Autodesk 2015 extension 1 update for 3ds Max and Maya subscribers is here

Autodesk 2015 extension 1 update for 3ds Max and Maya subscribers is here

Autodesk 3ds Max and Maya subscription customers can now look forward to the benefits of the extension 1 updates. There are several new features and tools appearing on both updates, so for you lucky subscribers, here’s your guide to what you have to look forward to and when.

When?

12th August 2014 – First customer download date for Autodesk 3ds Max

10th September 2014 – First customer download date for Autodesk Maya

What’s new for Autodesk 3ds Max and Maya subscribers?

Lots of stuff. So courtesy of Autodesk and our 3D specialist Josh Mace, here’s a rundown of what we think are the best new features of the Autodesk extension 1 update for 3ds Max and Maya and the benefits they will bring to us wonderfully creative and technical people.

3ds Max – bringing you efficient modelling workflows and better interoperability 

This extension 1 update offers you the best new features of OpenSubdiv support, alembic support and enhanced shader FX. The OpenSubdiv support feature will allow users to work with high-level subdivided assets while still retaining viewport performance. There is a faster in-viewport performance for meshes with high subvision levels and more efficient crease modelling workflows.

The alembic support allows users to view large datasets in the Nitrous Viewport, letting users transfer data easily. Alembic makes it possible for artists to collaborate with ease on projects using multiple applications that support it.

The enhanced shader FX provides users with more shading options and better shader interoperability. New node patterns have been added to increase the possibilities of procedurally generated shaders. Artists will be able to work more efficiently between 3ds Max and Maya, and will find this feature helps to easily create and exchange the complex assets that are required in today’s demanding productions.

Maya – bringing you new tools and improved productivity enhancements

This extension 1 update offers you a performance profiler, colour management system and modelling and workflow productivity enhancements. The performance profiler will help users to debug performance bottlenecks. This will be an indispensible tool for technical artists as it shows a graphical interface with information about different elements of a scene, whether this is a single node or a whole rig. This feature will identify where bottlenecks are being created so you can troubleshoot slow tools and bugs efficiently. Working with a robust API enables developers to extend the performance profiler for use with certain custom tools and plug-ins.

The introduction of the new colour management system offers more accurate colour reproduction within certain Maya windows and editors.

New modelling and workflow productivity enhancements have been added, partially as a result of feedback from existing Maya customers. There are expanded wireframe colour choices, a per-menu keyboard shortcut to repeat the last command, object visibility toggling and colour coding in the channel box to reflect various key states. There is also new performance improvements and multi-UV tiling support for OpenSubdiv.

So it’s good news for all you Autodesk 3ds Max and Maya subscribers – the wait is finally over and the new stuff is here. Don’t have a subscription? Visit our website or contact us to get yourself sorted.

Want to chat to us about Autodesk subscriptions? Give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email autodesk@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news and tips follow us on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

Expansion pack brings new features to Autodesk 2014

Expansion pack brings new features to Autodesk 2014

It’s a good day to be an Autodesk user. Not only have the 3D giants revealed new features for their M&E range, they’ve also dropped the price of Entertainment Creation Suites and announced that you can upgrade to the Entertainment Creation Suite Ultimate for 20% less. 

Autodesk Maya, Autodesk 3ds Max and Autodesk Mudbox get new extensions for subscription customers

Not content with rolling out service packs left, right and centre, Autodesk are introducing new features to their core VFX and 3D applications. Highlights include the addition of Python scripting to 3ds Max, and 3ds Max users with an Autodesk Subscription can also log in to the Autodesk App Exchange to download a separate update that adds stereo camera viewing functionality.

Maya users should brace themselves for the arrival of Xgen, the program Disney and Pixar developed to make their award-winning range of animated hair, fur and feathers. Autodesk have had Xgen on an exclusive licence for a while now, but this is the first time we’ve seen it take centre stage in one of their biggest applications, and we could not be more excited.

Mudbox has received a refresh of its retopology toolkit, so you should find it easier to force topologically symmetrical results or to mix topological symmetry with spatial asymmetry. There’s also a new caliper tool that enables you to measure the distance between two points on a model or along a curve.

To be able to access these new features you’ll need an Autodesk Subscription. If you’re not a subscriber already, you can get in touch with our team over at Autodesk@Jigsaw24.com for advice on how to go about adding Subscriptions to your existing licences.

Want to know more about your Autodesk options? Give the team a call on 03332 409 306 or email Autodesk@Jigsaw24.com to find out more. For all the latest news, follow @Jigsaw24Video on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook

 

Video: Using Maxon CINEMA 4D with Unity 3D

Video: Using Maxon CINEMA 4D with Unity 3D

If you saw the latest version of Unity at SIGGRAPH and are now wondering how to fit into your current games development or 3D modelling pipeline, Maxon have at lease part of the answer. They’ve put together this video demonstrating the workflow between their flagship kit, CINEMA 4D Prime, and Unity 3D. 

Want to know more about what you can do with CINEMA 4D R15? Get in touch with the team on 03332 409 306 or email sales@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news, follow us on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook

Are you using the right hardware for your Autodesk software?

Are you using the right hardware for your Autodesk software?

Whether you’re sculpting in Mudbox, animating characters in Maya, whipping up pre-visualisations in 3ds Max or drafting like billy-o in AutoCAD LT, some of the basics of what makes a good Autodesk workstation stay the same (stock up on RAM and pack in as many cores as possible), but with so many different software suites and qualified components out there, it can be difficult to work out which workstation is best for you. To help make things easier, here are our top tips for choosing Mac and PC workstations for your Autodesk software of choice… 

For AutoCAD and AutoCAD LT for Mac users

We have good news: virtually any Mac will run AutoCAD or AutoCAD LT, from the beefiest of Mac Pros (ideal for handling big models quickly) to the smallest Mac mini (great for setting up freelancers with temporary desks, or if you want to take your setup with you to meet a client, as it’ll plug into any keyboard and display).

We know that a lot of users are sticking to their ageing Mac Pros in order to keep using NVIDIA Quadro 4000 or Quadro K5000 cards due to their higher fidelity, but the latest models have a huge amount to offer. With powerful 12-core CPUs on offer, the latest Mac Pro can help you create and navigate simulations far faster. The fact that the usual lumbering hard drive has been replaced by a fast, agile SSD means you’ll also be able to work with huge models far more efficiently.

If you’re really itching to customise your workstation, we’ll say it again: you can never have enough RAM. Get in touch with our team to find out how easy it is to pack your Mac with some extra memory.

For 3ds Max users

Autodesk 3ds Max 2014

If you’re working in a field like games development, odds are you’re using 3ds Max or a 3ds Max-based Entertainment Creation Suite (if you’re not, you might want to drop us a line…). You’ll want plenty of processing power, so we’d recommend opting for a 16-core HP Z820 for maximum responsiveness, although a high-spec Z620 will do the trick if you’re budget-conscious. While the new Mac Pros look promising, we’re still waiting for Autodesk to qualify a configuration, so if you need an interim Mac workstation go for a 27” Quad-core i7 3.4Ghz iMac with at least 8GB of RAM – preferably more.

If you invested in iMac before the latest Mac Pro was announced and are wincing at the cost of replacing them, remember that you can use the iMac screen as a second display and harness the internals as part of your rendering setup, meaning that artists can continue working on their Mac Pro while their iMac takes care of rendering work, rather than sitting and watching the progress bar.

When it comes to graphics, you need to bear in mind that Autodesk recently rewrote 3ds Max’s viewport engine, moving it over to DirectX from OpenGL. This means you’ll get faster performance for your money using gaming cards than you will using traditionally professional cards – which is great news for your wallet, and means you can design your work on the same card your end user will be playing it on.

One good choice for working with Autodesk software is NVIDIA’s 6GB GeForce GTX Titan, as it has the kind of stamina you usually only see in pro cards and so is least likely to melt under constant use. However, it’s not qualified yet and is also pretty expensive, so you might want to opt for Autodesk’s qualified card, the lower-spec 4GB GeForce GTX 680, which delivers a surprising amount of power for such an affordable card.

For Maya and Mudbox

For areas like graphics or post-production work, we’d typically recommend Autodesk Maya or a Maya-centric Entertainment Creation Suite (Autodesk’s Entertainment Creation Suite Ultimate gets you Maya, 3ds Max, Motionbuilder, Mudbox, Softimage and Sketchbook Designer, so it’s a good option if you want to make sure you’re covered for every eventuality). The main difference between Maya and an application like 3ds Max is that you really need a NVIDIA Quadro card to get the best possible graphics performance. The Quadro drivers are optimised for Maya, and going for something like the ultra-powerful Quadro K5000 or the K2000 if you’re kitting out an assist station will give you the smoothest, most accurate viewport performance.

While we’re still waiting to hear how Autodesk plan to handle the dual GPU potential of the 2013 Mac Pro, if you need a Mac in an interim then your only real option is the top spec 3.4GHz i7 iMac, with 8 or 16GB of RAM depending on the size of project you think you’ll need to handle (this can always be repurposed as a combined second display and a render node if you decide to upgrade to a Mac Pro further down the line). For PC workstations, we’d recommend going no lower than an HP Z620 (ideally a Z820) with as many cores and as much RAM as you can pack in, as both will help you complete projects in the fastest possible time.

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

NVIDIA’s Quadro K6000 GPU unveiled at SIGGRAPH 2013

NVIDIA’s Quadro K6000 GPU unveiled at SIGGRAPH 2013

NVIDIA have once again proceeded to steal everyone’s thunder at SIGGRAPH 2013 by releasing the Quadro K6000 GPU, apparently “the fastest and most capable GPU ever built”, as well as a new line of GPUs designed specifically for mobile workstations. Read on for the full press release, or take a look at the official NVIDIA Quadro K6000 spec sheet

ANAHEIM, Calif.— SIGGRAPH — July 23, 2013— NVIDIA today unveiled the visual computing industry’s new flagship technology – the NVIDIA Quadro K6000 GPU, the fastest and most capable GPU ever built.

NVIDIA today also launched a new line of professional graphics GPUs for mobile workstations, delivering the highest levels of performance and graphics memory ever available on mobile platforms.

The Quadro K6000 GPU delivers five-times higher compute performance and nearly double the graphics capability of its predecessor, the NVIDIA Quadro 6000 GPU, and features the world’s largest and fastest graphics memory.

Combining breakthrough performance and advanced capabilities in a power-efficient design, the Quadro K6000 GPU enables leading organisations such as Pixar, Nissan, Apache Corporation and the Weather Channel’s WSI division to tackle visualisation and analysis workloads of unprecedented size and scope.

Animation and Visual Effects – Pixar

“The Kepler features are key to our next generation of real-time lighting and geometry handling. We were thrilled to get an early look at the K6000. The added memory and other features allow our artists to see much more of the final scene in a real-time, interactive form, and allow many more artistic iterations.” – Guido Quaroni, Pixar vice president of Software R&D

Product Styling – Nissan

“With Quadro K6000’s 12 GB of memory, I am now able to load nearly complete vehicle models into RTT Deltagen and have stunning photorealism almost instantly. Instead of spending significant time simplifying the models to fit into previous hardware, we can now spend more time reviewing and iterating designs up front which helps avoid costly changes to tooling.” – Dennis Malone, associate engineer, Nissan North America

Energy Exploration – Apache

“Compared to the Quadro K5000, the Quadro K6000 tripled the performance when running jobs on Terraspark’s InsightEarth application. With jobs running in mere minutes, we can run more simulations and get better insight into where to drill. In this business, drilling in the wrong place is a multi-million dollar mistake, and the Quadro K6000 gives us the edge to make better decisions.” – Klaas Koster, manager, seismic interpretation, Apache Corporation

Unprecedented Performance

The Quadro K6000 GPU is based on the NVIDIA Kepler™ architecture – the world’s fastest, most efficient GPU architecture. Key performance features and capabilities include:

– 12GB ultra-fast GDDR5 graphics memory lets designers and animators model and render characters and scenes at unprecedented scale, complexity and richness

– 2,880 streaming multiprocessor (SMX) cores deliver faster visualisation and compute horsepower than previous-generation products

– Supports four simultaneous displays and up to 4k resolution with DisplayPort™ 1.2

– Ultra-low latency video I/O and support for large-scale visualisations

“The NVIDIA Quadro K6000 GPU is the highest performance, most capable GPU ever created for the professional graphics market,” said Ed Ellett, senior vice president, Professional Solutions Group at NVIDIA. “It will significantly change the game for animators, digital designers and engineers, enabling them to make the impossible possible.”

New Mobile Workstation GPUs

NVIDIA today also revealed a new flagship professional graphics GPU for workstation notebooks, the NVIDIA Quadro K5100M GPU. Delivering the highest levels of performance and graphics memory available on notebook platforms, the Quadro K5100M anchors a new line of workstation notebook graphics that includes the Quadro K4100M, K3100M, K2100M, K1100M, K610M, and K510M GPUs.

Quadro GPUs are designed, built and tested by NVIDIA to provide the superb reliability, compatibility and dependability that professionals require.  They are certified and recommended by more than 150 leading software application providers worldwide.

Availability

The NVIDIA Quadro K6000 will be available beginning this fall from HP, Dell, Lenovo and other  major workstation providers; from systems integrators, including BOXX Technologies and Supermicro; and from authorised distribution partners, including PNY Technologies in North America and Europe, ELSA and Ryoyo in Japan, and Leadtek in Asia Pacific.

The new Quadro mobile workstation graphics product line will also be available beginning this fall from major mobile workstation OEMs.

Want to know more about the latest from NVIDIA? Give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email sales@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news, follow us on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook

CINEWARE, CINEMA 4D Lite and CINEMA 4D: What After Effects users need to know

CINEWARE, CINEMA 4D Lite and CINEMA 4D: What After Effects users need to know

When it was announced that the Creative Cloud iteration of After Effects would be capable of two-way collaboration with Maxon’s CINEMA 4D range, it fast became our favourite new feature. Now that we’re a little way down the road, the dust has settled, the workflow has been explained and the deals have been announced, we thought it’d be a good idea to take a look at CINEWARE, CINEMA 4D Lite and CINEMA 4D and  work out exactly which option is best for whom, and what it is you’ll get for your money. Here are your key facts…

Maxon CINEWARE

Not actually a standalone application, CINEWARE is the name of the plug-in that’s been added to After Effects to let it communicate with CINEMA 4D. It’s what makes it possible for After Effects users to enjoy that two-way workflow, choose to render CINEMA 4D files in an After Effects-based renderer and see changes to cameras and lighting in both programs, regardless of which they were made in. It arrives as part of your After Effects CC download, and is not available to anyone still using After Effects CS6 or earlier.

Maxon CINEMA 4D Lite

This is the stripped back version of CINEMA 4D that comes as part of your After Effects CC download, and is the program you’ll actually do the C4D work in (although if you have a full version of C4D R14 or above already installed on your computer, After Effects CC can also harness that to deliver the same two-way workflow to a full version of C4D).

You can create basic 3D objects and animations in CINEMA 4D Lite, then export them to an After Effects layer as footage for further editing. Both programs can render C4D files, but if you choose to render directly in CINEMA 4D Lite you’ll be limited to low-res renders of 800×600 or less – this cap is removed if you render the footage within After Effects. However, being a Lite version, this doesn’t support advanced features like ambient occlusion, global illumination or polygon modelling.

That said, it gives you far more 3D capabilities than simply doing everything in After Effects would, and Maxon have worked hard to improve camera inoperability between the two programs, so it’s now far easier to make edits in either and have them instantly recognised by both.

If you’re working on motion graphics or only need very simple 3D assets, we reckon you can get away with sticking with CINEMA 4D Lite. If, however, you’re going to need to produce larger or more complex 3D elements or need to animate characters, we’d recommend levelling up to the full version of CINEMA 4D.

CINEMA 4D Broadcast and CINEMA 4D Studio

Let’s get the most pressing news out of the way first: if you’re using After Effects CC, you’re eligible for a 40% discount when you buy CINEMA 4D Broadcast or Studio with a Maxon Service Agreement. This is a pretty amazing deal, and if you think you’ll need a full version, it’s best to get clicking before Maxon come to their senses.

So what are Broadcast and Studio? Well, Maxon split CINEMA 4D into different versions based on what kind of 3D work you do. Studio is the full package, combining the features found in graphic-design orientated Prime and the more CAD-focused Visualize with advanced character creation and mapping tools, all the advanced rendering features that you won’t find in the Lite version, a physics engine and an unlimited client network for the fastest possible rendering. If you’re animating detailed (read: hairy and furry) characters, need to plan complex collisions or will be working with scenes that contain hundreds or thousands of objects, Studio is the CINEMA 4D package that will help you power through projects, all without losing that live link to After Effects.

CINEMA 4D Broadcast is a little more pared down, containing all the tools you’ll need for creating high-end 3D motion graphics and virtual environments rather than characters. It’s got all the rendering options that are missing from CINEMA 4D Lite, plus extra libraries of lighting and camera rigs so it’s easier to create 3D elements that’ll slot straight into any footage you’ve shot, not to mention CINEMA 4D’s infamously comprehensive cloning toolset.

A note on hardware…

If you are planning on using this discount as an excuse to move to CINEMA 4D Studio and take on more 3D-heavy projects, be aware that CGI rendering will take even longer than your usual After Effects jobs. To minimise the time difference, you’ll want to grab yourself a powerful GPU, and make sure your machine has as many core as you can cram into it. We’d recommend opting for a top spec iMac (you can repurpose this as a display and render node once the new Mac Pro hits) a Mac Pro or one of HP’s Z-series workstations.

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

After Effects CC users can save 40% on Maxon CINEMA 4D!

After Effects CC users can save 40% on Maxon CINEMA 4D!

When After Effects CC came out, one of our favourite new features was the inclusion of CINEMA 4D Lite, a stripped down version of Maxon’s CINEMA 4D 3D software that allowed you to create more complex motion graphics.

If using the Lite version has whetted your appetite for 3D work, you’ll be pleased to hear that anyone with a copy of CINEMA 4D Lite can now get 40% off the cost of an upgrade to CINEMA 4D Broadcast or CINEMA 4D Studio if you buy before August 30th and add in an MSA agreement. Huzzah!

Studio or Broadcast? 

Maxon have split CINEMA 4D into five different versions, each designed for a different type of graphics work. If you’re looking to add 3D elements to broadcast graphics, Broadcast is for you – it uses a lot of the same tools as traditional 2D graphics packages, but adds 3D tools and additional rendering options. The Studio version is a bit more involved, bringing in character tools, a physics engine, hair and more, so you can create character rigs and animations easily.

Take a look at CINEMA 4D Studio and CINEMA 4D Broadcast on our site.

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

The drafting face-off: AutoCAD LT and Vectorworks

The drafting face-off: AutoCAD LT and Vectorworks

Deciding on new software means thinking about what you need it to achieve. For an all-in-one, affordable 2D drafting solution, AutoCAD LT is a great choice, but if you want to add 3D drafting to your workflow, Vectorworks Fundamentals is the way to go.

We’ve weighed up the main points in favour of each program, so you can see which you should be looking at before you make an investment…

Drafting tools

AutoCAD LT is promoted for entry level 2D drafting and detailing, but now offers everything you need for general CAD work. It can work with Xrefs, raster images, dynamic blocks and PDFs, and Autodesk have added new features to the most recent versions of LT that were previously reserved for bigger brother AutoCAD. These include support for the AutoCAD WS mobile and web app, the Sheet Set Manager organisational tool, and other powerful tools such as Associative Arrays (maintain relationships between arrayed objects), Multifunctional Grips (now for lines, arcs and dimensions) and Delete Duplicate Objects (removes unnecessary geometry).

You wouldn’t expect to see a professional modelling solution within an entry level program, but Vectorworks Fundamentals punches above its weight, providing conceptual design tools and powerful 3D modelling functionality for professional free-form solid modelling designs. In that sense, it should be compared to the full AutoCAD package’s range of 2D and 3D tools for drafting, modelling, annotation and presentation.

Rendering

While LT doesn’t have solid modelling capability, it manages to produce some excellent 3D surface models in the hands of the capable user. There’s no rendering capability either, but again you wouldn’t have to look too far to find a compatible and affordable renderer such as Photoshop or Shaderlight for Google SketchUp. With Vectorworks,you have the option to add the Renderworks integrated renderer module, and the new CINEMA 4D rendering engine provides advanced functionality to produce quality photorealistic and artistic render images.

Interface

LT shares the same flexible user interface as the fully-featured AutoCAD and as it’s customisable, you can set up the screen to look and function how you want. Vectorworks also features a customisable GUI, with tool palettes and drop-down menus to suit the user’s way of working. Both programs pick up a point here for their layout and ease of use.

Compatibility

Since LT works in the native DWG format, it’s easier to use with AutoCAD users as it maintains the integrity of the DWG drawing and can be used for annotation and detailing on a drawing project. Vectorworks operates in its native .vwx format but also includes .dwg import and export functionality with mapping tools to allow Vectorworks users to work seamlessly and share drawing data with AutoCAD users.

Both Vectorworks and AutoCAD LT will also run on either Windows or Mac, which means they’re ideally suited to a drawing office where employees have a choice of platform.

Making a decision

AutoCAD LT was developed as a cheaper entry-level alternative to AutoCAD and has since grown to become the best-selling CAD software globally, even out-stripping AutoCAD. The full version does include enhanced 3D drafting and programming capabiliy, but if you’re only going to be using it for 2D drafting and detailing, it’s a solid all-in-one solution.

If you do need to work in 3D however, the modelling tools in Vectorworks Fundamentals mean it’s a cut above AutoCAD LT. For a similar price, you can take your project from conceptual design to parasolid 3D modelling. Even if you work primarily in 2D, being able to create quick 3D volumes during the concept stage provides big advantages, including the ability to take live sections, so it’s very useful to have these tools at your disposal.

Already a Vectorworks veteran or an AutoCAD convert? Let us know your opinions in the box below. For more info, call us on 03332 409 306, email CAD@Jigsaw24.com, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

– Visit our store to buy the latest versions of Autodesk AutoCAD LT 2012 and Nemetschek Vectorworks Fundamentals.

Using Photoshop in your post-production process

Using Photoshop in your post-production process

Many of us have experience using Photoshop in our post process, but it’s always good to see an example of an extremely experienced 3D artist at work. Step forward Ramy Hanna.

Ramy has written a step-by-step guide to the post process from part of one of his recent projects to design a Media Centre for Klein High School. Whether you’re an expert keeping tabs on the industry or a newer artist looking for ideas and tips: this blog post is well worth a read.

“Many of you have asked for my post production process and here it is.  I typically use AE (Adobe After Effects) for my post work, but for this post I’m demonstrating in PS (Photoshop) because most people use PS over AE for stills. However, the principles apply to all software. Also, I’m trying to keep it ‘out-of-the-box’, rather than show a lot of plug-ins. I always suggest learning the techniques with the software then, once you understand how to create them, go get the plug-ins to make your job faster.

“Some of you already know, but I do most of my modelling in Google SketchUp (SU). Not because it’s better than Max, but I find it super-fast for building design processes. Because we do architecture, SU is apt as it is very good with boxes and simple shapes. If you want to get into character modelling, 3ds Max or Mudbox would be better.

“I also start materials and texturing in SU.  I find SU super easy and fast for texture layout. If I texture most things correctly in SU, I can almost avoid the UVW layout process in Max entirely. The materials in SU are nothing special, just place holders really for the maps I want to use in 3ds Max.

“Using 3ds Max has been great, because I can import SU files straight from Max without needing to export models from SU. The new importer in Max is incredibly powerful. It respects instanced components from SU, remembers UV texture position from SU, and converts SU materials to A&D materials automatically – an amazing tool.

“During import I opt not to import the SU cameras. I prefer navigating in 3ds Max to get my actual camera angles. This is where I add any entourage from my library of 3ds Max models. Furniture, cars, plants, trees, etc all get added here. Then I begin texturing. I swap out SU textures for better texture maps. Or sometimes I replace a texture map with Max procedural maps like tiles and gradients.

“Some of the general settings for my A&D materials: If I can keep glossy samples to 8 then I do. Under Special Effects, I usually turn on Ambient Occlusion, and set the distance to 3′. Under Advanced Rendering Options, I make sure that backface culling is un-checked so I can render both sides of a mesh. If I have a single plane of glass then I check Thin walls.  If my glass is a box or has thickness, then I leave it as solid/thick. I find the real magic behind getting realistic renders lies in the material reflections. I usually have a reflection map that drives how much reflection takes place. In this tile material, the grout lines are black meaning no reflection, and the tile is more white meaning a lot of reflection. I use the same map for a bump effect. I almost always have my glossy reflections lower than 1.0. For this example I have it set to 0.4 – meaning the reflection is scattered at 60%, in this case with eight samples.

“Next I go to lighting.  In this scene I have one Daylight System, 309 photometric lights, and five MR Sky portals, for a total of 315 lights in my scene. This many lights in a scene would typically be brutal. However, for my photometric lights, I opted to use Point for my Shadow type. It doesn’t look as good as the other options (Line, Rectangle, Disc, Sphere), but renders much faster than the others at their default setting. For every shadow that Point renders, the other options render 32 samples per shadow. So this is a big render saver. For my photometric lights, I usually use the default light levels, and switch to photometric web using an IES file for the distribution. As for the MR Sky portals, I try to limit their use to where the large windows are.  Render times take a big hit from MR Sky portal shadows as well.

“This image is what the render straight out of Max looks like, known sometimes as the beauty pass. I render inside models with GI & FG. Surprising to me, I rendered this scene with the default settings for both GI & FG. I was reasonably happy with the results. I did get noise near some of the clerestory windows, but I was willing to live with it. I left all of my lights on, then calculated GI, saved it to a file, then rendered FG from each camera adding onto the previous FG map. Before rendering the final renders, I had one GI map and one FG map for the entire scene. This made it easier for me to switch cameras and not have to worry about changing light maps. The GI map ended up being 154 MB. The FG map was rendered at 50% from the final renders at 800 x 400 pixels, and ended up being 34 MB for all 11 camera angles.

“This is the Ambient Occlusion Pass. If you want to know how to do this, check this post out.

“This is a flare pass for the lights. This can be created in 3ds max, or in post. I usually create this image in Photoshop – it’s faster and gives me greater control on what the flares look like.

“This image is a dummy people pass. I rendered this one out to give me correct scale for adding people in Photoshop later. This way my people won’t look like giants or elves when I scale them.

“These are the people that replace the dummy people. To each person I add motion blur, reflections, shadows etc. Then I save this as a .png file and add it to my beauty pass.

“This is a volume pass that I render in 3ds Max. It is created using the Parti Volume Shader. I then add it in PS and tweak it to the right look.

“Lastly, I render a Z depth pass. Depending on the rendering I sometimes use this. If there really isn’t an object in the foreground then often I don’t use this at all, and rather just manually blur the edges of my image.

“With all of these passes combined in PS, AE or other compositing photo/video editing software, you can take your original image and turn it into something much stronger visually. This quick video should give you an idea of how I add all of these elements together using colour correcting, layers, levels, to transform a raw rendering into a finished rendering.”

All of Ramy’s renderings from the KHS project can be found here.

Source: Ramy’s Renderings on 3ds Max Rendering.

If you’re keen on using Photoshop in your post-production process or would like more information about the software, give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email sales@Jigsaw24.com.

Demystifying 3D for students

Demystifying 3D for students

Are you starting sixth form, college or university in September? If so, read on as this article will clear up some common misconceptions about the world of 3d modelling, and will offer sound advice for anyone just starting out.

The first piece of advice is that you should visit Autodesk’s student portal. Autodesk have very generously decided to offer their software free to students. You will need your student email address (one ending in .ac.uk) or a faculty member to sign up but, within a few minutes you can start downloading all your favourite software.

Once you have signed up, I would recommend creating a profile and posting work, as it’s a great way of learning new tricks, making contact with your peers and will be useful when comparing your work to other students.

There are other resources that you can rely on to be informative and helpful, irrespective of your skill level. For example, forums such as our 3d site are there to advise on all aspects of the 3d workflow.

Anyway, once you have the free software, you’ll need to know how to get started. A good place to learn the basic interface is the Services and Support section of the Autodesk website. From there, you can select the application you want to start learning and can navigate to the video tutorials, read the documentation, get updates and much more.

So now you know how to get the software, you need to know what software to get; this can get confusing! Ultimately, it will largely be dependent on the type of course you are doing, so it may be worthwhile contacting your tutor and finding out in advance what you will be learning.

It is likely that your course will fall into one of five subjects; Engineering, Product Design, Built Environment, Multimedia (inc. animation) and Games Design. So that you can better understand the various applications and in which field they are used, we have given a brief summary of all of the major ones.

It is worth mentioning that most, if not all the non-Autodesk applications, have free trials available on their respective websites and generally provide ample support to get started.

Final thought

Finally, remember not to try and master everything. There are so many applications with so many tools that no-one could possibly learn them all. I’d bet that even the most advanced users only know 40% of one individual application’s capabilities, so don’t despair if it takes months or even years to get to a decent standard. You will need to develop near god-like levels of patience but if you stick with it, you will be rewarded.



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