Corel MotionStudio 3D review

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Corel MotionStudio 3D

It takes a fair amount of skill and determination to get into 3D animation. We're used to seeing animations with impossibly high production values on TV and at the cinema, and the effort required to produce even the simplest animations can leave home users feeling deflated.

As such, Corel's announcement of a brand new 3D animation package took us by surprise. However, a bit of digging revealed that this is essentially a repackaged version of Ulead Cool 3D – a program that was last updated in 2002. The interface looks modern with its charcoal colour scheme and tabbed panels, but functionally it's largely identical. Most significantly, the render engine is showing its age – there are 3D lighting effects but no ray tracing for photorealistic shadows, refractions and reflections. Preview performance is massively improved, though, which is perhaps enough reason in itself for this software to find a new audience.

The main focus is on text animations but the software also supports geometric shapes – either as 2D shapes with an extrusion or proper 3D shapes such as spheres, cones and pyramids. There's a lathe mode that uses radial symmetry to turn 2D drawings into round objects such as vases and bottles. The package can also generate particle effects such as snow or smoke, and a collision detection option means particles can bounce off other objects. It's an impressive line-up, but Motion Studio doesn't make it easy to position objects accurately in 3D space. Building complex objects by combining simpler shapes is not this package's forte.

New users should head straight to the Easy Palette, which contains a generous assortment of 3D models, materials, textures, bevels, effects, distortions and animations. There's a surprisingly deep level of manual editing available, too. For particle effects, the list of parameters include size, colour, rate, density, speed and gravity, with options to vary these values over the particles' life and introduce a degree of randomness. Elsewhere, objects can be distorted using a wireframe mesh, made to explode or be engulfed in fire.
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