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The Kinemac interface is clear, and everything works in real time.
The word “easy” is usually not found anywhere near the term “3D” in a sentence describing 3D graphics software, and for good reason—creating 3D animation has become a specialized task, with highly complex software and a huge learning curve. Kinemac is an attempt to let video producers shorten the path from concept to final product, and while we found quite a lot to like, there are some places where the software still seems a little weak.
Kinemac is a Mac-only program and sports a very clean interface that immediately feels familiar. Right off the bat, you’ll discover that while there are some basic 3D shapes to work with—spheres, cubes, donuts, cylinders, tubes—there are no true 3D modeling tools, so you’ll need a separate 3D modeling program to make the most of this app. It’s simple to place images or movies directly onto 3D objects, and create animation by producing keyframes for an object changed in position, scale, or size over time, or create 3D spline paths for moving objects or cameras in a smooth, natural way. Pro-quality curves editing let us tweak the distance between keyframes, changing animation speed. Kinemac isn’t as powerful as Adobe’s popular After Effects, but it’s capable of creating some professional-looking results. Everything in Kinemac renders in real time—and worked even with scenes full of objects, lights, and motion—even on lower-end hardware. The rendering quality is very nice, but it’s no replacement for a true ray-tracing engine.
We enjoyed working with the 3D type tool, which is perfect for whipping up sweet flying logos, for example—but the lack of custom bevel shapes for extruded text is a major omission. There are ample tools for creating lights, animation paths, and managing textures, but the program doesn’t include a decent texture library or variety of animation templates, which would help 3D beginners get up to speed in a short time. The lack of a printed manual—or even a PDF manual (the entire help system is online only)—is unfortunate, as the single tutorial movie on the Kinemac website left us wanting more.
While there’s a lot to like in Kinemac, we wish it had more 3D modeling tools, especially for the money. We were also surprised to learn that the authentication procedure limits you to a single Mac: In this day and age, we expect to have at least two install authorizations—one for a desktop machine, another for a laptop. Every Mac application should offer a Revert command, but Kinemac lacks one, which is an interface no-no.
It’s certainly possible to whip up some tasty animation with Kinemac, but we wish it were a bit more polished.
REQUIREMENTS: Mac OS 10.4.9 or later, 512 MB RAM, 128 MB VRAM
Very straightforward interface. Real-time performance. Nice spline controls for animation. Universal binary.
No 3D modeling tools. Lacks pro-quality ray tracer. Install limited to a single Mac.