Hollywood movie producers work with large budgets, for vfx thats why they can afford expensive software like Massive prime, Massive Prime was used for the lord of the rings battle scenes, its license starts at16000$ for the first year, yes you are not buying a purpetual license this is a subscription.
there alot of other software like ziva muscles that works with maya to generate muscles for animation, these are expensive applications used by big budget studios to make big budget movies, for independent artists like you and me, this list is a list of alternatives to such applications, specifically addons that work in blender.
blender even with these addons may not dethrone houdini for its procedural capabilities or Maya for its animation capabilities but as an individual you never use all the houdini or maya features in one project, most of the time you are just using 1% of that applications capability which is something blender can handle and sometimes handle better if you use it with some addons.
so lets dive in and look at these alternatives
1 hollywood Crowd creation softwares vs blender addons
when rodeo visual effects company wanted to create an army of zombies in hbo’s game of thrones series finale they relied on a software called golaem, when the producers of the lord of the rings wanted millions of orcs to fight in a battle scene, they could not find orcs who would risk it so they used a really expensive software called Massive prime to do it for them,
if you are on a low budget but want to make animated crowds for your movie you can try a free crowd simulator called MyArmy.
MyArmy is free to use in Maya so long as your crowd does not exceed 100 agents, if you want more than that you will have pay up about 3000$ on your first year and 1300$ every 6month
if thats not in your budget then you will love this procedural crowds addon for blender which is just $18 for the full package and you own it forever, it does almost anything you can expect from a crowd
if you want an alternative crowd fashionista is going to give you the same functionality and a quick way to customize the characters clothes and look, these characters are more detailed but its a little bit more expensive than procedural crowds at 39$ but compared to MyArmy’s 3000$ price tag, this is peanuts.
2 Creating Massive Worlds in blender Vs hollywood softwares
when the massive world of forza horizon was being made, the producers knew it was going to be impossible to hand model and place all the stones, rocks, grass, mountains and extremally large landscapes featured in the forza horizon series.
so they relied on Houdini’s procedural generation tools to create a procedural, dynamic and cohesive world, this would enable them to make changes easily without breaking everything or going back and fixing things by hand.
when it comes to this level of world generation, no tool, comes close to houdini.
but surprisingly the second best is blender compared to all the other tools, blender thanks to geometry nodes and addons like true terrain you can easily create massive worlds with materials, roads, mountains, plants, lakes and rivers in a few clicks.
there are also geometry generators that you can use to generate assets to use in your worlds in a matter of seconds like:
- Procedural Medieval Castle Generator
- Procedural Building Generator
- Procedural Planet Generator
- rock generator
- Procedural River
3 Fluid Simulation in blender + addons vs hollywood software
for fluid simulation Cinema 4d does not have a built in fluid solver but you can buy plugins like xparticles by insydium or use next limit’s Realflow which may or may not be discontinued as it has not been updated in years, Maya has BioFrost which is quite impressive and 3ds max comes with some fluids simulation tools but they are not the best, Houdini is known for its simulation, on the other hand, blender comes with its own inbuilt fluid solver called manta flow, its a powerful tool just limited with how you can control the fluid, its like having a lambogini with a crapy stearing wheel, it may be fast and great but you can’t controll it easily,
but if you want to create fluids with a creative way to direct the fluid then flip fluids is a proven addon you can add to blender to make it produce results.
if all you want is a realistic looking ocean or water shader, you can try real water another addon for creating realistic looking water. this addon is not a fluid solver and does not support things like floating or fluid splashes but for a simple scene with good looking water with caustics and foam it does a great job.
4 Fire and smoke hollywood simulators vs blender addons
houdini is hollywoods favourite for smoke and fire simulation thanks to its pyroFx solver, this is the most used tool in the industry, 3ds max has no inbuilt smoke simulator but you can buy fumeFx, maya has the inbuilt bifrost, cinema 4d has 3rd party plugin called pyrocluster and if you are looking for a realtime standalone solution for smoke simulation, then there is embergen, so what about blender, blender has a built in smoke simulation solver but like its fluid solver manta flow, you dont have a lot of ways to control the smoke, thats why you use addons like
Khaos ultimate explosion, this addon brings together the things you need to create a proper explosion in blender, including rigid body destruction tools, smoke and debris, fracture and destruction plus more
if you want an alternative Kafire and Kaboom are two addons by the same artist that you can use for controlled explosions and destructions, these two will give you the control you lack in the built in bare bones simulator that comes with blender.
5 marvelous designer vs blender cloth addons
when it comes to clothes, the hollywood standard is marvelous designer or clo which a both standalone cloth simulation applications by the same developer, they do everything from pattern design, accurate measurements and cloth simulation, cinema 4d artists really on vellum a builtin tool for simulating cloth, maya artists rely on ncloth, 3ds max use the cloth modifier and houdini also comes with its own vellum solver for cloth simulation.
Blender in many of these cases has comparable solvers but what it lucks are tools to control the simulation, like the poke and drag tool in marvelous designer. there addons that can get you the same functionality for a fraction of the price like , clothes in motion that has some interesting tools to guide cloth simulation
or if you are looking for cloth presets to dress up your character then simply cloth is an alternative to marvelous designer too, it does not come with the robust features of marvelous designer but it will get you where you want to go, if that is a fast way to create clothes of different designs that fit perfectly on your character.
if you like simply cloth you will also love its companion by the same developer called simply Material.
simply material is a library of materials and presets for clothes, the materials have great detail and can be used in conjunction with simply cloth to make proper cloth for your characters
6 Speed Tree Vs Blender Tree Addons
if hollywood studios want to create vegatation for cinema or video games they rely on speed tree, if you play video games then you have interacted with a speed tree asset. speedtree is a standalone tree and vegetation software that can be use to create plants in a procedural waym these trees can also be imported directly into blender but its not a one click process, it takes time to generate the trees and the importing process also takes several steps, but thanks to addons like botaniq and Nisarga you dont have to surfer through that process, all the trees, vegetations you will ever need in different seasons are included in these libraries.
these libraries are not tree generators but rather a library of ready to use premade plants and vegetations
7 hollywood Material and texture creation vs blender
when it comes to material and texture creation, hollywood producers rely on applications like substance designer for creating materials from scratch in a procedural way and if they want to apply those materials on models in a way that shows the edge and story of the model they use subtance painter. you can use adobe substance painter to make any material look new or dead and decaying.
it uses layers and smart masks so you can add all sorts of details to your model, all other applications including houdini, cinema, 3ds max and maya have similar tools but none comes close to substance painter
Blender is also not better off here but you can use available material libraries like sanctus material library or fluent materializer which are both libraries with hundreds of different materials so that when you want to produce a scene in a reasonable time frame you dont have to ever waste a second on materials, any material you want is going to be in the library, and thanks to there use of smart masks you can add details like wear and tear and dust collection to your assets.
these where some of the alternatives you can use instead of expensive tools by adobe or autodesk, this list obviously does not cover everything so i will make sure to update it in the future.