Luxology modo 601 3D modelling, animation and rendering suite review
Price: $1195 (£738)
Pros: Massive upgrade; new animation system; Topology Pen; Lazy Selection feature
Cons: Steep learning curve; some bugs
Modo was originally conceived as a modelling program, but each new release has added functionality until, with version 601, it now offers a complete 3D solution.
The weakest feature in previous releases was animation. This was addressed in modo 501 with a nodal rigging system with visible nodes and links, which made rigging a more visual process.
The new release expands upon the theme with the addition of a new Pose tool that allows characters to be posed simply, without even the need for complex rigging. All a character needs is an attached skeleton and the system can do the hard work.
Interestingly, there’s a new animation system as well, which comes with the creation of nominated actors on the timeline. Assign a pose and a set of actions to a character, and off they go. What’s more, the system can be applied to any type of model, from cars to dustbins.
Once motion has been applied you can see the path for it, complete with keyframe positions. This makes logo animation considerably easier.
The new Topology Pen tool makes it easy to apply 3D depth to 2D elements such as logos
Tied in to the animation system is a skeleton creation function. Set up the bones for a character, connected by joints, and you can bind your mesh geometry to the skeleton. The software then generates weight maps that control how the character moves and flexes. These weight maps appear in the viewport as different colours overlaid onto the mesh.
Also for animation, there’s the welcome addition of full-body inverse kinematics, so when you yank one end of a figure, the rest of it reacts as well.
The wealth of other improvements includes tweaks to the Pixar Subdivision system, the ability to display items as silhouettes for easier adjustments, real-time updates to the UV map and vertex map painting. There’s also the handy Lazy Selection feature, with which you can select the nearest geometric element without having to be right on top of it.
With modo 601, Luxology has tackles the program’s old animation weaknesses head-on and added a mass of new features that aim to make it more accessible to the film and gaming sectors. This is quite a revolutionary step up from the previous version, and we can highly recommended it to existing users and people who generally stick with Autodesk’s Softimage.