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Andrew West

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Everything posted by Andrew West

  1. Andrew West

    Is there a shadow catcher in VRay?

    I would like to add that post processing is helped tremendously by assigning a unique material ID to each material. Then output that channel separately. I do this all the time to tweak materials in PS and add shadows and such.
  2. Andrew West

    freelance animator?

    Are you looking for someone to model the booth as well? If not I can take it into Twin Motion to animate. Send me a PM to discuss if you are interested.
  3. Andrew West

    Mesh lights

    Justin I also use emitter lights for certain applications but I find that mesh lights are where I start in order to add general interior lighting to set the mood for the scene. In Maxwell I used to do the same. Then I start to add the specific lights that would be visible on the geometry, like IES or undercounter strip lights. It is just how I approach photography and lighting design. The one drawback to just using emitters for lighting is the lack of HDRI textures attached to my meshes that add a lot of ambience. Everyone has their technique and there is no correct way to achieve what you are after.
  4. No. There really is no way to universally apply any method to my civil data that can be used from one project to another. Often times I start by trying to use the contour lines they provide but end up retracing the splines anyway. It is a very time consuming process and the terrain tool crashes about half the time. In the case of a house with adjusted contours around the building I often need to push and pull points and segments to adjust for how the terrain hits it in spots. In V6 we had a tool for push/pull on meshes using profiles. That disappeared a while ago. Doing it in my current method easily corrupts the geometry and can lead to some big issues if not done slowly. Very slowly. I think on the next one I will create my terrain using Nurbs to see if that works better. I am still not sure how to create a terrain of substantial size in Form.z that I can bring into TM for an animation. I did create one in Vue but it was so heavy that Form.z crashed on import. It is also worth noting that TM looks at your terrain as one object so you must separate out those pieces that will require different textures. In my first model I differenced out the mass of the house from the terrain without deleting the polygons under the house. Then when I applied grass and plants to the landscape they appeared on the basement floor as well. So it might make more sense to create my terrain using planes instead of a solid for the ease of editing. Not sure how to approach that yet. In essence I would like to create a mesh that is a fairly loose approximation of my terrain and then apply a softening tool to it (similar to the subdivision soften tool, which doesn't work in this case). I will let you know how it goes. In the future Form.z might really benefit from a tool like the TurboSmooth tool in Max which works on absolutely everything. If only. AW
  5. Andrew West

    Can you make a way for VRay to reduce render time?

    I have been trying not to look at all the new and exciting things available for all the other programs out there. It just gets me frustrated. I do know that Vray 5 is coming to FMZ and I hope that it has all the features that are shown in your videos. But the question persists-When? Things have grown very quiet again at ADS and I hope that it means they have been working diligently on the new release. As for your animation needs I have found that TwinMotion is lighting fast and the integration with FMZ is very good. It will probably never be up to the quality of V-ray but sometimes speed is more important. Especially when they ask for real time VR. Until I get a chance to experiment with Vray5 I will continue to play with TM to see how far I can take it. One important thing to note for now is that if you set up your model with V-ray materials they will not translate over to Twin Motion. In my case I needed a still shot using V-ray and then an animation in TM. It was a bit more work to redo the materials on many different objects. Luckily the material editor in TM is pretty fast even if it lacks a lot of the V-ray depth.
  6. I have created a few videos using Form.z modeling and a direct export out to TM. The model came in flawlessly with the texture maps aligned and sized correctly. I did need to tweak the materials a bit to get them to where I wanted them. Mostly just adjusted the Color factor in a material even if that material was a texture map. In other words, my stone looked too bright so I added some black to the color channel. Using TM was pretty intuitive right off the bat. I will be working on a video that explains my method as soon as I have enough experience with it to be fluid. As for the integration of TM into Form.z it is my understanding that is something in the works that should show up soon. It will be a direct plug in for Form.z so that there will be no need to use importing and exporting. One more thing to note: TM is set up for a completely flat environment by default. Unfortunately, for me the world is not flat, so it is necessary to create a terrain. To create terrain models in form.z I have an old habit of using the Terrain tool, which has been a major pain for as long as I can remember. Converting contour lines from my civil engineer into something the program can interpret has always been a struggle. If anyone knows of a better way to create physically accurate terrains using civil data I am all ears. Of course that would then need to be imported into either FMZ or TM. That's the problem.
  7. Andrew West

    Mesh lights

    I have the same problem and I have asked Tech to address this in the future. I often create a mesh light for my interiors and assign an hdri image to it for ambiance and adjust the settings. I then select that light so that I can copy it to a new room, go to top view to move it and the screen centers on that annoying little box. Then I have to scroll around to the actual model and move/ scale my light to the new location. It is just really inefficient on large projects with multiple mesh lights that get adjusted regularly.
  8. Andrew West

    Can you make a way for VRay to reduce render time?

    Multilight is a miracle tool. Probably the single greatest time saver for my work. Lighting a scene takes a lot of trial and error. Now if we could fix the copy texture tool that would be another great improvement. Vray 5 is coming soon.
  9. Andrew West


    Yes, I experience the same things from time to time. Not a reproducible bug unfortunately. The other thing I find strange is that Form.z will suddenly freeze in a weird way. The screen locks and I can't change views or switch tools. Saving the file makes everything suddenly start working again. Weird but livable. Actually forces me to save more often. Anyone else experience this behaviour?
  10. Andrew West

    Palette Problem

    I have never come across that one. I would throw out my preference folder and see if that cleans up the issue. This has been my go to fix for a lot of things over the past few years. AW
  11. Andrew West

    Looking for old tutorial - Texturing a Cone

    I remember it but I can't find it either. I went and created a cone of sorts to see what I could do. I did not find it easy using the new texture tools so I went back to the legacy mapping tool, applied cubic mapping first and then switched to parametric. This is what I got:
  12. Andrew West

    V-Ray update

    Please be patient. Chaos releases their updates to the biggest players first and then slowly makes their way down to us (and many others). By the time we get it they are already releasing the next update for the Autodesk crowd. Frustrating, but understandable from a business perspective. The unfortunate part is that this leads to an unfair advantage between programs.
  13. Andrew West

    Edit Cone of Vision Crash

    Easy fix. Hit Command E to enter the cone of vision edit. Hit Command E to exit. As you have found if you try to close the window by hitting the x it will crash. The performance of the cone of vision edit is still wonky but they are working on it.
  14. Andrew West


    I have been really struggling with Layout Draft mode this week. This morning I had my project open and I hadn't saved in a while since it takes almost 6 minutes to save a simple 2D drawing. Then by mistake I accidentally hit the Sheet 1 name in the Sheet Palette. All my work disappeared and I can not figure out how to get it back. Where did it go? There are no other sheets, just that one. The file itself is still 280MB and all the layers are there and organized. I have read the manual but I am totally lost. And, of course the contractor is screaming for this drawing right now. So frustrating.
  15. Andrew West

    Can't draw with line on a surface...

    I was able to do it by deselecting "lock plane through first point". Your object is obviously not exactly planar to the world coordinates.
  16. Andrew West

    Draft layout text

    The note tool is easy but it creates text that cannot be scaled, which I sometimes do. That text is also not compatible with other programs, so if I send my plans to my engineer for structural work as a dwg export then it's gone. I think I need to explain my text comment a bit better. First off I am drafting in my 3D modeling window, not in draft mode. Don't get me started on why but it is mostly due to always working in 3D. If you go to your dimension tool in the modeling mode then under tool options you get a small window that says something like "default" or "style 2". Just click on that and at the bottom of the list is a tab saying "edit style". From there you can adjust your font, the position, the leader lines, etc. You can also set up your own style from scratch and name it whatever you want. Isn't that what you were looking for? Or am I just thick. Now, for the record, before I posted this I decided to open my current project in Draft Mode instead of in my modeling window. I had been using a font called City Blueprint for all my dimensions. They are all completely illegible now. Furthermore, all the notes that were put on using the Notepad tool are also completely illegible and the leader lines are all messed up. The draft program all made my entire drawing one object that needed to be ungrouped. Once that happened all my other text became a series of tiny little seperate lines, my layers were messed up and many of the groupings and organization are gone. However, if I then go (in Draft) to my dimension tool and edit my Style to my City Blueprint font (under the tool options) I can recreate my text and dimensions correctly. So, word to the wise here: if you are going to use the Draft Mode for drafting then start there BEFORE you add any text or dimensions to your model. These two programs are somewhat incompatible on certain things.
  17. Andrew West

    Point lights

    You are exactly right. But like I said, when using Vray as your render engine you will find mesh lights much easier to control and more predictable. Doing hundreds of test renders as I adjust my other types of lights is a waste of time and too frustratingly arbitrary. If only Vray had what Maxwell has, namely Multilight. Man was that nice. I am still holding out hope that the new version of Vray may be out before too long. I think that the lighting systems will change again.
  18. Andrew West

    Draft layout text

    this is my dumb question for the morning: Did you go and change the dimension text style under the tool options? It is usually set to Default but you can easily edit it to any font. Not sure what else to tell you.
  19. I agree completely, but man are you going to get some flak for saying this. Apple products continue their cult like following in spite of everything.
  20. Andrew West

    Why form•z is not popular any more:

    I have been equally as nervous for years now. But somehow this software seems to keep slowly developing a little at a time. For those of us that used it from the beginning we experienced a lot of activity and interaction that came fairly rapidly. Then things changed for a while. Now it seems like things come in fits and starts with long periods of inactivity perceived on our part. It should be noted that their latest addition of Twin Motion and Unreal are a major step toward keeping Form.z relevant in today's world. They are obviously listening to our requests and I am sure they are working on this interface issue. It just might not be their top priority for now. Personally, for me it is more important to have a rock solid program (which includes these issues) and the latest rendering engine so that I can keep my work relevant and competitive. Not more bells and whistles or a pretty interface. Those are the things that I convey to ADS, for now. As long as I can get my work done in an efficient manner I am willing to be patient. However, I am also not naive, so I do work on other programs just so that I can switch over if need be, which happens now from time to time as I use more outside assets in my work.
  21. Andrew West

    Why form•z is not popular any more:

    It has been hard for me not to comment here so let me try to be constructive. I will stay away from technical suggestions. Everyone has something that they feel needs immediate attention and everyone has their opinion. These opinions are obviously based on how one uses the program. My priorities are certainly not those of others here, nor should they be. So how do we form some sort of consensus on what needs to be addressed first and then get that to ADS in a constructive manner? It could even be something that the users vote on individually every quarter. Just random posts griping about one thing or another seems very inefficient and I can tell that it grates the dev team the wrong way. We do need them on our side. I have used almost every other program out there since I started CAD work in 1985 at Cal Poly. Back in those days you had to type in coordinates in order to build a simple line. It also took a main frame at UCLA to calculate it (MegaCad). Fast forward to today and I can still see remnants of some of the old programs lingering around decades after they should have been abandoned. Max is a perfect example of a program that seems like a collection of plug-ins, scripts and add ons tacked onto a shell that has rarely changed. Given the work it takes to completely rethink the interface of an entire program it is obvious that it would take a lot of time and money. Otherwise others with deeper pockets would have tackled it years ago. Form.z has evolved several times over the last 30 years. Not all of us were happy with the changes but we learned to adapt (slowly sometimes). My main concern with how this is evolving is that with each additional change to the main program certain other parts and tools get corrupted. It then takes a lot of time to chase each issue and resolve them. By the time we get something really stable it seems like it's time to shake it all up again with a new release. As others have said it feels like we are on a constant Beta release. This is why I why, at the time, I refused to give up on 6.7 which was a fast production powerhouse for my office. Now, for the record I have tried many other programs thinking that maybe I might migrate over. I have not. Each has its own issues and quirks and I have crashed every one of them. It is just the nature of the beast that we will always be chasing the elusive "perfect program", whatever that may mean to you.
  22. Andrew West

    Palette Window Workaround

    Kim Because of the interface and structure of Form.z with all the floating pallets you will absolutely need two monitors to get anything done in an efficient manner. Occasionally I need to travel with my laptop but I am forced to carry an extra monitor anywhere I go. All you need is a cheap and light one to unclutter your main screen. Thank god we no longer use those 75lb monitors of days gone by! Justin actually uses three monitors so that he can keep his design inspiration images on the third.
  23. Andrew West

    Point lights

    You are experiencing one of my great frustrations with Form.z. Namely, things that should work but don't. Knowing when to abandon something and find another "work around" is key to keeping your sanity. For me sometimes that "work around" means literally going to another program rather than finding another tool. V-ray proxy, caustic affects, scene files and such are perfect examples of things that I abandoned. Thankfully, they are aware of these issues and they are working on them. I learned this week that in 9.1 Reference files are now working properly! As for your imager issue I find that V-ray is so fast at rendering I don't ever use it. It does not surprise me that you are having issue with it. The integration might not be complete yet. I have a similar issue with rendering via GPU where certain render elements don't work at all. The most important one being Alpha Channels. I don't know anyone who can work without that function. Good luck and really stick to mesh lights for your scenes. They are great to work with and much more predictable. Just don't let them touch any objects in your model.
  24. Andrew West

    Stitch Round

    There are a few tools to do what you are trying to accomplish, but upon first glance I would head to the lofting tools. That should allow you to have greater control of the blending.
  25. Andrew West

    Point lights

    Forget about point lights. They don't work. Change it to a sphere light and be VERY careful about your intensity and camera settings. They are very difficult to control. I would seriously suggest you use mesh lights with v-ray and if I need the light to be visible I do that through emitter materials at the source. Add the glare effect in Vray and it is pretty convincing.