I've used Blender, Carrara and now C4D. It was a struggle to get even the simplest things done in Blender; the learning curve is steep but it does have everything you'll ever need (short of becoming a CG House for Hollywood) for great 3D, both simple and complex. And as you noted, it's free.
I worked with Carrara for a long time, and despite its intuitive interface and a great tutorial set by Mark Bremmer, I never felt comfortable in the app.
C4D has been a joy to work with so far. There's a ton of how-to guides and tutorials available, as well as plug-ins. For me, its greatest asset is that I can move projects almost effortlessly between AE and C4D, which has made my 3D life a whole lot easier. I just finished a project for a client where I tracked some footage in AE with The Foundry's CameraTracker, set up some nulls and solids to which I could attach 3D objects, sent everything over to C4D where I added the 3D objects and set up the lighting, then sent the lot back to AE for final compositing, including masking. Without the excellent interchange between AE and C4D (in both directions), I would have had to twist myself into a pretzel to get the job done.
I really enjoy working in C4D. If you only get the Prime version, then you don't get the Physical renderer, which renders light and shadow very realistically. However, if you purchase an unbiased renderer like Indigo Renderer RT or Octane Render, you can still render your scenes with photorealistic quality when necessary, and at price point that's less than the Broadcast, Visualize or Studio versions of C4D.
I have not used blender. I used Cinema 4d for a year. With all the modules, it is about the same price as maya. You used to have to use the advanced renderer to get good quality. I found the modeling tools far worse than Softimage, Modo, or even Maya. C4d is far away the easiest to learn, and probably the best for quick 3d art or logos, but it is very limited for complex models. I found myself fighting with the program and switched to Softimage. I am now doing almost everything on a Mac and have switched to Maya, which is almost as good as Softimage, but not as stable nor intuitive. If I were not on a Mac, I would be back on Softimage.
Cinema 4D is now the best chiose. Has designer, this is the best sofware for develop a wide range of projects. Maya is is a better choise if you are a 3D only animator, but if 3D is only a facet of your multimedia development, C4D is the best way to go. And completely forget about 3ds max, its interface is dated, and anti-intuitive. The only reason for it to still be in the market is beacause as one of the first 3d software app, it has a wide range of specialized users who won't migrate to a best program.
I've been using C4D for the past 6 months, and as Jeff mentioned it's a joy to work with! It's truly the master motion graphics package. And can do so many things quickly that other apps simply can't. But, as also mentioned, it is $$$$!
On the other hand I've been using Blender for 4+ years and IT is now my main 3D package. My 3D Swiss Army knife. It keeps getting better and better with each (quarterly?) release. I came to Blender from Lightwave where I found rigging and UVing to be a put-a-gun-in-my-mouth nightmare. Since switching to Blender I've never looked back. What used to take me an entire day to rig a biped now takes about an hour.
IMO the worst thing about Blender IS the price. Seems whenever you mention "Blender" the first response is usually: "Really? Isn't that the FREE one?"
whaddaya gonna do?
The full version of C4D is now as expensive as Maya, so if cost is a barrier I would go for Maya. It's endlessly extensible, used by many, many big name effects houses (so your supply of tutorials, help and top-notch learning materials will never be in short supply) and you will never be short of talent to hire in when/if you get swamped with work. If you have a smaller budget I would go with Blender - see if Tears of Steel meets your quality requirements and go from there. For the record, Blender is actually easy to learn if you've never tried out a different 3D package before. It's getting easier to use with each iteration and adding features at a rate of about 10 a month.
I bought cinema 4d R14 studio. The modeling tools still need some work, but the program overall continues to improve. It is much more stable than maya on a Mac, and perhaps a better option than maya it one does not have a team of 3d staff, even though it is priced comparably to Maya. Modo is also worth looking at and was recently bought by the foundry. Unfortunately, it too lacks stability on a Mac.
I'm in the same situation as you are, starting up my own business.
For 3D work I used to use 3DSMax (release 4 if I do remember well) in the time I worked with Windows only.
But a couple of years ago I completely switched over to the Mac and never regretted that decision.
At this point I'm also looking at some 3D packages, and currently I'm investigating Cinema 4D, Modo 601 and (yes) Blender 2.6.
I must say I was very surprised/impressed by C4D, and mainly because it has a lot in common from 3DSMax, but it is expensive. And I find the basic renderer a bit slow.
Modo, on the other hand, has a very nice interface for modeling, a very good and fast basic renderer and the price, well, it's way below that of C4D. Over the years Modo has grown from a modeling package to a full blown 3D model and animation suite with all the blows and whistles anyone could ask for. They also have so called Kits to enhance Modo, although they must be bought seperately.
And then there is Blender. I've played with it a long time ago and didn't like it becaue of it's interface. But the most recent versions of Blender tend to have a better and more logical UI. And above that, it's completely free. I've downloaded it, but haven't got the time to play with it.
At this time I find Modo is the winner for the things I want to do at a reasonable price with a fast basic renderer, and there is a new version (701) on the way with a lot of promising new tools and gadgets. I would also like C4D, but it's to expensive (maybe I could check out what version I really need, though), but on the other hand, I felt right comfortable with it.
You know,.... I don't know....
I'll give Blender a try, and maybe... who knows
(All testing was done with trial versions of the mentioned software, except for Blender)
I am primarily an editor/motion graphics guy. In the past I have dabbled with Lightwave.
After Effects recently got the ability to use 3D models through the use of Video Copilot's Element 3D. This is a break through that blows me away. I found I needed a tool to help prep the models for use in E3D. I downloaded Blender and took the time over 2 weeks to comprehensively go thru tutorials so I would be familiar with it.
I am here to say that Blender 2.66 in many ways competes and exceeds the programs costing lots more. It has features that only C4Ds most expensive version has. And the Cycles render is a photo realistic tool built right in. No additional purchases necessary. I have worked with Pro level tools most of my career (Avid DS, Syntheyes. Mocha) and the newest interface is much more impressive then C4D.
Judge for yourself.
I've been dabbling with different tutorials in Blender lately and then I heard the news of the new AE+C4D workflow and that looks interesting. The price for Blender is great (obviously) but it seems like the examples of peoples work from C4D are more impressive to me overall.
Is that from the program or more from the people that use it?
I am in a similar situation. Being a student I am able to test all Autodesk programes and C4D and others for free. Before I was a student I started of with Blender. And I must say, anytime I get stuck I go back to Blender. Autodesk programes are all doing the job and each one is specialised in one particular task. Maya-animating, softtmage-facial animations, 3Ds max-modelling. Apart from that each one also has challenges that I was able to solv in Blender. It is not always the money, that makes it better. Blender has as many people working on improvements as payed Autodesk staff. What I consider is; do I want to work for big companies/studios ? Than I want to know what they use, so I can tune into their workflow. What is the "industry standard" in studio...
it is often Maya. But well a program like Blender can export to Autodesk FBX. This is just my opinion. At the moment I use a variety of programes for the same projects. When I finish studying I will have to deside what to do with my money and where to invest. So I try to to learn the basics of all Industry standard programs I am allowed to use as a student, but my creative favorite is Blender, it has a lot of easter eggs. C4D brought out a full funktionable demo version that everybody can use for learning. You can just not safe projects and renders, but you can render in the viewport and make a screenshot for example. Adobe cloud has the standard version of C4D inside Adobe CC. If you are studying anythink make use of the 36 months Autodesk student membership. I am in my third year of obseesive 3D learning now.
LM-Studio "Adobe cloud has the standard version of C4D inside Adobe CC."
This is incorrect. It has a Lite version of C4D. It does not have lots of the functionality of the regular products Maxon offers. Truthfully, most folks would want the Broadcast or Studio version, which can be upgraded to, but are quite expensive.
Here are some good summaries of what's included, and what's not:
My opinion is that it actually does have a lot of the functionality that the regular Maxon products offer.
Ha ha. Yes, your unbiased opinion as a salaried employee of Adobe paid to promote the product at every opportunity. Please.
After doing extensive research in early May I became aware of the shortcomings of Lite. The lack of polygonal modeling, dynamics or large variety of Mograph tools made it completely useless for the kind of work I wanted to do with C4D.
The thing that really killed the appeal of Cineware for me was the lack of support of Team Render. Its only when you start playing with C4D do you get to expereince how SLOW rendering can be, even on a powerful Z820 computer. Additional render nodes are crucial in getting renders done in a timely manner. Sadly this cant be done with Cineware. Which explains why many professionals I have spoken to off the record (since they dont want to piss Adobe off) tell me that dont use it except in very limited situations like previz or extremely basic stuff.
Ha ha. Yes, your unbiased opinion as a salaried employee of Adobe paid to promote the product at every opportunity. Please.
Not really. Just what I've heard around the web. Thanks for the candid insight on what others have said about the Cineware workflow.
BTW: I've always stated what I liked about our own tools, however, I have also admitted shortcomings that bother me, as well. I will continue to encourage people to make feature requests for improvements that can be made to our software, especially ones that I, as pro editor and motion graphics artist, see as beneficial.
I cannot comment on Blender, but Cinema 4D Studio is now my main 3D program. I had some reservations about some of the tools a few versions ago. In R15, the fixed the bevel tool and made many of the deformers faster. It is MUCH more stable than Maya for OSX or Modo. A lot less time is lost with crashes, tools not quite doing what they should etc. than in other 3D programs. Scripting is not as developed as Maya, but is much less frequently required. The mograph module, while not up to Houdini, is quick and effective and does the job almost all the time.
Ha ha. Yes, your unbiased opinion as a salaried employee of Adobe paid to promote the product at every opportunity. Please
Your continuous drumbeat of this type of negativity ever since Adobe made you mad by switching to the CC model is getting tiresome. You've lost a great deal of the credibility that came along with your MVP badge and post count. That's kind of sad considering your expertise and knowledge.
I'm pretty sure that my comments above won't convince you to change your behavior, but I can always hope.
Oh dear Jeff. Arent comfortable hearing the truth as based on my expereince? If it upsets your fanboy sensibility, then I suggest you spare yourself the frustration of reading them.
I hope my response to your post allows you to understand there are shortcomings to Adobe software that some folks may want to know about.Even though apparently you dont.
Thanks tclark. I appreciate that.
I should add.,even though I continue to work with CS6, I DID end up buying Cinema 4D Studio version and have been going under intensive training the last several months. It has everything that Lite lacks, but at a price. But since Im not paying Eternal Rental to Adobe, its something I felt good about buying and owning for perpetuity
Yesterday at the IBC I saw Angie Tayler give a presentation on Cinema 4d lite and AE.
Wow it can do a lot. She has al kinds of workarounds.
Angie has a video course over at Lynda.
It depends what you want to do with it. Heres a good comparison chart for folks that know 3D programs.
When it comes to dynamics, mograph , character animation, hair , UV editing, rendering options, and data exchange Lite has either none or extremely limited functions.