Strata Design 3D CX for Mac - User reviews and ratings - CNET Download.com

Strata Design 3D CX for Mac User Reviews

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  • 4.0 stars

    "Excellent all around 3D package: model, render, animate"

    February 2, 2011  |   By MacSavers

    Version: Strata Design 3D CX 6.2

    Pros

    Excellent rendering engine. Includes HDRI and Raydiosity. Strong polygon modeling tools with significant upgrades in this area on this version. Has features found in much more expensive 3D packages standard like IK, complete animation tools, etc.

    Cons

    Animation controls are a bit dated and could use some improvements. Interface is also a tad dated but they seem to try and update it each revision. A tad pricey if you are thinking of it as entry level 3D application, but it has a low learning curve.

    Summary

    A solid if not spectacular 3D package with a strong community behind it. Has been around on the Mac platform for two decades, so they are very strong in the Mac community. Has been a Windows application for the past decade, so it's a true cross-platform solution for shops needing that kind of flexibility.
    Version 6 saw the inclusion of polygon modeling with a recent 6.2 update that added to this new set of tools making it a fairly strong modeler. Still not in the category of much more expensive 3D applications, but a very capable mid-level 3D application.
    Rendering has always been a strong suite for Strata3D. It's had a radiosity rendered for over a decade and has added extensive HDRI tools in the latest major revision. Can even save rendering files for later rendering, offering the ability to have multiple computers render different parts of an animation frameset at the same time. You are not able to use multiple computers to help render a single frame though, something that has been requested by the community.
    Animation tools are fairly robust, but can be confusing. There's a lot of power under the hood here, but much of it is hidden or hard to find. Could definitely use an interface overhaul here, but it's not so complex that you can't use it now, it's just that it could be better. With it's strong rendering engine, it can render some amazing animation clips, but be prepared for long render times. Although Strata has made major jumps in render speed, high end renders can still take a long time just like any other 3D software. Having more than one computer to render sections of an animation can save valuable amounts of time here. Strata used to offer a distributed render option but it's no longer available, although the community has requested it be added back in.
    The latest version also includes tools to integrate into Adobe's Photoshop program allowing a lot of control over textures, placing 3D objects in Photoshop files and swapping images from Photoshop into Strata as a 3D object. Currently no other software package offers this ability.
    Strata's community is fairly strong and very dedicated. Strata themselves participate in the community site run by someone independent of Strata, so they hold no influence over the website themselves, something refreshing in the industry. Strata seems genuinely concerned with making their users happy. They also seem very dedicated to producing fairly bug-free software. While no software version can be completely bug-free, Strata does seem to take extreme care to not release software before it's ready, another welcome trait.
    While Strata3D CX isn't perfect, it's a strong package with an amazing rendering engine that can produce top flight work. With ties to Adobe Photoshop, it has a strong tie-in with commercial 2D work. Strata has made a package that many 2D graphic artists can gravitate to without the large learning curve many 3D software packages seen to have. It also has a strong following in the architectual arena as well. Something to consider when looking at other solutions.
    Lastly, Strata has some additional software packages that augment Strata3D CX that also bear some investigation. It gives Strata some flexibility in other areas besides just a model / renderer.
    If you are looking for one software package to do everything and not have to learn multiple software packages, Strata will fit in just fine.

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  • 2.0 stars

    "Seriously dated interface. For hobbyists only."

    December 13, 2006  |   By Navarro Parker

    Version: Strata Design 3D CX 5.0.1

    Summary

    This review was originally posted on VersionTracker.com.
    I used Strata when it was one of the first PowerPC 3D programs for the Mac nearly a decade ago. I recently upgraded my copy to the current version. I was shocked to see how little the program had grown. While it touts new features like photon mapping, caustics, and multiprocessing, it has serious usability issues.

    Any 3D program that doesn't support industry standard three-mouse buttons is seriously limited. Likewise, there aren't any W-E-R keyboard shortcuts for scale/ rotate / pan. Navigation requires several trips to the toolbar each time you want to change your view. It also doesn't have keyframe snapping, so aligning the playhead to specific keyframes and making modifications is tedious. There is no motion graph. Its modelling capabilities are likewise forgettable. It also doesn't support multi channel or depth map rendering. If you've used Cinema 4D, Maya or After Effects for 10 minutes, you realize how lacking this application is in a real production environment.

    On the upside, it does have some of the easiest to use Metaballs. It has a pretty speedy raytracer (especially using multiple processors). It also has a great library of drag and drop textures.

    Outside of its metaball engine, I could never recommend this program to anyone but the Bryce/Poser home hobbyist crowd.

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  • 5.0 stars

    "Thank-you, Strata!"

    September 25, 2003  |   By Mr Tea

    Version: Strata Design 3D CX 3.9

    Summary

    This review was originally posted on VersionTracker.com.
    I'm always interested to see a new version of this programme, and 3.9 doesn't disappoint.

    I was, however, disappointed that the ravings of MCorum were presented here as a 'review' when, by his/her own admission, this person has been unable to use the update because they don't have the commercial version 3.8 CD. The proper thing to do, MCorum, would have been to present your comments as a 'Commentary' or 'Usage Tip', rather than contaminating the review ratings with your non-review.

    And may I join Phillth in asking you what happened to your CD? It's simple common sense to keep hold of the installers for your current, legally-owned software. If you lost, broke or discarded it, you can't expect a free replacement; if you sold it or gave it away, the software is no longer yours to update. Where's the beef, MCorum?

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  • 5.0 stars

    "User Be Intelligent!"

    September 24, 2003  |   By Studio G

    Version: Strata Design 3D CX 3.9

    Summary

    This review was originally posted on VersionTracker.com.
    The Read-Me that comes up before installation explains this to you. You have only yourself to blame for not backing up before going ahead with the installation. From the Read-Me:

    "Strata 3Dpro 3.9 will require you to re-enter your serial number and to verify against your Strata 3Dpro 3.8 CD. This will become apparent when you launch the software after completing the update process."

    How much clearer about it do they have to be? Where IS your CD anyway?

    I have been using this product since it was called StudioPro 1.0, and 3.9 is the best version ever. It is rock-solid under OS X, has countless under-the-hood enhancements and improvements, and even brings back a couple of features from the "good old days" including alpha rendering that excludes the background color, and the render-complete sound.

    Rendering is faster, with significantly more efficient raydiosity and caustics, "shadow optimizations" that you can toggle on and off, better handling of low-intensity lights, and improved anti-aliasing to name a few. There is now a way to kill the dreaded Nested Nodes. Better VRML import. Subtle but much-needed interface improvements. The list goes on...

    It should keep most of us happy until they finally get version 4.0 going. We need better modeling (SDS, NURBS, better metaballs etc.), spline deformations, improved animation tools, and some kind of a hybrid renderer.

    I don't work for Strata, I'm just a satisfied customer.

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  • 1.0 stars

    "USER BEWARE!"

    September 24, 2003  |   By MCorum

    Version: Strata Design 3D CX 3.9

    Summary

    This review was originally posted on VersionTracker.com.
    If by any chance you don't have the CD you installed the previous 3.8 version from - DON'T INSTALL THIS UPDATE! Not only can't you serialize the "free" upgrade without the CD - the updater destroys your previous 3.8 installation. I've been using Strata 3D for years and have always recommended it strongly - but I think they've gone around the bend with copy protection and the technical support group says the only way to get back to where I was before the ill-fated "upgrade" is to spent $40 to buy a replacement CD

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  • 3.0 stars

    "Useful or useless?"

    July 4, 2003  |   By MacWarrior

    Version: Strata Design 3D CX 3.8.1

    Summary

    This review was originally posted on VersionTracker.com.
    My first impressions with Strata were always good. But if you want to draw more complicated 3D, Lightwave and other competotors are much much better (and more expensive). In Strata, I dislike the perspective view, even if it's a view from the top or left, it doen't let you position on object at the exact place. You'll always see it in perspective, which mean you see a lot what you don't need. The Flash rendering could be better. I tried several times to render an animation in Flash, but the app crashed every time, even on a clean computer. Also it lacks some import functions: when I import a 3DS file from Studio Max, it never displays nor renders the textures used in Max. Not possible ? Yes it is. I render now my Max animations in SWF flash format in Swift3Dv3 in Classic mode, and it renders the textures completely. Is Strata useless? No. because it has a very intiutive UI, it's very easy for you to learn 3D drawing and animation and it helps you understand the workflow. Professional use? No, I'll use something else instead

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