I started with Carrara some years ago now, at version 5. I’ve used it on and off over the years, and have generally managed to do what I needed with it, although at times it’s been quite a struggle. I’ve done product illustrations, logotypes, some animations, some physics. No character animation or soft body stuff though. And not really used any DAZ content, except for some experimentats.
But I recently decided to try something else, and got myself Cinema 4D. I’d like to share my initial experience, since I suspect many here are in a similar situaition.
Carrara is an amaingly complete and competent program. Looking at its feature list, it’s geally got it all. There are very few areas it doesn’t cover or support. If you look at features per dollar, it’s probably second to none. As a learing tool, and for getting your feet wet in 3D, it’s excellent. It covers all the bases, so you can get to grips with the nomenclature and concepts. Ppolygons, edges, vertices, extrusion, shaders, bump maps, displacement, procedural shaders, lighting, rendering, ambient occlusion, global illumination, animation, motion blur, vector blur, hair. The list just goes on and on - Carrara really has it all!
As I see it, the main (dare I say only) problem with Carrara is its flakyness. It crashes. It locks up. It enters what I call “zombie mode” (i.e., windows can me moved, menus pulled down, but no commands work). It leaks memory while rendering. It often fails to import files from other programs - sometimes antirely, often partially, with wierd looking or missing geometry.
Don’t get me wrong. It doesn’t *always* do these things, as evdenced by all the example scenes you can find on the forums, as well as the result I’ve manaed to accomplish myself over the years. But it happens often enough to be a real problem. At least if you’re trying to get a job done on a deadline, and not just goof around.
I’ve mainly used it on a Mac, and occasionally on a PC. It seems somewhat more stable on the PC (I haven’t encountered the “zombie mode” there yet, for example). So perhaps PC users have a better experience than I have. Also, I assume you can learn how to use the program to avoid all its pitfalls, and be productive. But I haven’t.
And, yes, I’ve tried to be a good citizen over the years and filed bug reports, provided small, reproducible test cases, etc. Occasionally a problem has been improved/fixed. But most of my bug reports are still lingering with little or no attention, year after year, and the bugs have remained in the program (I haven’t used 8.x, mind you, but the forums here don’t seem to indicate any significant quality improvements).
So, I’ve asked myself, why is this so. Being a professional software developer myself, I have some experience with what can go wrong with a program. So here are my thoughts.
1. Loss of original developers. Carrara has been around for many years (started as Raydream, if memory serves me). It seems quite lilkely that the original developers and architects behind it arew long gone. At least most of them. It’s possible that there are many areas of the program that aren’t well understood by the current developers/maintainers.
2. Featuritis. Each new version needs some new “killer features”. At least that’s what marketing people tend to believe. As you keep adding new features to a complex piece of software, the quality tends to deteriorate over time. Particularly if those features are added by people not intimately familiary with the original software design.
3. Focus on content - not software. It’s clear that DAZ focus and main revenue is the content they sell, not the software. That’s why they can sell Carrara for a fraction of what other apps cost (and give away DAZ Studio for free). This is also indicated by features added over the last few verisons, as they have focused more on supporting new content capabilities and formats than making the existing features of the program work reliably.
So I finally decided to give up on Carrara, at least for my professional needs. I still like the program. It has a nice overall feel to it, and it’s quite approachable (as far 3D programs go), and fun to use. I’d still recommend it if you just want to play around and learn the concepts. But not if you need to get a real work done, fit into a workflow with files from other 3D apps, or keep a deadline.
I’ve been using Cinema 4D for a couple of weeks now. It certainly has its learning curve (but having used Carrara helped a lot). I miss a few things from Carrara. But overall, I’m a happy camper. Yes, the program is more expensive (particularly if you want the top-of-the-line Studio version). But it hasn’t failed me yet. It has imported the files I’ve thrown at it with little or no problem. It’s not leaked memory as far as I can tell. It has rendered reasonably fast with good looking results (yes, it supports network renderering, just like Carrara). And it hasn’t crashed on me once. Not a single time! For such a complex piece of software, that’s pretty impressive. I’m sure there are bugs, and it will probably crash on me some day. But so far, it’s been night and day as far as reliability is concerned.
So, let’s see if this posting gets yanked by the forum admins, or whether I’ll get totally shot down by the Carrara fan-boys. It doesn’t really matter, since I doubt I’ll be coming back here very often. Anyway, thanks or the years we shared. I’ve learned a lot, and I blieve I “got what I paid for”, so I have no hard feelings. I just wish things would have been different, or improved significantly over the years, since I really liked you.