Jigsaw24 Benchmarks: NVIDIA’s Quadro K5000 vs Quadro 4000

Jigsaw24 Benchmarks: NVIDIA’s Quadro K5000 vs Quadro 4000

Now that the Quadro K5000 for Mac has finally shipped, we wanted put it through its paces. Our friends at NVIDIA kindly agreed to lend us one to test, so we broke out our Mac Pro, upgraded it to OS X 10.8.3 to get the latest GPU drivers (you’ll need to do this too if you want to use the card) and cracked on.

The test

We decided to test the K5000 against the Quadro 4000, as these two cards represent the only professional grade NVIDIA GPUs available for the Mac Pro, so we thought it would be a nice illustration of how the GPU power available to the Mac Pro has progressed. We were hoping that the K5000 would be faster across the board, as on paper it’s a far more powerful card.

We chose a range of tests designed to represent a cross-section of the GPU-centric media and entertainment workflows the K5000 has the potential to accelerate. All of our benchmarks were run on a clean copy of OS X 10.8.3 and repeated three times – we’re quoting the average score below.

Davinci Resolve 9

Firstly we tested Blackmagic Design DaVinci Resolve 9.1.1. Resolve is a colour grading application that makes heavy use of CUDA acceleration for both transcoding and colour grading.  Our (relatively simple) test involved transcoding a 2K DPX sequence into a 1920 x 1080 ProRes 422 Proxy file. So as not to cause a bottleneck that would skew the cards’ performance downward, the files were read/written to very fast storage.

Here the Quadro 4000 averaged 37fps transcoding speed and the K5000 averaged 53fps, which means that the K5000 offers roughly 40% more performance than the Quadro 4000 for this workflow. As almost all of Resolve is CUDA accelerated, this performance gain should translate to an overall increase in speed across DaVinci Resolve.

Adobe After Effects CS6

The next test used Adobe After Effects CS6. AE CS6 includes a new ray traced render engine, which is fully CUDA accelerated. This render engine allows very realistic rendering of things like shadows, reflections and glossy materials, and we planned to time how long it took each card to render a test scene setup.

The K5000 managed the render in 10 minutes and 5 seconds with the Quadro 4000 clocking 18 minutes and 3 seconds, making the K5000 almost twice as fast as the Quadro 4000 – again, a great upgrade for this workflow.

OpenGL benchmarks

Finally we wanted to gauge the general OpenGL performance of the cards to get an idea of how they would perform in 3D Applications such as Maxon CINEMA 4D and Autodesk Maya.

We used a benchmark called FurMark, which tests a card’s ability to draw complex 3D images on to the screen. Higher performance in this benchmark indicates that the card will be able to handle more complex geometry inside the viewport in apps like Maya or C4D, meaning a smoother editing experience with complex scenes.

The Quadro 4000 managed 24 frames per second and the K5000 managed 54 FPS. (To give some perspective we also ran this test on the Radeon 5770 that shipped with our Mac Pro and it scored 31 FPS.) Again, this indicates that the K5000 is over twice as powerful as the Quadro 4000 when it comes to manipulating geometry in the viewport of a 3D application.

The conclusion

Much as we love it, the Quadro 4000 is getting a little long in the tooth and the K5000 looks to be a solid upgrade performance-wise. The Quadro K5000 is in fact the most powerful officially supported CUDA GPU available for a Mac Pro – and as CUDA will not run on the Radeon cards that most Mac Pros ship with, it’s an essential upgrade for anyone who needs CUDA acceleration in their application.

The K5000 also offers significantly better OpenGL performance than the Radeon cards that ship with Mac Pros as standard, so is a solid upgrade for anyone doing complex 3D modelling or animation.

Buy your NVIDIA K5000 for Mac now

Want to know more? Give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email 3D@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news and reviews, follow @Jigsaw24Video on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook

Use Backburner to queue renders from non-Autodesk software

Use Backburner to queue renders from non-Autodesk software

In a step-by-step guide, our 3D technical consultant explains how to use Backburner to render with non-Autodesk software, and even provides a few example commands for you to use.

“Backburner is Autodesk’s render farm management solution and will allow you to submit renders from the likes of 3ds Max, Maya and Softimage to a farm of networked machines. Backburner is included for free with the above packages, as well as a few others, such as Smoke. In a completely Autodesk pipeline, Backburner is a cheap way to manage a render farm (you can’t argue with free after all). However, many pipelines also make use of software that isn’t made by Autodesk such as After Effects or CINEMA 4D.

Using a little-known feature of Backburner called the cmdjob, it’s possible to control any software capable of being managed from the command prompt and have these cmdjobs queued by Backburner to make the most efficient use of your farm.

Implementing this will require the writing of batch scripts, so you may need to enlist the help of a script geek to get you up and running. The complexity of these batch scripts will depend on the application you are trying to control as the commands within them will be specific to that application. I tried it with both After Effects and CINEMA 4D, and reckon that the options will be familiar to anyone who uses these applications as you’re simply setting options like which comp to render or the size of the output image – the only difference being that you are just doing it with a command string instead of by ticking a box in the application.

To get started with the cmdjob, you will first need to call cmdjob.exe within your batch script. On a Windows machine this can be found in C:\Program Files\Autodesk\Backburner – on a 64 bit Windows machine substitute ‘Program Files’ with ‘Program Files (x86)’.

A working example: After Effects

We will start with a simple example using After Effects to render a comp called COMP1 within a file called aetest.aep. After Effects contains a command line renderer called aerender.exe. You need to ensure that After Effects is installed on each render node you intend to use for rendering the job. AE Render (and in fact After Effects) has a render option for using multiple machines which, when selected, will cause a machine to ignore any frames that already exist in the output directory. In effect the machine assumes another machine is already working on them and skips them to render other frames in the range. This option is perfect for rendering across multiple machines, as it allows you to run exactly the same command on all machines and have them figure out which frames to render for themselves.

So let’s start building the command:

•    First we call cmdjob.exe with the relevant options. In this case we add the following commands:-jobname “test job” to set the name that will appear for the job in the Backburner monitor, -manager testmanager. This tells cmdjob which Backburner manager to send the job to, and you should replace testmanager with the name of the machine that runs your Backburner manager. Finally we add -perserver to tell Backburner to send exactly the same command to each of our render nodes. So far our command looks like this: “C:\Program Files\Autodesk\Backburner\cmdjob.exe” – jobname “test job” -manager testmanager -perserver

•    Now that we have the job set up we must add the aerender command that we want Backburner to run. AE Render (for CS5.5) is located in C:\Program Files\Adobe\Adobe After Effects CS5.5\Support Files so we must call that first. Next we must tell aerender which project we want it to render using -project \\shareddrive\aetest.aep. Note that, as with any render farm job, the project must be in a shared location accessible to all of the render nodes. Then we specify the composition that we want to render from our project using -comp COMP1, the frame range we want to render (in this case 1 -10) using -s 1 -e 10. Next we enable the multi-machine settings that make all of this possible with -RStemplate “Multi-Machine Settings” -OMtemplate “Multi-Machine Sequence”. Finally we specify the output path, frame padding and output format with a single command, in this case rendering out Photoshop files with 2 digits of padding-output \\shareddrive\output\test[##].psd. AE Render is intelligent enough to know that putting .psd on the end means you want Photoshop files and will replace the # signs with your frame numbers. Again the output file must be on a network location that can be seen by all of your render nodes.

Our final command looks like this:

“C:\Program Files\Autodesk\Backburner\cmdjob.exe” – jobname “test job” -manager testmanager -perserver “C:\Program Files\Adobe\Adobe After Effects CS5.5\Support Files\aerender.exe” -project \\shareddrive\aetest.aep -comp COMP1 -s 1 -e 10 -RStemplate “Multi-Machine Settings” -OMtemplate “Multi-Machine Sequence” -output \\shareddrive\output\test[##].psd

You should paste this command into Notepad and save the file as something.cmd. If you then double-click this command to run it you should see the job appear in your Backburner monitor and start to run on your render nodes.

 [http://www.jigsaw24.com/groups/cinema%5E4d?ct=disabled&PageSize=30] But what if we have a more complex program (for example CINEMA 4D) where we would need to specify a different frame range for each node? To get this functionality we can use something Backburner refers to as a taskfile. This is a simple tab delimited text file, created in any text editor or spreadsheet program. The taskfile contains three columns. Column 1 is the taskname, which will appear in the Backburner monitor. Columns 2 and 3 are the start and end frames respectively. An example taskfile for ten render nodes working on a 250 frame scene is below:

  • frames 0-24    0    24
  • frames 25-49    25    49
  • frames 50-74    50    74
  • frames 75-99    75    99
  • frames 100-124    100    124
  • frames 125-149    125    149
  • frames 150-174    150    174
  • frames 175-199    175    199
  • frames 200-224    200    224
  • frames 225-250    225    250

We would save this taskfile on the same network location as our scene file and specify slightly different options within our batch file. First we would name the cmdjob as before but, instead of using the -perserver switch, we use the -taskfile switch and point it towards out taskfile and tell cmdjob that our tasknames are in column 1:

“C:\Program Files\Autodesk\Backburner\cmdjob.exe” – jobname “test job” -manager testmanager -taskfile \\shareddrive\taskfile.txt – taskname 1

Next we would call the CINEMA 4D command line renderer but replace the start and end frames with pointers to our tasklist file. This will cause Backburner to generate a slightly different command for each node only containing the frames that node is required to render:

“C:\Program Files\MAXON\CINEMA 4D\CINEMA 4D.exe” -nogui -render \\shareddrive\myscene.c4d  -frame %tp2 %tp3

Note the %tp2 and %tp3 these options tell Backburner to read from the tasklist file and replace these strings with the relevant frame range before running the command so the command sent to the first render node would contain -frame 0 24, the command to the second node would contain -frame 25 49 and so on.

So the final command for our batch file would look like this:

“C:\Program Files\Autodesk\Backburner\cmdjob.exe” – jobname “test job” -manager testmanager -taskfile \\shareddrive\taskfile.txt – taskname 1 “C:\Program Files\MAXON\CINEMA 4D\CINEMA 4D.exe” -nogui -render \\shareddrive\myscene.c4d  -frame %tp2 %tp3

Running this batch file would queue up your CINEMA 4D job within Backburner – once again you must ensure that CINEMA 4D is installed on each render node and that you have enough net render licences to cover the amount of nodes on your farm.

Further Information

These basic theories can be extended to allow Backburner to make use of any software that allows rendering through the command line. While generating the batch files can look a bit scary, you soon find that the options available match those you would be setting within the scene file anyway. If you need to do a lot of queuing of multiple programs on your render farm, I would recommend something more advanced like Qube! as it wraps all of this functionality in a more user-friendly GUI. For those that need this functionality occasionally or don’t have the budget for something like Qube!, Backburner’s cmdjob is a great option.

A full list of the commandline options for cmdjob, aerender and CINEMA 4D can be found by following these links:

Autodesk Support

MAXON Support

aerender Support

For more information on using Backburner, call our 3D modelling and animation team on 03332 409 306 or email 3D@Jigsaw24.com. Alternatively, leave a comment below and we’ll get back to you shortly.

More tips from the Vectorworks KnowledgeBase

More tips from the Vectorworks KnowledgeBase

If you’re after tips on getting the most from Vectorworks, here’s the latest from the Vectorworks Knowledgebase. This week: backing up preferences, disabling the Mac OS X firewall, exporting files, and more…

Backing Up Vectorworks Preferences

Backing up your User Preferences is as easy as following these four steps:


1) Once you have your desired preferences and workspace changes, quit  Vectorworks.
2) Navigate to the Settings’ folder in ‘My Computer > C: > Documents and Settings > (YourUsername) > Application Data > Nemetschek > Vectorworks’
3) Copy the folder named after the version of Vectorworks you are using. For example in Vectorworks 2011, the folder is simply named 2011
4) Save this folder somewhere safe, for your future use.

Follow the same instructions but with a different navigational path:

‘My Computer > C: > Users > (YourUsername) > AppData > Roaming > Nemetschek > Vectorworks’

MAC OSX 10.5 & OSX 10.6

Follow the same instructions but with a different navigational path:

‘Mac OSX > Users > (YourUsername) > Library >Application Support > Vectorworks’

Content taken from Vectorworks KnowledgeBase.
Disabling the Mac OS X Firewall in OS X 10.5 and 10.6:

Another quick but handy tip:

“To disable the built-in firewall on OS X, go to Apple > System Preferences:
Vectorworks 2011 - Disabling Mac OS X Firewall 1

Click Security on the System Preferences dialogue box and under Firewall, click Stop to disable the firewall. Normally this will only need to be disabled during the installation or updating of Vectorworks, not for using it on a regular basis after installation.”

Vectorworks 2011 - Disabling Mac OS X Firewall 2
Content taken from Vectorworks KnowledgeBase.
Exporting Files

The ‘File > Export’ command exports Vectorworks files into several different file formats (including previous versions of Vectorworks) making it possible to import them into other software programs.

nb. Vectorworks exports to a new file, leaving the original file intact.

Vectorworks KnowledgeBase offer this guide to the different file formats:

DWG and DXF files can be read by other CAD programs (such as AutoCAD). In addition, they can be printed by service bureaus and opened in rendering programs. The Vectorworks translator exports DWG/DXF files for AutoCAD versions 2010,2007/2008/2009, 2004/2005/2006, 2000/2000i/2002, 14/LT98/LT97, 13/ LT95, and 12. Use the latest version possible for best results.

Saves all records of a particular format as a file that can be used in a database program, such as FileMaker Pro and Microsoft Access. The Vectorworks program provides a variety of formats to select from when exporting records as a database, including comma-delimited, tab-delimited, merge, DIF, and SYLK.

EPSF (Encapsulated PostScript Format) files can be read by many graphics and desktop-publishing programs. The Vectorworks translator exports EPSF files in Illustrator 88 format. EPSFs contain all drawing elements except colour bitmaps. The Vectorworks program exports these files with high resolution and full accuracy. ‘Image>Files>Exports’ the file as an image file in formats like JPEG, Photoshop, BMP, and others. The image can then be imported into other applications or used in web pages.

Export PDF – (Requires Design Series)
This command is only available on the Macintosh when Quartz Imaging is enabled. It exports the current file to a PDF document in the specified location. There are additional PDF options available for users of the Vectorworks Design Series products on both Macintosh and Windows.

Export PICT
This command is available on the Macintosh when Quartz Imaging is disabled. It exports a vector image of the current file in the specified location .Metafile. Export graphics files in Metafile format for inclusion in virtually any Windows program, including AutoCAD and word processing programs. There are two versions of Metafiles: standard (pre-Windows 95) and enhanced. The Vectorworks program supports the enhanced version.

QuickTime VR Object – (Requires Renderworks)
Creates a QuickTime Virtual Reality object file.

QuickTime VR Panorama – (Requires Renderworks)
Creates a QuickTime Virtual Reality panorama file.

Writes out the current file as a series of VectorScript commands. These commands can then be used as part of a VectorScript script or as a guide for learning .Worksheet. Worksheet files can be read by spreadsheet programs, such as Microsoft Excel, as well as by some word processing programs. Export all rows or only selected rows of a worksheet. Because many of these programs have different format requirements, there are a variety of formats to select from when exporting files as a worksheet, including comma-delimited, tab-delimited, merge, DIF, and SYLK.

Cinema 4D – 3D Only (Requires Renderworks)
Exports 3D objects in the unified view (Vectorworks Design Series required) or active layer to the .c4d format, for use in CINEMA 4D. Vectorworks layers are exported as container objects in the CINEMA 4D scene hierarchy. Vectorworks classes become CINEMA 4D layers, allowing visibility to be controlled across the scene. Layer names, object names, and object types are preserved. An additional command, Send to CINEMA 4D (3D only) is available from the File menu. When CINEMA 4D is already installed, exports the file (3D objects only) to .c4d format, launches the CINEMA 4D application, and opens the file. During export, the Send to CINEMA 4D dialog box opens. Select whether to create a new scene or merge into the current scene.

Parasolid X_T
Exports 3D objects to the Parasolid X_T format.

Exports 3D curves, surfaces, and solids to IGES format.

Creates a SAT file for exporting ACIS 3D solids. The Export Solids as Trimmed Surfaces option exports a solid as several different ACIS ‘bodies’ (for example, a cube exports as six ACIS bodies). If this option is deselected, a solid is exported as a single body.

Simple Vectorscript
Creates an exported Vectorscript designed to be easy to import into programs like Strata Software products.

Export Stereo Lithography
Exports all visible 3D surfaces and solids in the current layer into an STL-formatted file. Export 2008, 2009, 2010 saves a copy of the file in a format that can be opened and manipulated in an older version of the Vectorworks program.”

Content taken from Vectorworks KnowledgeBase.
Render Bitmap

Scroll to the bottom for a short video by Vectorworks that demonstrates how to use the Render Bitmap tool so that you can enjoy render previews (that are printable and exportable) without leaving the Viewport.

Content taken from Vectorworks KnowledgeBase.

If you have any more queries about Vectorworks, give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email CAD@Jigsaw24.com or, if you want to share any of your own tips with other Vectorworks users, feel free to post them as comments below.

Fixing transparent columns in Revit

Fixing transparent columns in Revit

Those clever boffins at the Revit Clinic have another quick fix for your Revit Architecture workflow. This time, they solve the problem of having transparent columns in your detail callouts.

From the Revit Clinic:

“Let’s say you have the following scenario of a wall and column:


You add a Floor Plan Callout, which results in what you expected:


And then a Detail Callout, where the results are not what you were expecting:


So why does the column appear to be transparent in the Detail callout?

The reason for this is that, when unjoined, the wall and column occupy the same physical space. You do not see this display in your Floor Plan and Floor Plan Callout because of the “show family pre-cut in plan views” parameter of the column family.

This parameter determines whether the column displays based on the cut plane specified in the project’s view or within the family. Keeping this parameter checked results in columns that always display the same regardless of the project view’s settings. More information on this can be found in the Specifying How a Structural Column Displays in Plan View document in the Help menu.

So when this parameter is checked, you are not seeing the ‘real’ relationship between the elements in your Floor Plan and Plan callout – you are seeing a representation of the column based on the cut plane in the family.

To further clarify, if you edit the column family, go to Family Category and Parameters and clear this checkbox, you’ll see the that column displays with the same sort of transparent appearance in all views, not just the detail.


The way Detail Callouts are generated internally is different from true ‘plan’ views and they do not use this parameter, so they show consistently based on the cut plane of the project regardless of whether it is checked or not.

The ways to approach this would be to join the wall and column where applicable (so their geometry no longer overlaps) or to use a Floor Plan callout when needed instead.”

Read the full article at the Revit Clinic.

For more expert Autodesk Revit advice, call our CAD team on 03332 409 306 or email CAD@Jigsaw24.com.

Creating machines using section viewports in Vectorworks

Creating machines using section viewports in Vectorworks

Here’s another one from the Vectorworks KnowledgeBase. This time, the topic in hand is creating a front section of machine parts using Section Viewports.

“Section Viewports are often used by architects to see an elevation of a building, but they can also be useful for machine part designers. They are especially useful for machine part designers when a section is needed of the part, representing something other than the surface. Let’s use this as our example:

Section VP1

To do this, first set the view in VectorWorks so that you see the Design Layer(s) with the machine part to be sectioned. Go to View>Create Viewport. In the Viewport Preferences, set the View to Front. Set the other Viewport preferences and click OK when done.

Section VP2
With the Viewport selected, go to View>Create Section Viewport. VectorWorks is now waiting for you to draw the section line.r

Section VP3

Draw the section line along the machine part by clicking to start the section line, and double clicking at the end of the section line.

You now have a section viewport of the machine part based on the section line.”

Keep an eye out for more Vectorworks tips courtest of the Vectorworks KnowledgeBase. Or to find out more, get in touch with us on 03332 409 306 or email CAD@Jigsaw24.com.

How to tweak 3D graphics faster with After Effects and CINEMA 4D

How to tweak 3D graphics faster with After Effects and CINEMA 4D

Let’s say you have a teaser for a TV show in which clips from the next episode play on animated 3D screens. Each week, you have to replace the clips with ones from the next show to air. Traditionally, this would take hours of tweaking and multiple, lengthy renders – not much good if you’re working to tight deadlines.

However, the link between CINEMA 4D and After Effects lets you do the same thing in minutes. Here’s our guide to speeding up your 3D editing with After Effects.

Step 1

In your C4D project, open the Render Settings dialogue box. Go to the Multipass tab and select the passes you want to export, then go to the Save tab, select ‘Save as multipass image’ and set the target application to After Effects – this will ensure the passes are stored as individual layers in an After Effects-friendly compositing file.

Step 2

C4D exporting to after effects

Still in C4D, use the internal and external compositing tags to isolate any objects within the image you will want to work on later (to save them as object solids rather than positions, select ‘solid’ in the Tag Properties menu). Then go to the Buffer menu at the bottom of the screen and enable a buffer for each object. Each buffer will appear as a separate layer in After Effects, making it easier to manipulate your image.

Step 3

C4D scene imported and ambient occlusion layer

Once you’ve saved and rendered the project in C4D, open it up in After Effects. Each pass is stored as a separate layer, with the blending modes already set. C4D layers all normal passes for you automatically, but the odd special pass (in this case, ambient occlusion) has to be added manually. You can do this simply by dragging and dropping the file from the C4D Special Passes folder into your timeline.  Set the blending mode and then you’re good to go – just tweak the layers as you would in any flat After Effects project, and they’re applied to your entire 3D sequence in seconds.

Another advantage of the C4D/After Effects partnership is that all of your cameras and lights are imported too, so you can move footage between the two programs without losing any of the lighting effects or camera moves that you set up in C4D, no matter how much you edit the image.

Step 4

ae replacing video imported solids

Using the object solids you imported from C4D, you can isolate the elements you want to work with – in our case the footage on the screens. The good thing about being able to export object positions and solids is that the footage you place on the screens will be “glued” in place and behave as if it was part of the original C4D project. When the laptop moves, your footage will move with it. It also makes replacing content really simple – just select the solid you want to replace, then drag and drop the new content into its place.

Step 4 (and a half)

ae replacing video original video

If the new image isn’t the right size, you can edit it by going to the Edit menu, changing the measurement value to pixels and then entering the values for the original image. The new one will be resized to match.

Step 5

ae object mask for video monitor

Another useful thing about exporting object settings is that you can use them to create object masks which will automatically cut footage for you – in this example, one is used to make sure the footage on the monitor looks like it’s behind the laptop, giving the impression of a single, seamless piece of 3D work.

Once the new footage is in place, you can tweak it the way you would any After Effects project, meaning you can tell immediately if something doesn’t look quite right. Once you’ve got the animation looking its best, simply re-open the project in C4D and enjoy your seamless, renderless 3D animation!

ae adjusting specular highlights multipass layer

Although this tutorial focuses on After Effects, similar workflows are implemented in Cinema 4D for Motion, Shake, Combustion and Digital Fusion.

To find out more, call our 3D team on 03332 409 306 or email 3D@Jigsaw24.com. To receive the latest 3D news, follow @Jigsaw24Video on Twitter or Like’ our Facebook page.


Virtual moviemaking

Virtual moviemaking

Pre-Vis workflow Between Maya and NLE Applications

Maya 2011 introduces a large number of new features. Among those are tools for camera sequencing. These tools are designed to help you to sync an EDL (Edit Decision List) from NLEs such as Final Cut Pro or Avid Media Composer directly with your Maya scene. This workflow can help you to follow a storyboard created in one of these NLEs all without switching out of Maya.

Final Cut Pro is the de facto standard for digital storyboarding, the process of roughing out a story layout and camera shots using conceptual art and draft assets. In the past artists would either have had to have this project open in their NLE or re-create the storyboard on their Maya timeline for reference when creating the CG elements of the story.

Import storyboards

Maya can now import storyboard data in XML or Avid AAF formats directly to the Maya timeline. XML is supported by Final Cut Pro and Premiere Pro CS5 so along with AAF means storyboards created in Apple, Adobe and Avid software can be imported.

When importing these files Maya will interpret the storyboard information and depending on exactly what information is there can create a Maya camera linked to each shot, add each shot to Maya’s timeline and even set up an image plane on each camera containing the conceptual artwork.

Lay out scenes easily

Having all of this information inside Maya will help CG artists to quickly and easily lay out their CG scenes to match the director’s creative vision. Finally Maya can re-export and EDL using updated shot information and draft CG images for review.

These features really streamline the workflow for anyone doing digital storyboarding and help artists and directors to achieve their creative vision more efficiently.

For more technical information on implementing this or other workflows, feel free to get in contact with our technical team on 03332 409 306, email 3D@Jigsaw24.com or take a look at our full broadcast range. To receive the latest 3D news, follow @Jigsaw24Video on Twitter or Like’ our Facebook page.