Using plug-ins isn’t cheating.

loocas | opinions,software | Thursday, July 10th, 2008

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You know, it’s funny, but from time to time I bump into a person that is able to stubbornly argue for hours that using plug-ins in your software is a kind of cheating. I really don’t understand where these people are coming from and where they got this, stupid, idea?! My point of view is that if anything can save you precious time, then by all means, go for it, even if it means purchasing a 3rd party software (plug-in) for your animation package. It’s stupid and naive to think that your software can do anything and everything! Imagine where would, for example, MotionBuilder be if there was no FBX plug-in for your application! Imagine the wasted hours spent animating hundreds of bricks falling apart and colliding if it wasn’t for Havoc, or the countless hours wasted on rendering with Scanliner if it wasn’t for MentalRay. These are just a very, very, few examples of how plug-ins are actually extremely important!

3ds Max has the reputation of being one of the most, if not most, widely used animation package. This is partially to the huge community behind 3ds Max, but also due to the enormous 3rd party developers group working with Max’s SDK and producing countless, usefull, tools and utilities that speed up your workflow or sometimes even allow you to do things not possible with standard, out of the box, 3ds Max installation. Why do you think that those, highly acclaimed, high-end studios spend so much money and time on developing their own applications, software and plug-ins for their current needs? Simply because it helps them either deliver on time or make effects that others can’t! And that’s the whole point, plug-ins help to keep you on the very cutting edge ahead of the competition!

I can’t imagine working without plug-ins, either my own, proprietary little tools and utilities, freeware tools or even commercial packages. I couldn’t deliver the kind of work I do without the help of ingenious 3rd party developers out there. I’d hit rock bottom and very quickly become an expandable asset to my clients, they’d rapidly find someone who’s on the cutting edge, able to deliver what they want, when they want! And that’s exactly what I’m trying to avoid by learning new tools, mastering various techniques and using plug-ins, among other things.

So, saying that using plug-ins is in fact cheating is very short-sighted and, in fact, stupid. No, using plug-ins isn’t cheating, quite the opposite, it’s the smartest way to become one of the best in your field. Like the top athletes using top gear or the best scientists working on the best hardware, if you want to become one of the best, you have to be smarter, faster, more efficient, cheaper and much more agile and adaptable than the rest, how you get there is entirely up to you, but using 3rd party software to help you get there puts you one step ahead of the competition!

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