I wish there was a smiley pulling his hair out right about now... Here's the scoop. I work in Landscape Architecture, but my background is Civil Engineering. Not very artistic in most aspects. My training and expertise is with AutoCAD vanilla (up to 2008 now). I have worked with 3D in the past within AutoCAD (circa R12 days), Rhinoceros (many, many moons ago), and currently SketchUp with Sandbox enhancements. SketchUp is just too dumbed down for me. I don't mind simple interfaces and such (I am a Command: line freak), but SketchUp is just too extreme.
Our firm has been getting into photo-realistic renderings more and more lately. I know Photoshop, and use it all the time for 2D rendering. As for 3D, we just use SketchUp, which has been OK until now. We now have a greater demand for ultra-realistic modeling with animation. For example, a client recently approached us to model and animate a site fly-through for a 600-acre development . It really burns me that we had to outsource it. Which brings me to where I am now... Which do I need to learn, 3DS or Maya??? I've read a pile of reviews of both, and both have some pretty hefty credentials behind them. Could anyone give me some advice here? If you need more info on what we're looking for, please let me know.
Thanks in advance for any help and advice given! I really appreciate it.