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Thea for FormZ - Call for Beta Testers


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#41 jonmoore

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Posted 24 November 2015 - 05:27 PM

Speculating on a release date is merely speculation, so I wouldn't read anything into that.  Perhaps you can contact Solid Iris for their take, and see if your qualifications would allow you to be included in their testing (if you really want to test and not just try).

 

VRay is very different from Maxwell, and you should probably study up a bit more before making such generalizations...

 

Tech, I'm sure you can tell I wasn't intending Justiin to speculate on release dates but I sensed he's getting a tad impatient for an alternative to RenderZone to be available within FormZ so I wanted to let him know it's unlikely in the coming weeks.

 

And spot on that V-Ray is nothing like Maxwell but somehow there's a common perception out there that there are GPU renderers that the answer to all our prayers and then there's the boring old slow CPU based ones. And as we both know that's just baloney!  :)



#42 Justin Montoya

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Posted 24 November 2015 - 06:53 PM

Thanks you two!  I am eager to work with something built into FormZ other than RenderZone.  I'll reach out again to Solid Iris, and see if I get a response this time.

 

Good to hear about V-Ray.  I will keep all judgement to myself until I learn more.  From the surface it just looked very similar to a Maxwell experience.  V-Ray certainly has a huge following and tons of materials and tutorials online that would make the transition easier.  My apologies for jumping the gun there, though it doesn't help Chaos Group that they have a reputation for developing very slowly.  We've been hearing about a FormZ plugin for YEARS.   It's also upsetting that they have removed the GPU accelerated RT for OSX.   The reason everyone gets excited about GPUs is because they are much easier to manage and cheaper to upgrade than a whole farm of render node computers.  I realize that CPU renderers can be more accurate, but that's not really something everyone needs, but improved speed is definitely needed across the board.



#43 giannis

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Posted 26 November 2015 - 10:47 AM



Yes, I did sign up to be a tester as soon as I read this news, but disappointedly never heard a response from Solid Iris.  

 

I am sorry Justin, not having replied. Same issue has happened with other applications we received. This is not something personal in any case. But due to the number of emails we receive in cases of beta testing, we usually respond only to the selected beta testers. [I admit that it is also somewhat inconvenient to reply that it is not possible for someone to join... :(]

 

The beta phase is moving on quite nicely at this point - my colleague Manolis will give more detailed feedback. We started with more beta testers than initially planned (I think 6) because, it happens eventually that a tester does not give much feedback at the end (for various reasons). I think that we should start seeing some renders made with Thea from beta testers (but please, without sharing yet any other information or screenshots).

 

What I can say at the moment is that Thea for FormZ will be a true integration inside FormZ, not an exporter or another process. We have still things to do though before publishing the integration but it shouldn't be that far away. For this, the opinion of the experienced beta testers does matter a lot.

 

Best wishes


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#44 giannis

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Posted 26 November 2015 - 10:54 AM

Five beta testers?  The wide variety of user techniques and different machine configurations makes this seem like a very small test. 

That is true, five is a small number. On the other hand, going with many more than such a low number, the situation may turn into a chaotic one. To be honest, the integration at the moment of publishing the initial post here, was like "Pre-Beta" -> meaning that we were (and still are) making design changes to the workflow and various additions. This is the moment where it is not a matter of getting feedback from too many; but just getting the right feedback. Having a small group here influences is important that the communication stays strong. At least, that 's my personal experience over the years.

 

Indeed though, when it comes to testing the software/engine, the more users the better. On the other hand, we have the advantage that the engine has been generally extremely well tested over the years (from the existence of the standalone and other integrations).

 

Best wishes



#45 giannis

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Posted 26 November 2015 - 11:04 AM

It's early days of the beta as yet so the level of deep integration may change before launch but at the moment the workflows are comparable. There will of course also be an option to export the scene to Thea Studio too but the majority of functionality is directly accessible via the FormZ interface.

 

With regards to speed it's worth clarifying exactly what you're getting with Thea.

 

- Unbiased TR1: 'Path Tracer'; with comparable speeds to Maxwell. Good for exteriors or product visualisations.

 

- Unbiased TR2: 'Bidirectional Path Tracer'; slower than Maxwell but better on difficult to light interiors

 

- Biased BSD: Equivalent to V-Ray/Mental Ray approach but includes a unique technology called 'Field Mapping' which speeds this engine up considerably. Good for all situations and at higher quality settings shows very little compromise over the unbiased engines. The best option for interiors for many as TR2 involves lengthy render times.

 

- Biased AMC: This is an adaptive engine that uses biased techniques to speed up the standard TR1 path tracer. The adaptivity is a simple % level of bias.

 

- Presto AO: Biased engine that 'cheats' by providing the majority of the solution via Ambient Occlusion. This is the fastest engine but the least accurate. I would personally never use it other that for stylistic reasons but it's perfect for situations where realism is less of a goal.

 

- Presto MC: Close to TR1 but a lot faster because the path tracing aspect can be enhanced by the GPU. It's also faster when using CPU only as it's a compromised version of TR1 (reasonably compromised in my opinion). The main speed enhancement is that in enables you to control the ray tracing depth. For many scenes you can keep this to something around 5 without any discernible loss of quality. This compares to TR1/TR2 which are have unlimited ray depths.

 

The beauty of Thea is that you decide on the level of compromise appropriate for your scene. My favourite engines are Presto MC and Biased BSD which strike a good balance between compromise and speed. The Biased BSD engine requires a little more knowledge to set up properly but it's unmatched on difficult to light interior scenes.

 

There's a great comparison page on the Thea site that shows exactly which features each engine includes (it also details a couple of deprecated 'Progressive' engines which are accessible via Thea Studio presets but not currently part of the plugin versions).

 

http://www.thearende...ngines/293.html

 

Hope this helps clarify things a little.

 

Jon, thank you for the intro to Thea engines.

 

If you permit me a correction though!

 

Your description for TR1 and TR2 is probably simplifying how these engines operate. They are both more sophisticated than a 'Path Tracer' or a 'Bidirectional Path Tracer'. TR1/TR2 were personally for me, the holy grail for achieving the best unbiased quality ever when we started (and doing that with great speed on the CPU). The speed is coming purely from algorithmic design (i.e. convergence speed) rather than the "brute force" fast pace of taking samples achieved by Presto. It is sometimes amazing to see that TR2 (what is considered to be the slower one) is actually the faster one (even compared to Presto) for scenes with difficult indirect lighting (for example, lot of dominant caustic lighting).

 

In any case, every engine has been developed with a lot of love. :)

 

Best wishes


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#46 jonmoore

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Posted 26 November 2015 - 11:04 AM

That is true, five is a small number. On the other hand, going with many more than such a low number, the situation may turn into a chaotic one. To be honest, the integration at the moment of publishing the initial post here, was like "Pre-Beta" -> meaning that we were (and still are) making design changes to the workflow and various additions. This is the moment where it is not a matter of getting feedback from too many; but just getting the right feedback. Having a small group here influences is important that the communication stays strong. At least, that 's my personal experience over the years.

 

Indeed though, when it comes to testing the software/engine, the more users the better. On the other hand, we have the advantage that the engine has been generally extremely well tested over the years (from the existence of the standalone and other integrations).

 

Best wishes

 

This is my experience too Giannis. As you know, I alpha/beta test for a number of vendors in the marketplace and it's normal practice to start with smaller groups so things are more focused. Some companies then go on to a public beta with a wider group or make their software available to purchase at a discount if customers are eager to try it out before it reaches maturity.

 

It's only once the software gets into the hands of the many rather than the few that bugs relating to individual system configurations can be squished. But nailing workflow is something that's better handled by smaller focussed groups IMHO.



#47 jonmoore

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Posted 26 November 2015 - 11:12 AM

Jon, thank you for the intro to Thea engines.

 

If you permit me a correction though!

 

Your description for TR1 and TR2 is probably simplifying how these engines operate. They are both more sophisticated than a 'Path Tracer' or a 'Bidirectional Path Tracer'. TR1/TR2 were personally for me, the holy grail for achieving the best unbiased quality ever when we started (and doing that with great speed on the CPU). The speed is coming purely from algorithmic design (i.e. convergence speed) rather than the "brute force" fast pace of taking samples achieved by Presto. It is sometimes amazing to see that TR2 (what is considered to be the slower one) is actually the faster one (even compared to Presto) for scenes with difficult indirect lighting (for example, lot of dominant caustic lighting).

 

In any case, every engine has been developed with a lot of love. :)

 

Best wishes

 

I'm sure I wasn't technically correct in all I said but I simplified things in an attempt to give a good overview. I was only mentioning to another of the beta testers the other day how TR2 can be significantly faster than TR1 with difficult to light interiors. Personally I reach for BSD every time on those types of scene but that's probably because V-Ray is my main render engine and one which I've been using since it was first released so biased workflows is embedded in my neural networks...  :)

 

It's great to see another rendering engine finally coming to FormZ, and such a fantastically flexible one too.



#48 giannis

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Posted 26 November 2015 - 11:31 AM

I'm sure I wasn't technically correct in all I said but I simplified things in an attempt to give a good overview.

It was actually a good description from the user point of view. I just can't help myself going technical... ^_^



#49 jonmoore

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Posted 26 November 2015 - 11:57 AM

It was actually a good description from the user point of view. I just can't help myself going technical... ^_^

 

 You wrote the original algorithms and that seems a perfect excuse for getting a little technical to me.  :)

 

In all seriousness though. I like that you're being less dogmatic regarding the physical simulation aspects of Thea Render as it matures. Things like the Fresnel Ramp you introduced in 1.5 may not be the 'physically correct' approach but it sure is artist friendly. This is one of the things that I like most about Thea. The manner in which you manage to mix the strictly physically accurate with a selection of artist friendly workflows. This makes Thea both very powerful and very flexible.



#50 giannis

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Posted 26 November 2015 - 03:37 PM

 You wrote the original algorithms and that seems a perfect excuse for getting a little technical to me.   :)

 

In all seriousness though. I like that you're being less dogmatic regarding the physical simulation aspects of Thea Render as it matures. Things like the Fresnel Ramp you introduced in 1.5 may not be the 'physically correct' approach but it sure is artist friendly. This is one of the things that I like most about Thea. The manner in which you manage to mix the strictly physically accurate with a selection of artist friendly workflows. This makes Thea both very powerful and very flexible.

To be absolutely honest with you... If it weren't for the users pulling in that direction, I wouldn't easily do it. :)

 

On the other hand, these non physically-based features are something that the end user can choose to use or not. And the experience shows that 98% of the users are not purist about them; if they do the trick, then they will use them by all means.

 

Best wishes



#51 Justin Montoya

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Posted 27 November 2015 - 04:03 PM

Thank you Giannis!

 

It's great to have someone from Thea active here for our community.  Sounds like it's coming along!   Can't wait to see/experience it myself!  

 

Cheers!



#52 giannis

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Posted 28 November 2015 - 05:19 AM

Thank you Giannis!

 

It's great to have someone from Thea active here for our community.  Sounds like it's coming along!   Can't wait to see/experience it myself!  

 

Cheers!

Manolis (our developer) should become active here as well once we get it released. Although, best support is always served at our forum, it is lovely being here as well. :)

 

Best wishes






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