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Review: Strata 3D CX 5

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  • Review: Strata 3D CX 5

    http://www.strata.com/strata3d.asp

    I first got interested in Strata when I noticed their claim about tight Photoshop and Illustrator integration. The interface does have a superficial similarity to (pre-CS3) Photoshop. And Strata will export layers in PSD format. And you can edit texturemaps live in Photoshop and import Illustrator vector files. But that's about it for the similarity.

    I also noticed some astonishingly good work was possible using Strata (which is really what counts).

    And Strata is available for a few hundred dollars less than Maya or the rest of the industry leaders (you get both PC and Mac versions, but it's still not a trivial purchase at $500).

    But...

    Strata 3D 5.0 (now there's a 5.1 update) is unpolished. It crashed more than a couple of times on me. And now that I've upgraded to Vista I can't use it at all without using various compatibility tricks.

    Strata has just about every tool you'd need for static scenes (which is all I'm interested in), and a particularly good rendering engine. But some of the controls are very hard to find and counter-intuitive. Don't let the promise of Photoshop-friendlyness make you think the learning curve will be any shallower than any other 3D app (a mistake I made). In fact, in some areas it's steeper than it's more sophisticated (and expensive) brethren.

    And I don't want to seem trivial, but their support website is infuriating to use. Each section demands to open in it's own window, there's a mishmash of domain names (some I don't think are even officially run by Strata), and there's a distinct whiff of used-to-be-Mac-only in the air (all their example files are SIT compressed, for example).

    So unless price is your overriding concern I can't really recommend Strata CX 5.
    Learn by teaching
    Take responsibility for learning

  • #2
    Re: Review: Strata 3D CX 5

    Doug
    a very useful review..it made me think twice about purchasing this software.So now the question is....if I need the best software for producing architectural renditions (maybe astonishingly good work one day....)what would you recommend and why?
    I use Photoshop all the time on a Mac Pro and I would like to use a rendering program that is closely integrated with Adobe products.
    Thanks
    Peter

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    • #3
      Re: Review: Strata 3D CX 5

      Photoshop CS3 Extended can import and render 3d models. Along with the improved Vanishing Point, I could see it being a good fit for architectural modeling. Just today Adobe announced a plugin to navigate and automatically import google's 3d model library (http://labs.adobe.com)

      Autocad is the standard for (non-photorealistic) architectural modeling, and now there are 3d rendering tools for it. It's a bit PC-centric, though (not 100%, but still...). They also market a couple of top-end 3d apps that naturally accept autocad files. And check out their Revit Architecture app:
      http://usa.autodesk.com/adsk/servlet...112&id=3781831

      As for Photoshop integration, unfortunately Strata is still tops there, for what that's worth.

      I'm playing around with Modo nowadays. It's an up-and-comer that I believe is the single best 3d app out there now for still scenes, and will they're adding enough animation for architectural walkthroughs in the version shipping this summer. Here's an architectural example using the current version:
      http://www.luxology.com/store/video/..._Lesson33.html
      Learn by teaching
      Take responsibility for learning

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      • #4
        Re: Review: Strata 3D CX 5

        Here are some limited examples of the walkthrough animation in the upcoming Modo 301

        http://content2.luxology.com/modo/30...onzaBig_01.mov
        http://content2.luxology.com/modo/30...room_anim2.mov
        Last edited by Doug Nelson; 06-01-2007, 01:12 PM. Reason: spelling
        Learn by teaching
        Take responsibility for learning

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        • #5
          Re: Review: Strata 3D CX 5

          Thanks for the speedy response Doug
          I'll check out your suggestions and test out the programs before I finally commit to purchasing....
          Peter

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