I’ll try and reply to your thoughtful questions. It’s a bit of a story.
If you like, you can peruse the forum for last years posts which are mostly found in the MAKE thread here.
At the time, I was running a small team of developers, 3D Artists and media folks to create what would become an Augmented Reality educational app called Experience Real History: The Alamo.
We used just about every software known on that project: Maya, Blender, SketchUp, 3DMax, Substance, and even 3D Coat and Zbrush.
During that time, one of my jobs was to work with historians to create the most dimensionally accurate model of the compound possible. I ended up modeling, texturing, writing the shaders, etc. for the whole Alamo compound in 1836. I learned a lot about SU’s limits during that time.
My pipeline looked like this:
- Model in SketchUp off of old blueprints. This was of course SU’s strength and I could fairly quickly create first passes.
- Render and review in SU (using Fluid Interactive’s AO renderer).
- Export as low poly OBJ
- Make sure SU model is water tight and export to 3D Coat to voxelize and add damage.
- Export 4-10 million poly OBJ to Substance for creating normal map of damage around the low poly OBJ.
- Import low poly OBJ and normal map to Unity and add rock shader there. For a low poly model, the final results spoke for themselves.
During this time, I made several unsuccessful attempts at paying noted plugin devs to try and write a decent bevel addon for SketchUp. I asked Fredo if he would update his plugin, but he did not have the time. Eventually, he sent me some betas and now there is finally a valid bevel/chamfer plugin that works. Thanks again to Fredo, but for me it was a great product but too late.
So, as we finished the project, I looked back over this particular pipeline, and the pipelines I used to create the Hyperloop (all done in SU and Keyshot) concepts for Elon Musk, and those used to create the Drone Ambulance for Fast Company (and their Cadillac that split in two) and realized a couple of things:
- I do many different things in SU. While I am a trained Industrial Designer, I do all sorts of concept work and not only architecture.
- As my tasks diversify, I need more power and more tools. A few years ago I added both MoI3D, Substance Painter and 3D Coat to my personal pipeline.
- Keeping up with all these programs is a full time job. And 3D is NOT my full time job. It’s the main reason I’ve stuck with SU all these years. It’s like an old friend where I can jump right back into it after not using it for 6 months.
Still, looking at the first list above, and after finishing the Alamo project, I pretty much decided I personally needed to switch. All that pipeline and the uncertainty of where Pro is going. I can pretty much do just about that full pipeline in one package-- Blender. This decision was made long after the first video. This does not mean I advocate everyone needs to switch.
One of the things I noticed in the hundreds of comments from the first video, were many sentiments like yours, Jim.
Why not use both? And I thought about that a good bit. After studying Blender a bit more, I recognized a FIT between the two, which was IMO natural and easy and free. Just use SketchUp to model and Blender to render SU scenes and they can be animated lightning fast with EEVEE.
So, I contacted some of the top SU artists to see if they might help beta test and off I went to create my EEVEE rendering course for SU users. It has done well and I have had good feedback.
So, yes, I am switching. But for the reasons I mention above and because personally, I have little trust in Trimble to shepherd the PRO version into something I can use longterm.