Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Comment Test

With quite a few exchanges by e-mail, IRC, instant messanger, and discussion forums I am looking to add a comments button for all to enjoy and share in the knowledge. This may/may not last, so bear with me for a few days. :)

Happy Commenting...

Preset Materials

Like many of you reading this I have work to do. What I mean by this is that in order to get paid I need to complete and deliver projects. I have a standard library of materials, scenes and settings that are used, re-used and updated as new materials get added/created for each job. Not everyone starting out has this luxury of a few years experience and many created textures/materials. What's a new user supposed to do?

For those of you just starting out with VIZ/Max, there is a new material type that will make life easier for use in Architectural renderings, it is the "Architectural" material. For those currently using VIZRender and Max 6 you have access to this, VIZ users will have to wait until the next release (first quarter of 2004). Why is this good for beginning users? With the many settings available to use in VIZ/Max it can seem overwhelming, believe me I know I have been where you are now.

The Architectural Material has a "template" to use for many common items (Ceramic Tile, Fabric, Glass, Masonry, Metal, Paint, Paper, Stone, Water, Wood and more) that will get you started with realistic looking materials that you can adjust to match your particular project needs. For VIZRender users this is your only Material Shader choice, for Max users you still have access to the same Material choices as before along with this one addition.

Happy Rendering in 2004...

Christmas Swing

After spending Christmas doing the family shuffle (in-laws, parents, grandparents, etc...) things are settling back down. Last night we enjoyed the Holiday Lights at the Beach with my in-laws.

Windsurfing Santa from the Holiday Lights at the Beach

A few days ago we visited the local Coleman's Nursery who put on a holiday tradition (39 years) of mechanical dolls and more in a Christmas Wonderland for all ages. Sadly though they are closing there doors after this season. I remember coming here as a child and marveling at the displays that were put together and some fresh hot apple cider when there is a nip to the air. If you live locally you have until Jan. 03, 2004 to visit.

Now that the new year is almost upon us we are getting back into the swing of things. Rendering wise I am currently working on some procedural textures and understanding the best uses for a variety of shaders to make some objects stand-out in some recent work that is due for delivery soon.

With the new year approaching I think it is time for a new look for this blog, keep an eye out for that (after this project goes out of course). ;)

Wishing you the best in 2004.

Happy Rendering...

Tuesday, December 23, 2003


Christmas is approaching like a whirlwind. With so much activity going on around us we can very easily lose track of the things that are happening around us and the reason for the season.

I have taken the week off from work to enjoy the season, town and family. With so many things going on this is a nice time to catch up with everyone. If you are doing any holiday renderings check out the following link for an RPC Santa Clause from Archvision.

Wishing you the best in 2004.

Happy Festivus...

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Color Schemes, or Lack Thereof

One of the biggest issues I see on a daily basis with most renderings is the lack of a color scheme in the composition.

Have you ever looked at a rendering and noticed there is something that does not seem to work but you cannot pinpoint what it is? Most of the time this is due to the colors that are chosen conflicting with each other. Rather than using colors at random in your scenes you should try to focus on keeping your palette of colors in the same range. For more on this take another look at your color wheel and the principals that go with this. In some cases you can take artistic license to make some conflicts deliberate when you are trying to convey a particular look or feel. Unless you are doing this conscienously you may want to stay away from that for now.

Besides your material colors consider your lights sources and the light color you choose. I see it far too often in those just starting out that they consider an exterior scene to have one light only. Guess what the most common light source they pick? If you said sunlight you are correct. In general the issue is they choose default white as the single light source color. Why is this such a big deal, it works in nature just fine right? Not exactly as your digital canvas needs to have bounced light from the environment and other sources to mimic nature. I like to use one main colored light (color tinted) for a daytime exterior scene and a few fill lights of different colors to achieve the right look or feel, sometimes I do this just to play with my shadows or to add a glint off of metal to look more convincing as a material.

While there are many tricks you can use to get the right feel one thing you should try in your next rendering is changing the main light to a bold color to see the mood it conveys. Try a blue, green, red and more to see if any of these pull an emotion from you by looking at them. Do any of these light color changes make you feel cheerful, frightened, sad? Keep these in mind as they will probably elicit the same response from your client.

Happy Rendering...

Tuesday, December 16, 2003


After a delay in posting due to illness and a blown network card due from an electric storm I am back in business.

I am currently working on a rendering of a warehouse facility. This is pretty fun as I am doing a blend combination of a camera match with the new building. I used to be of the mindset to take care of most of the matching in post rendering composite work, but with my deeper exploration into VIZ/Max most of this can be done with very little touch-up needed.

If you have not had the chance to read digital Lighting & Rendering by Jeremy Birn I recommend you to read this. Many of the common mistakes/issues that your renderings have can be solved by reading the information contained in this book. This has given me a better understanding of the entire visualization process and some important steps that I have been overlooking or doing the hardway.

Current gripe that is bugging me, if only the next version of VIZ were available to work with the ADT 2004 .dwg file format in a timely manner. What has my VIZ subscription done for me so far over the past 2 years? Worked great until a new version of ADT with a file format change came out, now I have ADT2004 shelfware in some places. I cannot complain too much as I do like Max 6. :)

Happy Rendering...

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Back In Town

After an extended stay in Vegas over the weekend and catching the Vegas Flu, I am glad to be home though I am still sick.

I will be adding some pictures from AU later this evening. Right now I need to get started working on a new project. More to come later this evening.

If you want to see some pictures from AU check out what Shaan has posted here.

Happy Rendering...

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

AU nights

After a few more great classes we took a dinner break and afterwards headed to the AUGI beer bash and exhibition hall.

We ran into a few good friends and met some new ones as well. This was a good chance to demo some products up close.

After a good night we headed back to the room and ran into Tony Hawk and his lovely wife, coming back from the Spike TV video game awards at the MGM.

Now for some rest...

Tuesday, December 02, 2003


We just finished lunch here at AU and are sitting poolside at the MGM.

The developers conference yesterday was great and the party afterwards at the ESPN zone in the NY, NY was a great time.

Now back to classes.

Happy Rendering...

Thursday, November 27, 2003

Time for Thanksgiving

Just wanted to extend a safe and happy Thanksgiving to everyone I know (and those I have not met yet) who read this blog.

We are having Thanksgiving here at Casa De' Turner with my wife's parents (no weblink for them yet), sister Katie and her husband Mike, Royal and Brad plus anyone else who stops by for today's festivities.

There are many things I am thankful for this year; my wife and the upcoming birth of our son, my employers (without them I could not pay the bills), friends (both new and old), family and the people that I have been given the opportunity to help educate in one form or another. Each one of these things and many more have helped to make this a year to be thankful for.

With another great year behind us, let's focus on the upcoming year ahead and help to make a difference in someone's life. To me that is the true meaning of Thanksgiving, not just being thankful for what you have achieved or blessed with but for the difference you make in other peoples lives.

Enjoy the holiday...

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Green Eggs and Ham?

We went to see the local Christmas parade on Sat. and afterwards went to see The Cat in the Hat. IMHO the best animation in it was the fish. I like the way it always looked wet. I wonder what shader were used to achieve this effect?

Happy Rendering...

Proposals, Scope of Work, Delivery

Writing up a proposal for work is somewhat straight forward. You write a proposal about the project that you expect to perform after learning more details about it. The rough scope and pricing is included and gets delivered to the client for consideration. Once said client approves the proposal and options (I love to put options to show what is possible and the cost associated with the decision) you proceed with a formal contract spelling out each detail and project milestones (if applicable), collect a retainer fee and complete the project in a timely fashion. Get paid and everyone walks away happy.

I mention this because many people who start out in this business do so as freelance artists. You want to learn more and what better way to learn than to get paid for it by freelancing. How do you get the jobs you ask? Beating the bushes to find out about work and writing good proposals. It is often said that beauty is in the details, this is true in your proposals as well. If you do not have good writing skills but you are a great renderer you may wish to find a standard job form document that outlines the type of work you perform. This can be modified to suit your client/job needs, but should cover the general outline of the work you expect to perform.

You will also notice that I put in the project delivery a small step called "retainer fee". I am sure you know what this is, but may be afraid to ask for this when performing rendering work. A wise man once told me "make sure to get a fee upfront", what did he know? Answer human dynamics. If you do not put a fee associated for your time and work on a project upfront your value becomes less. Sure not all companies want to pay a portion of the project fee upfront, but consider why they do not want to do this. Could it be they have little to no money to offer for it. If you wait until the project delivery to bill, are you sure you will get paid?

Let's give a hypothetical story. Our friend M. had quite a bit of work on another project and was not able to finish up a job for a client. Delivery date 1 week late and no project to show. M. suggested that we take over the project and it would pay $xxxx for the whole job and to talk to the president of the company. We leave messages and no return calls from the president. Few days later the project manager calls us to talk about the job and the deliverables. We have a quick meeting to discuss their needs and that it was a rush priority. We mentioned payment and the PM said the boss would take care of that.

Start the project, no contract, no retainer fee and a rush priority so the client can get paid for this work we are doing. See a problem here? Work proceeds for a week and a half, leave a few more messages for the president and get the project ready for review. At this point we submit a fee proposal and payment for one half to total cost to continue. We all like helping others, but there a bills to pay and we need to eat too. Final comments come back and a check for half the fee we asked for (25% of the total). The PM said this was because the boss was out of town and he was not authorized to write a check for more than this and he would have the boss take care of the rest when he returns.

We completed the work and hand deliver it to the PM with a final bill and we notice the boss is in. We are always friendly so we take a moment to peek our head in to introduce ourselves and he apologizes for not calling sooner. A few more pleasantries exchanged and he asks where we are on this. Project complete and bill submitted to the PM. He said he had not seen the bill yet. We being prepared for this just happened to have a copy of all items we submitted. President opens the letter and his jaw hits the floor. He said M. would never have charged this amount and he will only pay half at the most. Now what would have helped in this situation besides not getting involved in a rush job with an unknown client?

If you said contract you were correct. A well written contact spelling out the scope and project milestones is a needed option as it covers the client, and you, should their be any issue. In my experience reputable clients will not be upset with a retainer fee as they should understand that your time is worth something. Just so you know the story above was not really hypothetical, this happened a few years back and M. told me later they like the work I submitted and wanted to give me more. I am not going to tell you the whole ending as I hope you learned from this that it can avoided with a simple contract.

Happy Rendering...

Friday, November 21, 2003

Viva Rock Vegas

Getting stuff ready for the AU trip next week and I am looking forward to the Thanksgiving break and the extra days off we are taking to head to California for some R&R. I am trying to setup a time to meet with Chris to chat over a meal.

As we have no specific destination for our trip only to have a good time. That's the fun part, no deadlines, nowhere to be at a particular time and just some fun in the city.

It is funny how locked into work you can get. Tip of the day:
Take some time to do something not related to your work. This could be something as simple as a bike ride, walk, roller blading or other activity just to help your mind stay fresh. I know I need to use this more in my daily life. :)

Happy Rendering...

Great meeting

The EVAUG meeting last night was a lot of fun and a great learning experience for all. If you missed out the group meets on the third thursday of each month.

Happy Rendering...

Sunday, November 16, 2003

Mobile Dilemma

I solved the issue of constant connectivity to my inbox a few months back after much searching and testing by getting a blackberry. Now I am at it again for testing.

What am I looking for? I find the need to have a mobile system with a decent amount of power not for production work, but for everything else. I am looking at some of the new tablet PC's but need to get a few different models for testing. I am concerned because I need to do a small bit of web development and demos for AutoCad/ADT and maybe VIZ/Max. Not to mention wi-fi connectivity.

Any good products you have used for under $1,900 that you care to share?

Happy Rendering...

AU Wi-Fi

I ran across a posting from Doc Searls regarding wi-fi connectivity in Vegas. I am not sure what the connection will be like in the MGM, but around town Doc offers a few spots to notice during a recent war-drive.

Happy Rendering...

False promises

Ok, I lied the Triple D site received little work this weekend that is worth posting. Most of the intented changes will be navigation structure and full integration of CSS. Why no progress? Painting, water leak, furniture assembly and a small bit of remodeling. :)

With the upcoming birth of our son, my wife and I have taken to changing the layout of our house around. The nice thing is that we had one room that was used very little and now my old study has turned into an extra bedroom and I have a new base of operations for my tech and music gear.

It hardly seems like it but AU is coming up soon and we will be spending some extra time in the L.A./Long Beach area afterwards. If you plan to go and want to get together for a pint, send me an e-mail or look for us around the AUGI beer bust and/or other events.

Happy Rendering...

Friday, November 14, 2003

Binary with a hint of green

I just got back from watching the Matrix Revolutions and was blown away. My buddy Miker the Biker summed the trilogy up pretty well by saying the first and last were the weights on a barbell, and the middle one was the barbell itself.

After the film I kept thinking how life is a cause/effect relationship. While pondering this on the way home I had some great events happen that I am grateful for.

This weekend I will be working on the Triple D site (much needed face lift).

Happy Rendering...

Thursday, November 13, 2003

Pattern Fills

I finally posted an example of how to use pattern fills in photoshop to "fake" a rendering. Be sure to check out the tutorials section. It is funny that the more website and graphics work you do, the worse your own personal site is. I need to rework the site for some CSS and new scripts that I have been working on. All in good time. :)

As for the tutorial, Photoshop is a tool that I use for a lot of post-processing work and if you plan to do any type of graphics work you should learn to use this tool effectively. The pattern fills are a simple tool and can be used in more ways that I share with you here.

Happy Rendering...


Besides being blessed with lack of sleep, I got the chance to upgrade my home set-up to the "new" Microsoft Office 2003. This included the developers package for Visual Studio as well. I have not spent a great deal of time using all the features available yet, but so far I really like the new features in Outlook 2003.

Happy Rendering...

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Blog Check

I mentioned before that Shaan Hurley from Autodesk has a blog that you may find interesting, now with permission here is the link to his blog (no subscription contract is needed to view). As many of you know I am a fan of RSS feeds and since this site is using TypePad there is of course as you expect a feed available. Set your news aggregator to:

For those that do not know, Shaan is more addicted to AutoCAD than I am. In fact Shaan is the technical marketing manager for Autodesk and also manages many of the beta programs. Keep up the great work Shaan!

Happy Rendering...


Things are wrapping up for a web development project I am working on. This will be a great weight from my shoulders when this version is released later this week. For navigation menu work I ran across a great tool that may help you as well. Combine this with CSS and you have a great match in a WYSIWYG environment.

Why the break in posting last week? Great question. My wife and I are expecting our first child (son) at the end of February and with that goes the rearranging and working on our house. Ahh, the feel of manual labor. ;) Things are shaping up here at Casa Da' Turner and there are other great changes on the horizon that look promising as well.

Happy Rendering...

Thursday, October 30, 2003

Dwarf, no dwf

Technology has brought me around to make an honest effort of using the Autodesk .dwf format. After storyboarding a few positives that this will bring to the table, the first hurdle is to get my local repro company on board. Once successful the next step is to roll this out to other users. There seems to be quite a few people who are onboard already and I am late to the .dwf party, I will keep you posted on the progress. Giving some thought in regards to the use of .dwf as a way to archive submittals for the design process as the use of a multi-page .dwf can be created and give a smaller footprint than the actual drawings themselves.

I have been using .msi scripting for deployments of updates/extensions and just learned that in some cases when clicking on a .exe file you can browse to the install folder that is created to find a .msi file (when available). Thanks for the tip Shaan. In some cases you can also open up the .exe file with winzip to extract the needed contents.

Happy Rendering...

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

The Shadow knows....

I guess the title is keeping with the theme of Halloween this week. :)

Shadows play a large role in renderings as they help to set the mood of a scene. Whether something is scary, daytime, nighttime and more is controlled not just by how much lighting is in your scene but also where your shadows fall. I have been reading a really good book by Jeremy Birn that explains the techniques of lighting and rendering in a way that is not specific to any piece of software.

One person (whose site I recently ran across) that makes good use of shadows and lighting is Rudy. The environment scenes he produces look quite good (especially Gallery 04).

In your next rendering project spend a bit of time examing different lighting options. If you use one key light add a second fill light to help add a small bit of environment light to you scene. These little details make all the difference.

For those of you looking for the Architectural Illustrative Rendering tutorial with photoshop, this will be posted over weekend as I put the final touches on it.

Happy Rendering...

Saturday, October 25, 2003


Check out the site of Fran Davey. She is a regular poster in the Autodesk vizions and viz newsgroup. Fran has some of the nicest interior images I have seen posted using radiosity. Keep up the great work!

Happy Rendering...

Thursday, October 23, 2003


In attending the Microsoft Office System launch event yesterday, I was surprised just how integrated xml is in to the whole package. I look forward to working with the new tools available in office, but more in particular Outlook and exchange 2003. I did walk away with a copy of Office 2003 and an update copy of and the full developers pack. This was a cool bonus that could not have come at a better time. I also ran into a few good friends that I had not planned on seeing and met some new ones. Good to see you guys/gals there.

As for rendering the new version of Max 6 rocks!!!! As I continue running through this you can expect to hear a few more comments.

Happy Rendering...

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Tools of the Trade - VIZ Render

While working in the digital visualization field there are many programs available for you to use for production work. With my main focus on architecture, the use of Architectural Desktop for all phases of work from conceptual design to construction documents has become a large part of my design tools for the past few years. With this in mind it makes sense to use the tools available within this program, one such tool that was added with the release of ADT2004 is VIZ Render.

For those with some experience with VIZ/Max this is not a replacement for the advanced tools/features that these products have to offer, but this software is a good start for the user who would like a decent rendering to explore design options, lighting and materials with ease.

The more I teach/speak/write about rendering the more feedback I receive from users who want to learn about visualization but are unsure where to begin. This past week I have been focused on testing/training with VIZ Render for use as a tool for the general user/designer. While no software is ever the "Total Package" ADT and VIZ Render can help to bridge the learning curve for the beginning to intermediate user.

Of course I would not leave you without a few links for a better understanding of VIZ Render:

1. First and foremost the help files in ADT/VIZR and on the CD are great. Take advantage of them.

2. Steven Papke has put together a good article.

3. Nancy Fulton offers a good tutorial available here.

Happy Rendering...


As you may have noticed in recent news Max 6 is out and shipping. In addition to product information the discreet website has several tutorials available as well on some of the new features offered.

There is also a large amount of new releases for third party products to go along with this as well.

Happy Rendering...

Monday, October 20, 2003

CAD Programming - Links

With AutoCAD there are currently two languages you can use for programing/customization for the power user, these include AutoLisp (Visual Lisp) and VBA (Visual Basic). Below are three resources that you may find useful along your programming path.

1. One good stop for VB is the Expresso Code Cafe. Here you will find quite a bit of good information related to the AutoCAD object model and tons of sample code to help get you started. Be sure to check out the "Brain Shots" forum. Related to this site is CAD En Coding - Information for the CAD Programer.

2. AfraLISP - this site belongs to Kenny Ramage and has a wealth of information for lisp and VBA.

3. AcadX/ - this site has quite a bit of code and articles. Be sure to check out each link in the applet on the left.

Happy Coding...

Thursday, October 16, 2003

I will be attending the EVAUG meeting this evening.  If you live in the Hampton Roads area and use AutoCAD or Autodesk products you should plan to attend as well.  Great opportunity to meet and network with fellow CAD Users.  Meeting starts at 6:30pm.  Visit the website for more information and directions.


Happy Rendering...

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Nice Work

I ran across a pretty cool website of Andy Murdock that has some good animation work done on. Be sure to check out LORtheMovie as it develops. Keep up the great work Andy.

Happy Rendering...

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Non-Photorealistic Rendering

After my short write up of the two styles of computer based rendering I ran across the following website of the International Symposium on Non-Photorealistic Animation and Rendering.

They have their next conference on June 7-9 2004 in Annecy, France. The committee members have only a few names I recognize in print, but I have never heard of the group itself. The topics look quite interesting though. Do any of you committee members read this blog? If so send me an e-mail.

Happy Rendering...

Monday, October 13, 2003

Tools of the Trade - CAD

As mentioned before since several people sent emails expressing interest in the tools I use for work, I will share and attempt to explain (when needed) the process and tools for my workflow. Todays topic is CAD.

Since most work that is done in this age is digital it goes without saying that a large potion of designing is done so with CAD. There are many CAD packages out there and my main focus is with Autodesk products (AutoCAD and Architectural Desktop to be exact). At the beginning of a rendering job you will typically be given a hand sketch or 2D plans of an idea. Your task is to take this rough idea and massage it into a workable idea.

At this point there are typically two types of renderings that can be done, elevational or perspective. The elevational rendering is typically done with AutoCAD linework as a base and "rendered" using Photoshop (or other imaging program) to keep it from looking like a typical flat production elevation. While a perspective is actually modeled using either solids, faces or AEC objects (walls, doors, window, curtain walls, etc...) and then materials are applied to this geometry. The perspective obviously takes more time to finish but the one big advantage is that you can change your view point (camera) at any time for a different look/feel.

If you have been focusing on one style, you should take the time to experiment with other methods as this will help you to gain a better understanding of what is needed to keep your renderings from looking flat. There is no one item in particular that keeps a drawing from looking flat, but instead it is a combination of a multitude of items that together help to achieve a certain look or feel in a presentation image.

Happy Rendering...

Saturday, October 11, 2003

My buddy Miker the Biker has his blog site up, tweaked and with some posts. His blog has an interesting idea, watch as the sketches evolve into his upcoming childrens storybook. Keep up the great work MTB!

Happy Rendering...

Friday, October 10, 2003

Conceptual Design - Hand Sketches

Recently we picked up a copy of the new Gnomon Conceptual Design DVD's from Feng Zhu. Feng's site has some great sketches and for those wondering what tools he uses to accomplish this, he shares those with you as well. Be sure to visit his site and check out the recently released 4 DVD collection.

For those either getting started in rendering or the experienced user, the ability to pre-visualize what you plan to render and/or model is very important. This will save you a large amount of time in that the items that are not in the frame may not need to be modeled.

If you are not great at sketching early scenes or able to understand what you are rendering you should spend some time learning this important step as it will help you to be a better CG artist.

Happy Rendering...

Days and days later....

What a busy and exciting week (even with a bad ankle). The first phase of the new web development project has been submitted and is awaiting final comments. Glad to have that part completed.

Now back to regular daily postings.

Happy Rendering...

Sunday, October 05, 2003

Ouch that Hurts

Short post this evening, but now I remember how crutches feel to use. :(

After a good game of soccer with friends I came home with a tweaked ankle, which by the way is not fun when you are working on a deadline.

Off to render and recuperate...

Friday, October 03, 2003

VIZ 5 - In production

As announced from Autodesk in a recent press release. This should put those rumors to rest. :)

Shipping to be in the first half of 2004.

Happy Rendering...

Tools of the Trade - Web Development

I have received a few emails expressing interest in what tools I use for work. Since my workflow and interests takes me in many directions, I use many tools for different purposes and my arsenal is similar to a swiss army knife. With that in mind I have decided to outline a small bit of what I do and the tools I use over a few posts.

For web development I started out with Frontpage a few years ago. If you have never created a webpage before this can get you started quickly. FP was simple and quick to use, I had a copy that came with a software bundle we purchased and one evening decided that I wanted to do some site development (having never done html coding before this). Ten minutes later I had a webpage published, the tools were very user friendly for a first timer.

When I started getting a bit more serious, there were some tools that I wanted in a WYSIWYG editor that were not available in FP, so I did some research and kept coming back to Dreamweaver. This seemed to be a good fit to work natively with the other programs I was using. The initial crossover took about 2 weeks of part time web development to get comfortable and understand the tools. At that time I liked using frames for sites and this was handled differently between the two programs, after another week and I cut the cord and stopped using both programs to finish my work.

I am still using DW and plan to continue as the additional tools and plug-ins have worked well for me. For those involved in or wanting to do webwork I would also recommend a scripting language as these tools become invaluable to accomplish tasks that html just cannot handle natively. There are many languages to choose from (javascript, VBScript, python, perl and many, many more) as well as free code that other users post to help you get started.

For those getting started in web development, html editors and programming languages come in many ranges, from free to costly. The key to choosing the right one is research. Without researching what is available and talking with those who use the products you are taking a large chance that you may not make the best choice for yourself.

Tip of the day: If you are looking to get employment from a particular company or in a certain sector of work, one of the best things you can do is find out what tools they use for production. This will ensure that what you learn is compatible with their workflow and keep in mind that it may take sometime to learn and master the skills needed before applying for that job, but making the right choice early on will get you their quicker.

Happy Rendering...

Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Value of a Conference

With all the kids back in school you may be getting nostalgic about classes as well. One way to cure your back to school blues is to attend a conference that relates to something you are involved or interested in. As you start searching these out you find that everyone is an expert and has a conference for you to attend. Trust me, there is nothing worse than attending a seminar or conference that you paid for only to find out that you understand more about the topic than the person presenting. There are many ways for you to choose which conference to attend, the key is to find one that gives you the most of what you are looking to learn. Werner Vogel gives an interesting approach to how he chooses a conference and has a way to give each conference a numeric value to help you decide between them.

There are several conferences, both large and small, for those involved in the digital media field. Here are a few of the larger ones that I find interesting; Autodesk University, Siggraph, Photoshop World and Gnomedex to name a few of the bigger ones. Most people/companies cannot afford to go to several conferences each year and some can only attend every few years due to the financial burdens of conference fees, travel, loss of company time and various other factors. The key to selecting the right conference(s) to attend is research.

Why did I mention conferences? Because I just made my final trip plans for Autodesk University 2003 (AU). For me this has several learning benefits in attending which all lead to better job performance. If you are an Autodesk product user there is no better opportunity to get insight and understanding of the products(s) of your choice and not to mention the networking you get to have with other cad users. For me this was a great part of attending last year as I had the opportunity to meet and talk with numerous AutoCAD/ADT/VIZ/MAX/(insert your Autodesk product here) users and Autodesk employees. If you use any Autodesk software then you may wish to consider attending this event as there is no better place that gathers the best of those in the industry to teach custom learning sessions on various products and topics that related to Autodesk and their end users.

Happy Rendering...

Friday, September 26, 2003

Complex Simplicity

For software developers it is a double edged sword in delivering a good product. Once a product is brought through the conceptual stage and later completing both alpha and beta stages, the next step is shipping. This is a great moment at long last your product is ready to hit the mass market. "Why is this a double edge sword?" you ask. Mainly due to the nature of the business or improving on an idea.

Let's start with a good idea for a program. In this case we came up with the idea for software that will test the ripeness of melons. Now before we can begin coding on this we need to outline what we want it to do. We decide that to be the best darn melon testing software out there that the use of sound waves can help us achieve this. So we generate some inital concept sketches and create a scope of work defining how to build our machine and how this interacts with the software. Now we have to look for investors to help back us (we are not all willing to max out our credit cards or take on a second mortgage right? ). With a few bucks in hand to cover expenses and development costs we can now flash forward, after many moons of work we have our hardware and software ready to share with a few other users. We open up a testing cycle for alpha to iron out any bugs or procedures we have not caught. Now a few moons later after testing and fixing bug issues we open this up to more users for final beta testing. This pool of people range from all walks of life and their tech savviness varies, which is good for us because this will make show us what even the most technologically challenged user may find or have trouble with. A few moons later we have the software/hardware issues all resolved and have even added a few new features that were wish list items outside of the original scope. Since we had the extra time. :) we now have our final product 1.0 ready for shipping.

Fast forward a few months and several marketing wonders later our software is a hit, we have a good market share of people who are using our flagship product "AudibleMelon v1.0". During the testing phase we had many users submit some wishlist items. These are typically "wouldn't if be cool if it could do this" type of items. What comes next of course is scoping out enhancements of version 2.0 of course and maybe a few minor bug fixes for v1.0 :). Fast forward many more moons and we repeat the process above and we release v2.0. The first version was so well recieved and such a good product now we have those previous users upgrading because of our enhancements and also more new users. Our product is doing great in sales and the user feedback is even better. The planning process for the next version begins and we have noticed that our product interface is taking up much of the melon report screen area. In order to incorporate all the possible new features we need to make some serious decisions about what to do.

This is the point where most companies have a hard decision to make, incorporate a new interface or just keep adding more items to an already familiar interface. Myself, I am a firm believer in the KISS theory. What you have never heard of the KISS theory? It basically stands for Keep It Simple Silly (some refer to the last S as Stupid, but we will keep it PC here for now). How this applies to development is that if your software interface is not layed out in a simple easy to understand manner then you are destined for hard times ahead. The use of a good Product Designer is well worth the cost as they can help to simplify software for the users sake which in turns gives you a better interface for your product. This will allow more beginning users to quickly and easily use your product, which in turns sells more product.

Remember the KISS theory as this applies to all aspects of life. The more complicated something gets the harder it is to deal with later.

Happy Rendering...

Come on in the waters fine

My buddy Miker the Biker is currently working on his new blog, which hopefully will be fully operational in a few days. His idea is a good one that I have not seen other blogs utilize yet, rather than let the cat out of the bag I will post a link when he is up and running. Keep up the great work!

Happy Rendering...

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Post Storm #3

My buddy Cooper took this image during Hurricane Isabel at the oceanfront.

Unfortunately there is nothing to compare the waves to the pier scale wise. Notice the end of the pier as the waves are above the pier level.

Happy Rendering...

Back to Business

With the storm and ensuing clean-up behind us now it is back to business.

There have been a few good cad related updates that you should be aware of:

1. Autodesk Subscription Site update - For subscription members this section of the site has been updated with a few new things including an AutoCAD weblog from an AutoCAD expert, no not me, but Shaan Hurley, e-learning updates, technical support and more on the way I hear. There is also mention of "A New Autodesk University Experience for Autodesk Subscription Members", but I am not sure what that means yet either. :)

2. Architectural Desktop 2004 - Service Pack 2

3. Autodesk Network Installation Wizard - Patch

Happy Rendering...

Saturday, September 20, 2003

Post Storm #2

This is what the landscape typically looks like downtown now.

Post Storm - #1

Unfortunately we are without electricity but the power crews are working hard on restoring service. I had hoped to send a few posts before/during the storm but we had a few more items to deal with than we had planned. We had little property damage but we were more fortunate than others who had trees on their houses. Rather than mention verbally what happened here are a few pics:

This little bundle we found in the evening during the storm (our next door neighbor adopted it the next day).

This is the main road to our house.

This is the city across from ours pumping flood water back out to sea.

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Waiting on the Storm

Current Hurricane Isabel conditions are 110mph with gusts to 135mph about . The oceanfront seas are still relatively calm right now. I have been in my fair share of hurricanes and flooding, but for those that have not even if the eye does not directly pass over you the storm winds still extend out pretty far. In the case of this storm the winds extend out 150 miles +/- from the center.

If the center passes near you the other items to worry about is micro-bursts, which are several small tornadoes around the eyewall. I remember seeing the microbursts from Hurrican Emily in '94 while living on Hatteras Island. There was an area that just shredded and twisted several trees. I distinctly remember a 2x4 that was lodged like a spear in a good sized tree.

Today's planning is making final preparations and executing a business continuity plan for work and home. I will try to provide one or two more updates before going offline for a day or so. In the meantime here are a few links to keep up to date with:

National Hurricane Center
Probabilities of Landfall
5-Day Forecast Track
Hurricane Evacuation Routes
Storm Surge Maps

More soon...

Monday, September 15, 2003

Batten Down the Hatches

After a good Sunday of surfing and soccer, we made our trip out this evening to stock up on supplies for the approaching hurricane Isabella. Here is a pic from the oceanfront yesterday.

I just picked up a Canon Powershot G3 from Chris just in time since Thursday is the day the storm will make landfall. Hopefully it will arrive before the storm hits so I can take some good pictures of the oceanfront before/after the storm.

If you are in the path of a storm give some additional thought to your business emergency plan. With a plan in place recovery is much simpler. I have an article in development for Business Continuity Planning but it is not ready to share just yet. In the meantime check out the FEMA Emergency Management Guide.

Happy Rendering...

Sunday, September 14, 2003

Project Management – Part 1 - Time Management

The key to a successful project is project management. As mentioned before it is relatively easy to lose the momentum and focus you have on a project and sometimes it can be out of your control. We all have ways of dealing with how to get work completed. Some people have a project manager to help keep them on track and others rely on themselves.

If you are responsible for getting work completed then you must have an understanding of what it takes to successfully deliver a product or service. In my day job I am part of a team of individuals who manage and provide tech support for an architectural company. My specialty is in CAD, Graphics and Rendering software/hardware. Due to the nature of being in this position constant interruptions are normal.

In order to get larger task done you need to distance yourself from these interruptions. Wait you say, isn’t this your job? Yes you are correct, but getting technology projects planned and completed can be difficult in this type of environment. Which brings us to the first step in a successful project: Time Management. I realize that you work xx hours a week, but that is not exactly what time management is. TM is more of setting aside a certain amount of uninterrupted time in order to accomplish a task.

This can be much harder to do you than you may think. Here are a few tips that can help to get and keep you in the “zone”.

1. Have a clean and creative work area.
2. Turn off e-mail, instant messengers, newsgroups etc…
3. Turn off the telephone, cell phone, pagers etc...
4. Use earphones to reduce outside noise and conversations.
5. If you absolutely cannot get work done where you are, move to another location (even temporarily).
6. In extreme cases you can use a “do not disturb” sign on the back of your chair or office. (A piece of tape across the entrance can also help let people know this as well.)

There are quite a few good books available that you can order or if you are fortunate enough to have a good project manager at your company then spend sometime with them and watch how they handle their time on projects.

Happy Rendering...

Saturday, September 13, 2003

Salvador Dali and Disney


Fifty-seven years after Walt Disney and Salvador Dalí teamed up to develop a short film called "Destino" the 6 minute film has now been completed. As I have been a fan of Dali's work for years. Hopefully his original 150 sketches for the film will be made available on the DVD.

Happy Rendering...

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Book Addiction

I have to admit that I have an addiction, to books that is. I cannot go a week without purchasing and reading a new book. One of the best ways to get better at rendering and animation is to spend time reading and looking at other peoples work. This includes cartoons, movies and books.

My recent purchase is "How to get a Job in Computer Animation" from Ed Harriss. I have had a few e-mail exchanges from Ed recently and I look forward to the arrival of this new book later this week. If you are looking to get into the animation field then this book will share ideas and creative ways to help you break into this field. There is a free sample chapter and content from the book that is available on his website.

Another book that I would like to order is this digital fine art book from Expose. There is a page gallery available to see these great images as well. This is great work that I am impressed with.

If you are looking to increase your skills look at as many books, magazines and other related content as possible. Your eyes will pick up the small details that help these images stand out that in turn will make your own work better.

Happy Rendering...

Blogger Pro gone?

Blogger Pro to be discontinued. Now what this means for me and this blog will be determined by what this does in the future. For one I hate banner ads, that was one main reason for upgrading.

Happy Rendering...

Monday, September 08, 2003

The Small World of Blogging

The more time I spend using RSS feeds and checking out different blogs for information the more you see several of the same names on different individuals "buddy" lists. This goes to show that when you have good content or ideas people want to link to you. I just found out about a blog party next week. As luck would have it I have no plans that evening so depending on where the final venue is I plan to stop by for a bit. Have you been to one of these past events? or plan to attend this one? If so let me know.

Happy Rendering...

Sunday, September 07, 2003

CSS Education

As you may have noticed it has been a few days since my last post. During this time I have finished the training class and now I am back to working on 2 web development projects with a bit more focus that I hope to maintain.

This weekends learning project includes CSS. I have been using some predeveloped CSS in my past web work, but wanted to delve deeper so I could create/work with my own instead of hacking up the ones given to me. I have added a CSS style to the Rndr4Food blog. The nice thing about this is that when I make any site changes this can change the rest of the site globally. The is more that CSS can do so spend some time learning/understanding how to use this feature in your web work.

Happy Rendering...

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

Under Development

I have been attempting to finish 2 web development projects that have been in the works for some time. It is funny how each time you get your mind focused on the project at hand how quickly this changes due to circumstances beyond your control. I took some time last week to outline the scope of Project "A" and define each item that needed to be done for completion using MasterList-XL (thanks for the tech support and help Bob, I am anxiously awaiting the full version 2.0). The key item that I hope you take with you after reading this is that the first step to any successful project is planning.

As I mentioned it is easy to get pulled off of your work and now development has been put on hold. I am currently providing a private multi-day ADT/VIZ training session (not bad for a 4 hour notice). So for the remainder of this week Project "A" is on hold. I recently read a great article about development from Joel that explains in a similiar fashion why I am having trouble completing Project "A". It looks like I need to create a solution to this. I plan to write an updated article of some length here soon, perhaps this will make a good topic.

If you have any stories to share or advice, e-mail me.

Happy Rendering...

Monday, September 01, 2003

Another year

In a few short hours I will "officially" be another year older. As I sit and write this, I am now fat and happy after a wonderful Thai dinner enjoyed by some close friends, my wife and I. I have taken a moment to ponder over the last year, but I will not bore you with the details. But I will say that this has been another pivotal year in my professional/personal development.

I did give in and purchase a small present that I have been looking at for a while. Unfortunately it is not the Aibo but with the robotics kit it does have an open programming architecture to build on.

Happy Rendering...

Sunday, August 31, 2003

Helpful Rendering Ideas - Part 1

Keep a binder that contains all of your sketches and renderings in it.

You keep an up to date resume of your best work right? What you probably do not do is to keep a history log of your work. Some time back my good friend "Miker the Biker" shared with me the simple idea of keeping a binder. This has become an effective tool in showing the transformation from a concept sketch to the final product as well as a helpful reminder of the hardships and lessons learned along the way.

Now I know what you are saying, I have a binder, what do I do with it to make it special? Great question. On each print/sketch you place in here, write down what you see that you need to improve on. This includes items that you feel are great as well. The more you do this the better your eye will become for the details that make your renderings stand out.

Happy Rendering...

Bits and Pieces

This recent disney article shows a difficult situation forming for 2d animators at the studios in Florida.

Autodesk has recalled service pack 1 for AutoCAD 2004 due to issues with the AutoCAD optimized device driver for Hewlett Packard (HP) DesignJet and LaserJet devices that could result in printing errors.

The Autodesk service pack 1 update can be found here.

This page shows all udpates and service packs to ensure your Autodesk software is up to date.

The Macromedia MX products are available for pre-order and will be available mid-september.

I just watched the Blur Studios reel for design and animation and found both to be incredible. If you are not familiar with the name, chances are you have seen their work.

Happy Rendering...

Saturday, August 30, 2003

Catching Up

Before I continue any further I have to give another big thanks to the blogger team as I had another issue that I wanted to resolve and they immediately responded back with an explanation and support. 2 days later you now see no ad on the blog page. Thanks Kimmy (again). I have had a great experience and your customer service is top notch.

The daily battle of getting control back over my inbox has been going well. I have been using the iHateSpam program for the past month. Before this my daily spam catches were exceeding 120 each day. Up to this point I have only had 2 semi-important emails that were quarantined with this program, which is by far better than what some of the other products I tested. Once you take the time to "train" this software what is spam and what is not, the rest takes place behind the scenes. One feature that I am impressed with is the bounce option. This will generate a bounced message back to the sender (keeping in mind that some addresses do not permit replies) and will help to get you off the spammers list. I definately give them a thumbs up for a great program. As with all products the real test is tech support, and I have had 2 items that were both resolved within 2 hours by e-mail.

Happy Rendering...

Thursday, August 28, 2003

RSS Rocks

As mentioned before I spent that past weekend getting more familiar with RSS and XML now thanks to the original push from Chris, I have begun cutting down on many of the e-mail based publications that were being delivered to my inbox with those forward thinking companies and individuals who are generating RSS feeds.

With the addition of a news aggregator (of which there are many including both free and fee based versions) into my arsenal of tools I can control what information I wish to have at my finger tips.  Right now I see 14 breaking news items that just got published.  Unfortunately the CAD and Rendering world seem slow to adopt to using this technology as a means to deliver their information and/or ideas.  Are you listening out there? 

If you have an e-mail based publication that you send out, blog content that you wish to share, late breaking information for your product(s) or (insert your item here) then consider an RSS feed as this gives those who wish to receive your messages another way of doing so in a non-spammer like environment. 

Now I know what you are saying, How do I start this transition? 

1.  Read the information in the RSS and XML links above and here.  Spend some time researching this further to understand how this process work.

2.  Create an RSS feed based on what you learned in Step 1.

3.  Add an  link to your website, blog page, e-mail publication etc... and they will come.

4.  Reap the rewards of finding a way to reach others in a no-spam, no e-mail box filling way by embracing the future of digital publication.


Happy Rendering...


Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Hardware Upgrade

I recently added a new D-Link hardwired ethernet router to my set-up at home. Up to this point I have not been happy with the software only firewall approach we were using. In this age you need to stay as secure as relatively possible.

If you do not have a firewall (software, hardware, or both) and anti-virus software installed on your personal computer you should take the time to do this simple step as it will save you from more wasted time and frusturation later.

Happy Rendering...

12 Principals to 3D Animation

The twelve principals of animation were created in the early 1930s by animators at the Walt Disney Studios.

Happy Rendering...

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

File Corruption Update for Microsoft HOTFIX 823980

Autodesk® has confirmed that the installation of Microsoft® Hotfix 823980 or Microsoft® Windows® 2000 Service Pack 4, can lead to the corruption of MAX and DRF files. Consequently you are not able to open MAX or DRF files that were saved after you installed either of these Microsoft® Windows® Updates.
The following Autodesk products are affected by this issue:
Autodesk® Architectural Desktop 2004
Autodesk® Building Systems 2004
Autodesk® VIZ 4
3D Studio VIZ® R3i
3D Studio VIZ® R3

The following operating system configurations will experience MAX and DRF file corruption:
Microsoft® Windows® 2000 Service Pack 4
Microsoft® Windows® 2000 Service Pack 3 or lower, with Microsoft Hotfix 823980
Microsoft® Windows® XP Professional with Microsoft Hotfix 823980
Microsoft® Windows® XP Home Edition with Microsoft Hotfix 823980

If you have installed either of these Microsoft® Windows® Updates and are experiencing MAX and DRF file corruption, Microsoft is now providing temporary direct access to the beta Hotfix, which affected users can download from the links provided below. Please note that these links will expire when Microsoft posts the fully tested public version of Q824136 Hotfix.links will expire when Microsoft posts the fully tested public version of Q824136 Hotfix.

To apply the Hotfix:
1. Download the appropriate version of the Hotfix for your operating system and language.
2. Double-click the downloaded file. The action will uncompress the contents of the Hotfix and the installation will automatically begin.
3. Once the installation process is complete, you may be prompted to restart your system.

Microsoft® Windows® 2000 users must install Microsoft Windows 2000 Service Pack 3 or 4 prior to the installation of this beta Hotfix. Autodesk recommends updating all Microsoft® Windows® 2000 systems to Service Pack 4.

This Hotfix is not publicly available through the Microsoft website as it has not gone through full Microsoft regression testing. If you would like confirmation that this fix is designed to address your specific problem, or if you would like to confirm whether there are any special compatibility or installation issues associated with this fix, you are encouraged to contact a Microsoft Support Professional in Product Support Services (in the U.S. call 800-936-4900).

Once installed, the user's computer may still appear to be vulnerable to the Blaster worm to some virus checking software, even though it isn't. This situation will be resolved when the official patch is release in the next month.

Links to Q824136 Hotfix for Microsoft® Windows® XP Users:

Links to Q824136 Hotfix for Microsoft® Windows® 2000 Users:

The following languages are also supported:
Chinese (Simplified)
Chinese (Traditional)
Japanese (NEC)
Portuguese (Brazil)
Portuguese (Portugal)

This will help many users, including me.

Happy Rendering...

Monday, August 25, 2003

Usability Testing

I ran across this information on Usability testing that ties into the past Product Designer post. For those of you who are just starting out doing product design and for software developers be sure to review this article.

Happy Rendering...

When Plans Come Together

Before I go any further I have to give a big thank you to the blogger team for helping me with an item that I have been wanting to implement (RSS feed). Their quick response and outstanding customer service needs to be mentioned, thanks again Kimmy.

As you can see with their help we have now added an RSS feed for this blog. After spending a great weekend reviewing how RSS/XML works this is a great start. If you have not used an RSS/XML feed before, I recommend looking into this as the future of communication is coming soon.

Today I attended a seminar on Business Continuity (Emergency Response Planning for Your Businesses) which was put on by Skill Path. This seminar was good for me in particular as the company I am employed by has been dealing with how to continue with business after an event (fire, terrorism, hurricane, flooding, etc...) has occured. This is something that every company should have in place. For me this started out as a plan for getting our network infrastructure up and running if anything should happen. Of course this is an important step in the process, but this is only a part of the overall bigger picture.

Now this should get you thinking about what happens if something happens where you work? How will the business continue to operate if you have a flood? Can we continue to do business as usual if something happens to our CEO (or other mission critical personnel)? These represent just a few of the ideas you need to consider and have a plan for. If you or your company does not have a business continuity plan in place, I recommend you spend some time documenting what your process to recovery will be or better yet attend the seminar to understand this process further.

Happy Rendering...

Saturday, August 23, 2003

Tid Bits

The trouble with SlideShow presentations article struck me as interesting as I have been jotting down notes about a similiar future article.

A couple of new tools from Autodesk are available for users to download.  These include the Batch Drawing Converter 2004 and Customization Conversion Tools.

Architectural Desktop 2004 Service Pack 1 is available.

SplutterFish Brazil version 1.2 is now available.

Discreet 3ds max 6 Technical Specs.

Sorry for the "composed with ..." message this is only temporary as I complete testing before purchasing.

Happy Rendering...

Composed with Newz Crawler 1.4

Friday, August 22, 2003

The Never Ending Thrist of Digital Content

This post is being written using the demo version of Newz Crawler.  Currently I am researching/learning more about RSS feeds.  There seems to be a surge of individuals and sites that I visit that are using this technology.  With information freely available and without the hassle of spam in your inbox this is certaintly an area that you should at least be familiar with as this technology grows.

The EVAUG meeting last night was full of great conversation and tips for users of Excel and AutoCAD.  If you are fortunate enough to have a users group near you, for any software that you use on a regular basis, you should try to attend and support them.  This group has been a true benefit to me.  At the conclusion of each meeting I always walk away having learned something, at times I am able to help other users, other times they help me.

Currently working on a new animation short for a competition due early next week.  Images to follow soon.

Happy Rendering...


Composed with Newz Crawler 1.4

Reading Material

I am currently reading through the papers that were posted from the presenters at Siggraph. Thanks to Tim Rowley for providing this page and the links. There is quite a bit of good information here to digest. Unfortunately I did not attend Siggraph this year as my focus in the past has been more cad oriented but obviously this has been shifting to digital visualization (of which cad is still a part of).

I am especially interested in reading the writings of Henrik Wann Jensen. If you have ever used Photon Mapping but do not fully understand the process be sure to read some of the articles (and books) from Henrik on the subject.

Happy Rendering...

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

Don't forget the apple

It is that time of year again when students head back to school and teachers prepare lesson plans to educate them. Why mention this? Yours truly has been asked to teach again at the local college. My task will be to teach the students how to use Autodesk Architectural Desktop (ADT). This is exciting as up to this point I have only taught AutoCAD for this campus (multiple locations). I did mention to my boss after class one day last fall that I train the staff at the firm I work for during my day job to use ADT and that I also train other users/companies on a contractual basis. Now one year later they have asked me to teach a class in ADT for them.

I have been toying with the idea of writing a book for sometime now as a way to get the knowledge out of my head and in a legible written form that others may benefit from. The initial concepts for a specific book keep coming back to tying in multiple software packages and showing how they work together to get projects done. The first downside to this concept is that it is hard enough to sell a software specific book as it is and by tying in more than one piece of software to the book you limit your user base that you can effectively reach. A good case in point is my good friend Dave Stein. For those of you who want to learn Visual Lisp, Dave wrote a great book and after shopping it around to several publishers he has not found anyone to publish the book. So for a limited time Dave is offering the book to you free of charge in a .pdf download from his site.

Why did I mention the book idea? My boss at the college asked what other ideas I had for students. I mentioned possibly teaching a photoshop class and he asked how we could tie this into the curriculum offered. This seemed like the perfect time to pitch the idea of a "Digital Visualization" class, and so I did. I mentioned the idea of teaching students how to use photoshop with Max and/or VIZ render to get the beautiful images that are produced by many visualization artists. This idea seemed to have perked his ears up as he has asked me to put this information together and plan on doing this in the near future. So with any luck I can get this implemented as I start the book.

Reading between the lines (or what you should take away from this):
1. Self promotion and sharing your ideas is a good thing. Whenever possible share this with someone who can help to make it happen.

Happy Rendering...

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

Design Visualization - re-learning lessons through the years

You often hear the term "photo-realistic" in regards to renderings and visualization services that are offered. Now with a resurgance in my personal life I have been inspired to go back and rediscover freehand sketching as my work feels incomplete without this process. Without storyboarding your ideas or pre-thinking your views you are probably modeling unneeded geometry. This additional time costs money, both to you and your clients.

The use of freehand sketching by itself is a true artform that most individuals involved in visualization services seem to be forgetting (myself included). Whether you decide to sketch on a pad, napkin or digital media the use of pre-planning is critical to your work. Consider how many prints have been made to pick the "money" shot by individuals who have not pre-planned the shot. Much of this could be avoided with the use of pre-thinking what your final deliverable will be.

Two closing thoughts I would like you to take away from this are:

1. Pre-planning sketches can help you to reduce the time you spend working.

2. In the end the use of software should be considered a tool in order to assist you in delivering your final product.

Happy Rendering...

Saturday, August 16, 2003

Rendering frustration

Currently working tech support for a team using VIZ 4 with file linked ADT geometry and rendering with Brazil on a large site plan (several multi-story detailed buildings, contoured site model, exisitng neighborhoods and trees). If you have ever used any RPC content ( then you know that they can help to fill out your scene while keeping your polyface counts relatively low as opposed to using a fully modeled tree.

Why the frusturation? RPC content has always worked great for me in VIZ, Max and ADT using the scanline renderer. I recently got netrendering set-up for this group and all the production tests went great, however one project animation that needs to go out asap will not send the RPC content (500 trees +/-) out via netrender when using the Brazil engine. The 'fishes were helpful in trying to iron out the issue and brought in a few other users to help troubleshoot. After discussing this issue with a few others it seems that the RPC content has caused a few problems for them on random projects as well. I will be contacting archvision tech support on Mon. to get help to address this issue we are having. I am sure this issue can be isolated and resolved, but not tonight. In the meantime it is rendering fine on a single machine (dual processors) and will be ready for the first release in time.

4 Important Steps You Should Learn From This Post Before Contacting Tech Support:

1. Know the make, model, amount of ram and what the other components of you computer system are. I would recommend saving a copy of this information in a text file so you can retrieve the information when needed.

2. Know which version and release of all releated software that you have. This includes your os and service packs for each program. Again it would help to have this in a text file for quick retrieval later.

3. Before contacting tech support for any issue, try to repeat and isolate what is causing the issue. Ex. If you press the alt key and the space bar at the same time and the program crashes this would be helpful information to know and provide to tech support. Simply stating that the program crashes and you have no further details is not as helpful. :)

4. Search for the answer/solution first on your own. A quick internet search using the keywords of your problem may turn up the solution to your issue and save you a tech support call. This may also let you know whether this is a known issue or not.

I will keep you updated. Until next time,

Happy Rendering...

Thursday, August 14, 2003

Test from my handheld....

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

Product Designer

Now I enjoy alpha and beta testing a variety of software as this to me is a way to directly influence the software to work effectively for me and my users needs. Typically an NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement) is given when testing software. However there was no such agreement in place for our meeting so it is ok to discuss here (but i will be leaving out the company name and product).

Recently I was asked to attend a training session for a new program that would be implemented at a company I do business with (we will call them Company A). I was told this software would soon be in use for me to transfer information to them for production prints. So of course I took them up on the training offer.

The training session location was changed a few times and ended up being held in one of the executives private office. After waiting and helping to set-up the network connection in the office we began. The training session consisted of myself the trainer and a conference call with the software programmer and a sales rep. Now this is when they told me that they appreciated me taking the time to view their product and provide my opinion on the software and as it turns out the "trainer" knew very little in regards to the software because this was his first learning session with it. How did I get here again..... :)

In the end I sat through a webmeeting/conference call and provided some feedback to the developers. Afterwards Company A asked me to provide them feedback on whether they should purchase and use this software. I took some time to go though the pros and cons of this software and how it compared to other products I use and sent this to my contact at Company A. After sending this private correspondance I received an e-mail from the developer of the software asking me to clarify me feedback and give more detail on what should be changed/updated. So apparantly someone forwarded my comments straight on to the developers. Not that big of a deal, so after a few more e-mails of design advice back and forth we are nearing the end of my feedback to them. This should make for a much better product for them in the near future. One funny thing is they asked if it was okay for the president of the company to contact me.

So this brings us back to todays topic of "Product Designer", because it is painfully apparent that this company does not use one. Two things that I would like you to take away from this is:
#1 - For any item you design, whether it is software/websites/renderings or any other item, make sure that the interface, layout and color schemes that you are using match or at the very least have a consistent layout. If it does not this will detract immediately from the product no matter how functional it is.

#2 - Know what you are getting into ahead of time instead of being surprised when you get there. :)

So for today my job title also consisted of non-payed "Product Designer". Do people really get payed to do this for a living?

Happy rendering...

Monday, August 11, 2003

Copyright Infringement

You see small cases of this everyday on many websites whether you realize it or not. I ran across a site link that was sent to me by a friend that had many great images posted in the gallery. The images varied from architectural visualization to character models to hollywood film shots. For a freelance artist this was impressive, but something just did not sit right with the images. In my experience someone can be great at one or two things but only a few truly talented individuals posess the ability to do it all.

Now benefit of the doubt says that this person could have done the work even though the name did not sound familiar, after all the world is a large place right? Upon further inspection using a search based on this individuals name we run across another site with some information about the artist including the programs used to create the work. Now my software list is decent sized but not as long as the grocery list of software listed to be in use by this person, but you have to wonder if a. is all this software really used? and b. how does this person afford the software? Now here comes another interesting twist, the individual is 16 years old. Not to slight any young emerging artists as this is a perfect time in their life for learning and using software.

Ok so this 16 year old is a very talented individual who can afford a multitude of software and do several different styles of rendering each of which is impressive. Each of these images in the gallery varies greatly, in fact maybe they vary a bit too much as there is no similarities between any of them. The web is a great tool, since these images vary so much let's perform a little search on a few of the better images to find something similiar. Great big guess on what we found.....

Yes that's right the images were a little too good and it appears that they were that good because we found them on other sites as well, however the copyright listed here did not have the same name listed on our young talented artist's site (which is hosted by another group).

Now this brings us back to the daily abuse of copyright infringement and the degrees of separation that are in place with the web. There is no way to completely stop someone from stealing your image if they can be found in any public forum or website, however there are five things you can do to help reduce the problem:

1. Place a copyright symbol and your name on the image itself and use some type of identifying watermark.

2. If you have a website place your site address on the image, this makes it easy to reach you and also gives you an advertisement if your image is copied.

3. When posting a file, make it as small as possible while maintaining the level of detail you need or desire. This will make it a bit harder for any image pirates to modify and/or use your image.

4. Disable the ability to right click and save an image with JavaScript or VBScript (technique and code available freely on the web).

5. Switch your image with another when the mouse cursor moves over the image using a mouse over event with JavaScript or VBScript (again more information is available on the web about this method).

Keep in mind that this will not stop a sophisticated web user from stealing your work but it will slow them down and limit what can be done with your image.

Happy rendering...

Saturday, August 09, 2003

Okay, lets get this question out of the way first, why the blog?

With so many different forms of technology available I wish to share some of my thoughts and experiences using digital media for rendering and conceptual design. As I customize and use many different products for production work you may see comments, thoughts and experiences that stem from the use of, but not limited to, the following software:

Autodesk products:
Architectural Desktop

Splutterfish products:

Adobe products:
After Effects/Premier

Macromedia products:

Well I guess this is the start to our blogging experience together.

Happy rendering....

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