To commit to modeling software is a big decision for many firms, because it involves an investment of both money to purchase the program and time for employees to learn it. The decisions depends on the priorities of the office and its clients (or the clients they’d like to attract). In abbreviated form, the following list highlights a range of modeling possibiities.
Sketchup (from @last Software)
Sketch-based 3-D modler that works with planes and planes and surfaces instead of solids. Easy to learn and use, it can exchange data with most standard CAD, 3-D modeling, and ilustration applications; It does not us ray tracing or radiosity, but designers can create many levels of output quality and effect using materials, colors, and shadows. Basic animations are also possible. Sketchup is an inexpensive modeling tool capable of producing images of considerable detail and quality.
FormZ (from auto-des-sys)
General-purpose solid and surface modeler wth good 2-D and 3-D capabilities. Performs Boolean operations and generates NURBS (Non-Uniform Rational Bézier Spline) curves, terrain, mesches contours, among other forms; FormZ RenderZone can produce photorealistic rendering effects also allows 2-D drafting.
3D Sudio Viz (from Autodesk)
Modeling, rendering, and animation program with an AutoCAD interface.
Reasonably priced 3-D solid modeling, rendering, and animation program with CAD interface. Designs can be developed using skethes, images, illustration files, CAD files, multimedia scenes or physical models. Predominantly used in industrial and jewelry design.
NURBS-based 3-D modeling, animation, and rendering program for creating full-motion effeccts; Realistic rendering of natural effects like blowing or clothes moving has made it useful for special effects in movies.
CATIA (from Dassault Systems, sold through IBM)
High-end solid model and 3-D product Lifecycle Management (PLM) software capable managing the entire life cycle of a design, from the concept and design phase through documentation, construction, and occupancy. Used extensively in the automotive and aeropspace industries, CATIA is built on a knoledlege-based architecture that enables the integration of many forms of intelligence in and from CAD, CAE (Computer-Aided Engineering), and CAM (Computer-Aided Manufacturing).
Digital Project for CATIA (from Gehry Technologies)
Package of elements for building industry solutions, used as add-ons to CATIA V5. For architecture offices, this is a less expensive alternative to the full-scale CATIA program.