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3d CG Backgrounds - Programs and Techniques?

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3d CG Backgrounds - Programs and Techniques?

Hi! :)

So, character animation in 3d is a well-documented realm. But when it comes to the backgrounds...I wonder just how that's done? In what programs is it all built up? How is brought together with the character animation - I assume one doesn't build and animate the environment and the character all in the same program?, but maybe that's wrong? I suppose for an interior, you could build up the basic bones of in AutoCAD or something - but what about all the little extra details?, what about natural scenes (grass, water, weather, etc)?
Mind you, I'm not asking this in the context of how professional, multi-million-dollar studios do it - I want to know how best for me to go about it, at home, with a couple of my own rather capable computers.

So any general information, any books, any links...any anything!, I'd really appreciate it.

Thanks bundles! :)

I do not have titles for you but I have seen books on this subject. If you do not have a big book store in your area, you might have to wait for when you are in a city that has a large book store.

You should check in the computer gaming area as will as the graphic area.

Maya has some nice built in FX systems like Paint Effects and Fluid Effects for creating plants, smoke, clouds. Weather like rain and snow can easily be created with any built-in particle system. For more advanced systems, studios sometimes write their own software, or you can get third party plug-ins like Digital Nature or RealFlow. must have some good threads on this topic.

Thanks for your help guys!, even you Harvey. :) I take back %30 of all the mean things I said about/to/at you.
Maya seems to be what the majority of character-animation is done in too?, so I guess was I wrong then!, it's a one-stop deal. Well that's good!, only one program to learn. ;)

You said mean things about me?

alternatively, depending on your requirements, a selection of landscapes, photoshop and a bit of skill can go a long way: