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Andrew West

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Everything posted by Andrew West

  1. Andrew West

    V-Ray update

    Is it December yet? Feels like the longest year of my entire life. I can't wait to get my hands on 5. I have tried it out on other programs and I really like it. If it does not materialize soon I might be looking into Maxwell again. Their integrated render farm could be what I was missing previously in regards to speed.
  2. Andrew West

    Importing 3rd party models

    I seem to be at a crossroads once again in my career. I have tried many other programs over the years and for various reasons I keep on coming back to Form.z. Years ago I tried Electric Image, 3DS MAX, Cinema 4D, Vue, etc etc. None of them had the speed and agility of Form.z for my quick turn around projects. Then the other programs got better and better and added a lot of third party plugins and rendering engines that gave stunning results. So I resigned myself to owning several programs to get the results I needed. Hardly ideal for a small studio to maintain. But here is the catch. Form.z does not play well with others so transferring back and forth between programs became extremely laborious and slow. This is especially true with projects that require a lot of client feedback, revisions and transfers of geometry. So, every time I started a new project I felt like I had to reinvent the wheel and assess what the best path forward will be for this project. Sometimes I guess wrong and pay for it dearly in wasted time. In the last few years I have personally felt that Form.z is getting slower and buggier and certainly more unpredictable. One step forward and two steps sideways away from my goal of a one stop shop. I am not sure that I am ready to abandon Form.z any time soon so for me it will still be a combination of programs to achieve what I want. My current direction is to model in Form.z as much as possible and then transfer over to Rhino for the last 50% of the job. For instance, on my current interior project I modeled most of the plane geometry in Z and apply my texture maps. Then I move over to Rhino to import all my furniture, set up my lighting and do my renders in Vray. Moving back and forth between the two seems to be fairly fluid and my maps all come in perfectly except for the Vray materials. Those need to be redone so I don't even bother with them until I am in Rhino. Why this method you might ask? Simple, the more you bring in 3rd party models into Z the more likely that things will fall apart and you will spend a LOT of time troubleshooting. You can just feel the program starting to bog down and become increasingly less responsive, so then you know it's time to transfer over. As for learning Rhino it is pretty simple but very important to understand their philosophy first. Dave Shultz on Lynda.com gives a very detailed explanation of how to approach the program and where to keep your attention focused. There are a daunting number of tools and options available, most of them somewhat repetitive, so being given a general direction is imperative to limit frustration. Once you understand that things go pretty smoothly. Hope this helps give some direction to anyone else who is struggling out there. Sorry that there isn't a better solution. At least not one I am aware of yet.
  3. Andrew West

    Importing 3rd party models

    I will second the Rhino option. It will save you a ton of time on all sorts of imports. I even use it to clean up 2D files from architects that have way too much info attached. Takes hours to import into FMZ. I just open them instantly in Rhino and delete everything I don't need.
  4. Andrew West

    V-Ray update

    Rumor has it that we might see something by the new year. But I wouldn't hold my breath. Everything seems to be moving very slowly lately. I just hope it is sooner rather than later because I could really use it too.
  5. Andrew West

    Importing 3rd party models

    SJD This has been one of my biggest hurdles when using Form.z. The slow speed of import stems from the fact that Form.z is a solid modeler while most other programs are surface modelers. Form.z is trying to create solids out of surfaces which can become problematic. I tend to use a lot of outside models in my business, from architects and from sites like 3dSky and TurboSquid. They come in a variety of formats and each one has its own unique problems. Personally I prefer to use OBJ format most of the time if it is available. FBX has been an interesting problem. I wish I could use it more because it handles texture maps a bit better but I have found that on some models it scrambles the geometry in random arrangements. One problem I have been having lately is that I can only import one model. If I try to import a second model the program hangs. Open the task manager and the manager screen is flashing rapidly. Force quit the program and then restart and you will now be able to import the next model. Annoying but doable. I am also fortunate to own a few other programs that I rely on from time to time when I can't get Form.z to properly import. In particular I resort to Max and Rhino which import most models instantly and flawlessly. Once in there I start to clean them up a bit and then re export out. Furniture models in particular can be troublesome if built in Max. The modelers often apply a TurboSmooth modifier which can create very dense meshes that need to be optimized. They also tend to group lots of things together which need to be exploded. I hate to suggest that you need to own another piece of expensive software just to get your model into Z but you just have to get creative on how to accomplish this. I remember there being websites that would translate models into various formats for free. 3Dconvert.com was one I had used once. I believe that they had a file size limitation. There are probably a few others out there. As a last resort you can also ask us here in the forum if any of us can translate it for you. I have seen many posts asking for help over the years and the forum has been very good at responding. Good luck.
  6. Andrew West

    V-ray Scene Files

    I am posting this as a favor to anyone who is thinking of using Scene files in their models. Don't. They are more trouble than they are worth. First is the issue of lighting. Each scene file creates a sun light that automatically comes in with the file whether you turn off that option on import or not. Then you have to go into the attributes tab in the inspector to make sure its off. If your lighting is totally messed up this is the reason. Next there is the issue of Alpha Channels. I use them A LOT! The scene file will corrupt your alpha channel completely as it renders as pure white. If like me you render out a building you would expect to have it separate from the background for compositing. Or if you do an interior model that has a view outside the window you might want to place an image behind the glass. The scene file makes this impossible. I spent a day and a half chasing down this problem so save yourself the trouble and don't use them (unless you don't use alpha channels). I am aware that the development team is working on this issue for the next release. Lets hope it is sooner rather than later.
  7. Andrew West

    VRAY - Huge Material Problem!

    Update time. We finally tracked down the issue at the beginning of this post. There has always been some issue with materials not previewing in the palette or materials not showing properly on the model. Or in my case lots of missing textures upon render. The FIX: You must have KEEP TEXTURES turned on in project settings. Then you must turn on Opens Fast or your save times will be really long. It was such a simple thing that ended up causing a lot of issues.
  8. Andrew West

    VRay Licensing

    Both Maxwell and Vray require an online license. Maxwell is considerably slower even in their latest release but it is better quality and has Multilight. Vray is usually adequate for my needs. I recently traveled to my sister in laws in Oregon where they had no internet and only a weak cell signal. Very rural. I brought my laptop which is pretty powerful and one of my 24 inch monitors to get some work done. Thankfully monitors are very light these days compared to the old behemoths. When it was time to render I used my cell phone as a hot spot and logged in to the license server. I had to go up to the top of a ridge nearby to get a good signal. So anything is possible, but sometimes you have to get creative. For what its worth it seems like many software companies are doing an online license lately. I guess they expect you to be connected to the internet to get anything done anyway. And then there is the issue of annual subscription services but that is a completely different discussion.
  9. Andrew West

    Scripts

    Unfortunately these are no longer available. Although when asked Tech has been able to implement other scripts into the new Python format and bring them into the program. You just need to ask them to see if they have enough demand. When you mention Fix Normal there is a script for that now. It is called Fix Obj Reverse and it requires that you pre pick the objects in question or the entire model for that matter. In terms of the Clear Face Color script I personally use the Separate Object Faces By Color script now. It allows me to isolate different materials that were assigned to multiple faces of one object so that they can be grouped and adjusted. The other script is not something I have experience with but if you right click on an object you have the option to select all objects assigned that material. Then just create a new layer and move it there. Easy. Unless of course your object has multiple materials assigned. Then just see step two above.
  10. Andrew West

    Example Images

    Okay folks. We are getting close to the release date and we all want to see what people have been creating with V-ray. I thought perhaps I would get the ball rolling. Post away.
  11. Andrew West

    Bump Maps

    For those of you out there that are still using Form.z and V-ray there is something you should be aware of with bump maps. As of today I finally found what was causing my image map materials to appear odd. They were too dark and they did not accept shadows correctly. The sun just didn't cast an accurate shadow on my stone wall planes and it looked like a mess. I finally found that if you remove your bump map it cleans it up instantly. As a matter of fact if you remove all bump maps from your project a lot of issues suddenly disappear. I even went so far as to remove any native V-ray materials that had bump maps. I am only trying to help those who are experiencing similar issues and hope that they don't have to spend a lot of time figuring it out like I did. Hopefully this will be addressed soon. In the mean time use displacement if you really need 3d relief on your surfaces. Very unfortunate.
  12. Andrew West

    Bump Maps

    Here is a before and after. Note that the only thing I changed was the addition of a bump map on the stone material. One map was an RGB and the other a grey scale.
  13. Andrew West

    Scene FIles and Proxy objects.

    Well after finally talking to David I found out that what we are looking at with the triangulated geometry is a REPRESENTATION of the final geometry. It can be represented as a bounding box in the model or a reduced geometry mess that looks like a bug but it isn't. The way to get it to look like the original model is to go to the Inspector- Parameters- Preview- Normal. Now why didn't I think of that?
  14. Andrew West

    Scene FIles and Proxy objects.

    I need to finish a project that is due Monday and I have hit a wall. Figuratively that is. My model has a lot of furniture and as such it is taking upwards of 5 minutes for the program to save each time. Kind of insane if you ask me. Yes I have super fast SSD drives and I have Keep Textures turned off. I have limited the sizes of my textures a lot. The model as a whole is about 630,000 KB and I have 128 GB of Ram. So I thought I would explore V-ray scene files again which I have used successfully in the past. Unfortunately, it now seems to be completely broken in V9. Has anyone else had a chance to work with this lately? I even back saved to 8.6 to see if I could get that to work. The scene files save properly but when I bring it back into a new model the scene file is completely corrupted and blown apart into thousands of triangles. It is also worth noting that the sofa was 56K KB and the sofa scene file was 650K KB. I have tried all the V-ray settings on export and import to no avail. So now sene files, components and proxy images are all non functional. Any suggestions would be very welcome at this point. Thanks in advance. Andrew
  15. Andrew West

    Scene FIles and Proxy objects.

    Justin, I find that Open Fast does indeed do what it says it does. However, it does not affect how fast my files save. At least not in my case. I really wish I could use Scene files again. That did affect how the program acts and responds since the data is not stored within the project. Upon trying to use Scene files I also found that not only is it broken, but it now corrupts the texture maps on whatever you are trying to create. The maps just show as solid black now. So I had to go back and fix all 18 maps on a model that I tried to convert to a Scene file even though it didn't create the file. This is very unfortunate. Thanks for your help though. Lets keep pushing the limits of Form.z and Vray and hope that they can get this all sorted out sooner rather than later.
  16. Andrew West

    Export options missing 8.6

    That is a new one. Throw out your preference folder and restart the program. Sometimes this cleans up all kinds of strange issues.
  17. Andrew West

    Object selection

    I work in wireframe quite a bit but sometimes I still have trouble selecting something specific. I find that if I select the entire object and then right click and isolate it I can select the parts of it that I want to work on. Isolating objects seems to be absolutely necessary for any kind of accuracy.
  18. Andrew West

    Ready to use plants FormZ/VRay

    For inexpensive models I often go to 3DSky, download a few plants and then make Vray scene files from them. You just have to remember to turn off the option to import the light with the scene file since each file automatically creates a sun light when saved. They render pretty quickly.
  19. Andrew West

    optimising PC performance

    Most of my issues with speed and fluidity tend to get compounded by the importation of outside models. That is a constant concern for me because it is absolutely necessary to my work. Just importing the model can be a painful experience, especially when compared to other programs. We are working with Tech to try to improve this in the future and hopefully it will get better. I imagine that as all the other programs evolve it becomes harder to keep up with the cross platform translations. It is worth reminding everyone that you should keep a journal handy to jot down when things start to lag and get buggy so that you can retrace your steps to find the culprit. Kind of old school but that is just me. There are certainly a few tools in Form.z that can be problematic as well but I have learned to work around them for the most part. Sometimes it is necessary to get pretty creative in my technique. Just don't waste much time on something that is not working out for you and find a different path.
  20. Andrew West

    optimising PC performance

    One thing to think about is keeping your textures small if possible and then go to Preferences-Project Files-and turn off Keep Textures. I would also consider upgrading your graphics card. Form.z tends to really lag in shaded mode without a good card and navigating around can be painful. I must admit that when I demo other programs they do seem a lot smoother and snappier in most aspects. Hopefully that will be improved in future releases.
  21. Andrew West

    Example Images

    For those of you who are not aware the ability to use Material IDs is only available through CPU and it is not supported in GPU rendering. I wish I could use GPU since it is so much faster but it doesn't even support alpha channels without which the above image would have been impossible.
  22. Andrew West

    vray image autosave

    Allen I can verify an important issue when using bump maps in V-ray. In form.z version 8.6 you must use a grey scale image in the bump channel or it will alter the color of the original texture map. Now in V9 use MUST use an RGB image in the bump channel or it will not load at all. So my choice was to either change all of my bump maps back to RGB or go back to 8.6. Neither option thrills me. I have been told by Tech that they made this a priority fix. AW
  23. Andrew West

    Rounding Question

    I will second the comment that you should always save before you round. This is true of several tools that are particularly finicky. This goes all the way back to when I first started with FMZ in 1990. As long as your model isn't too large and you have a SSD drive it is very easy to just get in the habit of hitting control S on a regular basis. What is funny to me is that when I do things like draw with an actual pen I still find my left hand hitting the desk where those keys should be.
  24. Andrew West

    Ambient Occlusion

    Something is not right there. I think you might have shadow casting turned off for that object or it might be a material issue. When I test it on my system the only time I lose AO is when the object is very transparent. Yours is not. Then if I go into my vray AO settings and really bump up the values I get a tremendous amount of AO from my glass.
  25. Andrew West

    Polygon cages for smoothing

    One tool that I really wish FMZ had is what 3DS Max calls TurboSmooth. It does a great job of taking a basic rough object and smoothing out all the edges. All you ;have to do is make a rough approximation of anything you want which saves a lot of time.
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