Thursday, December 30, 2004

Asia Pacific Region Relief After Disaster

Words cannot express the sorrow experienced and the current needs of the people in this geographic location following the devestating earthquake and tsunami.

If you would like to donate to the relief effort, these organizations are equipped to offer both immediate and long term assistance:
Australia: Care AUS, Red CrossUK: Care UK, Red Cross
USA: Care USA, Red Cross Global: UNICEF, Save the Children, Shelterbox

Links above courtesy of Shaan

Our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone affected by this disaster.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Holiday Audio Post

this is an audio post - click to play

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

CAD Related Blogs Growing

When I started this blog in June of 2003 it started as an outlet and way to share thoughts, ideas, tips/tricks, personal stories and more related to the AEC industry. At that time it was the only cad related blog; since then it has been great to see the growth of so many who have since joined the blogging world.

With the new year coming soon there have been a few others who have stepped up and started blogging recently. Welcome to the blogging world:

The Mad Cadder - Michael Rotolo

Cold Fire CAD

(both of which originate from the Canada)

If there are any others who may have started in the past week let me know if I have not found you yet.

happy blogging...

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Christmas Wishes

Seasons greetings from the will render for food family to you and your loved ones.

We wish you the best as you learn and grow in the upcoming year...

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Heading back

The trip through St. Louis was a lot of fun and gave a great opportunity to meet many new people and discuss cad, visualization and of course ADT.

I also want to thank Melanie Stone for meeting me for dinner at Imo's (I got to try my first St. Louis style pizza). If you have not had the chance to meet Melanie in person yet, here is a picture.

We had a great discussion on cad; past, present and future, as well as some great discussion about AUGI and CAD User Groups, life and more. If you are in the St. Louis area you should try to attend the next Gateway Autodesk Users Group meeting on January 11, 2005.

Here are a few images of the town:

The name in lights is pretty descriptive where this is. =)

This was a morning view from the hotel:
(visualization people take note of the gradient sky)

I have some more business to take care of here in January and plan to venture out further when I return. Any suggestions of places to visit/see in the evenings let me know.

happy cadding...

Thursday, December 16, 2004

St. Louis - Meetup

Here is the location and time for those that can join us this evening (12/16/04):

Imo's Pizza
2001 Olive Street, Saint Louis, MO 63103
(314) 241-5585
(314) 241-5585 (fax)


Tuesday, December 14, 2004

A blogging welcome

For those who frequent the Autodesk Discussion Groups you probably know the name Tracy Lincoln. Well Tracy is now part of the blogging community:

Looking forward to seeing more postings from you Tracy and keep up the great work!

St. Louis

While traveling through many different parts of the country I typically try to have dinner with a few cad and/or visualization folks to chat (geek out) when time permits. I will be in the St. Louis area for a few days; if you are interested in getting together for dinner on 12/16 drop me an e-mail.

These are always very informal sessions, lots of fun and offer a chance to meet other users in your area with related interests. Also for those that are not aware there is a local users group in this area too, but no meetings planned during this timeframe.

Smells like something new around here...

This past Monday we closed the doors to our old office location and opened the doors to a new one:
4460 Corporation Lane, Suite 317
Virginia Beach, VA 23462

While not quite up to the level as Joel's office, we have been enjoying the new outdoor scenery and interior decor compared to the previous location. For anyone local that would like to see the space there is an open house tomorrow afternoon, feel free to come by and say hello. I am unable to make it to the open house but there will be plenty of other great folks to meet and of course great food, wine and even some door prizes and other goodies.

I will be posting a few pictures of the new layout later in the week for anyone interested.


I have been anxiously waiting to go see The Incredibles. Royal and I headed out to the theater on Saturday to watch and it was incredible! Good storyline and a great animation. Afterwards over a good pint of ale we talked about the different items we liked and both agreed that in many places the blurring of the lines between photorealistic cinematography and "cartoon" style was done so well that you hardly even noticed it was an animation. If you are a fan of animation this is one you should not miss.

I was reading Manton's blog recently and he mentioned that ASIFA-Hollywood members recently received the Incredibles DVD screener, while not currently a member of the I will have to wait for this to arrive on DVD with the rest of the world. In the meantime I may try to catch this again in the theater.

happy animating...

Monday, December 13, 2004

Eastern Virginia AutoCAD Users Group - Meeting

Next meeting: December 16, 2004, at Hanbury Evans Wright Vlattas + Company (HEWV) Architectural Firm's "Knowledge Cafe", located at 120 Atlantic Street, in Norfolk, Va. between Waterside and MacArthur Mall.

6:30-6:50pm - Meet & Greet - We will start the meeting off with some food and drinks. This is a great chance to see old friends and meet other CAD users from area companies.

6:50-7:00pm - Introduction to the Group

7:00-7:30pm - Topic #1 - Nick McCully of Rouse-Sirine Associates will cover a broad spectrum of tips and tricks including: Properties Dialog Box (Filter command), Express Tools (Nick's Favorites), Paper Space Tricks, Converting clients drawings to your format, and Text Set Up & Tricks. Learn to work faster, not harder.

7:30-7:40pm - Short Break - This is a chance to chat, eat, stretch and/or carry on a corner discussion.

7:45-8:30pm - Topic #2 - "How NOT to model in AutoCAD/ADT" Through the last few years Mike Taylor has been using AutoCAD/ADT to model buildings and other geometry using a variety of methods. This presentation will cover the many lessons in modeling that Mike has learned the hard way over the years. For beginners and advanced users; this topic will have a lot of great tips and lessons to help you avoid common mistakes and make your modeling life even easier.

8:30-8:35pm - Wrap Up, Prize Giveaways and Dismiss

Mark your calendar! After this meeting, the next one will be on Thursday, January 20 2005. As always, free food and prizes.

Last but not least, thanks to everyone who supports and attends our meetings. The EVAUG would not continue to grow in its current direction without your active participation.

Eastern Virginia AutoCAD Users Group

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Red Vs Blue

During AU Rob Finch introduced me to a set of videos/animation "Red vs. Blue" that is reminiscent of Mystery Science Theatre 3000. Basically a group of people are using the game Halo (and now Halo 2) to shoot a movie within a game. Several of them interact with each other and one guy's view is essentially the camera angle.

In their words: "We use four Xboxes, four copies of Halo and a PC with a Canopus DV Storm capture card and a bunch of Adobe editing software. Run the video from one of the Xboxes into the capture card and use that as the "camera", the other XBoxes are used for the characters and are run by our puppeteers."

There is some pretty funny stuff (in some cases juvenile humor) they say/do. Download a few videos to watch or to make this even better you should go back and start at the beginning or purchase the DVD's for each season here.

More AU Photos

Robin Capper has posted his AU photos (from San Francisco to Vegas) here. I got the chance to meet and have dinner with Robin (and Jan) during AU after we bumped into each other at a Autodesk Usability Study.

Thanks again Robin for dinner and the great New Zealand pen.

Shortcuts of Life

Shortcut keys... simple, easy, effective and something you should learn. Most every windows/mac/unix software has keyboard shortcuts to enable you to work faster in your daily computing life. If you are not using them you you may be overlooking one of the biggest time savers.

Over the years I have learned the ones in AutoCAD/ADT and know a good majority of the ones in VIZ/MAX to leverage the software effectively. I run across users continually who are unaware of the numerous keyboard shortcuts there are. For example did you know that if you have multiple drawings open in AutoCAD you can use the Ctrl + Tab key combo to cycle through the open drawings (think a continuous loop) and if you go past the drawing you want you can always reverse the loop by using the Ctrl + Shift + Tab key combo.

Want a few more standard window's shortcut key combos?
Ctrl + A - Select All
Ctrl + C - Copy
Ctrl + X - Cut
Ctrl + V - Paste
Ctrl + S - Save
Ctrl + Shift + S - Save As (for most programs, those that do not use this should be...) =)

Now I mentioned I have been learning the VIZ/Max key combos (of which there are a bunch) and found a few that you may not be aware of:
Shift + Z - Undo View Change
Shift + Y - Redo View Change
Ctrl + Z - Undo Scene Change
Ctrl + Y - Redo Scene Change

Viewport changes:
P = Perspective
U = User
F - Front
T = Top
B = Bottom
L = Left
C = Camera (changes to a camera selection if more than 1)
V = Select view from list (or keyboard entry)
Alt + W = Maximize/Minimize View

And my personal favorite I did not know until today:
Alt + Middle Wheel Mouse Button is Arc Rotate, no more need to use the icon from the toolbar. This even works in Viz Render!

There are plenty more useful shortcut keys for each of these programs. To learn more you should check the help file and/or the accompanying quick reference card that most of these programs ship with.

happy "quick key" rendering and cadding...

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Spreading the blogging love

It has been nice to see the thoughts and experiences of so many individuals come to life through blogs over the past two years. A few weeks ago Shann, Lee and myself set up feedburner accounts to spread our blogging experiences with a larger audience.

This started with being displayed on the Vizdepot and now available for anyone who wishes to see an animated ticker displaying the latest blog postings in your own HTML page (or other HTML allowable device) feel free to grab and use the following:

Will render for food... Digital Media Blog

happy blogging...

Multi-page DWF Merge

For those who use both .pdf and .dwf format's to share/archive data one of the the first things you may notice is that Acrobat has the ability to merge other .pdf files into your current multi-page document. For those who wish to merge .dwf files together into a multi-page document you can easily accomplish this using DWF Composer. This is a tip I recently learned from Shaan.

To accomplish this try the following:
1. Open a .dwf document using DWF Composer.
2. Using Windows Explorer browse to your .dwf file.
3. Drag the .dwf file you wish to merge from Explorer to the DWF Composer Navigator pane.
4. Save your file. Done!

For those who do not have DWF Composer you can also accomplish this task as described by Shaan here.

Thanks again Shaan for the tip and happy dwf'ing to everyone... =)

Space Traveler

About a month ago I got access to using a CadMan but had major issues with the downloaded drivers and Max 7 that prevented me from using it. During AU I saw the 3dconnexion booth and stopped by for a chat to see if they could help. Turned out to be some kind of an issue with the driver and is not present on the new cd's with the products.

While there I also got a chance to play with the Space Traveler and fell in techno love (ok it was really techno lust).

This has been great fun and already productive in the first few days of my return from AU. The Space Traveler also works with many other programs, but I found it best to work with VIZ/MAX so far. For those wondering the cool blue lights around the edges are also customizable buttons (8 in total).

This software/hardware also supports many other programs and here are my first thoughts on a few I have used this for:
1. Photoshop - The OTB settings seem strange at first as the navigation is the opposite of the way I think/work.

2. Architectural Desktop - The OTB settings for this are actually based on AutoCAD. While this may not make a difference to most users I found the settings very limiting and clunky, not at all the way it behaved for Viz/Max.

3. Revit - While the drivers do not mention about Revit I thought I would give it a try, no dice. The OTB settings are just not there.

4. Inventor - Okay I admit I am not a regular Inventor user but I have a friend who is and we tested this out on his system and he liked the way it performed.

The team at 3DConnexion said they would appreciate any feedback on the way the sofware interfaces/works for other programs and admitted ahead of time that the settings beyond VIZ/MAX are not complete. I will be submitting my thoughts/wishes to them over the next month as I interface with it more, but thought I would share my current findings as I do love working with the hardware

The price is a bit steep but if you work with VIZ/Max on a regular basis you should give the Space Traveler a trial run.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Rendering Challenge Final Results

Congratulations to the following winners of the Rendering Challenge:

November 30, 2004
1. Ged Trias
2. Andrew Schroder
3. Robert Braud

See the results for Day 1 here, thanks to Ted Boardman for judging the entries for this day.

December 01, 2004
1. Ben Rand
2. Beau Finch
3. Lynn Gramam

See the results for Day 2 here, thanks to Chris Bullen for judging the entries for this day.

December 02, 2004
1. Scott Martin
2. Alexander Ximenez
3. Mike Harper

See the results for Day 3 here, thanks to Jim Smell and Paul Aubin for judging the entries for this day.

Many thanks to Steven Papke from the Vizdepot for co-sponsoring the challenge and prizes that were given.

AU Day 4 Recap

Autodesk University is now officially over as the final day of classes/events involved a 3.5 hour session/lab for most everyone. For my last class I took one called "Autodesk VIZ Lighting: Get A Grip" by the master himself. If you work with visualization in either Viz or Max you owe it to yourself to take a class at somepoint with Ted. As usual this class ventured into many areas and had Ted sharing some techniques as well as having some great audience participation.

The two main areas touched on were Exteriors and Interiors. The first was done using the scanline renderer and the second using and demystifying radiosity for those who may not have had a firm grasp on the subject. One other thought that I thought would be great to share from the Max 7 class yesterday involved the use of changing the large amount of used lights in an exterior scene to using only two mental lights, this made for the same final result in about the same time with a lot less lights to control.

There was so much great content and insight offered by Ted that in addition to the handout I had multiple pages of additional notes/thoughts based on the discussions.

After the final class I ran into Jim (wearing a very cool "will render for food..." t-shirt =) ), and our families ended up on a great walk and lunch over at Paris on the Las Vegas strip. Afterwards we ended up meeting up with Paul for a bit too. Great conversation and for those who are looking to learn/understand how Viz Render and ADT works you should look here for more insight too. Of course you could always hire me too! =)

This was another great AU and it looks like I will be seeing you next year at AU in Orlando, FL.

AU Day 3 Recap

Wow, another exciting day here at AU 2004 with big news of venue changes for next years event on the East Coast. Waiting to hear whether I can officially say the location yet or not, but it could be quite interesting. =)

Early this a.m. I attended a Max 7 class called Design Visualization for the Advanced User. This dealt with numerous great tools inside of Viz/Max that will help make your life much easier and also shared a small bit of Mental Ray as well as some Combustion. I have not used Combustion yet, but this looks incredibly powerful!

After this great start to the morning this had me in several different locations throughout the MGM. Along the journey I also learned that the Segways have different magnetic keys and each is pre-programmed to do different things. For those who like speed, the red key is what you want. =) Stopping by the rendering challenge was great as I ran into numerous people along they way including Jim and Stefan from the Vizdepot and numerous others. It was nice to see the renderings being done using Viz and Viz Render by so many people. I will try to get the winners uploaded to the Vizdepot tomorrow.

One more half day of AU then it's over... Not to fret as there is always next year and the classes and events just continue to get better and better.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

AU Day 2 Recap

The sessions here today were great and ranged in many directions for myself. One that really stuck out in the morning was from Chris Bullen and was called "Visualization Voodoo". Two items that really stood out dealt with sub-object animation (in Viz, yes that's right) these included the animated elevator (using a plane and a greyscale .avi file in the Material Displacement slot and a flying bird (spider and tree too!). Basically the bird's wings were animateable in Viz by using a combination of the Patch Deform and Path Deform modifiers. These little items make a world of difference in believability in rendered animations. Chris also showed how easy this is to do in Max without the workarounds mentioned above. Simply put, this was great stuff. As luck would have it Chris was also the judge of the rendering contest held today too.

Lunch was an awesome feast and we got the chance to meet and chat with numerous people. Unfortunately I missed Jim, but did manage to get in touch with Rob and numerous others to chat throughout the day. The afternoon was spent with numerous BIM classes and each offered some great ideas/solutions. The evening was spent with a few parties on-site of the MGM and was great fun getting to meet new people and see a host of other old friend and those we have exchanged converstations through e-mail and in the NG's.

That is a quick recap and Thursday is filling up quite quickly as well.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

AU - Update Day 1

Well the day has just ended for me and now trying to wind down. This afternoon I had hoped to attend this event, but had my curiosity peaked by a Max 7 session, though I did manage to run through to say hello to Shaan along the way to.

The Max presentation did not have very much description on what to expect and I was pleasantly surprised by the presentation from Rich and Mike Burmann from Paul Steelman. To start this off they simply started playing an animation with music that was top notch and got everyones attention from the get go. Rich shared his background and his role in creating and helping to grow the 3D visualization department for this company.

In addition to sharing some background on the type of work they do and the tight turnaround time (1.5 weeks) for some of the best animation work I have seen coming from the Architectural Industry but also shared much more about the inner workings and what it takes for them to get this accomplished with everyone involved in the process. Along the way Rich and Mike shared some highly useful tips for keeping their renderings time down to meet these deadlines and shared several tips from their running checklist that everyone on their design team uses. There was quite a few items that I have not heard of before that I hope to share with you as I implement these into my own rendering pipeline.

After this session it was off to take the ADT Certification Exam. This was not too difficult, but I ran into 4 questions that were incorrect according to the question and had to prove this to the gentleman overseeing the exam and they then agreed. One thing to keep in mind for those who may be considering taking this read the questions carefully as the semantics can be tricky in a few areas. All in all it was a good exam focusing in multiple areas. If anyone would like I would be happy to post more about this just let me know.

After finishing and passing this it was off to the Avatech/Vizdepot Autodesk University Rendering Challenge. Upon arriving there were people lined up and rendering away. It was refreshing to see and chat with so many new faces from all over the world; Japan, South Africa, just to name a few. Todays winners will be announced and their work will be displayed on the Plasma screen at the Avatech booth (#800).

now off to get some sleep before tomorrow's classes...

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