MODO’s latest release brings particles and improved dynamics, as well as some rendering and animation improvements, says Richard Yot
Price: $1,495 US (approx £975)*
Minimum system requirements
✓ The new particles system is a welcome addition
✓ Massive improvements to the overall performance
✓ Render Preview is the best on the market
✓ Both a great modelling and rendering application
✘ Snapping needs to be improved slightly
✘ Deformers can still be a little slow
✘ The referencing system needs an overhaul
Last year MODO 601 made big advances in terms of new features, with the addition of character animation and deformers. This left only one major component missing for MODO to be considered a full 3D package: particles.
Enter MODO 701 and Luxology has delivered another impressive update. As expected, particles are at the forefront of this release, the software featuting dynamic particles based on a nodal architecture. These can be saved out as presets for users to share and reuse – combining accessibility with very powerful programmable functionality.
Particle simulations can be exported as curves or polygons, then edited with the modelling tools and converted back to particle paths. Mixing procedural and manual methods in this manner enables a great degree of control over particle movement.
Aside from particles, the Dynamic engine in MODO has been completely rewritten to improve performance and the difference is dramatic. Gone is the recoil plug-in and dynamics are now fully integrated into the core package. This means that simulations are much faster, more stable and more reliable than ever before.
One unfortunate side-effect is that a few features (such as Ropes) have been dropped for now, but these should reappear in time once they’ve been integrated into the new Dynamics system. In the meantime users can still run recoil inside 701 if they need simulations that were created in earlier versions of MODO.
Performance as a whole has been vastly improved in 701, with scene management, viewport performance and Preview now running faster. MODO’s Render Preview was already one of the fastest interactive renderers available, but in 701 it has become faster still and makes tasks such as lighting and texturing very enjoyable and quick.
There have also been some modelling improvements in this release, such as the Contiguous Bridge tool – which can quickly fill entire patches of geometry – and the new options in the Bevel tool, which can bevel complex geometry while preserving good topology.
The topology tools have also been enhanced, with the additions like the Contour tool, which creates cylindrical topology in a few easy strokes. Sculpting performance is also vastly superior to previous versions, especially with multi-resolution meshes.
In terms of rendering, MODO 701 introduces Environment Importance Sampling, a feature that enables scenes to be lit solely from HDR images while still preserving sharp shadows from small light sources. This is something that produces very detailed and attractive lighting with far greater variation than traditional HDR lighting. The physical sky has also been updated and now produces much more realistic and pleasing results than ever before.
Rigging and animation have also seen enhancements. There’s a new UI for animation that presents a very clean interface, with panels available at the click of a button. Dynamic parenting can now be completed in the viewport with drag-and-drop operation and there are a host of new modifiers available to enable procedural control of animations. Audio support is also now built-in to the application.
Overall, MODO still feels like a young application, despite being originally released in 2004 and Luxology having taken seven iterations to create what can finally be considered a complete package.
However, now the groundwork has finally been laid Luxology can stop playing catch-up and concentrate on refinement and workflow, which are the true strengths of MODO. There are definitely many areas of the package that still need improvement, but Luxology has a history of listening to its customers, so this bodes well for the future of the software.
Ease of use: 7/10
Value for money: 9/10
Quality of results: 9/10
MODO is now a great all-round package and offers amazing value for money compared to the competition.
Review by Richard Yot, digital illustrator, UK