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Guest HogDriver

GMAX, 3DS Max or FSDS

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Hi all,I would like to start 3D aircraft modeling and would like to hear your opinion on where to start or better what to use. I order to lead your answers in the right direction, I give a little more background info.- the tool should be able to handle FS2004 and FSX exports. Primarily FSX- the tool should give me the ability to create professional looking aircraft, including interior and exterior details with the quality of lets say, the aerosoft Beaver, Twin Otter or the RealAir Scout for example- the tool should give me the ability to create a very detailed good looking virtual cockpitMy ultimate goal is to develop a complete aircraft in the end. If it will be freeware or payware is not decided yet and depends on how much time I have to invest in it. However, I would like to stay with a product that gives me the ability to create a professional add-on from a 3D model point of view. Of course the other parts like systems, flight model tec. will be covered as well, but this topic is about 3D modelling.I would like to start with a new software and stick to it, so it would be great if you could give me a few hints and let me hear your opinions. I read some old threads on this, but they are kinda old and I am not sure if they still apply or if they were changes.Thank you all for your time.Regards,Peter

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That is a very tough question to answer. Which route to take will depend upon what your budget allows...Given that the program of choice for ACES is Max8 and Max9, and that they will continue to use and support that program throughout the lifespan of FSX, TrainSim2, and FS11, it's obviously the best choice. However, it IS expensive!GMax is currently supported for both FS9 and FSX, but given the position Autodesk has taken, it will NOT be supported for any future ACES titles such as TrainSim2 and FS11. On the other hand, since GMax is -for the part that counts at least- identical in terms of modeling to its big brothers Max8/9/?, anything you learn using GMax will easily be transferable to any version of Max should you choose to make that investment.Both GMax and Max are of course throughly documented in the official FS SDKs, and the tools MS/ACES provides is geared for them.FSDS v3.51 from ABACUS of course is another choice, and support for both FS9 and FSX is available provided you have access to the FS9 and FSX SDKs and included files. Further extensions for FSX specific Materials and so forth are available through the use of Dave Nunez's marvelous freeware add-on "FSDS Tweak." Further, there is a wealth of information, tips and techniques to be found via such websites as Freeflight Design (http://freeflightdesign.com).Exporters and tools for a scant handful of other design programs such as Blender, XSI-Mod Tool, and 3d-Canvas are available, but none of them is a complete solution at this juncture. Further information about such tools for alternate programs may be found at http://fsdeveloper.com and elsewhere on the net. Phil Taylor, one time ACES Lead Developer posted some additional information and links in his blog: http://blogs.msdn.com/ptaylor/archive/2008...ls-for-fsx.aspxHowever! Please allow me to state for the record that "no tool is better than the hands and skills of the artist who uses it..." There are some truly spectacular models that've been crafted using FSDS (such as Eaglesoft's Citation X). I've also seen some truly awful models created using Max (both payware and freeware).The bottom line is that while some modeling software is easier to use, some is better supported, and some is expensive, the final result is more in the hands of the craftsman than in the tool used.My personal recommendation is to use GMax for the simple reasons that it's free, currently supported for both FS9 and FSX, there are TONS of information/tips/tricks posted, and -most importantly- everything you learn will be easily transferable to Max should you eventually decide to go that route. For that matter, everything you learn should also be almost as easily transferred to any other modeling program.

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Bill,thank you very much for taking the time and giving me such an awesome answer. I really appreciate that.Based on what you wrote, I can do basically high quality products with all of the tools we talked about. I had a look at some professional products which were created using FSDS, including the Citation X, and they look amazing.In general I am looking for a good tool, which is not limiting me in the end. I have never done any 3D modelling, only as a student, so any tool is new for me. If I go for a tool and try to get used to it, a bad thing would be, if it is limiting me at some point in the future. So I try to make the right decision here.Based on what I read about FSDS, it is easier to use and learn than GMAX (FSDS Review). However, I can not say anything about it, since I am new to all this.On the other hand I also planned to do a 3DS Max Course at the Game Institute (GI Course) to really learn 3D modelling. I would get a MAX9 student version for $170 with a one year license, and since I was planning to take course I and II, which should eat up around 6 month of my time, I would still have another 6 month to play around with it and try it out. The question would be, if I wouldn't decide to go for an expensive version of MAX9 after it, if I could use skills I learned in these courses in GMAX. Since they are similar, it should be partly possible I think. The 3D course would be great for me, because I would really learn how to model in 3D and learn all the tricks etc, since I would get a lot of high quality DVD instruction, course material, examples. However, it is the more expensive road for sure.So I am a little undecided still, if I go for FSDS, which is supposed to be great as well or the expensive GMAX/MAX9 road.-Peter

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If the GI course is going to help at all with current/future employment, then I'd say that must weight very heavily in the scales. Just a thought.-Dai

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Dai,I would not take the GI course, because I am looking for an employment as a 3D Modeler after it. I already have a pretty cool job. :( I would do it purely for me, in order to develop good 3D modelling skills by getting a good instruction, which I can hopefully use in my upcoming projects. So you think I would be on a bad track, if I go for the GI course?-Peter

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With absolutely no disrespect to my friend Louis Sinclair, his FSDS program while set up specifically to create FS aircraft models along with all the ancillary files and folders required to get a model "flying" in FS, doesn't adhere to the methods described and required by the SDKs very closely......which is -of course- why Dave Nunez wrote his post-processing tweak utility program.All this means is that some things are a bit more difficult to "translate" into FSDS methods and procedures.If you do decide to take the GI course, then mostly everything you learn will be transferrable to GMax. After all, GMax is really a slimmed down version of Max5... :)BTW, while I was in Orlando, FL a few months ago for an ESP DevCon, I stayed overnight at Bobby's house. I had an opportunity to demonstrate some of the power of Max/GMax while there. The Citation X will the the last model he works on in FSDS. All new projects will be done on Max... ;)

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I use FSDS for scenery creation and Fr Bill is correct. It doesn't really handle materials for FSX as well as it should. It is a lot easier to use than Gmax which I had a go at but could never quite figure out how to apply textures. I would therefore recommend using Gmax. It's free, which is good, plus the skills can be transferable to it's commercial cousin. Gmax is also probably the most used program for FS modelling so if you ever get stuck there is sure to be someone able to give advice.One point to remember is that whatever 3D modelling program you use (except for that instant 3D model maker thing) you can make extremely complex objects. It is up to the skill of the user that determines the quality of the object being made and not the program. Don't forget that textures also play a big part in how an object will appear. You could make the greatest 3D model ever created but if you apply ugly textures it will be an ugly model.

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Thank you again for all your answers. All that was extremely helpful for me. I was already leaning in the direction of GMAX and MAX, because I have seen what you can do with it. However, after reading the review of FSDS, I was again usure where to go.Since I have seen a lot of tutorials for GMAX now and I am also planning to take that GI course, the decision is 95% for the GMAX/MAX solution. Also if I look at future developments. Nothing is really lost if I take the course, use my MAX student license and then go for GMAX in the end I think.Again, I really aprreciate that you guys took the time to answer my questions.Best regards,Peter

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If you're serious about learning this, I would find an older copy of 3ds Max. You should be able to find them relatively cheap, and 3ds Max 6 can create planes for FS just as well as 3ds Max 8 can. In fact, I'm surprised to see someone suggest v9, as I thought the SDK could only handle v8 and below. Plus, an older version will give you the basis for using an upgraded version later.You might also find a 'Student Version' and it'll be cheap enough, but the serial will only be good for a year...

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Thanks for the input Kevin.So, will I have a problem to use MAX9 models in FSX? *Yeah that rings a bell. I think I read something somewhere.Also, is there a way to import Max9 models into GMAX, without loosing anything? An export from there should work fine then, right?I found a 13 month MAX9 student license, which I will most probably use. After that I will decide if I really go for MAX or stay with GMAX. However, all the things I will learn during my MAX training can be transfered to GMAX, I think. For me it is important to get a proper training and learn things the right way.-Peter

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By the way, while looking for some good MAX instruction, I found a pretty cool training course on DVDs. I might take that one instead of the GI course as well. Not decided yet.Have a look here 3DBUZZIts pretty cool, because you can watch a lot of the training videos for free. However, not fullscreen, but it gives you a taste of what the training videos are like. 105 hours of instruction!Just wanted to share the info.

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...Given that the program of choice for ACES is Max8 and Max9, and that they will continue to use and support that program throughout the lifespan of FSX, TrainSim2, and FS11, it's obviously the best choice. However, it IS expensive!...
Very true. In the UK the latest 3SD Max retails for

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Thanks for the input Kevin.So, will I have a problem to use MAX9 models in FSX? *Yeah that rings a bell. I think I read something somewhere.Also, is there a way to import Max9 models into GMAX, without loosing anything? An export from there should work fine then, right?
Not true. Althogh a bit of "massaging" is necessary, FSX SDK2 includes export tools for Max7/8/9...Alas, cross-pollination between any Max version and GMax is not a trivial and/or foolproof endeavor... :(

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Thanks for the input Bill!I decided for the MAX road today. I just ordered my student license, and I will have time to work with it for 13 month now. I am really looking forward to that and it also should give me enough time to figure out, if I will buy it afterwards. It just depends on, if I like it and what projects I am going to do in the future.So proper training comes next. I want to learn it from ground up and learn it the right way. Instead of "playing" around, which is of course a very important part to become proficient with a tool, I want somebody to teach me how it is done correclty and in the best and most efficient way.So I am thinking about one of the two training programs:3DBuzzGame Institute Module I and IIIt would be great, if one of you 3D Modellers can tell me their opinions on the two courses, if you find the time to have a quick look information pages. I am a little undecided, which one would be the best for me, considering that I will use MAX in the Flight Simulation field (3D aircraft modelling, virtual cockpit modelling, scenery modelling).Thanks for your help.-Peter

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