3D Animation on a budget.
By Ed Harriss
Let's face it, 3d Animation is expensive. As a result, animators are
constantly looking for ways to save a buck or two without sacrificing
quality. Some of the key ingredients to do 3d, and be successful at
1. A fast computer.
2. A good monitor (s).
3. A fast/stable video card.
Monitors are usually the
easiest part to pick out. There are only a few good monitor manufacturers
out there and you can "test drive" most of them at your local
electronics superstore. Computers are not quite as easy to pick out,
but if you stick with the major vendors you'll probably be pretty safe.
Most mid-range to high-end computers built by a reputable company will
do. Even a "home built" computer constructed from quality
parts will probably do the job. By far the most difficult part of your
workstation purchase is the video card. There are a lot to choose from
and, depending on which one you buy, they can be the single most expensive
component in your computer.
once king of the 3d computer animation industry...
...now, they make
great filing cabinets! :)
There was a time when the decision was easy. Buy an SGI.
They were expensive and you had limited choices when it came to graphics
options, but they worked. Now they just make great filing cabinets.
When the PC revolution took over the computer graphics industry, the
decision was still easy. Buy a Wildcat.
(Initially referred to as "Realism" cards.) Anything else
was just a waste of time. The main reasons to buy the Wildcats
were stability and speed. Time passed and Elsa came out with what was
known as a Quadro card. This card sat right in the middle of the Wildcats
and the GeForce
cards. They weren't quite as fast or as stable as the Wildcat cards,
but they only cost a fraction of the price and they offered a dual head
display called Twin View. (I.E. They supported OpenGL on 2 monitors.
A big plus for 3D animators.) Elsa some financial trouble and no new
dual head Quadro cards came out till the GeForce4.
By now the gap between the Professional cards like the Wildcat, the
Pro-sumer cards like the Quadro and the Gamer cards like the GeForce4
had grown smaller. While the Quadro cards and the Wildcat cards are
faster at pushing polygons than a GeForce4,
they cost a lot more. What this means is; scenes with millions of polygons
will slow the Geforce4 cards down a bit. While the Quadro will handle
them pretty well and the Wildcat won't slow down much at all.
users a video card has the less testing the videocard drivers will undergo.
The less testing they undergo, the more artifacts they will produce.
(Along with more crashes.)
though they perform better in some areas, the Wildcat
user base has not grown as rapidly as the GeForce
user base. Why should this matter to you? Because more users means more
bugs are found, reported, and eliminated. This means that your card
will run with fewer glitches and problems. As a result your 3d application
will crash less. In my experience most 3d application crashes are due
to faulty video cards or poorly written video card drivers. As if that
wasn't enough, working with a card that periodically displays artifacts
can be just as frustrating as random crashes. How would you like it
if your model looked like the one above, at random, every 10 or 15 min?
Good drivers are a lot more important than most people think.
But there are other things to consider. 3d Animators need to be able
to use paint programs and play back videos relatively well. Most "Highend"
video cards (like the Wildcat)
have very poor 2d support. The people that make these cards don't seem
to understand that the typical 3d animator needs to be able to play
videos, run a paint program and take advantage of modern OpenGL implementation.
Raw power and pushing polygons does not make the perfect video card.
It only looks good on a benchmark chart. Another thing that cripples
most high-end video cards is poor video game support. Playing games
during work is probably not going to please your boss. But a lot of
companies out there like to play games after work or during lunch. With
a GeForce4 you
will not have any videogame compatibility problems at all. On the other
hand, lots of 3d Animators work for video game companies. Not being
able to test your work on your own machine because your video card does
not support DirectX is a real workflow killer.
What about ATI then?
They basically have 2 lines. The Radeon and the FireGL series. The FireGL
cards tend to have better support for 2d applications and 3d applications
but the price range puts it at or above most Quadro cards. Since you're
on a budget, these cards are out of the question. The Radeon series
cards are reasonably priced, but the drivers do not play well with 3d
applications. As a result, you have more crashes and artifacts with
a Radeon card than you would with any other modern card listed in this
review. They do, however, work very well with games and 2d applications.
here for Page 3
Page 1: Intro
Page 2: The GeForce4
and why it is the ideal choice for 3d animators on a budget.
Page 3: Out of all the
cards on the market, why Gainward?
Page 4: Softquadro4
and what it can do for you. And this card can output demo reels!
Page 5: Conclusion