The Hand & The Mouse
While I do have a list of programs I use to help and in some cases thats just how you have to go.
The absoluite best digital realism I have done was when done only with my hand. I have lists of plugins
and most sit never used do to the high level of realism I can get doing it on my own.
Adobe Creative Suite 3 Master Collection
All post editing and finish products that need that little bit of touch up is done in this.
As well as what I use for building sites, like this site, and my main choice for video editing and effects.
Autodesk 3ds Max
The absolute most powerful 3D CAD Design software you can use. I have played with this and find
that it can be a very useful program to any animation and digital content creators (DCC).
e-on Software Vue 7
An intense 3D application for creating digital environments with never ending forests, mountain ranges,
alien landscapes, oceans, vistas and even basic modeling. All of my newer artworks are created at least in
part by this software and because of that I have had my work mistaken for real photographs.
Diard Software: UIC
Create powerful space scenes for a small price! I used this for most of my space and planets and it allows
tons of custom settings to make every scene your own!
A simple and cheap yet powerfull generator for creating photorealistic landscapes & scenery images.
Best way to create some mind blowing fractal flames and designs. Best of all its freeware.
Tyan Workstation and Server Boards
Tyan is a high end motherboard maker for personal computers, workstations and servers.
I use the Thunder S2895 board and soon the S2915-E, S4985 & M4985 Boards as well. Can't get better than Tyan!
AMD Opterons are the performance kings in the render world. Using the latest Quad and soon 6 & 8 core
number crunching mosters gives me tons of performance to keep up with my mind and render projects in hours, not days.
Despite all the other products listed here RAM is the biggest bottle neck and place for problems than any other hardware.
Workstations I am building now will use anywhere from 16 to 128GB's of high speed DDR2 memory from Corsair, Actica & Qimonda.
PNY Graphics Cards
The FX5500's and soon FX5600's are like going from sandpaper to silk as far as freedom in a high detail
and complex digital workspace. Allows very fast views as where before full output renders were done to view detail.
PC Power & Cooling Power Supplies
These Power supplies give power no matter how many cores are eating up cycles for however long they need.
They run cool, clean and have never failed me, which is a good thing dealing with such high end gear.
Uninterruptible Power Supplies have already saved me a week long render due to a power outage.
They keep my computers safe from all kinds of power problems and give me the time I need when the power is out.
Western Digital Hard Drives
The Raptor drives are great for programs I use. They give quick snappy load times and last a long time
for the amount of performance they dish out on a daily basis. Their large format drives are great for storage.
Seagate Hard Drives
In complex renders hard drives need to be as fast as the RAM and CPUs can take. This is where Seagate comes in.
The Cheetah 15,000 RPM SAS Drives dish out mind shattering speed and give the CPUs what they can take.