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I was just reading the Core77 article and see that Autodesk have done all slick repackaging of Alias 2010.
Quote from core77- Realistic Pricing - Realizing, perhaps, that a large and growing fraction of their user base work as freelancers or in small shops with shallow pockets, Autodesk is dropping the price of the most basic version to $4000, which seems to be the magic number upon which many high-end CAD packages are converging (except you, Rhino). The product line, by the way, has re-embraced the Alias name, so that DesignStudio, AutoStudio, etc are now Alias Design, Alias Surface, and Alias Automotive. Note that if you're a car designer, you're probably working for a big company for whom the US$65,000 on Alias Automotive is not as big a concern as the tanking market and the striking assembly line workers.


Image


So what are your views with regards to super dooper Alias and Rhino now? I know there are tons of older threads but eternal topics should be re-discussed eternally :lol: What is more tempting and practical for smaller shops and freelancers with future in mind?

Rhino + sketch book pro + external renderer the way to go these days for smaller shops or is Alias still the Mac daddy for CAID? I just would like people to discuss the two apps all over again :D

Postby Cyberdemon » April 15th, 2009, 8:32 am

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At the end of the day the Alias guys and the Rhino guys can have a pissing contest to see who's best, but it doesn't matter. The best tool is the one that you can use the most effectively to get your work done.

I used Rhino for years, and I don't think I would go back now after using Alias for the past 2. My arm/brain has become so used to the marking menus and toolset that I can't imagine ever being as productive in Rhino, even if I could get very close results.

I think in many cases Rhino is a great tool. There are a lot of features it has that Alias DOESN'T - and for certain fields thats a big advantage. With the ability to mesh with VRAY and Maxwell you can get very good results very quickly. Theres lots of shops out there using it and it's proven itself a worthy competitor.

You forget that its one thing if you're buying one seat of software - another if you're buying 10. Thats a 30k difference.

Postby testin2010 » April 16th, 2009, 2:27 am


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Food for thought. Google search gave-

I used Alias Studio for several years but decided to replace it with Rhino and V-Ray about 18 months ago. There were several reasons for this, the following are a few random thoughts.

There’s no doubt that Alias is a fantastic piece of software but it isn’t/wasn’t supported very well and development had stalled. Admittedly during the time I was using it (approximately 2001 – 2008), it changed hands several times which certainly didn’t help matters (hopefully now that Autodesk own it things have improved). My biggest source of frustration was the almost total lack of support. I work on my own and had to learn surface modelling from scratch (my background was using parametric solid modellers like Solidworks), at the time there were almost no tutorials available apart from the very basic ones included in the manual. If you tried to get help from Alias or their resellers, they were very unresponsive. It felt like a closed shop, all they were interested in was milking more money from their customers and perpetuating the myth that surface modelling is a black art. Even the Alias approved training course I attended was a waste of time. Rhino is the complete opposite; there are loads of tutorials, books, DVDs etc. available – many of them free of charge.

The annual maintenance contract for Alias was another gripe. Although optional, you had to have it if you wanted up to date software. It cost more each year than Rhino and V-Ray cost to buy outright. Some years all you’d get was a single service release masquerading as a major update. I never felt as if I was getting much for my money.

The origins of Alias go back a long way and much of the baggage from yesteryear still lurks in the program (or it did, I haven’t used it recently and Autodesk may have removed much of it by now). There’s lots of arcane features to do with the film industry still there. They don’t cause problems other than adding complexity and “bloat” but the software isn’t as focused as it could be. This issue was indicative of a lack of development; it felt like old software.

The rendering engine in Alias was good but not in the same class as V-Ray. You could produce very nice rendering in Alias but the lighting was very difficult to set up and it was slow. Another big advantage of Rhino is the choice of rendering plug-ins. I currently use V-Ray but I could add Maxwell, Hypershot or something else to my toolkit as some point. As far as I know Alias doesn’t have that capability.

The sketching in Alias is nice but I used it very rarely. It’s too slow and cumbersome to be of any real use (the pen icon would lag behind your Wacom stylus). Perhaps if you used it all day every day you’d get more out of it but a piece of paper and a pencil is hard to beat. If you must have digital sketching, Painter is a better more flexible option in my opinion. I occasionally use Painter and it is certainly much faster.

In terms of raw modelling tools, I haven’t found Rhino lacking. In fact, Rhino has several tools that Alias doesn’t (didn’t) have. The accuracy issue is a red herring in my opinion, I’ve found absolutely no difference in the tolerances achievable in Rhino compared to Alias. The IGES data I’ve exported from Rhino to produce injection mould tools has been flawless.

The only thing about Alias I miss is the interface. It is quite simply the best interface of any program I’ve ever used. It appears a little strange at first if you’re used to Windows programs but once you get used to it, it is superb; the marking menus are fabulous and I wish Rhino could copy them.

To finish (I’ve been rambling on for far too long) I must just add that I haven’t used Alias (or seen it) for about 18 months and Autodesk may have addressed some or all of the issues I mention. I wouldn’t go back to it now though, Rhino and V-Ray allow me to achieve all that I need at a much lower cost.

Postby Cyberdemon » April 16th, 2009, 8:35 am

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I can agree with most points of that. Rhino has very good support in the community because it's so accessible. I think it's a great starting tool as well - the learning curve for Alias is definately overwhelming at first. The "pick nothing" concept completely confused me when I had tried to play with it the first time. I figured it I couldn't even deselect things, how was I going to model stuff!

I was lucky to have some very experienced collegues to teach the ins and outs, as well as best practices. It's not just enough to learn the tool - but to learn what NOT to do is also critical. I don't think theres enough people left out there to teach it, which makes learning it by yourself very difficult.

I do think the standard documentation is still very very good though. People are very quick to search for tutorials online before ever touching the learning Alias books - which do a very good job of covering the main functionality.

Postby Sleek » April 17th, 2009, 10:51 am


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I totally agree with the large quote you found on the internet.

The "few users but large fees" system was made for the automakers who didn't even tried to lower their cost having a "the more expensive must be the better" attitude. Their selling approach was aiming at a IT Vice President or Industry Vice President who never ever used a 3D software. When those were in college Autocad didn't even existed !

But this "closed" system is a vicious circle : few users, so no user forums, no tutorials made by expert users, and, as it is pointed out, few courses possibilities and poor ones.

My company bought Alias seats years ago.
The learning curve is very step.
The software is bloated because new functionalities were just added randomly, never "cleaning" the old versions. A new round tool was added but the old one stayed there because none of them worked properly so you are just left with trying both of them hopping it will work. Instead of putting the effort to have just one but actually working.
The rendering is also a pain in the ass. The animation menu as been right in the middle for years but it isn't until last year that it was able to actually output some anim. Before there were just tenths or hundreds of stills for you to assemble in another software ! Even free 3D software was able to directly ouput real animation !
But this complexity itself makes you reluctant to change. "I don't want to go through this again" attitude (which I totally understand ) allow them to grab the money year after year.

I have to say that Autodesk (I don't work for them) seems to be doing what should have been done during all those years : rewriting the existing tools so they are reliable instead of adding fancy unfinished features to old unfinished features. For example the data translator is better, the overall stability, the auto-save when it crashes. Yes at 50 000 $ it crashes like Photoshop on your Performa 475 last century !!
It still as a long way to go before being fully cleaned up.

The new 3 versions with still extravagant price difference based on a few differences creates absurd situations : the former Studio (around 20k) user become a Surface user (around 20k, ok) but looses the sketching features ! The advice is "just keep your Studio 2009 for sketching and switch from one to the other". Can you believe it ?
The 2010 data translator they're so proud of : I had a CAD file which opened with problems using DirectConnect 2009. I tried 2010 : "Because of problems the file can't be opened" I would rather have a "dirty" file than no file at all ! I switched back to 2009.

Happily Rhino is pushing ADSK, AliasWavefront had no real exact competitor. I hope a third one (Modo ? SolidWorks ?) will become a tool of choice for designers so we have a balanced competitive situation here. Catia for designers seems nice but they have the same flaws : very expensive, almost no users, not even a demo to try it !

This "closed" approach as proven to be wrong. 3DSMax was the most copied 3d soft. And became the most used, because pirate students become paying customers.
Last edited by Sleek on April 19th, 2009, 10:19 am, edited 2 times in total.

Postby username3d » April 17th, 2009, 12:46 pm


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i learned alias in school, had an internship at alias, and have been an alias user at an automotive company for over 5 years. I have also recently downloaded the free beta of rhino for the mac platform at home.

alias has had its issues with releasing broken tools and half hearted attempts at competitive functions in the past, but with autodesk at the helm now i believe they started to rectify that with 2009 version. they have also started to clear out the vestigal tools from the days of yore. i am a born and bread alias guy, and have a hard time wrapping my head around other CAD/CAID packages if only for their different workflows. i have also been fortunate to use it in environments where there is a robust support stucture like at the auto company i'm at. but for the furniture work i do on my own time, outside of my day job, i've adopted rhino, because it will likely be priced right when it goes full commercial ($65K pretty much prices out all but the most succesful independant designers) and has a good reputation and base functionality to what i am accustomed to.

one thing to realize is that a lot of the development of alias is funded by its biggest customers, so the fact that alias doesn't cater to the little guy is no suprise there. while $4K retail is pretty reasonable for the lowest level of alias, i've frankly been spoiled by always having access to the full blown version in my career and would rather learn a whole new package than work with the basic package feeling hamstrung by its limited functionality.

i've found the beta of rhino to be pretty cool, and intruiging, but like i said, its hard to break out of my alias workflow and learn something new so that's a huge personal challenge. right now in rhino, i'm still bogged down learning the alternative terminology for the same processes ("align" in alias is "match" in rhino, etc). its made me realize though that the biggest asset of alias versus all others is the marking menus and fully customizable GUI. like was mentioned above, i have a hard time seeing how i will be as productive without them in rhino... i do things so fast in alias, enabled by the marking menus, that i'll do several sequencial processes intuitively without even thinking about it.

alias is still a far superior tool in my opinion, especially in a corporate environment like i am in now, where there are internal structures devoted to support, developement and training issues related to alias. however, on the "outside" in my personal work, i could never imagine how i would be able to (legitimately) acquire the software as i would want it due to the cost and deal with the support issues like those mentioned above. as a little guy, rhino makes all the sense in the world, and i look forward to learning more about it.

another tool to check out, if only to make it interesting, is solidthinking, supposedly developed by a former alias employee that seems to have several fairly high profile users and similar surface modeling functionalities to both rhino and alias. i downloaded a free version of this as well, but you can't save or anything, so that pretty much kills any motivation to actually do an in- depth try out of it

Postby testin2010 » April 17th, 2009, 2:17 pm


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On the net I am getting the impression recently that Rhino might even be becoming superior to Alias (excluding auto industry that itself is imploding). Rhino seems like a GP motorbike and Alias a huge truck from 1950s. This is an interesting post from Alias guy/software trainer.

Taken from this very interesting thread "Is Alias dying"-
http://discussion.autodesk.com/forums/m ... 36#5993836

I personally can't make much sense out of the post. Seems like lot of fluff in there. I love the "Rhino rhino rhino" part.

Can you analyize the thread and the post for me? What is your view?



Certainly alias will not die. i would say its the other way.
We invest into industrial design as well as into automotive design. we deal globally with lots of new and interesting design styles and technology developments that are apart from normal NURBS modeling.

Autodesk integrated alias software into their huge school program globally. it will take some time until these effects will be visible to the original alias community. Technical product development is my field here in autodesk. Everybody understand that this here is not the forum to explain what we do developing the software. But i can assure you that the alias train is running. i am very happy that we can have access into technology we always wanted and that will be visible in our software in the future.

Rhino, rhino, rhino, this topic always comes up and i will find some words for it.

we can chat about it in detail, if you want, and there is no reason to argue about the function details. i ran icem surf for almost 6 years and surface studio for another 6 years, i feel quite comfortable about it.

but lets take a step back! We see more and more design agencies and designers selling their data instead of a physical model or an image. Those data run into CAD systems. Unfortunately there are lots of those CAD systems and i don’t see that a designer has to run pro E for one client and solid works for the other client. as well, i don’t think that solid modeling systems are good for creative design.

good, lets say we need a NURBS modeling system. I dont believe that such a system is the best for design and styling either, but it allows some more freedom. so what do we have. Alias, Rhino, one other system, not more.

NURBS quality becomes more and more importaqnt when you go into CAD systems. its about fitting tolerances as well as about NURBS representation and about highlights. If this doesn’t play a role for you, well, then its rhino. its a battle i wouldnt take.

but if you think strategical you might look into alias. they invest into hybrid modeling where polygons will play a bigger role. think about a surface modeling approach that is closer to a wacom skecthing approach! who said that you cannot erase surfaces, who said that the photoswhop layering variations cannot be recognized into a 3d software?
with all this i want to say that rhino NURBS modeling is nice, but not more.

if you see that designers more and more sell a digital model too, then you might think about the value of such a kmodel. a typical rhino file is useless. as you said, it has to be rebuild by engineers. i would conmsider the value of such a model as kind of low. imagine a good NURBS model that can be touched by somebody else, can be used in acd software! i see there much more value.

this has nothing to do with design? well spoken, but i might find this a bit short-term-viewish. especially universities should think a bit bigger. JUST_NURBS technology is not up to data anymore and i advice every design student to reach for the best tools.

using alias will ask you for NURBS patch layouting. this is an important skill, not just for alias, even for classical clay modeling, ...
rhino is a tool that you sue to sketch some ideas, but why do you do that in NURBS??? when it is just about sketching an idea i would think about tolls like mudbox, maya and others that are dealing with polygons or subdivs.
if you need NURBS i dont get it, why you want to do a typical RHINO NURBS representation???

tool level:
a modern modeling is a mixture off curve based procedural methods and direct modeling methods. you need the curves to layout a model and direct moving of CV's if you want to shape it in detail.
Oh yes, you can do the same in RHINO, i know.
but its the queestion how a tool is implemented, reachable to use it again and again and again. alias is designed for this combination, rhino not.
we should see what we can do with construction history, with conform rig, witch transformer rig, where you model surface sets instead of single surfaces. what do you do when you lost the history of a curve based four sided surface? in this case you could work with an align that matches two surfaces in any quality you want. and then tolerances come into the game ...

its a question of the design job you do. i know that there are jobs that are good for rhino, but i wonder why a deigner should use BMW 3series instead of a maserati???


Uwe Rossbacher
:D :D

Postby Cyberdemon » April 17th, 2009, 2:51 pm

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It's all a little confusing but I would say this:

To me, the reason I find Alias a better package for an Industrial designer is speed.

All other factors aside (price, capabilities, rendering) - Alias lets me create very advanced forms and concepts MUCH faster than any other software I've used in over 10 years as a CAD nerd.

At the end of the day I could build something in Alias that I could more than likely copy in Rhino or even Solidworks or others. But the difference is the speed of the interface means that I can rapidly create, iterate (through construction history), and export CLEAN geometry that is tooling ready in much less time.

I've built some complex models in Rhino - and I've found the overall surface quality, cleanliness, and ability to make rapid judgements on surface continuity still does't match what I can pull off in Alias.

With that said I'm sure there are many areas that don't require this level of surface detail, iteration, or variations. For lots of things I could pull the exact same results off in the EXACT same time in Rhino as I could in Alias, maybe even faster.

Everyone continues to have this lifelong pissing contest of which is "best".

In many ways a modified Subaru WRX is just as good as a Ferrari F430. It can be as fast, handle as well, and in some cases it may even be better (you can fit 4 people) - and all that for a fifth of the price! But theres still going to be people who buy the Ferrari - because it's still VERY good at what it does.

Use the tool that suits you best and stop worrying what people on the internet think of it.

Postby username3d » April 17th, 2009, 2:54 pm


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seems like english might be a second language for that guy ( also wonder if i met him on my internship), but he makes many valid, if vague, points about downstream user connectivity (modeling tolerances, etc) and bigger picture tools like lattice and transformer rig, which i've used and are extremly powerful, allowing you to manipulate a whole assembly of surfaces much like you'd direct model a single surface by moving CV's, in fact i'd like to add those tools to assets of alias that no other software out there can currently touch.

he's basically saying that if you are working in a relative vacuum in terms of process and your surface data does not need to transfer seemlessly downstream to an engineer as production surface than by all means use rhino, but if what you are creating is production surface, alias is the better tool. i get the feeling that most people here aren't approaching this topic in terms of the grander product development process which he is addressing, so if that's not a consideration than that argument may not apply at all.

i do also agree with him that solid modeling tools are poorly equiped for creative and organic surfacing, despite a lot of talk here at core and elsewhree blowing smoke up the behind of solidworks and pro-e

Postby Travisimo » April 17th, 2009, 5:04 pm

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I've been lurking here - interesting to follow, especially since I'm not a big user of either Rhino nor Alias, though I've been interested in spending some time learning one of them...

anyway, my question: Is the surface model export from Rhino that poor that you cannot easily import it into a ProE type engineering software? I've heard before that Alias is poor at that as well (something about saving any fillets for the engineering SW for example)..

What do you guys think?

(hope this doesn't derail, but it is an important part of using the software..)
Last edited by Travisimo on April 17th, 2009, 6:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Postby MasterBlaster » April 17th, 2009, 5:29 pm

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No- that is not a problem- Rhino translates very well. I think what they are referring to is the number of cvs, continuity etc: when referring to surface quality in Rhino.

username3d- could you talk us through some of the specific functionality that is missing from Rhino when compared to Surface Studio? This discussion is so nebulous without an idea of specific features.

Postby testin2010 » April 20th, 2009, 2:13 pm


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Could there ever be a better advert for Alias than this dude? :shock: :shock:
No wonder Alias/ADK use his images on Studio Tool packaging. The guy is out of this world!

http://www.darkroastedblend.com/2009/03/cosmic-motors-concept-art-by-daniel.html

Postby Sleek » April 21st, 2009, 12:53 pm


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Yes !!
It put all this in perspective : even with everything I've been complaining about in Alias if you are good there seems to be no limits !
This guy is amazing:
Excellent imagination+sketcher+modeller+renderer+real life photographer !!

Maybe what I find the most amazing is the fact that (I think) he renders in Alias. There are some overheated chrome "oily rainbow" effects on exhaust pipes that make me drool ! :shock: Have been displayed on the Alias 2007 calendar.
I can't even imagine how he does all this detailing on Alias render engine.

The funny thing is that the guys at ADSK are so willing to use those images they use them for Inventor, when not a single bolt was made with Inventor ! Not to mention rendering...

Postby testin2010 » April 21st, 2009, 6:59 pm


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Sleek he renders in Maya :wink:

Daniel: I want to talk about my workflow - how I come from a thumbnail sketch on paper to a photorealistic scene with real babes featuring the vehicle. That includes 3D blocking on Alias, modeling and detailing the vehicle in AliasStudio, switching to Maya for Mapping and rendering in Mental Ray. All with the experiences I have from Car and Movie Design business.
You will get an overview over my general work approach, incl. how to photograph a photo model to composite it into your 3D scene.
I will also speak about my current visions of the future, near and far, look at the development in design, society and design, talk about my inspiration and why I do what I do.

Postby Sleek » April 23rd, 2009, 6:00 am


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Thanks for the info ! I'm slightly less inclined to hang myself now :D

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