modo 601 review

The original modo was conceived as a modelling program but each new version has added extra functionality until with 601 it now offers a complete 3D solution.

With previous versions the weakest feature was animation. This was addressed in modo 501 with a nodal rigging system with visible nodes and links which made rigging a more visual process. That’s been expanded upon with the addition of a new Pose tool that allows characters to be posed simply, without even the need for complex rigging. All a character needs is an attached skeleton and the system can do the hard work.

Interestingly, there’s a new animation system as well which comes with the creation of nominated actors on the timeline. Assign a pose and a set of actions to a character and off they go. The system can also be applied to any model, not just characters. Once motion has been applied you can then see the path for it, complete with keyframe positions. It makes logo animation considerably easier and there’s a big push for modo to get into gaming environments as well.

Tied in to the animation system there’s a skeleton creation function. Set up the bones for a character, that are connected by joints, and you can bind your mesh geometry to the skeleton. It then generates weight maps that control how the character moves and flexes. The weight maps appear in the viewport as different colours overlaid onto the mesh. Also for animation there’s the welcome addition of full-body inverse kinematics so when you yank one end of a figure, the rest of it reacts as well.

Needless to say there’s also a wealth of other improvements, tweaks to the Pixar Sub-D system, displaying items as silhouettes, real-time updates to the UV map, vertex map painting and the very handy Lazy Selection which picks up the nearest geometric element without having to be right on top of it.

OUR VERDICT

Tackles the weaknesses in animation head-on and adds a mass of new features that aim to make it more accessible to film and gaming markets. Now a competent all-in-one 3D solution offering an entire workflow. Quite a revolutionary step from the previous version, highly recommended for users of previous versions or Softimage.

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