MacDirectory Magazine

Fall-Winter 2008 (#39)

MacDirectory magazine is the premiere creative lifestyle magazine for Apple enthusiasts featuring interviews, in-depth tech reviews, Apple news, insights, latest Apple patents, apps, market analysis, entertainment and more.

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100 MacDirectory REVIEW | CREATIVITY CARRARA 6 PRO > 3-D YOUR WAY In the realm of 3-D modeling and anima- tion, Carrara 6 Pro from DAZ Productions offers perhaps the best combination of ease of use and reasonable bang for the buck. For the price of $549, C6P provides such features as in-scattering, gravity, dynamic hair, collision detection, displace- ment modeling, and network rendering, while providing a sequential, room-based approach that is user-friendly and effective. Building on the notable advances found in version 5, the latest release offers more improvements than could be described here, but a random sampling of new or improved feature includes non-linear animation, an ocean primitive, transparency with absorption, custom particle objects, and wizards for start-up scenes and landscapes. For the complete picture (featuring an abundance of TR impersonators and buxom elf maidens), you might want to pay a visit to . Carrara 6 Pro is equally at home on a hobbyist's desktop or in a corporate media department and is an excellent choice for such tasks as designing trade show exhibits, creating animated product previsualiza- tions, and serious CGI video projects. Its import/export capabilities provide compa- tibility with most leading 3-D applications as well as exporting of such things as light- ing and camera moves into AfterEffects. For this new release we used two test machines: a G5 dual 1.8 with a 256 Mb Radeon 9800 Pro and an eight core 2.66 Mac Pro with a standard 256 MB Radeon HD 2600. On the G5 things ran very smoothly, if a bit slow. On the Mac Pro things were generally much faster and it was great to see all eight cores cranking away during renders, but we noticed a variety of slow- downs, including a lag of six to seven seconds when redrawing all the icons in the textures window and dead-slow render times for images using a combination of sky shaders and complex terrains. Presumably, an upgrade to the Nvidia GeForce 8800 or another more powerful card would provide the needed kick, but one wonders why there would be an issue with icons. For rapidly creating beautiful landscapes and environments, Carrara is fast and easy, as is the creation of complex yet manageable atmospheres. Carrara's support for all DAZ 3-D content, including human and standard models, morph targets, materials, rigging and the like is a boon. Complex animations can be created rapidly and object animations can be reused and duplicated. Lights can be ganged and operated from a master. Textures can be streamed from disk during rendering. Modeling features such as symmetrical modeling, edge extrusion and the sculpting tools greatly enhance the process. The list goes on. Of course, Carrara is not perfect in all things. For example, the tree editor, while quite capable, is not the best on the market, vertex editing can get a touch messy in certain circumstances, and fluids are on the list for further enhancement, but when viewed as a whole and within the context of its price point, it is hard to find a deal-killer in this application. As in earlier editions the interface is intuitive and, in most cases, quite logical. On the other hand, the browser for shaders, objects and the like is hard-wired to the bottom of the screen, sharing a tabbed drawer-style window with the timeline. This makes it easy to view thumbnails, but since there may be a large number of items in a vertical browser list, this forced horizontal configuration quickly becomes an issue. Considering the extended desktop multi- ple monitor support built into the Mac Pro and all laptops, one would hope that DAZ would abandon the single window / drawer approach and allow users to make good use of the extra screen real estate. Carrara 6 Pro is not a 3-D giant killer, but it is perfectly at home in a good variety of professional settings. It offers an easy learning curve so 3-D novices can quickly get up to speed, yet provides advanced tools that are usually found in applications costing three times as much and, within certain parameters, is able to exchange files with the leading 3-D applications. There are a few minor issues here and there, but it is easy to recommend Carrara for a broad range of users and projects. WORDS BY TREY YANCY Product Carrara 6 Pro Made by DAZ Productions < > Price $549 / Upgrades $160.95 – $459.95, Standard version $249.00 Pros Easy to learn, pro-level capabilities, wizards Cons Very slow on stock Mac Pro, minor interface issues Rating HHHH

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