Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Rendering Comparison

Steve pointed this link out comparing the results of several different programs on the same base scene.

The results are interesting among the users and programs but no matter what software is used it is only as good as the artist using the program. I replied back to a gentleman sometime back who asked which person he should hire to perform some visualization work. At that time he was hoping to base his decision on the software they planned to use and not their final result.

"From experience I can tell you that the software package/combination used will not automatically equal great results. Generally in my proposals I do not list the software I intend to use as that only confuses those who are making the final decision to proceed or not. For new clients I tend to share a few images showing different levels of quality and how that equates to terms they understand, namely "time" and "money". =) Then they make the choice of which level of detail they can afford with an understanding of the
time implications for each.

For repeat customers they understand what they are getting for their time and money and we can adjust to get most any look/style they wish to achieve. It takes a few projects with clients to get to this level of understanding but it is possible. If you have used any of these people in the past then you should have a good idea of what they are capable of.

There are exceptions to every rule, but unless they are giving you their working files when they are done so you can tweak, adjust, use, etc... then I would not let the software be the deciding factor. In the hands of the right people even the most rudimentary of tools can produce superb results." -bbt

happy rendering...

Sunday, May 23, 2004


For the CAD and Visualization industry there are several large conferences that you can choose from.

One that I especially enjoy is Autodesk University. If you use any Autodesk product (AutoCAD, Architectural Desktop, VIZ, Inventor, Land Development Desktop, GIS, etc...) you should mark the date of November 30 - December 03, 2004 as the next AU is scheduled to be held in Las Vegas.

Why do I mention this to you so early? If you would like to attend and have your companies authorization you should get started planning now. This does not need to be all the final details yet, but just an outline for getting approval. What is the process your company requires before they will allow you to attend any type of conference or training event? Information such as this will help you to plan ahead and fill in the details later and get approved to go.

Having attended the past few AU's and learned a great deal I can say the cost vs. benefits ratio is one of the best out there. Not to mention having the opportunity to meet many people from all over the world and talk about things you love and enjoy as a profession. With so many classes to choose from it offers value in returning year after year to increase your skills and value to the company that you work for.

For those who may not understand how to get approval from your bosses we are working on a document for you to use as a template that will be posted later this week. Look for more soon.

So mark the date and start planning to attend now... I hope to see you there.

Hello Wi-Fi

After spending a week with my new notebook I have been using the wi-fi features and understanding how the whole system works. The nice thing about this is that you can usually get a great signal most anywhere you are (except where I was in Nebraska last week). :)

On my home network I do not have a wi-fi router and after 45 minutes of moving my router and modem to another location so I could snake a network cable to another room to work for a bit, I realized the network cable was about 2 feet short of working. On the off chance I fired up the wi-fi and got a signal (though it says low) and have been using it for the past 4 hours. Cable issue resolved...

Now as for who owns the wi-fi router I am borrowing access from I will have to find out later.

No power cables, no network cables, I love it...

Mobile Power

The search for a new notebook has ended and the final winner was a HP Compaq nx9110.

Of course this was enhanced by purchasing a few extra bits and pieces (ram, peripherals, etc...) and this thing rocks!!!

A note to anyone purchasing from Crucial:
I needed additional ram to take with me on a recent trip and with the free 2-day shipping offered I should have had plenty of time, with a week to spare from ordering before I had to leave it did not arrive.

Why you ask? If your shipping address does not match the credit card billing address it can take an additional week or more. This would have been nice to have known ahead of time as a large bulk of my time is spent at work and I get all my package deliveries sent there. What I recently found out is that you can have your credit card company add a secondary address to your account that will prevent this "security verification" from holding up the process.

While I have never had an issue with any other companies I purchase from regularly via the web, a Crucial rep said this was their standard practice. Getting the second address added to your credit card account is as simple as a phone call and if more companies are starting to use this method then it will certainly help your packages arrive when expected.

Passing away...

Upon returning from our Outer Banks adventure we came home late Sunday evening to find a horrible odor in the house. Unfortunately we found the source to be from one of our family pets (Ezra) having passed away while we were gone.

Ezra was fully grown and found/resuced by my wife many years ago in the woods behind her dorm and has been with her since that time. We never were able to find out the age of Ezra, but they typically tend to live 20-30 years in captivity.

Her roommate Vendella seems to be missing her very much...

Wedding Bliss

As you may have noticed this past week I have been absent from my usual web haunts and blog musings...

To start this break off we had the opportunity to go to Emerald Isle, NC to attend Chico's wedding and visit with several old friends along the way.

The wedding was beautiful and held right on the beach with water almost to your toes... I even had a speaking part in the ceremony.

May I present and wish a wonderful congratulations to Mr. and Mrs. Brian Roberts!

We wish you both the best...

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Concept Art

For those that checked out the Blur Studios short (mentioned in this post), the concept art work was done by the amazingly talented Chuck Wojtkiewicz. More of his concept artwork for Rockfish can be found here.

I have always loved the work of those who are great at concept art and this is amazing work indeed. If you enjoy this style of work check out the rest of ConceptArt.

happy rendering...

Monday, May 10, 2004

Work flow - Modeling

What a great subject, this one always gets people talking. There are many methods of modeling geometry for Architectural Visualization. If asked how many people started in this industry with modeling in AutoCAD I am sure we would see many nods, and of those how many remember the fond days of solid modeling? Modeling your geometry is the first of 3 important steps in rendering and I too started out with solid modeling. No really, I hated the changes that would occur as much as you because solid modeling with AutoCAD was very unforgiving in a project work flow. The focus of this article is what works for me as I get asked this question in numerous e-mails from many users.

For the architectural industry it makes sense to use a set of tools geared with architecture in mind. I have modeled with AutoCAD, Form Z, and several other products over the years, but found a tool that not only can do production drawings (construction documents) but also with the power to do object based modeling with architecture in mind. My perfect match was a program called Architectural Desktop. ADT completely changed the way I viewed production drawings and changed my work flow. Simply put ADT uses 2d & 3d "objects", for those not familiar consider the real world example of how a door and/or window fit into a wall system. For more information on this please visit the link above and also your local users group.

ADT is an amazing program and I will not sugar coat the fact that it can be complex and at times overwhelming when you start using the advanced features and designing with the Z coordinate in mind, but with persistence, some reading and a few great resources you can get it to do most anything.

Let's talk about the basic modeling workflow itself:

1. For architectural exterior models I typically start with the building components that are known, typically this involves ADT walls, doors, windows, curtain wall and assemblies, roofs, slabs etc... The "building structure" tends to have numerous design iterations during the early design phase. With the use of a composite building model (each floor stacked on top of each other at their respective height) numerous people can work in and on specific areas of the building design.

Design Note - With the release of ADT 2004 and up you should learn to use the project navigator as this keeps track of the building elements for you.

2. Because of the planned changes that occur and my software choice of VIZ/MAX, I tend to use file linking quite a bit. This works out quite well as numerous people can work on the individual sections of the composite model and I tend to just need to reload the geometry to use the changes. Even with all the powerful features of ADT, there are still areas and times that I prefer the tools from VIZ/MAX. Generally this is to add additional features or details that would be either difficult or time consuming to create in ADT. A few of the toolsets that are very useful include; lofting, scatter, shape merge.

3. At a certain point when the building has reached a “design stop” phase to continue with rendering I tend to break the link and bind the drawings into one or more .max files. From here the building design and construction documents can continue to change and update and I can just focus on the scene at this moment.

While the many various versions and types of software available present different advantages to modeling and rendering I would encourage you to try as many as you can until you find the one that works for you. The ultimate goal is to get a great looking image that represents your building and invokes a feel of the proposed space, and of course it needs to be done in a timely fashion. =)

From here we head towards the most critical part of rendering, these being materials and lighting.

happy rendering...

Viz Max Comparison

Steven Papke has put together a great comparison list of the feature sets of VIZ Render, VIZ and Max available here.

If you do not yet have a free membership to the Vizdepot you will need it in order to see this article.

happy rendering...

Blogger Update

Well Blogger has updated and relaunched their services and are now offering more for everyone. If you are looking to start blogging, why not try out their free service.

happy blogging...

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Cad Roadshow - review

The Avatech Roadshow yesterday was fantastic and informative. With so much information to present it is no small wonder that the presentations ran over in time, but the information was well worth it. Topics included AutoCAD, ADT, Revit, ABS, Mechanical Desktop, Inventor and more...

IMO one of the most knowledgable people in the architectural industry presented at the two sessions I attended (general and architectural). Being not only a good friend but also one of the most multi-talented guys that I know of, who am i talking about?

Lonnie Cumpton

Thanks again to the Avatech crew for putting together a great roadshow. If you get the chance to see one of their 12 city road shows be sure to attend.

Sunday, May 02, 2004

Site Tracking - Good ones?

I am currently working on some html updates to the blog and looking for advice. With the thousands of hits each month (thanks again for stopping by), I have one continuous gripe about blogger and their bstats site tracker, namely it rarely works when I want to look into the logs (site visitor numbers, by hour, day, week, month, etc... and a few other site statistics).

With the many competing services out there, have you used any that are worthwhile? Or any to stay away from? E-mail me with any feedback.

thanks and happy web surfing...

CAD Roadshow

The Avatech Solutions AutoCAD 2005 roadshow has started. I will be at the * "Virginia Beach" show on Tuesday May 04 from 9-12am. This should be a good meeting as AutoCAD 2005 and the verticals will be covered in the breakout sessions. This is a free event with good material, I plan to be there and I hope you will be too.

*incorrectly labeled as the meeting will be at the Chesapeake Conference Center in Chesapeake, Va.

Limping Back To Life

No not me, but AUGI (Autodesk User Group International).

After being hit by the Witty Worm it looks like services are slowly being restored.

For those still looking for cad help via e-mail (with the closing of the guilds and the AUGI forums still down) you may want to sign-up for the cleverly named "oSNAP" mailing lists put together with help from Robert Aiken at SAUG and hosted by Frank Zander of Corbimite.

happy cadding...

Software Upgrade

Ahhhh the age old question with software, when to upgrade.

IMO software upgrades should be done when they offer a compelling reason to do so. Two of the typically larger reasons being financially and/or competitively for your respective market(s). With these in mind, my upgrade path has been waiting for two recent releases of software; Architectural Desktop 2005 and VIZ 2005. These two products compliment each other in the architectural and visualization field, together they offer many reasons to consider upgrading and the ADT and VIZ development teams have done an outstanding job in their work on these products.

So far the ADT 2005 set-up and customization is going quite well and the first phase will be complete in the next few days. While this has taken the bulk of my time this past week, in order to get a turn key customized system set-up and ready to distribute, the second phase is the most exciting, for me, as it includes some new features that I have been anxious to get into the hands of our users to increase productivity, reduce redundancy and at the same time ensuring office cad standards are followed by users of all skill levels.

If you are working on either software package upgrade listed above drop me an e-mail and let me know your progress, as I would love to hear your stories and experiences (both positive and negative).

More updates to come soon...

A week in the life

Business proposals, business planning, spreadsheets, polygon face counts, video compositing, teaching and more...

What a great and busy week this has been! Polishing off a few articles that will be ready to share soon, but in the meantime I wanted to share a top notch video short film from the talented folks at Blur Studios, called Rockfish. To view the short film go the the Animation>>Shorts section.

happy rendering...


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