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Pro Animator opinions

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Chris BlairPro Animator opinions
by on Apr 30, 2009 at 2:06:15 am

I've done quite a bit of 3D work over the years using trueSpace, mainly versions 3 and 5....so I'm familiar with 3D modeling and animation.

I've read some about ProAnimator so thought I'd give the demo a try since trueSpace can take some time to get things the way you like them.

I was initally impressed with the way Pro Animator works (very similar to trueSpace in fact), and found it very easy to use since it uses a similar modeling, animation and rendering workflow to trueSpace.

However...I've run into what seems like dozens of issues that have made it unlikely I could incorporate it into our workflow. Number one is just plain odd behaviour from many of the tools and functions....specifically the render engine. It doesn't seem to matter if I use the OpenGL or the invigorator (or whatever it's called) renderer, but the following issues have repeatedly come up:

1. Renders won't start until you try them 3 or 4 times.
2. Movies end up with a couple of frames flipped backward or sideways.
3. Renders complete but they don't write the finished movie file.
4. Many codecs (both within AVI and Quicktime) just simply don't work, even though they work fine in every other application that uses them.
5. Render quality varies wildly and even at the highest anti-alias setting I'm still getting what I consider unacceptable quality along the edges of files.

Issues occur whether I try AVI, Quicktime or sequential files...and it's occurred across 3 different high-end PC workstations HP xw series and IBM Intellistations)...so it's not a hardware based issue.

Also, saving a very simple scene seems to take 10-15 seconds, and opening that same incredibly simple scene can take up to 30 seconds.

Is this all normal behaviour with this program? I don't think I could use a program like this in a demanding production environment if it is. Any feedback is appreciated.

As noted, we're demoing on Windows XP, SP3, on HP xw8200s with two 3.6Ghz dual-core processors, 4 gig RAM, terabytes of storage and high-end ATI and Nvidia graphic cards.

The Intellistations are a few years old, but are all at least 3.2Ghz dual processor with anywhere from 2 to 4gig of RAM, and also terabytes of storage and similar workstation class PCI express nvidia graphic cards.

By comparison, trueSpace absolutely flies on these machines, both in response time while working and previewing and especially rendering. And version 5 of trueSpace is ancient....at least 6 years old I think.

Thanks

Chris Blair
Magnetic Image, Inc.
Evansville, IN
http://www.videomi.com


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Edward WuRe: Pro Animator opinions
by on Apr 30, 2009 at 11:51:13 pm

Hi Chris,

Are you using ProAnimator version 4.5.1? If not, please download the latest version from our download page below:

http://zaxwerks.com/cgi-bin/download.cgi

The latest version of our software performs pretty well on all systems including Windows XP. The render not being able to complete is usually one of two issues. If you are using an older version of ProAnimator, you will run into a compatibility issue with the latest version of the QuickTime Player. However, if you are using the latest version of ProAnimator (v4.5.1), then you will need to change the QuickTime Player so that it is running in Safe Mode. You can do this by going into Edit > Preferences > Quicktime Preferences. Go to the "Advanced" tab, and check the setting for "Safe Mode".

In terms of rendering quality, you may need to adjust the "Object Faceting" value (located in the Object Tab) for different objects. For most objects, you should leave the "Preview Object Faceting" at the value of "3" while either keeping the "Final Object Faceting" value at "0.5" or lower if you need even sharper edges. The lower the Object Faceting settings, the sharper the edges.

However, keep in mind that it's very important to keep the Preview value at 3 or above so that your program does not need to perform at render quality while you are still setting up the scene. If you keep all objects with "0.1" Preview setting, your program may end up performing sluggishly (both in saving and loading as well).

If you need to preview your objects, hold down the ctrl key and the "Render Movie" button will turn into a "Test" button. By clicking "Test", you can get a screen preview.

Also, some things to watch out for is to make sure you have the latest Controller drivers as well as the Graphic Card drivers. If you do not have the latest drivers, it could cause the program to perform slower or run into display issues.

If you need more information on if you need to upgrade your controller driver, please visit our Help Center link below:

http://zaxwerks.com/helpcenter/?page_id=121

In summary, you shouldn't be running into all those issues. Hopefully this will resolve the issues for you. If you still have any questions, let me know.

Best,
Edward


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Chris BlairRe: Pro Animator opinions
by on May 2, 2009 at 1:48:51 am

Thanks for the tips. I'm not sure what version I'm demoing as I downloaded it a while back and have just recently gotten around to testing it. I'll download the latest version. I've read the tutorials that come with the demo and don't recall any of the tips you list being in them.

Seems like this would be good information to include for folks, don't you think??

As I said, I'm relatively experienced with 3D work, and I did adjust the object faceting, but didn't realize it would slow workflow if I had it set to the highest setting (which I did).

Graphic drivers are all updated. I'm not exactly sure what you're referring to on controller drivers. I'm assuming hard drive controllers? We use shared storage for projects and rendering. All workstations run programs off the local drives, but they are all workstation class systems optimized by IBM and HP for video editing. I seriously doubt the local drive controllers would have an impact on the performance of Proanimator.

Chris Blair
Magnetic Image, Inc.
Evansville, IN
http://www.videomi.com


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Edward WuRe: Pro Animator opinions
by on May 4, 2009 at 4:43:01 pm

Hi Chris,

Some of the information I provided comes from the User Manual that comes with the program. Since you are using the demo version of the software, you can download the manual online from: http://zaxwerks.com/docs.shtml

The manual contains a lot of in-depth material on how the program works, and also has a lot of tips and techniques.

In regards to the controller drivers, it has been reported by some users that their system performance improved considerably when they updated the drivers, so it may be worth a shot. The controller driver being updated is the "Intel SATA RAID Disk Controller driver", and if you are running the drivers listed below, it could cause some issues:

Intel 82801G (ICH7 Family) Ultra ATA storage controllers - 270F ( ver 8.2.0.1008 - 15/9/06)
Intel 82801HR/HH/HO SATA RAID Controller
Intel 82801GBM Sata AHCI controller - ver 6.2.1.1002 - 31/10/06

For more information on how to update your controller driver, please see the link I've provided below:

http://zaxwerks.com/helpcenter/?page_id=138

Best,
Edward





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Edward WuRe: Pro Animator opinions
by on May 4, 2009 at 4:57:08 pm

Sorry, the link was not linked properly.

The correct Help Center link for the controller driver is listed below:

http://zaxwerks.com/helpcenter/?page_id=138

Best,
Edward


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