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GPL'ed 3D Modeler And Renderer 138

hardgeus writes: "A lot of people (including me) have said that what the Open Source world needs is a 3D counterpart to GIMP. Well, it looks like it's finally here: The OpenFX Open-Source 3D modeling, animation and rendering suite . It has a renderer and raytrace engine, NURBS support, kinematics-based animation, morphing, a plugin API - and it's under the GPL. Currently only for Windows, but they're working on a Linux and FreeBSD port." There's this and Blender - what other options are there?
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GPL'ed 3D Modeler and Renderer

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Realsoft3D [] is a newly released, truly professional quality 3D application. I have the Windows version and it is fantastic. The Linux version is being finalized now, and will be released when beta testing is complete. Free download of the Windows demo at their site, btw.
  • There's Renderman Interface Bytestream. RIB is not like SVG, however. It's more like PostScript, in that it's intended to be an interchange format between modellers and renderers, rather than between modellers and other modellers.

  • Is publishing software. If you use DTP, you can't use Linux.

    "How much truth can advertising buy?" - iNsuRge [] - AK47
  • Well, I'd have to admit Softimage is a very close second. And every program has its own strengths and weaknesses that would make them well suited for certain projects.

    Anyway, I think I missed the point of the article, which was a GPL'ed modeler and renderer. And while Softimage and Maya are soon to find a home in the Linux world, I can't imagine them ever being open source.
  • A good GPL'd geometric kernel with support for offsetting, rendering and a bunch of other gooodies. It's supported on Linux, Windows NT, SGI Irix, IBM AIX, and Sun Solaris. Check it out at: <A=href>Open Cascade</A>
  • by flynn_nrg ( 266463 ) <> on Saturday February 10, 2001 @06:47AM (#441963) Homepage Journal
    I actually don't know if they intend to release an opensourced version of the modeller, but since the render engine was developed by Mental Images [] and not by them they won't be allowed to release the code.
    This is also the same render engine the Softimage|XSI [] uses, tho in a more powerful version.
  • Oops, should have used preview!
  • desperately needed GPL'd software would be a Premiere clone ... []


  • Linux 3D Graphics Programming [] has some links to other Linux 3D modelers. Invention 3D [] comes to mind as a promising modeler.
  • It's free as in beer, and it's open as in file-format (something which Max's default file format has never been - it relied on dynamic object creation by Max when you opened the file).

    The default renderer in Max isn't Mental Ray, but it's own hybrid scanline/raytraceing A-buffer renderer. Mental Ray is one of the renderers for SI (pre-XSI as well), it's also avaiable as an add-on for Max, but it's a couple $K's per CPU. It's definatly not designed for real-time.

  • Accually, we had one of the CGI guys from Lord of the Rings come round and talk to us. They said that they have alot of the apps ported to Lunix, I'm not sure if it was just their own software, like the AI simulator. Or if they have ports Maya, and other big 3D giants as well.

    Of cource. I doubt any of it would be open source, or even free. But thats a differnt story.

  • I tell you, if you show this software to the fx companies (the like of ILM, Pixar, Dreamworks, publicly they are going to ask you : "so, whats new?". privately, they are going to laugh at it and list a 1000 required features that is missing in OpenFX.

    What's more, those features are probably going to be things that the average person would never suspect. Like "the renderer must be able to handle more geometry than you have RAM for without thrashing", or "you must be able to specify the coordinate system that shading happens in separately from the coordinate system of the geometry", or even "you must be able to tune the shading sampling rate separately from the image sampling rate".

    I might add that all of the above companies (ILM is an exception with respect to renderers because Pixar used to be part of Lucasfilm, so they have good licensing terms for Pixar's renderer) have written their own animation systems and renderers precisely because nothing on the marked did what they wanted.

    Money is important in animation production.

    That's true, but the cost of hardware and software is (generally) not as important as the cost of people. Look at Pixar's render farm, for example. It would have been cheaper to buy PCs and slap a free Unix on them all than buy the farm of 100 Sun E450s that they have. However, Sun E450s can fit 14 CPUs in each box. That's 1400 CPUs in 100 physical machines. Compare to number of physical machines you'd need if you bought PCs instead. Fewer machines require fewer sysadmins. And since sysadmins are more expensive than machines in the long run, it turns out cheaper. Similarly, the cost of a Maya licence is not nearly as much as the cost of a talented modeller or animator to use it.

  • Looked at the website, and it is apparently an application called SoftFX, which has been on the market for years. It was never much of a commercial success. I looked at it a few times over the years and it's OK, but pales in comparison to apps like Maya, Soft, Max, etc... Seems like the author's given up on selling the thing and has decided to give it away. Maybe some clever people can add enough cool features to make it production worthy. Hook it into BMRT for a start. I think this is a great idea. Maybe authors of other failed commercial ventures can do the same thing - give away the code via GPL. Some of it might find life elsewhere.
  • I work for a college that is running Maya and there is a massive cost to running this on some 35+ systems. I like the fact that this software is coming out, but I don't know if I could just walk in there and pull Maya and put this on ;-) One of the important things is what is being used in the industry. If that's Maya, then that's typically what we would run. However, I do not see any reason why we couldn't use this software for intro classes and cut down our costs by only running Maya on 1/2 the systems. Basically, I'm just happy to see opions opening up!
  • >However, Sun E450s can fit 14 CPUs in each box.

    Correction: If these are indeed E450s then they can only hold 4 CPUs per box. The total would then be 400.

    I think you mean E4500s, these can indeed scale to 14.

  • Check out VariCAD. It does solid modeling and can export in lots of formats. I'm assuming the .dxf is revision 12, tho, and this will not generate code to cut your part. Still, it's available.
  • A 3D model standard? Why, there's lots of them! Lots and lots! Masses! Metric tonnes! Ahhahahahahahahahaha!

    (Sorry. If you work in 3D it's hard not to twitch uncontrollably when reading that question.)


  • at last we have a decent 3d modeller.
    I know about blender et al but this looks like it will be realy good
    It is good to see the snowballing of good quality 3D opensource applications. Helped along by the emergance of fast 3d acceleration (NVIDA 3dfx and ATI) The rendering quality looks good from the screen shots
    Good to see that there server has been slashdoted already!
  • Forget it, it doesn't exist.

    3D programs take many different approaches to representing objects and their interactions, from simple polygonal meshes to surfaces defined in terms of spline patches to volumetric representations to parametrically defined solids, to implicit surfaces (Meta-Blobs), with a plethora of texturing, partitioning and animation systems. You'd also have to include any physical and dynamical parameters - weight, mass etc. since this is very important in Engineering/FEA fields

    X3D, VRML, DXF, IGES, OBJ, 3DS, OpenNURBs etc. only deal with a certain subset of these representations and you'd have a huge job to come up with a file format that could efficiently represent all of them.

    The only way you could really do this would be to define a standard API for access to all this information, and let vendors simply implement the parts that their apps need.. i.e. we don't need a standard 'file format', we need a standard 3D codec system.

    Just like any program n Windows can manipulate DivX or MPEG video on Windows without implementing it's own DivX loader/saver, as long as the necessary codec is available.

    Still, 3D is changing fast, and the breadth of the field makes creating any kind of 'standard' very difficult.

  • If you have to steal something it's obviously not free, besides, that's not what's meant by free. Sometimes Linux-losers write software themself instead of sitting around waiting like the average Windows user... yeah sure, Linux only have half-decent software, what ever... though Linux is lacking in places, I'll admit that much.
    well, I feel this is getting off-topic so I'll stop, bye.
  • This is a bit of a rant, sorry:

    I don't see exactly why people keep programming countless raytracing programs. No offense, but there are innumerable programs already out there, many of which are at the very least freeware, and many that are open source. However, people continue to program non-standardized raytracers that have varying levels of functionality. Few of these are specifically designed to fill a nich, either- it would make sense if this were specifically for macintosh, which seems to be getting the short end of the 3D graphics stick.

    The second most frustrating thing about the glut of rendering apps is that they're almost all RAYTRACERS. Raytracing is one of the slowest rendering processes(though, faster than reverse raytracing, and some forms of radiosity), and there are numerous other rendering methods that are oodles faster. Please- if you're going to make yet another rendering app, at least make it REYES, or scanline, or some algorithm that will set it apart from the rest of the college programming final project crowd.

    Also, if you're going to make a new renderer, make it adheare to some standard- I personally find the Renderman standard(check out to be very helpful, and to promote the production of fully featured renderers with a standard file format(ie RIB).

    Sorry if this seems to be a personal attack- it isn't. Its just that there are millions of renderers out there, and unless you can somehow offer compatability with other, highly popular modelers(BMRT and POV-Ray.), you'll have a hell of a hard time aquiring a large user base.

    If you want to truly help the opensource renderer movement, I suggest you cruise over to and see if they need your expertise.

    Again, excuse me for the rant,
    Alex Magidow
  • by The Silicon Sorceror ( 40289 ) <> on Saturday February 10, 2001 @05:52AM (#441981)
    Don't forget the POVLAB development effort, which is beginning to pick up the pace. POVLAB [] has been around for years as a modeller for POV-Ray [], and is just now being rewritten in C++ and made cross-platform with wxWindows [].

    See the POVLAB development site [] for details and to find out if you would like to help.
  • also, blender is NOT a raytracer... it uses opengl to do the final rendering, not just the realtime display stuff...

    also, having a good 3d card doesnt mean much once you hit the render button on a raytracer... thats why blender renders so fast, cause the 3d card still matters...

    doesnt look as good though

  • by jfunk ( 33224 )
    An open source project where open source operating systems are the second-class citizens.

    Traditionally, open source stuff was taken care of on the Unices, especially Linux and BSD, first. Windows was the second-class citizen simply due to it's lack of portability.

    As time went, open source software appeared that made software developed under the Unices easy to port to Windows. SDL and GTK for Win32 come immediately to mind. The Gimp doesn't seem to lag very much, and the OS SDL games out there don't seem to lag at all.

    Now we have open source developed under Windows that people want under the Unices. I bet that's going to be fun to deal with. That's going to end up having to be completely rewritten under SDL/GTK/Qt or something before being useful.

    There are a bunch of people here saying, "Yay, 3d software for Linux."

    Not for a while...
  • Is there a standard out there like SVG(a nice XML based format that I'm counting on getting popular) for 3D models? I'd love to make a bunch of 3D models and such for fun and be able to use it in one edior or the other.
  • Well, lets face it, blender's a bitch to learn. the UI plain out sucks. The only real decent UI i've seen for a linux modeler/renderer is Moonlight3d, which has all but died (not opensource, but based on opensource code. and there'r sounds of life commin from globfx, rumored to be the creators of moonlight3d)
  • anyone got a mirror of this? looks like they've been slashdotted...
  • by Booker ( 6173 ) on Saturday February 10, 2001 @07:36AM (#441987) Homepage
    Ok, not GPL'd (I don't think...) but does anyone know what happened to Moonlight 3D?


  • uh... the free 3d studio max program, that descreet is releasing isn't free... it will cost the company that wants to use it.. and it will be for winblowz only... as far as i know, this (the featured program of this article) is the first Open Source 3d modelling program ive seen.... Power to the GPL!
  • Must be a pretty swanky school. If I recall correctly, Maya Complete starts at around $3,000 (I believe that's per seat), and Maya Unlimited is around $16,000...


  • Last release was 0.9.2 Beta, which you can get here []. I don't think the company is in business anymore.


  • what other options are there...

    for serious 3d?

    Maya (when it's released).

    Not everything has to be free to be good.
  • As far as I know, it is not possible to use a conventional 3d accelerator to render to a file. The output goes straight to the monitor, the rest of the computer isn't aware of what the 3d card is doing.

    Even if there was a hack to use a 3d accelerator for rendering, the quality is sacrificed for speed.

    BTW, I'm talking about 3d cards for games. There are probably more expensive 3d accelerator cards targeted towards professionals.
  • Not to pick on you specifically, but it seems a lot of people (me included) are sitting back, doing nothing to help the open source effort then griping when things take a while. Open Source is by the people for the people and we _are_ the people.
  • > the UI plain out sucks.

    >If you were to actually support this statment, I
    >might give it some thought. After getting used
    >to the interface of Blender, I've found that
    >it's rather usable. Although I haven't used
    >other 3D modeling interfaces (and perhaps for
    >that reason), I generally don't find myself
    >wishing that anything about Blender's interface
    >was different. However, if the interface "plain
    >out sucks" as you claim, this shouldn't be
    >happening, and I should be finding annoyances on
    >a regular basis. That's simply not happening.

    Personally, I find the whole gesture system for moving, scaling, and rotating objects to be rather annoying, and those three equivalent keyboard shortcuts always escape my memory. Also, I hated the rotating (or spinning, or whatever) buttons, although 2.04 seems to have reworked how they are handled. Finally, I wish for a plainer interface. I've used 3Ds max, Lightwave, and Softimage 3d. Of those three programs, my favorite two are Lightwave and SI, both of which use a rather plane, non-windows like interface. I'm working at designing my own animation package, and the interfaces that I'm drawing on paper tend to look like a cross between Softimage and Inferno (a 2d effects system). Code for this animation system hasn't yet begun, but code for my 2d effects system has. Don't know when I'll have something to show though.
  • i know that Maya has a hardware render option, where it renders the image in hardware. Well... actually it displays the frame through OpenGL and then saves it as an image to disk.
    I imagine others have this too... it just isn't used for professional quality.
  • > Currently only for Windows, but they're working on a Linux and FreeBSD port

    So it should be available for our goofy OS eventually.

  • Give me 101 plastic soldiers, and I will conquer the world.

    Oh, sure, I could just give you 101 plastic soldiers, and you could conquer the world today. But if I taught you how to make plastic soldiers, you could conquer the world forever!

  • whatever...when the shoe's on the other foot (or OS in this case), you start whining. How lame is that?

    This is open source! Grab the source, and take a look at it. If the developers have done a good job, the rendering code is separated from the GUI code, so it's really just a question of cobbling together a GUI, and probably taking care of a few low level functions like memory allocation. Most of the math routines should move directly over, since they're not API specific.

    You can't complain about an Open Source app not running on your favorite OS, particulary that statement that "it'll have to be rewritten in before it's useful"....If everyone in the Linux camp talked like that, the kernel would still be i386 specific!
  • whatever...when the shoe's on the other foot (or OS in this case), you start whining. How lame is that?

    I'm not whining, I'm just pointing something out. I don't even have a need for this software.

    I simply found it funny that the "shoe was on the other foot," as you say. I had an old job where I had to use NT. I grabbed stuff like Cygwin and GNUplot to do my work (sensor stuff) and found that a ton of apps didn't work, like AfterStep. :-)* Sometimes, I VNC'ed to my box at home to do stuff.

    The reason for all that is that open source software is generally developed with other open source software: OSes, libraries, etc. Windows didn't really have a lot of support for that stuff.

    You also say that I'm complaining that "it'll have to be rewritten in before it's useful." Well, it's true, and I'm not complaining. I have no use for it, remember? It's just that a number of people are used to the notion of open source almost always running under Linux. Notice the load of posts talking about, "yay, stuff for Linux!"

    The truth is, for that to happen, there will be a porting effort, which will probably be non-trivial. That's a simple fact, that I'm stating to those who haven't realised, many other posters to this story.

    Complaining has nothing to do with it.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Radiance which is a Radiosity Renderer capable of every bit as much as lightscape (and the new enhancements in lightwave) but is a touch more advanced.. You can check it out here: []
    It's got my vote for best free renderer in linux
    (And it can be set up to do cluster rendering too)
  • Ok ok, As a POV-Ray freak, I just gotta reply to this. POVLAB went open source a while ago (I think, I don't use modellers for povray, I Hand code). So I guess you can consider that a good thing. However one thing bothers me. It says on the site

    The aim is to make a complete free 3D package with POV-Ray which could compete with commercial softwares (like 3D Studio).

    Now POV-Ray is no where near as advanced as 3D Studio is for rendering. POV-Ray totally requires floating point for rendering, while 3d studio uses a 3d card for rendering (I think that's right, I don't really use 3d studio :/)

    The only thing I feel POV-Ray has an advantage over 3D Studio is that it is opensource, freeware, and multiplatform. HELL you can run pov-ray on an Amiga system. Who the hell uses Amiga anyways? But hey, it'll work! It'll work also on *NIX, SunOS, DOS, etc. Point is, you see 3D studio isn't open source and what, only works in Windows 9x/NT? With things being open source and all, people with enough time can port these things over to other platforms. It would be nice to see this OpenFX thingie be ported over and what not.

    as a little bottom note thingie, I would like to point out a few things. First of all, I really don't know the difference between all this opensource/gpl/whatever stuff. All I know about it is that the source code is right there to play with. Another thing is just because my name is PovRayMan (and have a 5 digit /. UID) doesn't mean I'm the smartest POV-Ray guy in the world. I started using POV-Ray four years ago, and became obsessed, so I called myself PovRayMan. But nowadays, I just don't find time to play with it. The last major project I did with povray was build a beowulf cluster that used PVM-POV [].

    This completely unorganized ramble has been brought to you by me!

  • There's also SART, the renderer I'm working on. Its current focus is rendering, but there'll be a modeller in a, well, not too near future. Unfortunately I don't have the time to work on it as much as I'd like.

    Current features are full programability (using guile), support for NURBS, blobs, parametric and implicit surfaces, volume rendering (including nonuniform textured volumes), radiosity, postprocessing. Check for more info.

    Why do all these libre 3D packages try to do everything. If someone would take the time to do a renderer that was as good as BMRT (or better yet, PRMan) as GPL'ed software, I'd be so happy. I do not need another program that is a poor modeler, worse animator, and average renderer. I need a program that accells at one of those areas and can easily work with other programs in the other areas. BMRT is an excelent renderer. It doesn't even try to do animation, but that's OK because I can export animation from Max or Blender to BMRT.

    BTW, the key to making a renderer that is better than BMRT is to make it a scanline renderer that looks just as good. That is the approach that PRMan takes.
  • if you want something that has a sharp UI and runs on Linux, wait a few months for Maya to come out.
    Between hot-boxes and hot keys, the menu is never needed and most commands are a small mouse move away.
    Sure it will cost a bundle, but CG is one of the places where quality does not come cheap.
  • Although I generally agree with you, I have to say that I laughed out loud at 'The programs are utterly immense, yet need an interface free of ad-hoc additions' when talking about Max. That's Max the poly-modeller, Max the broken-bezier-patch-modeller and Max the NURBS modeller.

    For the record, I didn't mean to suggest that Max is entirely successful along those lines, allthough I was thinking of Max from a different point of view - 3DS R4 was getting to the point where the only way to introduce the new features made possible by the new technology was going to be seriously ad-hoc. 3DS Max re-did the interface from the ground up to incorporate those things consistantly. Regardless of how successful it was, it was far more successful than trying to patch the features into 3DS R4 would have been. That was years ago, and while I haven't used a recent version of Max, it wouldn't surprise me if 3DS Max is now where 3ds R4 was (ie the interface is starting to break down under the weight of features that could not have been anticipated, and so could greatly benefit from an interface overhaul). I don't know if that's the case or not, but it sounds like at least you would describe it along those lines :-)

    I've been out of the high-end 3d loop for a while :-)

    For me anyway, this is a pretty big problem - these packages can take years to truly master (partly due to their complexity) so you don't want to throw half of that investment away by throwing out the UI every year, but the UI breaks down pretty quickly due to the speed of innovation, so it's a choice between two evils. If only another way could be found. Direct neural connection or something :-)
  • It is indeed SoftF/X, re-released as OpenFX (as you might guess from the name). Stuart Ferguson (the author of the package) had actually decided to open source it for some time, and we really should have done this release about a year ago. Sorry for the delay, since it was largly my fault due to a lack of time ;-) Hopefully, work will pick up on the WINE port now (dont forget to join our dev lists for more info on that)
  • Nurbana is a blender look-alike for NURBS surfaces. Its website is up over at []. Looks to be a pretty interesting project.
  • OpenGL is a triangle renderer. POV-Ray is a ray tracer. Two *entirely* different methods for generating graphics. Rays do look much better, but take exponentially longer.

    I don't know if they have this or not (I don't use POV-Ray), but along these lines a good idea would be to have a OpenGL engine that could parse POV-Ray files for a quick preview. Although I suppose the modeller would do this for you. Unless of course you're using vi as your modeller, but then you're too hardcore to need previews... =)

  • Well, that and for generating preview animations much quicker than a standard render

    Lightwave has this feature to. This is what I was refering to in my previous post.
  • lovely posts all around!

    guys, u got to identify yourself and tell me which studios u r working for?!

  • seriosly .. what kinda support does this have for clusters.. any good 3d renderer needs to have this.. especially if it's been developed for linux.. as clusters is linux's home court..

    when the world comes to an end.
  • by Erich ( 151 )
    A lot of people are saying the port will be rough...

    What about using winelib? Isn't this exactly what winelib is supposed to help with? Easy porting of code from windows to *nix machines? Especially with open code...

    Power to the Free Software folk! Using Winelib I bet they could get a port in a few weeks...

  • Maybe for linux, but I like the windows version of POV-Ray. It's nice and easy to type code then render because of the easy to use GUI. It can be a pain sometimes to have to get out of the text editor then type up a line of code to render it.

    Sometimes it's just easier to code it up and click a button to render.

  • by -Harlequin- ( 169395 ) on Saturday February 10, 2001 @08:13AM (#442013)
    Ok, I admit from the start that it's unfair to compare this to the likes of 3ds (though it's hard for me not too, as I haven't done much work with lower-end stuff), but at first glance, this doesn't look like it will be useful for much for a long time (other than really basic stuff, like simple web animations etc). And I suspect it might even look worse at second glance.

    Gimp, while not photoshop, is still at a level where it offers a viable alternative (for a fair amount of uses) to one of the leading packages. Even mid-range 3d apps dwarf photoshop in complexity (and usually price), so it's no surprise that this (great) start in that direction has a long way to go, but I don't think this thing can be called the Gimp of 3d - it just doesn't offer a serious alternative, and doesn't look like it will for a very long time (if ever).

    But for a very long time now, I've been of the view that open source simply cannot produce a 3ds MAX or SoftImage, or whatever (or at least not with the current methods of production). The programs are utterly immense, yet need an interface free of ad-hoc additions and localised revisions to be a fast production tool, not to mention there being so few people in the world (virtually none :-) with the expertise to make a non-raytracing renderer that produces raytracer-quality (or better) results at a fraction of the render time.
    Compounding that is that the 3d apps evolve much faster than the like of photoshop (which already seems to evolve faster than Gimp, (but I haven't compared the latest versions, I might be wrong)), so the successful open-source model of gradual accumulated improvements - great for a word processor - just won't work.
    Such a project would have to be so full on that it would have to be full time for a lot of people for a very long time. I can envisage some business models which could allow this, but I'm not going to hold my breath. (Besides, holding no hope can allow for nice surprises :-)

    Hmmm. I realise this entire post sounds like a petulant bashing of what is a praiseworthy and excellent piece of work, but I have this sinking feeling that the next thing we know, people will be touting this as almost up there with production-level apps - as viable an alternative as Gimp to photoshop, and I just don't want to see that happen. I can so imagine some rabid zealot defending open-source along these lines and thus teaching people who are unfamiliar with open source that o/source is a "viable alternative" in the same sense that amputation is a viable alternative to antibiotics.
  • nope, doesn't use OpenGl for rendering
  • Don't moderate this post; it's just a reply.

    The aim is to make a complete free 3D package with POV-Ray which could compete with commercial softwares (like 3D Studio)

    That's Philippe's concept of the goal (he runs the labdev site). Personally, my desire is to have a good, free cross-platform modeller for POV-Ray, period. If it can somehow compete with a commercial package, all the better! It'll mean added variety in the market and should push everybody to do better.

    Now, with the open-sourcing thing, let me point out that Denis Olivier released the source to the old DOS Povlab (POVLAB, whatever). That was version 4.0something. The new cross-platform Povlab is a rewrite in C++ from mostly scratch, and is called version 5.

    > First of all, I really don't know the difference between all this opensource/gpl/whatever stuff.

    Who really knows or cares? I personally prefer the bugroff [] license. To prove it, I'm going to shut up now and go code something.
  • My other suggestions for desperately needed GPL'd software would be a Premiere clone and a full featured multitrack sound editor a la Cool Edit Pro.
    Not a Premiere clone but a clone of Avid's Media Composer. I've worked as an editor in post-production houses for over 10 years and I can tell you that Premiere doesn't hold a candle to Media Composer. Of course Avids are expensive and therefore most people may not have access to them to see what the interface is like. I'd be glad to help out any people willing to create a free editing system with interface issues.
  • This has far more potential than drawing simple 3D pictures on your home PC.

    This could realistically be tied into Finite Element Analysis software similar to SDRC's I-DEAS [] , Pro-Engineer [] Or even Hyper-Mesh [].

    Windows has been able to capture a lot of the Mechanical Engineering software market mostly due to the fact that P.C. Hardware has been getting much cheaper while catching up to hardware built by Sun, SGI, HP, and even Cray. This could be a great opportunity for the Linux movement!

    I'm not saying this to be funny, but seriously,
    Imagine a cluster of these!
    Companies like Ford, GM, and Daimler Chrysler literally have thousands of computers sitting idle most of the day. Meanwhile, they also spend Millions of dollars on hardware to run crash test simulations.

    Get rid of your secretary's 4 year old PC, buy her a dual Processor Box with 2 gigs of RAM, (she'll be very happy), and then use it for Analysis Jobs when her screen saver kicks on. Two birds with one stone. Do this with even a few hundred secretaries, and you could literally save a company millions of dollars on Hardware.
  • The license is with the source. They don't mention it on the page. It's GPL'ed.
  • I hope you aren't accusing MAX for their file format, it fits perfectly with the architecture of the program and things can always be frozen and taken somewhere else.
  • It is GPL...the license is with the source.
  • by FattMattP ( 86246 ) on Saturday February 10, 2001 @08:36AM (#442021) Homepage
    2 things:

    Blender isn't open source.

    The submitter, whose comments are in italics, stated that this is the first open source 3D program that he knows of. Michael (of slashdot who posted the storry) then stated after this "There's this and Blender - what other options are there?"

    That's why it was a revelation to the poster. I suggest you work on your reading comprehension before rushing to post.
  • Anyone can tell me how good this program is? I can't download or even view the site.

    Anyway, is there a Bryce like program that is free? Windows, Linux, BSD, I don't care about the OS.
    But Bryce is definately the *best* 3D program that I've used.
    And it's UI is about as good as it can be.
  • by Xowl ( 21673 )
    I often find it interesting that so many people assume "open source" means *nix. DOS and Windows have had open source applications (some new, some ported from Unix) since before Linux was around, but didn't call them that. Most were games or toys, and we often called them PD back in the 80's, becuase the idea of hiring lawyers and fighting over the license was less entertaining that writing and releasing code.

    The first opened source (not Open Source(TM), a division of People Known By Their Three Initials Ltd.) applications I used were, IMHO, the most successful, well maintained, well released, and interesting open source projects I still know (with absolutley no insult meant to the Open Source(TM) community, which is standing on the shoulders of some great giants).

    Best example is Fractint. 100% DOS (and Windows) open source. If you haven't looked at it, check out the Stone Soup Group. They know more about what open source is about than even sourceforge. Their motto ("don't want money. got money. want recognition.") is wonderful.

    Even most early opened source apps were not afraid of supporting DOS/Windows (as too many Open Source(TM) projects today are, perhaps being afraid that having end users, as opposed to sysadmins, would require usability, documentation, stability, rational versioning, and other things that only the "big boys" --e xcluding Mozilla -- of the OS movement bother with)

    The nethack/roguelike family of games. Opened source, built for Unix and ported to DOS/Windows very early. (All is needed was a curses/ANSI package.)

    PGP worked on DOS from the getgo.

    DKBTrace (became POVRay). I don't know if this ran on Unix, but I'm pretty sure it did.

    Open Source doesn't/shouldn't mean "linux software" or "freeBSD software". It means open source. It doesn't even mean "portable software", actually.

    The idea that any open source application shouldn't be rleased if it doesn't run on Linux (not what the original poster said, BTW!!!! I'm not flaming him/her, I'm commenting on a general trend) is ridiculous.

    And the idea that this is new is just part of the myopia the OS community seems to have. OS seems to build a tall "NIH" wall around it.

    -- Xowl.

  • First off, 3D studio does not use a 3d accelerator for rendering, in fact no 3D program does that I know of. 3D accelerator are just for real time and that's where they are used. Well, that and for generating preview animations much quicker than a standard render. Also, 3D studio's (pre-packaged) renderer is really fast, but is actually one of its weak points I think. Lightwave has a really good renderer, as does softimage with mental ray. I am not sure about Maya and I have never really had experience with renderman.
  • I don't want to sound snobbish, but believe me when I say that Bryce is actually child's play compared to middle and high end 3D programs. It's not that Bryce isn't cool, but if/when you ever get to play with one of Lightwave/3DSMAX/Softimage/Maya you will know what I mean. Bryce is good, but those are really advanced and flexible. I guess my point is that a Bryce type program would be cool for Linux, but an advanced 3D program would advance linux. Again, don't think that I am trying to be patronizing, Alias/Wavefront offers a full time limited demo of Maya if you have access to NT or 2000.
  • Innovation 3D []. Looks [] just like 3D Studio MAX [], only open sourced and for Linux. Let's hope it will get just as many features and plugins as 3D Studio - if that happens, then this thing is going to rock!
  • In his defense, while the 3d acceleration may not help the rendering engine, it sure as hell can help out the modeling portion. Nothing sucks worse that turning your model, or pulling a vertex out of place and waiting for the scene to redraw, over and over.
  • Exactly - that's why you would use the povray renderer for the final step. Since it's slow, you'd rather have a lower quality but faster renderer while you work on the picture, so you can see how it's going to look before you do the final time consuming rendering.
  • yes, that was what I ment - a alternative renderer in the povray package that could use openGL to render a quick preview, so you could get a good idea of how the image was shaping up. Having this ability in the modeleller would of course be great, but I know of no such modeller.
  • There's an open source renderer -Povray - that does better quality output than anything else.

    It needs a GPL modeller, and I've put a bit of work into Giram []. It's not bad, but it needs more work by better GTK+ programmers than I. Runs on Linux & BSD. Help. Please.

    Vik :v)

  • Both Maya and Mental Ray support the use of 3D accelerated hardware. Hardware rendering is occasionally used in commercial production to render certain elements. An SGI Onyx2 can render particle effects (like smoke trails) in hardware very quickly with alpha/z-buffer data intact, for compositing with software-rendered elements.


  • Well Maya isn't an option if you want something open source. I know you can create you own scripts and distribute those, but that doesn't count in this situation.

    If you're talking about 3D packages for Linux, then the first on the scene as far as big names goes is Houdini. Never heard of it? Well then I suggest you start doing research, because it's absolutely fantastic for compositing and volumetric effects.

  • However, Sun E450s can fit 14 CPUs in each box.

    Nitpicking, but I think you mean E4500. E450's are quad-CPU. :0)

  • Universities will love things like this. There is a need for three dimensional rendering tools in engineering and art classes, and schools do like to trim dollars.

    On the other hand, universities won't be paying list price for software of this type. Engineering departments typically get huge discounts for real high-end software, so that they produce graduates who know how to use it, who go onto to work for companies that buy it. Compare the student to professional costs of a package like MATLAB []. And universities will get all the support they could want, plus access to the full, very specialized software package which, like another poster said, will contain features that wouldn't even make sense to people outside the niche market. Compare MATLAB to Octave []. The core engines might be comparable, but Octave doesn't offer the specialist tools [].

    Another blessing is that it will force the cost of the professional version of these programs down.

    Unlikely, for the reasons above.

    . Especially as people start copying the features in the top end programs and add them to the GPL'd stuff.

    Again, this doesn't help. Why wait for an imitation when the commercial product will deliver return on investment so quickly? (And on a separate note, why doesn't the Open Source camp innovate?).

  • PVMPOV has supported parallel rendering of a single frame on a cluster (or a massively parallel supercomputer, or a network of workstations) for years.
  • If you just want to edit/convert certian game formats it's okie. Even the widgets are GL rendered.
  • There is a standard, but it works mainly in triangles (as other shape systems won't be supported in other packages). Its called DXF (warning: DXF files can get very big!)
  • For a cross-platform, GPL'd multitrack sound editor, check out Audacity:
  • Alias/Wavefront is releasing Maya for Red Hat Linux sometime very soon. Check out this link [] And Maya is quite possibly the best 3D program out there, so no complaints here.
  • PrettyPoly is another option. It's still in alpha though. See [].
  • The povray renderer is way too slow. How about adding support in povray for openGL? That would make it a lot more useful - just use the povray renderer for the final image.
  • Open Cascade [] has put out really nice screenshots, but their business model is centered around support. Which is fine by me, but its really a pain to use --its a nuissance! I mean, I think that it still needs a little work on the UI.
  • The website claims that it already works fairly well with Wine without even a recompile...
  • by Anonymous Coward
    povray [] has a linux version [] that allows multi-machine rendering...
  • There's been an excellent open-source raytracing/radiosity renderer, POVRay [] available for years now. They're currently working on a major rewrite, which should bring it up to par with the best engines in the commercial world, with features like caustics, interacting media, etc.

    It's not GPL, but they're thinking about adopting that licence.

  • by Error27 ( 100234 ) <error27@gmai l . c om> on Saturday February 10, 2001 @11:58AM (#442046) Homepage Journal
    I'm suprised that no one has mentioned K-3d []. I haven't tried it myself... But I've always been fond of screen shots and they have some cool ones. Also k3-d is gpl and runs on linux and windows.

    BTW their website looks like crap. It used to look good. Brilliant even compared to how it looks now. Perhaps setting a background color would help?

  • Although I generally agree with you, I have to say that I laughed out loud at 'The programs are utterly immense, yet need an interface free of ad-hoc additions' when talking about Max. That's Max the poly-modeller, Max the broken-bezier-patch-modeller and Max the NURBS modeller.

    As far as clean implementations go, I haven't heard of any better than Maya's.

    However, there is room, and the possibility of, an opensource 3d MODELLER at some point. This is where packages get it wrong - the idea that a 3d package needs to be an texturer, animator and a renderer all at the same time. I'd do it myself, but I'm too busy writing Maya plugins to try and fix their broken UI.
  • by Shillo ( 64681 ) on Saturday February 10, 2001 @12:52PM (#442053)
    There's also SART, the renderer I'm working on. Its current focus is rendering, but there'll be a modeller in a, well, not too near future. Unfortunately I don't have the time to work on it as much as I'd like.

    Current features are full programability (using guile), support for NURBS, blobs, parametric and implicit surfaces, volume rendering (including nonuniform textured volumes), radiosity, postprocessing. Check for more info.

  • by Quarters ( 18322 ) on Saturday February 10, 2001 @05:54AM (#442055)
    ...and now we have this

    ...I know about Blender...

    So, if you know about Blender, then you realize that there has been an OpenSource 3D modeling/rendering package available. So why is this new one such a revelation to you?

    And you forgot one. Kinetix/Discreet/Autodesk/(whoever they are this week) will be releasing an OpenSource version of the Max modeller. I don't think it will have rendering capabilities, though. They're putting it out there so people can create content for their favorite game mods.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 10, 2001 @06:01AM (#442059)
    Blender is not opensource!
  • There's only three features I know of not in GIMP.

    1) CMYK color. This is the biggest thing. There is a proprietary plugin that implements this, though

    2) Recordable "Actions". This are _much_ simpler than scripts.

    3) The Editable Text utility is more advanced

    Then, of course, GIMP has a feature that Photoshop doesn't have - scriptability in multiple languages, currently Scheme and Perl. And, it has a batch mode so you can use these to do web-enabled scripts. Check out to see this in action.

    Also, remember that free software itself is a feature, because you can pay someone to make any sort of modification you need for your purposes.
  • Universities will love things like this. There is a need for three dimensional rendering tools in engineering and art classes, and schools do like to trim dollars. These classes often don't require the fancy bells and whistles that are required in the top end rendering programs. Likewise people who don't use these tools profesionally (and have a decent budget) will gravitate to these things.

    Another blessing is that it will force the cost of the professional version of these programs down. As I have observed before, the bright side about open source programs is that they raise the bottom line. All of a sudden te functionality of OpenFX becomes the baseline standard and people have to look at the other features and ask themselves if they really need that other stuff. Especially as people start copying the features in the top end programs and add them to the GPL'd stuff.

    I don't know how many different OSS 3D renderers there will be after a time. I suspect that there's really only going to be mindshare (given the resources required to create a program like this) in one program. There may be major rearchitectures over time, but I think there will be consolidation on that point between this and any other GPL'd renderers out there.

    What will be interesting is any evolution towards cross fertilization with software like Crystal Space, the GPL'd 3D engine. Sooner or later people will think it might not be a bad idea to make sure stuff created in the modeller and renderer works directly well with an engine to use such things in games. Open source makes such things possible.
  • by poojyum ( 302222 ) on Saturday February 10, 2001 @03:01PM (#442085)

    This is a stunning post my friend.

    I am a visual effects programmer developing software for the film industry for 4 years.

    I tell you, if you show this software to the fx companies (the like of ILM, Pixar, Dreamworks, publicly they are going to ask you : "so, whats new?". privately, they are going to laugh at it and list a 1000 required features that is missing in OpenFX.

    Even if the features are missing, its okay. Animation production is a slow process. If OpenFX can accelerate it at least 10 times, people will give it a spin. To me, OpenFX is just re-inventing the wheel (nurbs, raytracing, kinematics) and thats not good enough.

    Money is important in animation production. If something is free and does at least as good as Maya/Max/Softimage then studios will jump to use it. But if the software is not going to give the quality of FX that we see in the theatres today, money is no object to the studios. They will return to Max/Maya or Softimage.


  • How is DXF a 2D standard?

    IGES is most certainly not the most common 3D standard, since most 3D tools don't even try to deal with parametrix 3D solids.In fact, only 3D solid-modelling packages do that, and this approach is almost never used in games, film, fx (all of which primarily use tesellated freeform surfaces like polygons, splines and subdivision surfaces), scientific visualisation (voxels and vector fields) or anywhere except the CAD industry.

    Can you use IGES to import/export NURBs, subdivision surfaces, 3,4 and 5 point spline-patches, arbitary polygons, voxels, CSG trees, parametric solids, implicit surfaces, UV coordinates, shader parameters, animation paths, weight maps, texture maps etc. etc. etc.?

    If not, then its no more a 'standard 3D format' than anything else available. There is currently no 'standard' because supporting every approach to the representation of 3D would be a nightmare, to say the least.

    DXF is a simple format that facilitates the transfer of tesselated 3D surfaces and lines. No more, no less. It can certainly represent 3D geometry, and can be used, just as IGES can, to represent 2D geometry.

  • by TheFlu ( 213162 ) on Saturday February 10, 2001 @06:18AM (#442090) Homepage
    Multimedia creation software is definitely one area where Linux is still lacking. I haven't used it yet, but OFX looks like it's off to a nice start. My other suggestions for desperately needed GPL'd software would be a Premiere clone and a full featured multitrack sound editor a la Cool Edit Pro.

    If you're interested in some other 3D software for Linux (some GPL, some not), there's 3dom [], 3dpm [], Behemot [], G3D [], Giram [], 3delight [], AC3D [], and of course Blender [] as mentioned above.

    Come on Karma, don't fail me now! The Linux Pimp []

  • These guys suddenly disappeared? Google says that the website,, had a "please come back later" message on it. But now, it appears, the site itself is gone. I remember looking at this package for a while, but suddenly the web site shut down, with some nebulous reason cited. Weird.

    I haven't had much luck with the free/open alternatives out there. I used to use Ray Dream on Windows to goof around with 3D, but it had a lot of bugs and many limitations. But still I'm not thrilled about having to shell out $500 or more for an OK package, or several thousand for a professional one.

    It seems though, that all the bells and whistles that go into making a professional 3D package like Lightwave would be a daunting task for an open/free project. Probably similar in scope to duplicating PhotoShop. Anyone care to comment on what percentage of PhotoShop functionality that the Gimp has implemented?

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