PiXELS3D 4.5

The most-quoted fact about PiXELS3D is that it's a Mac-only 3D program - probably the only one of its kind left. All the others have either failed (Presenter Pro) or gone cross-platform (Electric Image), but Andrew Bryant has steadfastly maintained his Mac monogamy. Version 4.5 is the second incarnation to appear on OS X, and it's steadily being refined. It's a full modelling, animation, shading and rendering program that manages to be both sophisticated yet clumsy all at once. Pixar sophistication
Sophistication comes in the form of Tempest, the REYES-based renderer, that can distribute single-frame render across a network to spread the load, and is based on the same system used by Pixar. The node-based shading system is also highly evolved, yet modelling is pretty awful. The program uses NURBS, but relies mostly on low-level modelling (moving points by hand). There are some high-level tools such as extrude, lathe, and more - there's even trimming and curve projection - but Maya it ain't. Polygon modelling is also basic, and general usability, such as access modelling history and object parameters, is poor - you have to wade through layers of nested menus to get to them. Innovation comes from ambient-light occlusion - which is so obvious you wonder why no-one has thought of it before. It emulates global illumination using a simple raycasting technique. Version 4.5 also has a new Logomaker plug-in, IK system including RigMaker for fast character setup, distance constraints and Skydome Illumination. There's no support for HDRI or radiosity though.


PiXELS3D is a mix of the innovative and the awkward. It needs better modelling tools and a workflow rethink before it can compete in the big-league.

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