of me
> trying to use c++ is awkward misuse of language features...).
> 
> skinner. this could be done either in the mesher or the bonetool, or as a
> seperate program. this would deal with attaching skins to meshes. this a
> problem poorly handled in nearly every modeler I have used thus far (usually
> they will give a small rectangle for the texture and give you a few options
> for projecting the model to the texture, but often little else...).
> 
> my thought is I would take a geometric approach to skinning, eg, primitives
> are defined, eg: spheres, rectangular sections of a plane, ...
> these would map parts of a model to a particular texture (it is stated which
> parts of the model can use which texturing primitives, or the whole model to
> all primitives if nothing is specified).
> 
> this info could be stored seperate from the model itself, possible to aid in
> later altering and reskinning a model, as altering meshes may or may not
> destroy correct skinning (or may be stored in the model if I end up doing a
> custom format).
> 
> storing ST coords in the face vertices, though good for rendering, is imo
> not that good for working with the models, so my thought is to seperate the
> model geometry from how the textures are applied.
> 
> another possible option is further decomposing the model, eg, the model
> refers to 1 or more "meshes", each of which could be stored externally as a
> raw triangular mesh (supported well enough by most apps I have used).
> tacking the meshes together and doing skinning would thus be left to the
> "mesh" file (then again, I could include the actual meshes in the mesh file
> as well, or continuing to use ac3d but ignoring the internal
> texturemapping...).
> 
> > But you can also get
> > some pretty nice commercial packages for 'free' too. There are a
> > number of UK magazines such as 3DWorld, Computer Arts, Digital
> > Creative Arts, Digit, PCFormat, and a new one called ImagineFX.
> > All of these magazines come with a cover CD that usually have
> > some sort of interesting software on them. For instance, the
> > last issue of PCFormat I picked up at the bookstore (Barnes &
> > Nobel) came with a DVD that had about 9 gigs worth of stuff -
> > one package which was something called 3DPlus 3 and another
> > package was WorldBuilder. Most of these free versions on these
> > cover CDS are older versions of these packages that the software
> > companies are giving away a free license to so that people can
> > use them and maybe later spend the money and upgrade to their
> > newest version (some of these companies even give you a discount
> > when you upgrade from one of their free licenses). I did this a
> > few times myself - for example, I got a free license of Vue 2
> > off one of these magazines cover CDs and liked the software so
> > much I bought their Vue 4 package a few weeks later. Anyway -
> > it's a way of getting some pretty nice 'free' stuff - as even if
> > some of the licenses are 'old' (last years or the year before)
> > it's still very useable stuff. I've heard that a few of thse
> > magazines are going to be offering a free license of Carrara
> > Studio 2 soon. Carrara isn't an easy package to get use to using
> > - the GUI drives some people mad, but it does have a nice bones
> > system - which is something many cheap or free packages don't
> > have.
> >
> 
> before I had gotten a free version of xsi.
> 
> my complaints are:
> too many legal encumberances;
> can't figure out how to use it that well (it is complicated and with a poor
> help system);
> ...

There are usually some steep learning curves to these commercial
programs - and like you mentioned the help material is usually
written by someone who is totally familiar with the software and
it seems they assume the person reading it is also as familiar.
 
> > As I mentioned these are magazines from the UK - but they are
> > imported and sold here in the US, you can usually find them in
> > the magazine secetion of any of the big name chain book stores.
> > Each issue goes for around $14-$15 each. They also have really
> > good tutorials and articles on the 3D industry.
> >
> in my case, I am not in the us proper (the magical land of guam if you have
> ever heard of it...). nearly anything technical (magazines, books, or even
> computer parts) are largely absent around here (have to be ordered, and
> often lost in transit...).

Wow, you are way out there. No wonder you have a lot of time to
devote to programming your own stuff.
 
> > Another freebie that just came to mind - is DAZ3D's DAZ|Studio
> > which is sort of like Poser. You can download a free license off
> > the DAZ site or there was a license included on the introductory
> > issue DVD (001) of ImagineFX magazine.
> >
> 
> yeah, largely by "free" I meant "opensource" (like gimp, or linux...).
> blender is in this catagory, but most other things don't really count.

I can't think of any more open source projects.

You might poke around the SIGGRAPH site and see it there is any
listed there. They seemed to have had a panel on the subject at
last year's conference.

http://www.siggraph.org/s2005/main.php?f=cfp&p=courses&s=open
 
> >> then again, it was my inability to find one that made me do my own...
> >> all I could find was commercial stuff, and freeware stuff that was
> >> largely
> >> crap imo (typically broken in some major way or another...).
> >
> > Any particular package that you had a bad experience with? Just
> > curious.
> >
> going and downloading things like 'k3d' and 'aztec' and endless other free
> programs...
> 
> typical poor results, and an ever growing suspicion that nothing good
> exists...
> 
> then again, this may give me a chance, if I can do anything better...
> 
> a set of "general purpose", "easy to use", and "generally useful" tools
> would be quite helpful, especially if all a single toolchain (as then all
> the formats are compatible and the pieces play well together).
> 
> also, if the format is as open and easy to work with/convert as possible,
> that is good. though xml holds some promise, I am more putting my bets on
> line-based text formats (in my case, largely unstructured tabular formats,
> where each file may contain a seperate piece of the information).
> 
> tools will open the pieces of data in question, and largely ignore the rest
> (most of the files try to remain loosely coupled where possible, so changes
> to one file do not necissarily effect the others). most often names are used
> for cross-referencing, vs anything like, eg, line numbers, object indices,
> ... (as each of these is local to the file in question...).
> 
> a problem here is some manner of packaging would be nice (having a bunch of
> files in a directory in inconvinient). one possible option here is zip.
> other thoughts have been considered as well (eg: for a fully read/write
> compressed format), but this goes against the "open" ideal some (instead, I
> would need to supply a packer/unpacker with the toolchain).
> 
> the option is partly one of scale:
> read/write usage of zip is limited in terms of total scalability (how much
> can be reasonably kept in memory and rewritten during save). a custom format
> could handle much larger sums of data, without requiring keeping everything
> in ram (and be fully read/write).
> 
> if anything though, this format may be used more for general app data (which
> in my case tends to both get large and requires read/write access, and
> storing it in an internally-compressed manner makes some sense).
> 
> the format borrows some ideas from, among other things: zip, id's pak
> format, and ntfs.
> 
> or such...

Well, good luck to you - hope you find something interesting to
work on.

Martin
0
Rowley
4/15/2006 1:00:25 PM
"Rowley" <rowleykmREMOVE@excite.com> wrote in message 
news:44410A47.9E839922@excite.com...
> cr88192 wrote:
>>
>> "Rowley" <rowleykmREMOVE@excite.com> wrote in message
>> news:44400DA5.E3BEB446@excite.com...
>> > cr88192 wrote:
>> >>
>> >> I am new here, so I don't know how this group does things...
>> >
>> > It's not that active a group - well.. compared to some others.
>> >
>> yeah, I had noticed, but it seems more active than some groups I post to
>> sometimes (hell, there a number of posts here just from this month...).
>>
>> note, I am a programmer, and not really an artist, so my motivations may
>> seem "odd" here...
>>
>> >> not too long ago (about the end of 2005) for my own uses I went and 
>> >> wrote
>> >> a
>> >> 3d animation program. all in all it works ok (does what I need, eg, 
>> >> basic
>> >> animating tasks).
>> >>
>> >> note, it is not online, but my intent is to make it available (well, 
>> >> with
>> >> most of my other stuff) under the gpl at some point (problem: it just
>> >> takes
>> >> too long to upload stuff to sourceforge, and my projects tend to get
>> >> large
>> >> enough to make this unmanagable...).
>> >>
>> >> note: most of my code is plain c. I did venture into c++ land a few
>> >> times,
>> >> but had little compelling reason to stay there.
>> >>
>> >> I just wonder if there is any hope to this?
>> >> is there somewhere a free 3d animation program that doesn't suck and 
>> >> is
>> >> somehow superior than anything I could ever make?
>> >
>> > Depends on your definition of 'free'. There are some open sourse
>> > programs out there that don't cost anything - Blender3D and
>> > OpenFX are two just off the top of my head. Blender is probably
>> > the best know free 3D program and one that is very much on par
>> > with many of the packages that cost $s.
>>
>> not heard of openfx, but have messed with blender.
>>
>> I have my compliants about blender as well:
>> it doesn't do that much of what I want;
>> in the past, it has difficulties working (syntax error in some python 
>> script
>> or another, ...);
>> can't figure out how to make it do much useful (me, being lazy, liking
>> things with a more straightforwards ui);
>
> I think that the source code for blender is available - or at
> least there are open groups that are working on various versions
> of it. Maybe you could add in the features / functions that you
> want.
>
only so much one can do though, and reworking the ui is unlikely to be a 
minor task. likewise, I am not personally that much of a fan of python.

> Another application that came to mind after sending my post
> yesterday - there is something called POV-RAY, www.povray.org/
>
> Not sure if it does animation, but I think it's something more
> for programmers. Think there are usenet newsgroups for it as
> well.
>
used pov-ray before.

pov ray is, rather, a completely different kind of program.
it is a renderer, not an animator. more so, it is a renderer by default 
without even any real semblance of a modeler (modelers for it exist, but 
afaik do not come with pov-ray itself, but I may be wrong).

>> ...
>>
>> the point being that anymore, unless there is a good reason, I don't need
>> most of the programs, just it is a matter of "point".
>>
>> if something particularly good exists, then there is no point, if not, I 
>> can
>> continue to do my own thing.
>
> Whatever makes you happy.
>
yeah.
it is an area of domain contention...

too many similar apps, especially decent free ones, then not so much point. 
absence of apps, well then, there is point. I just have to make mine not 
suck (I at least need to exceed the core featureset of milkshape, and need a 
not-bad ui).

>> also, blender isn't that much of direct competition I think, as blender
>> (assuming it being actually usable) seems to focus on a different target
>> domain (generalized scenes and "prop centric" animating, vs. focusing on 
>> a
>> single model and animating via skeletons and forwards or inverse 
>> kinetics).
>
> Isn't that pretty much what most 3d animation programs are too.
> Pretty much all such programs are going to be aimed at being
> generic design and based on what the majority of the potential
> users might have a need for.
>
xsi does skeletal animation, albeit using ik (vs fk), just, xsi is not 
technically free, and has an imo awkward ui (from what I have used of it 
thus far).

milkshape also does skeletal animation, and in terms of how it is approach, 
is a lot more similar.

skeletal models are viewed as "first class citizens" in my app and milkshape 
(in fact, that is the core of their functionality).

in contrast, xsi has them as an add on feature.
blender has them as well, but they are limited imo (seeming more like 
something that was just tacked on).


my personal preference:
different tools for different tasks.

I am approaching things as how they are done in the games industry, as 
opposed to whatever industry a lot of the major apps (xsi and 3ds max at 
least, also blender) are aimed for (I suspect cg video or such).

this leads to an occurance:
we have mapper tools, which do scenes, but have no hope of doing characters;
we have mesher and animating tools, which are specialized in characters and 
other modeled objects (the mapper can be used for larger items intended to 
function as part of a map though).

the thing, however, is that mappers are a lot more common. before I had been 
using quark, but quark had some annoyances and was written in python (making 
it nearly useless for me to try to work on, partly as I couldn't figure out 
how to make it rebuild...).

alternatively, there is hammer, but valve says one is only really allowed to 
use hammer for mods and stuff, and it is not available apart from getting 
the half-life or half-life2 sdk...


>> in my case, I do scenes/maps using a different program (ending up being
>> written by me as well). before I had made use of quark, but quark had 
>> some
>> hassles (mostly just not getting along that well with how "I" was doing
>> things), so I wrote my own program (with a lamer ui in some ways, but 
>> being
>> less awkward in others). ui was also partly influenced by hammer, but
>> (unlike both these programs) the ui is full 3D...
>
> Reminds me of what I've seen watching some of the
> 'how-they-did-it' features on some of the animation feature
> films dvds. When most of them talk about what sort of software
> they used - many of them mention that they only use the
> off-the-shelf stuff for making the early pre-visualization
> stuff, and that when it's time to do the real work it's all done
> using their in-house designed/created software.
>
ok, this is interesting...


> You know, there has to be some place those people hang out on
> the web and talk - maybe you could find it. My guess a starting
> point would be some of the SIGGRAPH sites. I use to be a member,
> but let my membership drop years ago. They were always sending
> technical material to their members, and I never really got past
> programming basic C/C++ stuff.
>
me, being an obsessive programmer since elementary...

problem is, people also need uis, and something good to write, and people to 
care about it, ... and all this has fallen short over the years.

at least I have a good chance with 3d tools, as my experience is it is a 
domain filled with not so useful or not so working stuff, so may as well...

> Here's an example of some of their technical papers (note: Tim
> is no relation to me).
> http://www.cs.brown.edu/~tor/sig2003.html
> http://www.cs.brown.edu/~tor/sig2004.html
> http://www.cs.brown.edu/~tor/sig2005.html
>
ok.

>> like other mappers, it is based around brush-based csg stuff. had 
>> considered
>> some features (procedural construction, ...) but thus far haven't gotten 
>> to
>> it (it is in need of a similar reworking to what I have done with the 
>> bone
>> tool)
>>
>> a lot is deciding where to draw the lines between programs, so, the 
>> expected
>> toolset is something like:
>> bonetool (the one I was mentioning originally), does bones, forwards
>> kinetics, and keyframing;
>> mapper (just mentioned) handles the world and the placing of objects;
>> mesher;
>> skinner;
>> ...
>>
>> mesher. would deal with creating/working with meshes. wrote something 
>> like
>> this once before, but the last one is nearly unusable and was one of my
>> first major ventures into c++ land (in my case, the main side effect of 
>> me
>> trying to use c++ is awkward misuse of language features...).
>>
>> skinner. this could be done either in the mesher or the bonetool, or as a
>> seperate program. this would deal with attaching skins to meshes. this a
>> problem poorly handled in nearly every modeler I have used thus far 
>> (usually
>> they will give a small rectangle for the texture and give you a few 
>> options
>> for projecting the model to the texture, but often little else...).
>>
>> my thought is I would take a geometric approach to skinning, eg, 
>> primitives
>> are defined, eg: spheres, rectangular sections of a plane, ...
>> these would map parts of a model to a particular texture (it is stated 
>> which
>> parts of the model can use which texturing primitives, or the whole model 
>> to
>> all primitives if nothing is specified).
>>
>> this info could be stored seperate from the model itself, possible to aid 
>> in
>> later altering and reskinning a model, as altering meshes may or may not
>> destroy correct skinning (or may be stored in the model if I end up doing 
>> a
>> custom format).
>>
>> storing ST coords in the face vertices, though good for rendering, is imo
>> not that good for working with the models, so my thought is to seperate 
>> the
>> model geometry from how the textures are applied.
>>
>> another possible option is further decomposing the model, eg, the model
>> refers to 1 or more "meshes", each of which could be stored externally as 
>> a
>> raw triangular mesh (supported well enough by most apps I have used).
>> tacking the meshes together and doing skinning would thus be left to the
>> "mesh" file (then again, I could include the actual meshes in the mesh 
>> file
>> as well, or continuing to use ac3d but ignoring the internal
>> texturemapping...).
>>
>> > But you can also get
>> > some pretty nice commercial packages for 'free' too. There are a
>> > number of UK magazines such as 3DWorld, Computer Arts, Digital
>> > Creative Arts, Digit, PCFormat, and a new one called ImagineFX.
>> > All of these magazines come with a cover CD that usually have
>> > some sort of interesting software on them. For instance, the
>> > last issue of PCFormat I picked up at the bookstore (Barnes &
>> > Nobel) came with a DVD that had about 9 gigs worth of stuff -
>> > one package which was something called 3DPlus 3 and another
>> > package was WorldBuilder. Most of these free versions on these
>> > cover CDS are older versions of these packages that the software
>> > companies are giving away a free license to so that people can
>> > use them and maybe later spend the money and upgrade to their
>> > newest version (some of these companies even give you a discount
>> > when you upgrade from one of their free licenses). I did this a
>> > few times myself - for example, I got a free license of Vue 2
>> > off one of these magazines cover CDs and liked the software so
>> > much I bought their Vue 4 package a few weeks later. Anyway -
>> > it's a way of getting some pretty nice 'free' stuff - as even if
>> > some of the licenses are 'old' (last years or the year before)
>> > it's still very useable stuff. I've heard that a few of thse
>> > magazines are going to be offering a free license of Carrara
>> > Studio 2 soon. Carrara isn't an easy package to get use to using
>> > - the GUI drives some people mad, but it does have a nice bones
>> > system - which is something many cheap or free packages don't
>> > have.
>> >
>>
>> before I had gotten a free version of xsi.
>>
>> my complaints are:
>> too many legal encumberances;
>> can't figure out how to use it that well (it is complicated and with a 
>> poor
>> help system);
>> ...
>
> There are usually some steep learning curves to these commercial
> programs - and like you mentioned the help material is usually
> written by someone who is totally familiar with the software and
> it seems they assume the person reading it is also as familiar.
>

yeah.

my preference is for more straightforwards "these keys do these things" type 
mappings, vs the more common tutorial approach.

in my case, I am trying to be "intuitive" with the ui, namely gathering 
ideas from things that are actually usable.

a thing though is that this also implies limiting the total breadth of a 
particular app frontend, as doing more stuff in a single app necissarily 
implies a more complicated ui, and a steeper learning curve (especially for 
a lot of things falling outside the app's core area).

most of the mainstream apps seem more like mappers with animation features 
tacked on, wheras I leave them as seperate frontends.

>> > As I mentioned these are magazines from the UK - but they are
>> > imported and sold here in the US, you can usually find them in
>> > the magazine secetion of any of the big name chain book stores.
>> > Each issue goes for around $14-$15 each. They also have really
>> > good tutorials and articles on the 3D industry.
>> >
>> in my case, I am not in the us proper (the magical land of guam if you 
>> have
>> ever heard of it...). nearly anything technical (magazines, books, or 
>> even
>> computer parts) are largely absent around here (have to be ordered, and
>> often lost in transit...).
>
> Wow, you are way out there. No wonder you have a lot of time to
> devote to programming your own stuff.
>
yeah.

also mind you the locals are largely computer-illiterate.

before I moved here, I could give people my email address and actually get 
email. here, not so good, a lot of them don't use computers enough, or have 
enough grasp of them, to do email (many use primarily public computers, if 
at all).

>> > Another freebie that just came to mind - is DAZ3D's DAZ|Studio
>> > which is sort of like Poser. You can download a free license off
>> > the DAZ site or there was a license included on the introductory
>> > issue DVD (001) of ImagineFX magazine.
>> >
>>
>> yeah, largely by "free" I meant "opensource" (like gimp, or linux...).
>> blender is in this catagory, but most other things don't really count.
>
> I can't think of any more open source projects.
>
I can't come up with any, that aren't crap...

> You might poke around the SIGGRAPH site and see it there is any
> listed there. They seemed to have had a panel on the subject at
> last year's conference.
>
> http://www.siggraph.org/s2005/main.php?f=cfp&p=courses&s=open
>
dunno.

>> >> then again, it was my inability to find one that made me do my own...
>> >> all I could find was commercial stuff, and freeware stuff that was
>> >> largely
>> >> crap imo (typically broken in some major way or another...).
>> >
>> > Any particular package that you had a bad experience with? Just
>> > curious.
>> >
>> going and downloading things like 'k3d' and 'aztec' and endless other 
>> free
>> programs...
>>
>> typical poor results, and an ever growing suspicion that nothing good
>> exists...
>>
>> then again, this may give me a chance, if I can do anything better...
>>
>> a set of "general purpose", "easy to use", and "generally useful" tools
>> would be quite helpful, especially if all a single toolchain (as then all
>> the formats are compatible and the pieces play well together).
>>
>> also, if the format is as open and easy to work with/convert as possible,
>> that is good. though xml holds some promise, I am more putting my bets on
>> line-based text formats (in my case, largely unstructured tabular 
>> formats,
>> where each file may contain a seperate piece of the information).
>>
>> tools will open the pieces of data in question, and largely ignore the 
>> rest
>> (most of the files try to remain loosely coupled where possible, so 
>> changes
>> to one file do not necissarily effect the others). most often names are 
>> used
>> for cross-referencing, vs anything like, eg, line numbers, object 
>> indices,
>> ... (as each of these is local to the file in question...).
>>
>> a problem here is some manner of packaging would be nice (having a bunch 
>> of
>> files in a directory in inconvinient). one possible option here is zip.
>> other thoughts have been considered as well (eg: for a fully read/write
>> compressed format), but this goes against the "open" ideal some (instead, 
>> I
>> would need to supply a packer/unpacker with the toolchain).
>>
>> the option is partly one of scale:
>> read/write usage of zip is limited in terms of total scalability (how 
>> much
>> can be reasonably kept in memory and rewritten during save). a custom 
>> format
>> could handle much larger sums of data, without requiring keeping 
>> everything
>> in ram (and be fully read/write).
>>
>> if anything though, this format may be used more for general app data 
>> (which
>> in my case tends to both get large and requires read/write access, and
>> storing it in an internally-compressed manner makes some sense).
>>
>> the format borrows some ideas from, among other things: zip, id's pak
>> format, and ntfs.
>>
>> or such...
>
> Well, good luck to you - hope you find something interesting to
> work on.
>

maybe...

> Martin


0
cr88192
4/15/2006 9:14:43 PM
Reply: