reviewed the new Mac
Pro and were suitably impressed by the
power, elegance and sheer
'cool' factor of the new machine. If you were looking for
a piece of software that embodied those same traits then
you'd have to look no further than modo
202, the modeling,
painting and rendering application from Luxology. Apple clearly
agrees too, and recently awarded modo an Apple
Design Award at the World Wide Developers Conference.
Interface is a big part of the
and the interface is where we'll start. Luxology was
founded by ex-NewTek-LightWave directors, Allen Hastings,
Stuart Ferguson and Brad
Peebler – and it's obvious
that the two programs share some of the same DNA. Modo has,
for example, that same purposeful, gray sculpted look of
LightWave and, indeed, a lot of the key shortcuts will be
immediately familiar to users of NewTek's application
-- F9 to render a frame, for example. There are even configuration
files that can set up the interface to more closely mimic
and 3D Studio MAX, Softimage, Cinema4D,
Silo and Maya.
modo 202 has
quite possibly the most malleable 'front end' of any application,
anywhere. You very much get
the impression that modo's designers designed the interface
as the container into which to pour all their modeling and
rendering goodness. In fact, you could argue that the interface
layout system is a tool in itself, so crucial is it to modo's
way of doing things. Basically, you have viewports and forms.
Almost everything in the interface can be reduced to this.
Viewports can contain Camera views or they can contain lists
of commands, inspectors or the aforementioned forms. You
can add, subtract, split, join and extend panes to provide
whatever set-up suits you best. A single pane can also contain
more than one item through the use of 'tabs'. Of course,
pre-set layouts are available, and the default '201' is
the one that modo starts with, which gives you access to
pretty much all the tools. There are other simplified layouts
and well as those specific to Modeling, Rendering and Painting,
as well as more 'expert' layouts like '3D
Sparse', which relies almost completely on keyboard
- The jewel in modo's crown: top right is an OpenGL
preview (very fast) for Camera positioning, top left
the live Preview Render with HDRI and Radiosity.
Bottom pane shows the scene overview / setup view.
This interface attention to detail also extends
to other "non-geometry" items, like lights, cameras
and object manipulators, for example. In visualization, a
lot of time is spent setting up cameras and lights, and taking
trips between the item itself and its properties palette.
With modo's Advanced tool options, a lot of these adjustments
can be made in the OpenGL interface itself. The camera object,
for instance, can have its focal length and field of view
adjusted by clicking and dragging on handles on the camera
itself. You're given visual feedback of these properties
directly. The transform handles are similarly well-equipped:
movement on a plane while in perspective view is catered
for by another two grab handles, and properties like scale,
displacement and rotation have direct numerical readout in
the OpenGL views. (see image 01)
- In contrast to the bathroom image (see page 3),
this HDRI render by Seth Richardson relies more on
a single, powerful HDRI to simulate natural daylighting.
of OpenGL, modo has one of the fastest implementations
we've ever seen: 'blazing' doesn't do it justice.
Meshes that would choke many other leading 3d applications
are handled with consummate ease and complex architectural
be manipulated easily on our test machine -- a Mac
Pro 2.0 GHz with the standard GeForce
7300 graphics card. There's also the option of Advanced OpenGL
(if your card supports
it), which allows the display of blended textures, and
bump and normal maps directly in the workspace.
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