Thursday, March 6, 2008

3D made easy #2: Free tools for the 3D filmmaker

Making your own 3D animated film is getting easier every day. You can get the computer power you need cheaply, and the tools you need are free (and you don't even have to resort to software theft these days either)

I'm going to have to check out MovieStorm at some point. It's a machinima production tool that looks promisingly flexible, at least for banging out animatics or if you just need to get your film done fast.

Of course, for full on 3D production, there's blender, which has a set of features to rival the big ticket 3D animation packages like 3Dmax, Maya, or Lightwave. You can even do all your compositing in blender, and it has some really cool looking features, like texture replacement after rendering, fluid simulation. Check out Elephant's Dream to see what blender can do. And lastly, the Blender community is only rivaled by Amiga users for fanatic devotion.

And for editing, I swear by ddclip. There's an older freeware version, but at $48 for the full version, you aren't exactly breaking the bank the way Autodesk or Adobe would have you. Think of ddclip as notepad for video. It doesn't do transitions or video effects of any sort, but it does do sound editing and effects, it's perfect for syncing sound to video and doing foley and soundtracking. All your clips have to be the same avi codec, but given the limitations, it's brilliantly fast for editing, and there's no waiting to 'render' a preview, as it plays back everything from the harddrive.

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