Tuesday, November 30, 2004

AU Opening Day

Today is the opening day for AU (though yesterday held a few events for ADT and ATC members) that offered some great information.

Well in the past few days I have seen several friends around town and on the MGM floors. Ran into a few Kiwi's along the way (Mike Burke and Robin Capper) as well as many others from here in the states.

As mentioned today is the opening day for general AU attendees. This morning I had the pleasure of taking a 3.5 hour class from the rendering master himself; Ted Boardman. Shortly I will be attending an industry session that should be quite interesting then off to finally take the ADT certification exam.

I will be uploading pictures this evening for those interested. For those already here be sure to check out the "Avatech/Vizdepot Rendering Challenge" at booth 800.

happy rendering...

Friday, November 26, 2004

AU Last Minute Items

In a few short hours we will be leaving and flying directly to Vegas (total flight time 5 1/2 hours). This will be Dylan's first flight and I hope it is pleasant. =) For those that have not been to AU before here is a list of last minute items you may want to consider:

1. Comfortable shoes. If you just bought a new pair of shoes this is not the place to try them out for the first time as you do an insane amount of walking. Unless you are like Lonnie and manage to gain full access to a segway. (really I am wishing I had thought of it first)

2. Lightweight jacket/sweater. The environment at AU is great and temperature usually warm while walking around. This is not when you need the sweater/jacket, this is needed when you are attending classes as they tend to run cool. Better to be prepared than frozen stiff.

3. Remember those hard choices you made choosing which classes you wanted to attend? Some classes may not be what you wanted/expected them to be and most instructors let you know at the very beginning what they will and will not be covering. Make sure to have a list of other backup classes you would like to attend and their locations in the building should your class not turn out to be what you expected. It never hurts to have more than 1 backup either.

4. Wi-Fi and anti-virus. - If you are bringing your own notebook to keep in touch and take advantage of the free wi-fi at the convention center make sure to update your anti-virus before arriving. Last year someone on an unsecured machined infected a great many unsuspecting people and closed the wi-fi service down for a day. There is also internet access via machines within the main hall.

5. Keep yourself well hydrated. This tip should begin the moment you read this, seriously.

6. When you arrive Vegas is a very enticing place to be and you are going to be around 4,000 other people who love cad as much as you do; pace yourself. There is nothing worse than letting your first night ruin the rest of your trip and learning.

The next posting will be in route to AU. We are staying at the MGM Grand for those we were unable to get in touch with earlier or you can call my mobile directly. We are looking forward to seeing you there and for those that could not make it there will be plenty of blogging going on from the event. No promises yet but Steve and I are working on some live video feeds from AU too!

The Incredibles

I have not had the opportunity to catch the CG film "The Incredibles", but hope to soon. I was reading this recently and according to an article in the latest issue of CGW, Pixar has been using 3ds max and Brazil r/s in the production of their latest Disney/Pixar film.

happy rendering...

Names you know

Many of you know the name Lynn Allen, but in case you have not heard she is now part of the blogging world.

Welcome and we are looking forward to seeing/reading all that Lynn has to share.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Happy Thanksgiving

I think the title says it all. Today is a great day to count the many things in life we are all thankful for. Myself this year has brought forth growth in many areas from work to my personal life and I am thankful for each and everyone who has been apart of this great ride.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Utilizing the Watermark

If you are using Viz Render and/or Viz and adding your watermark using a graphics manipulation program (Photoshop, etc..) you may not be aware that these programs offer a way to add your watermark without the need for post-processing.

To accomplish this use the following steps:
1. For toolbar lovers go to:
Rendering toolbar > Render Scene > Render Scene dialog > Render panel > Watermark Parameters rollout

For menu lovers go to:
Rendering menu > Render > Render Scene dialog > Render panel > Watermark Parameters rollout

2. Once here choose the "Load..." button and browse to the image you wish to use as your watermark (choose from one of 18 file types).

3. To effectively use the watermark you will want to control the placement and opacity of the image. This can be done by using the checkbox and spinners in the Watermark Parameters. To better understand what each does use the following (from the help file):

Render - When turned on, renders the watermark image in your rendered image or animation. A watermark image must be loaded before it can be rendered. Default=on.

Load - Enables you to select an image to use as a watermark.

Blend value - Blends the watermark image with the rendered image. Values between 0 and 1 determine the opacity of the watermark placed in the rendered image or animation.

Image Top - Specifies the placement of the watermark image. The Image Top spinner enables you to determine the uppermost pixel in your rendered image or animation at which the watermark image will be rendered.

Image Left - Specifies the placement of the watermark image. The Image Left spinner enables you to determine the leftmost pixel in your rendered image or animation at which the watermark image will be rendered.

For those who may be using Max 6 or higher the watermark feature has been removed. You can of course create your own using Maxscript or download one from here. In particular I have been using this one from Bobo. The various blending mode options are a nice bonus too!

happy rendering...

AU - How About A Rendering Contest...

Insiders Tip: For those attending Autodesk University there will be a rendering contest sponsored by Avatech Solutions.


Avatech will invite participants to join in on a fun, interactive event - Avatech's Daily Rendering Contest during Autodesk University, Nov. 30 - Dec. 3, 2004 at MGM Grand Conference Center. Designers, engineers and architects who want to strut their stuff can participate in the contest at the Avatech Booth #800.


Four laptop workstations will be set up with Architectural, Civil or Mechanical models. Each participant has 20 minutes to complete an already created model. Basic models and a set of materials that they can pick from to place on the model are already included. They can use Viz Render with ADT or Civil 3D, Inventor, Revit or Viz to produce the renderings. Then they set up the lighting and camera and at the end of the 20 minutes they must stop the rendering process. At the most, there will be about 4 renderings created each ½ hour of the show.


Participants must fill out a submission form. Judges, who are instructors at the conference that specialize in visualization, will view the renderings each day and determine the daily winners. Each set of winners will be posted on the plasma screen the following day.


First of all, each participant gets a T-Shirt. Avatech will give away 1st, 2nd and 3rd prizes daily, for a total of 9 prizes. Daily 1st place winners will receive MP3 players.


Participants should simply come to the Avatech booth and get rendering!

happy rendering...

AU Bound

Like many others in a few short days we are headed to Vegas for AU. I am looking foward to seeing many old friends, not to mention Lee, Robin, Shaan, Chris and a few other bloggers while there too. We will each be blogging about this event and sharing different tidbits for those of you who are unable to attend. There will be an ADT 2004 link in the photography section of the sidebar that I will be updating daily.

The "will render for food... " group (Shannon, Dylan and I) will be arriving and staying from Saturday to Saturday at the MGM Grand. For fun we recently got a few shirts printed up for AU that says "will render for food..." if you see this shirt feel free to come up and say hello.

See you at AU!

Master Viz Render

For those looking to learn more about Viz Render your wait is over. The book Mastering Viz Render by James Smell and Paul Aubin is now available.

There are a few sample items available for you to download and review; including a great water example tutorial (and cool night scene). While you are browsing the site be sure to look at the appendix information as there are some great goodies hidden here.

Also if you plan to be at AU Jim and Paul are co-teaching a Viz Render class as well as signing books at the Authors table on Tuesday evening.

happy rendering...

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Top 10 Cool Computing Utilities

One of the nice things about being in the consulting world fulltime is that your hardware/software needs to be up to date. I mention this because I have transitioned from the HP to a Dell Latitude D800.

With changes in hardware like this I tend to evaluate what software to install to keep the machine running lean and myself productive. Here are my favorite Top 10 computing utilities.

1. Microsoft XML Notepad - If you are looking for a great low cost solution for editing .xml files and keeping them well structured then look no further.

2. CutePDF Writer - Create PDF documents on the fly - for Free! If you just need to create a PDF, but do not need all the bells and whistles this is a great utility. This works for all windows based programs (CAD, Word, Excel, etc…)

3. JAlbum - I mentioned this program before and still find it a great asset in my graphic work. From photoalbums to FTP publishing and more.

4. NewzCrawler $24.95 - As you may know from my past blogging I love RSS feeds and this is a great way to access and organize them.

I tend to think of Screen and Web camera capture software as similar so here are two I use:
5a. Webcam32 $39.95 - This is a nice utility that not only can be used for still webcam images but also video push/pull via website or ftp. There is quite a bit that this software can do beyond that as well.

5b. ScreenCam - This is what I use to show screen captures on the blog window periodically of what I am working on. It has a great ftp upload feature and can be set on a timer and more.

6. Network Stumbler - If you work with wi-fi a good detector is invaluable. This is also great for sys admins to help find rogue networks. I typically fire this up to find available networks to websurf while traveling.

7. Skype - You have heard of VOIP, here is a name that is catching on. Basically it works like this if you want to call other people on their computers or phones you can use Skype to make calls all over the world (I recently had a conversation with a friend in the UK from the states free of charge).

Here are two invaluable programs from Techsmith . Great software at a great price:
8a. SnagIt - Capture screen images, text and printer output from your Windows PC. If you have used the windows print screen to get screen captures wait until you try this, I use this for documentation and/or just showing someone how a feature works

8b. Camtasia - Great for quickly creating professional-looking videos of your PC desktop activity. Anyone can Record and create a full-motion video tutorial or presentation, in real-time, and publish it in the format of their choice. No multimedia or programming experience necessary! This is great for tutorials or just to simply show someone how a feature works by seeing the exact steps you are taking to perform it.

9. Aquadock - I mentioned this one before but it is still super cool. If you are or know a Macintosh user you may have seen the Apple Docker. Here is a similar version but brought to the PC world. This one always makes people jaws drop when they see it in action the first time.

10. Konbalulator - I cannot begin to fully explain what this software full does as it can be anything. If you are looking to create your own widgets that is pretty easy to do via javascript and .xml too.

Though I ended up with more than 10 so far this is one (or two) of the coolest utilite(s) of them all:
11a. Desktop Sidebar - Much like the Konfabulator above this can be almost anything, but within the confines of a single bar. If you have seen longhorn you may recognize the concept. Though I have not been using this as long as the one below I have found it to be a good replacement as my personal favorite has been slowly progressing.

11b. SmartBar XP - Similar in many respects to the one above this has been my favorite for the past 6 months, but sadly development has slowed to a snails pace.

happy computing...

Thursday, November 11, 2004

MSN Search Beta

The MSN search service beta is now available for those wishing to test this out. I have only been playing with it a short time, but the results are drastically different from those of google (my usual search choice).

If you wish to test this out try the following:

Also if you are a blog/rss reader the following may interest you as well:

For those in other parts of the world try the following list:
Australia: http://beta.search.ninemsn.com.au
Austria: http://beta.search.msn.at
Belgium - FR: http://beta.search.fr.msn.be
Belgium - NL: http://beta.search.msn.be
Canada - EN: http://beta.search.sympatico.msn.ca
Canada - FR: http://beta.search.fr.sympatico.msn.ca
Denmark: http://beta.search.msn.dk
Finland: http://beta.search.msn.fi
France: http://beta.search.msn.fr
Germany: http://beta.search.msn.de
India: http://beta.search.msn.co.in
Italy: http://beta.search.msn.it
Japan: http://beta.search.msn.co.jp
Malaysia: http://beta.search.msn.com.my
Netherlands: http://beta.search.msn.nl
New Zealand: http://beta.search.xtramsn.co.nz
Norway: http://beta.search.msn.no
Singapore: http://beta.search.msn.com.sg
South Africa: http://beta.search.msn.co.za
Spain: http://beta.search.msn.es
Sweden: http://beta.search.msn.se
Switzerland - DE: http://beta.search.msn.ch
Switzerland - FR: http://beta.search.fr.msn.ch
UK: http://beta.search.msn.co.uk
US - EN: http://beta.search.msn.com
US - ES: http://beta.search.latino.msn.com

happy searching...

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Racing around in circles

With all the traveling I have been doing recently it was great to have a full weekend with the family and of course some time for fun! I have been trying to work in a trip to a local indoor go cart track I heard about for some racing fun and we managed to finally make it to American Indoor Carting on Saturday night.

If you remember riding go-carts as a child and are looking for a way to race (bump) others, this is about the closest most of us will get to Nascar. Since it was so much fun we are headed back this tuesday evening if you are interested in joining us on the track.

happy racing...

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Maxin Out

I have been working with the new release of Max 7 for the past two weeks. Though a majority of my work is architectural I have been sketching some characters over the past year in more detail and could never justify purchasing Character Studio, good news is that (as mentioned here) it is now included as part of the suite of tools inside of Max.

Speaking of characters there are a couple of cinematic reels that may want to check out (thanks to MaxUnderground for pointing these out):

Blur Studio's CG Cinematic for Relic's "Warhammer"

Blizzard Entertainment's CG Cinematic for "World of Warcraft"

happy rendering...

Monday, November 01, 2004

DWG on Linux

DWG for the LINUX community

As you know I work with Linux a bit here and there and ran across a beta for Linux that may interest those who are looking to use the power of cad on a Linux platform. Currently it looks like the supported flavors of Linux include Red Had, Suse and Java Desktop, downside is it currently only looks to work with Wine at this time.

My plate is full the next few weeks, but I hope to get to this soon.

happy cadding...

Back from Halloween

Back after a short hiatus these past two weeks and I hope your halloween was as much fun as ours.

More coming later...

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