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Google SketchUp

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Google SketchUp

I don't know if anyone else has tried Sketchup, but I'm finding it to be quite an asset. It's not really a rendering tool, but you can make 3D models pretty easily. It can make cylinders and geodesic domes, but it seems to be able to deal with boxes a lot easier.

To me, it's very good for revisualization, and using print-outs for construction lines. You can even simulate different camera lenses. I don't think I've ever encountered a free download that's become an actual tool before. But after a period of awkwardness, I've found it fairly simple. There's a "For Dummies" book that just came out, and I'm going to have to buy it!

Maybe you should get the pro version; i have it and it is really cool, i just made two simple cars and an helicopter for animation. With a free software called Fraps you can record the camera moves; and with some actions in photoshop i can erase the background and using it as -simple- animation; setting the times and move with flash.

Get a book... mmm... there is really useful and free videotutorials in the official webpage, so i think you can learn without some book.