✱ Q&A: Using Maxwell Grass 'Level of Detail' for Faster Renderings

Here's something thing that comes up every once in a while regarding using the Maxwell Grass extension - running out of memory. Those grass blades can take up a lot of RAM when rendering and if your surfaces that you apply the grass to are too large, the rendering can be extremely slow and sometimes even fail. 

And no one likes a failed rendering!

So here's a quick screen shot of some settings to look into when using the grass extension called Level of Detail (LOD):
 


Use the L.O.D. settings in the Maxwell Grass extension to control falloff of grass blades.
Click to enlarge.


Basically if you set it up correctly, the further away your scene gets from the camera POV, less grass blades are generated. You can control how this works. This is a HUGE deal when your surfaces are expansive. The image above is an extreme example because of how closely I placed the distance values together, but it illustrates how they work. Once the distance passes the Minimum value, the blades falloff to the Maximum Density and then hold beyond the Maximum distance value. This way there is no step in the amount of blades, rather you get a nice even gradient from full to partial density.

There's a bit more info about this in the Maxwell Render help documents near the bottom of the page which you can reference here.

Use this tip to speed your renderings up drastically!

This tip also comes in really handy when using my Maxwell Grass Preset Pro Pack. Check it out and take your images to the next level if you're using SketchUp, FormZ or Bonzai3d.


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✱ Q&A: Troubleshooting Emitter Lights in Maxwell Render for Beginners

I got an email regarding troubleshooting emitter lights in SketchUp using Maxwell Render over the weekend, and I thought I'd post my answers here because it could be useful for you. Lots of people struggle with emitter lights when they're first starting out using Maxwell Render and think that the software just doesn't work when in fact you're probably just used to the brute-force techniques required by other rendering programs. I know this because that's what happened to me when I first tried using emitters in Maxwell. 

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Video: Subdivision Modeling and 3D Printing in FormZ 8

 

This is a great webinar by the folks at AutoDesSys showing the new capabilities of the subdivision surface tools in version 8 and how they can get you to organic 3d-printable objects pretty easily. 

AutoDesSys:

In this webinar we’ll show the power of form•Z’s subdivision modeling and 3D printing capabilities by walking you through a series of actual 3D printed projects modeled exclusively with subdivision tools and features.

In this session you’ll experience:

  • Powerful subdivision modeling and how it can be used in your project workflow.
  • Seamless conversion of subdivision models to NURBS or Quad Meshes.
  • How the inherent quad mesh personality of subdivision objects lends itself perfectly to 3D Printing.
  • How converting your subdivision models to NURBS adds an additional layer of flexibility to your design capabilities.
  • The advantage of minimal time involved with analyzing and prepping the model for 3D printing due to the subdivision personality.

 

✱ How to Print Large Format PDF Drawings to Scale on a Mac

With more and more of the world going paperless all the time, Adobe's Portable Document Format (PDF) has taken over much of the architecture and construction industry as the preferred file format for sharing drawings. In fact, many estimators and contractors that I work with don't have the ability to work with anything else. I'd love to just give them my BIM file but that's another rant for another time. For some of us, this could mean having to purchase (or subscribe to) the Adobe Creative Cloud to get Acrobat Pro or buy Bluebeam to be able to create PDF's. Granted, these professional programs allow you to do much more than simply create PDF's, but the cost of entry is fairly high.

There is an alternative. I've recently found a free open source PDF printer that solves a few problems called PDFwriter for Mac. Click through to see the tutorial.

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Link: formZ LAB releases the Catenary Curve Tool

Antoni Gaudí would be so proud. Get your new, free extension for FormZ 8 from the LAB.

Image courtesy of formZ LAB

Image courtesy of formZ LAB

A chain, hanging under its own weight with both ends anchored, forms the characteristic curve know as the catenary. An overhead utility wire, a tram cable, and a chain connecting two posts will each assume this form.

Grab your copy here.

Link: Vote for where Thea Render should go next

Over on the Thea Render forum there's a poll happening for you to have a voice in choosing the next modeler they are going to integrate with. Even if you don't currently use Thea, you might in the future and wouldn't you like it integrated into your favorite modeling app? I voted for FormZ and Bonzai3d because I want more rendering options in mine. You get 2 votes.

Thea already integrates with 3dsMax, Blender, SketchUp and Cinema4d and I know a lot of people like it. What's your experience with it? Leave a comment below.

Vote here.

Link: The FormZ Lab

Exciting news from the folks at formZ:

AutoDesSys has started a Tumblr blog called formZ LAB that is showing off new tech that they've been developing for a while now, and if we can glean anything from the first entry, this is going to be huge for architectural designers that use or are thinking about getting into formZ v8. 

A collection of profiles possible (but not limited to) in Profile Tools.

A collection of profiles possible (but not limited to) in Profile Tools.

Profile Tools is the first new tool that they are showing from what I assume will be a collection. The good news is that you can download it today and start using it yourself if you have formZ 8. It is a brand new extension for creating dimensional lumber and steel shapes (and more) in your model. They are parametric and retain their abilities to be updated in the future without having to do the typical extra work that we used to. This is a fantastic addition to the program and I can't wait to see what they come up with next.

  • Parametric control of profile shape, dimensions, and rounding. Adjust multiple profiles at once, after construction. Shapes include: Rod, Round Tube, Rectangular Bar, Rectangular Tube, Hexagonal Bar, Hexagonal Tube, H-Bar, I-Beam, Angle (90 degree), U-Channel, T-Bar, Z-Bar.
  • Dimensioning follows common industry standards. Tubes, for instance, are defined by O.D, I.D, and wall thickness.
  • Justification makes revisions easier. With justification, you can refine the profile shape and proportions and keep the profile properly justified to neighboring objects. For example, beam profiles can be justified to the underside of a ceiling. If the web thickness is later changed from 10” to 12”, the top of the beam will remain aligned with the ceiling; there’s no need to move them down “manually.”
  • Freely draw extrusions between any two 3D points. The bottom of the profile shape will remain aligned to the ground plane.
  • Profile Surfaces can be constructed, too. They work nicely as inputs to an axial sweep tool.

The announcement from AutoDesSys:

Welcome to the formZ LAB

formZ’s extensions provide a powerful set of technologies for 3D generative design, task automation, and interfacing with devices. Extensions currently include plugins and scripts, and a parametric visual scripting environment will be added soon.

The LAB seeks to unlock the potential of formZ’s extensions for architects, designers, and artists. The LAB was conceived in the spirit of invention and rapid innovation, but with a practical bent. We are developing a collection of resources that are both useful and inspiring. Our efforts are focused in three areas:

Production Tools
Production tools streamline or automate complex, tedious, or error-prone modeling tasks. Design professionals will find these useful to improve their modeling and rendering pipeline. We are building and maintaining a collection of production tools, which will be made available to the community for free. Production tools will be robust and fast, built as plugins using formZ’s powerful C-based API.

Generative Design
Generative Design is exciting territory. One of formZ’s core strengths is the shear breadth of modeling technologies it provides under one roof: polygonal and smooth (ACIS) geometry, surface and solid modeling, NURBS and subd’s. Hundreds of functions are available for generating virtually any form, and all can be leveraged for generative design. Currently under development at AutoDesSys are some exciting additions to formZ’s extension development portfolio, including a parametric visual scripting environment. When these are publicly released, we’ll be providing sketches and examples of what you can accomplish, with code you can freely modify. 

Education
We’ll also put together some tutorials for how to use this new stuff. Let’s grow a community of like-minded 3D experimenters.

The LAB operates out of Los Angeles, independent of AutoDesSys’s head office. At the LAB, we focus on experiments in 3d tooling and generative design that can be rapidly developed, and which will benefit from user feedback early in the design process. Our releases will not be tied to major-release numbers; instead, we will release when a set of tools is ready for feedback. You can expect regular updates, so check this blog often.

We thank AutoDesSys for making the LAB possible. 

Welcome to the LAB. We’re excited to show you what we’ve been working on.

Create a Realtime Walkthrough of your Revit Project with Autodesk Showcase

Even though my thoughts in my recent article on realtime rendering came to the conclusion that I wasn't willing to spend a ton of time on the bleeding edge of that technology, I haven't ignored it either. The truth is that the idea for that article came from me spending a decent amount of time figuring out realtime rendering using Autodesk Showcase, which comes with either a perpetual license or subscription to some of their suites. The funny thing that you probably can relate to is that I didn't even know Showcase existed or what it did when I found it. Luckily the office I work in has this type of subscription and I had a presentation to create, so the stars aligned.

I ended up making a tutorial that takes you through the process of getting your model out of Revit and into Showcase with a lot of steps along the way to make a successful and very nice looking realtime model. It is now live over on the Novedge blog where lots of additional people other than Method visitors can see it. This works well because this is certainly not an Autodesk-centric site. So if you're interested in my process for creating realtime walkthrough's, please go check it out and let me know what you think.

Click here to head over to the Novedge blog and read my tutorial.

✱ Which Rendering Program is the Best One for Me?

I get asked all the time what 3d rendering program I use and why. This is coming from a particular point of view - mine. I do architectural work. I do my own design. I work in small and large teams on small and large architectural projects. You may not do the same thing as me, but I'm sure there's some overlap if you're reading my site. I hope this is useful for you. 

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