3D Modeling Muscle With MetaCreations Carrara

SAN FRANCISCO (03/21/2000) - Named after Michelangelo's favorite marble quarry, MetaCreations Corp.'s $399 Carrara is billed as the "complete" 3D modeling tool for artists and designers. Inspired by its siblings Ray Dream and Infini-D, Carrara collects more than 600 impressive features inside a stylish interface.

It will gratify picky pros and hobbyists, but may daunt novices.

Carrara's interface resembles that of MetaCreations' Bryce landscape creation software: Icons glow when activated, navigation knobs allow fluid maneuvers through 3D scenes, and preview screens let you accelerate work on special effects. Trays slide out from the sides of the screen to reveal animation controls, property settings, or libraries of preset objects and effects.

Different stages of model production occur in five separate rooms (Assemble, Model, Storyboard, Texture, and Render), each one equipped with suitable tools and effects. The Model room, for example, makes available six model-making modes for shaping organic forms, creating models from math formulas, turning TrueType fonts into 3D logos, or sculpting fantasy landscapes. The only thing missing: a Drop Object command to help ensure that your models rest on the ground.

Carrara mimics real-world nuances beautifully, distorting a rubber ball as it bounces off a wall or straightening an arm when you tug on a character's hand.

Optical and atmospheric effects (such as blurring fast-moving objects or simulating dusty beams of light) are equally cool. And unlike most 3D apps, Carrara renders these effects lickety-split.

Carrara imports and exports images and models in most popular 2D and 3D formats, including JPEG, GIF, AVI, QuickTime, VRML (1 and 2), and MetaCreations' MetaStream format. For the tools it delivers, Carrara is a bargain.

Flow or flounder: Carrara's five-room interface provides many spectacular 3D modeling effects, if you take the time to learn them.

MetaCreations Carrara

Pro: Rapid rendering, extensive 3D effects, fair price.

Con: Not for novices.

Value: First-rate professional 3D modeling package for print, video, and the Web.

Street price: $399




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