Monday, December 31, 2007

Have a Safe, Happy and Green new year...

We wanted to take a moment to say thanks to everyone who reads this blog and sends e-mails. You are the reason this adventure continues, we wish you the best in 2008.

Have a safe, happy and green new year...

Have a safe, happy and green new year...

I wanted to take a moment to say thanks for everyone who reads this blog, sends e-mails and also those who come out to meet and talk with us in different cities. You are the reason this adventure continues, we wish you the best in 2008 and hope to see you soon.

Have a safe, happy and green new year...

Fused - Digital & Home Life Coming Together

With the discussion of personal technology integration over the past few years we have seen ideas like internet enabled refrigerators, smart table top and surface computing, smart home systems and more. While some of these ideas seem a bit far fetched, others are much more of a helpful addition to our current lifestyles.

With Christmas now behind us and everyone I know, including myself, with new electronic goodies I have been giving this a bit more personal reflection. One of these gifts (and my personal favorite) was a Chumby (to be released to the general public in the next few months and more information here about their business strategy here).

More pictures here

Over the last few days of use I have realized how much the idea of integrated devices into our homes are going to fill the unrealized voids within our increasing digital lives pretty quickly.

With links to family and friends around the world via social networks and more digital connections to keep up with news and happenings are becoming more mainstream. Rather than keeping my notebook on while at home and having to open/close, move it upstairs/downstairs, login/out when needed and more "modern inconveniences", I can have a single household device that can move around, if needed, to let me passively retrieve information in the background that I will want to view on my own schedule without the hassles mentioned above. From streaming audio, pictures, social networks and access to most any type of digital information and/or updates I may want.

For anyone who might be interested in tinkering around with this type of device, whether you are a programmer/coder, artist or craftsmen its another platform for you to work within and make your own.... From the developer portion of the website it sums this up pretty well:

Hardware: Ahhh, remember back when the Apple II shipped with complete source code for its BIOS and schematics? We are happy to bring this tradition back to the public.

Software: The chumby client is a Linux-based, open-source platform. As our client evolves, so does our flavor of linux and the specific details associated with its drivers and helper applications.

Flash: Are you a Flash animator? We like to think of a chumby as a Flash showcase and encourage Flash artists to spread their talents through our network.

Crafts: The chumby is designed in a way such that the core electronics can be easily separated from its outerwear, enabling you to create that exact look you want.

So far this has been a great lifestyle unification tool, merging my digital life with my home life in a good balance. So which electronic toys did you get or have you had that you cannot live without, please reply via e-mail or in the comments section below.

Bonus: If anyone has the Amazon Kindle or Sony Reader let me know (e-mail me) as I am especially interested in this as my next electronic addition and would love to hear your feedback on real usage. :)

Clarification: the chumby was a gift from my family, not from the manufacturer.

happy fusing...

IES linking with Revit Architecture

With the last release of Revit MEP we were given the opportunity to link directly to IES (Integrated Environmental Solutions, Inc) which was a great step forward for being able to check a few of the many things needed related to feedback on a buildings performance early in the design process via our Revit model. This limited many Architects from being able to take advantage of tools such as: heating and cooling load calculations, annual dynamic thermal simulation for energy consumption, sun view animation for winter, summer and midseason, and daylighting assessment by not having this included in Revit Architecture.

For those who need this feature, without purchasing a new license of Revit MEP, to use with Revit Architecture this can now be done after installing this. More information can be found in the press release.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Troubleshooting 3ds Max - Profile Reset

The last few days have offered a nice vacation from daily work and given me time to get back to some house projects and in-between back to some rendering related fun.

With that in mind here is a great tip for Max users to help troubleshoot corrupt files and other "anomalies". Similar to the profile in AutoCAD, Max has a .ini file that holds things like plug-in paths and more. This file is found in the root Max folder and is called 3dsmax.ini. with your max session closed browse to this location in windows explorer and rename the file (ex. 3dsmax.ini.bak). From here you can start your max session and it will create a new "clean" 3dsmax.ini file for you automatically.

When debugging trouble scenes/files this is a good way to test if it may be one of your own "custom" settings. Note: when doing this locations of toolbars and more will be reset.

happy rendering...

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Create a 3D Snowflake even if its warm out...

The weather here at Will render for food headquarters is jumping from 70 to 30 every few days so this is a way to bridge those gaps this season. With a focus on modeling, rendering and animation sometimes one of the best things you can do is to take a step back and try a different approach. From the title you probably thought this was going to show how to create a digital snowflake, instead how about something you can touch and share with others this winter season.
Over at wikiHow we ran across a tip that involves making a six-armed three dimensional snowflake. To do this you will need: 6 pieces of paper, scissors, tape and a stapler.

Below is the version Dylan and I did this morning hanging from a light. Only modification was thick card stock, a hole punch and thread/fishing line. While the card stock was tough to cut it is holding up well and the holes were punched right at the tips.

Seasons greetings...

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Maya native file export formats

To follow up on the last post and look at best possible workflows here are the native export file formats for Maya:

Supported Geometry/Scene Formats*
mayaAscii, mayaBinary, MEL, Autodesk® FBX®, aliasWire (Autodesk® AliasStudio™), IGES, DXF, OBJ, VRML2, MOV (ascii motion), GE2, RTG, OpenFlight, VRML2, mental ray, RIB, Open Inventor2.

Supported Image Formats*
Maya IFF, Maya IFF 16, AVI, Apple® QuickTime®, GIF, Softimage® PIC, Wavefront RLA, BMP, TIFF, TIFF16, SGI®, SGI16, Alias PIX, JPEG, EPS, Cineon™, Quantel®, Targa®, DDS, PSD, PNG, QuickDraw™, MacPaint®, HDR, OpenEXR, MAP, Sony® PlayStation® TIM, Dassault® Picture, PPM, mental ray® formats (CT, ST, NT, MT, ZT, TT, BIT, CTH)

Supported Vector Formats*
PostScript, EPS, Macromedia® SWF, Swfit3D, Adobe® Illustrator®, SVG.

* Not all formats supported on all platforms. Not all formats supported for both import and export. Some formats applicable to certain renderers only.

Thanks to George Matos and Autodesk for the file format notes above.

Maya export to .dwg

In a technology preview from Autodesk released yesterday we now have access to exporting to the .dwg file format from Maya courtesy of Autodesk Labs.

From the site:
The DWG Plug-in for Maya 2008 enables users to export complex conceptual building designs from Maya for further design development and documentation in Autodesk Revit Architecture 2008. For additional information including a how-to overview of the technology, please see BIM: Maya 2008 for Complex Conceptual Design.pdf which accompanies the install file in the ZIP download

The workflow mentioned to go from Maya to Revit Architecture is the following:
• Create initial design expression in Maya
• Export file from Maya to the DWG file format
• Convert DWG™ files to SAT file format (ACIS® Solid) in AutoCAD® 2008 software via export.
• Import SAT file to Revit Architecture 2008 for documentation via massing.

The Negative:
First, the pitch about bringing this into Revit Architecture is a bit misleading as I modified the steps above slightly to show what is really occuring. The way it is written up makes it sound like a seamless 4 step transition to getting your model from Maya to Revit. This is not seamless, first AutoCAD is used as a "translator" to take the geometry and make it readable by other packages via the .sat file format. To get this into Revit it then takes additional work to clean this up and you have to work from massings, not exactly a smart family to begin with so if you have any experience with family editing you may be better off doing it that way. Ex. a known issue mentioned in the .pdf is that the model may need to be rotated in the massing to get the model in the right orientation.

Second, we can export to .stl directly in Max. Why can we not get that in Maya and skip the whole AutoCAD step?

The Positive:
Great job on the tool as we are now able to share this with other Autodesk users not on Maya.

happy exporting...
beau turner

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Production Rendering Offsite

In one of my previous roles we worked hard to expand our rendering capabilities/capacity to get renderings and animations out faster. We did this with a combination of afterhours distributed network rendering and dedicated servers/machines just to handle the load of work we were completing.

One thing that always caught my eye was offsite rendering (think a dedicated server farm focused just for rendering stills and animations). At the time there was three choices for this and I was fortunate to be able to test one company with two live projects on a very tight timeframe and they saved the day!

At the time we were using Brazil as our rendering engine RenderCore made sure every driver, software and project specific plug-in we needed to match our setup was done to complete the work. Well it has been a few years since then and I noticed today on tenlinks that RenderCore was mentioned and they now offer another solution that makes this even more attractive pricing wise. It involves what they call Daily Pass, or $50 per rendernode for a full 24 hours of rendering.

If you are using offsite rendering, drop me a e-mail and let me know how things went as I am curious on changes in the last couple of years with this section of the industry.

Happy Rendering...

Monday, December 17, 2007

Windows Vista SP1 Preview

The Windows Vista Public Release Candidate 1 is now ready for those brave testers here.

Here goes my plunge into RC1 (downloading now)...

Primavera and Autodesk Interoperability

From the Development side we (Avatech) have had several inquiries from users over the last few months to look into developing some tools to allow users to go from Autodesk Design Products to Primavera.

On a related note to that and with Autodesks aquirement of Navisworks this past year in a press release this morning both parties have agreed to continue working together to keep the existing link between Primavera and Navisworks functioning as well as work on interoperability to the Autodesk AEC line of products.

This will be interesting as we move forward and should improve the 4D & 5D process that we go through currently. In the meantime I plan to continue paid development in this niche. To quote Big Weld: "See a need, fill a need"

Friday, December 14, 2007

Combining Existing & New Technologies

With the rise of new technologies it is useful to have existing "tried & true" technologies take advantage of newer ones. That said users of Outlook can now utilize twitter thanks to OuTwit from TechHit.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Google Earth Inner Workings

Ran across this link earlier and with the recent update we have done to take your file from Revit and publish to Google Earth it provides an interesting look at what drives this.

Google Earth inner workings described in newly published Google Patent App

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

AU Post Wrap-Up

What a week it has been at Autodesk University in Las Vegas...

If there was one recurring theme for the week it would have to be networking. It would have been hard not to with 9,800+/- attendees (last number I heard) from all over.

Here a few quick highlights and notes:
To start with the ADN Developers Conference on Monday offered some great information and sneak peeks into some things on the way. The push and amount of data being handled by the dwf files is still amazing.

The Keynote speech was probably the best one I have seen at AU and the screens and seating were a positive change (a pain of mine from last year solved). It was also refreshing to have Yves Behar (fuseproject) present and share some of his insight and projects. Coupled with some emerging technology and the 360 screens and it really gives you an idea of where all the data from intelligent models (manufacturing, GIS, civil, arch, eng, construction, FM and more) are going. It is going to be interesting to see how we are really able to handle datasets for integrated design practices from all groups and municipalities as time goes on. This offered a great approach and shows more work in this area since the demo's last year.

The Exhibition hall was enormous and traffic funneled through rather easily. There were a good number of vendors as well and the products showcased this year were top notch. I did notice a large number of collaboration type tools who seem to really be fighting it out for some of that marketshare. With a space that large and so many folks you can expect a few things to happen and they did (good and bad). The good, there were quite a few "floor" sessions covering top tips and tricks for different platforms. Technology was everywhere from a working wall touch screen (shown with DWF and navigated with your hands) to relics of AutoCAD past (Shaan had some old products and literature including manuals that were corrected by hand and sent to customers vs. manually retyping them) and more. The bad, there was at least one computer stolen that I was aware from the exhibition hall.

In the past the meal lines have been getting better and this year my experiences it went off without a hitch. It all moved fast and there were plenty of places to sit and eat and food was tasty as well. Well done!

The evening entertainment was positive as well and with so many meetings and other events going on there was something for everyone (Disclaimer, Matt taught me how to play BlackJack one evening). The AU Party had an 80's party with comedians, street dancers and later a band as well. For those not into the "concert" venue there was a huge hall outside with computers setup to run old video games from teh 80's and of course drinks for those interested all around.

To end this post I am going to go back full circle and say the networking and being able to see old friends and meet new like minded people with a passion the same as you was one of the best parts. In the end as Lynn Allen said AU is really A You and I could not agree more.

As mentioned before

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