[Bf-education] Migrating from 3D Studio Max to Blender, at what cost?

Ton Roosendaal ton at blender.org
Sat Aug 2 13:41:15 CEST 2008

Hi Timothy,

Recently a medium-small animation studio in Sydney made the move from  
3dmax to Blender too:
I wanted to invite them since long to tell us their experience, their  
pros and cons. You can find them on cgtalk forums btw (Matt Ebb).

Blender has strong parts and weak parts and parts in development, and  
it's not always clear for users which parts that applies to. That can  
make learning Blender frustrating. Getting help from an experenced  
artist (get them over for a week or so) will make an enormous  
difference. Post such a call on blenderartists.org?

The things 3DMax users will probably miss most:
- construction history editing
- customizable hotkeys and macros
- tight integration with other Autodesk tools
- MS Windows widget/ui compliancy

The first two are being tackled in blender 2.50 (3-6 months from now?).  
Better file import from Autocad is in development, but a frustratingly  
nasty job. The latter is something they have to give up... Blender is  
cross platform, and we cannot (will not) adopt dependencies on OS's or  
platform dependent widgets. Advantage is of course that they will be  
able to use cool Macs or Linux stations. :)

For modeling buildings and environments Blender works very well,  
including managing complexity (we got decent data-referencing,  
including entire scenes from other files).

Automating the rendering process is very easy, but requires someone  
with system level knowledge (like unix shell, python scripting or so).  
Having happy customers (fast render times, advanced database design,  
allow easy last minute tweaks) is one of the cornerstones Blender was  
built on! :)

Lastly, I'm not sure how big your studio is, but I wouldn't expect to  
get immediately a lot of financial benefits from a move. Don't switch  
to Blender to reduce costs, but switch to Blender to become better  
scalable and get more control over the pipeline. A switch allows you to  
invest in a render farm, hire more artists, or part-timers who work  
from home, and so on.
Also consider to hire more technical staff, like scripters or C/C++  


On 1 Aug, 2008, at 20:19, Timothy Parez wrote:

> Hi,
> Currently our designers are using 3D studio max to create and render  
> high profile content.
> Because of 3D studio max's closed nature we cannot optimize our  
> rendering process enough
> which results in unhappy customers.
> If we had the ability to render on multiple machines, preferably  
> Linux, we could change this
> so we are currently investigating a possible migration to Blender.
> Can someone answer the following questions for us:
>  - How steep is the learning curve coming from 3D studio max and going  
> to Blender
>  - The designers design buildings and environments, is Blender usable  
> for this type of scenario
>  - Can we automate the rendering process... ie are there command line  
> tools to render in batch
>   - Why would you advice to use Blender and why would you advise  
> against it
> Thank you
> Timothy.
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> Bf-education at blender.org
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Ton Roosendaal  Blender Foundation ton at blender.org  

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