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FormZ and Rendering options question


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Getting adequate renderings (quality vs. time) out of FZ is a long struggle.


I quit using Renderzone years ago as imo it has not truly evolved over time. (lighting quality/speed)

There are numerous ways to export geometry and render using external software ("rendererX") - at the cost of always exporting/importing and using another package.

I started using Maxwell but it just took too long (but speed has improved and they currently have an upgrade special V4 offer)

Vray has been announced for years but still seems to be in a beta stage, before eventually then sometime becoming a "public beta"...

I bought the Thearender/FZ Plug-in and it really works well, good integration and impressingly fast results. Unfortunately it seems the product has been discontinued, apparently due to lack of interest from FZ users.


So when FormZ V9 is announced (hopefully this year):


- RenderZone still seems to be the Nr.1 integration from ADSs side ( at least FZ does again special-promote buying into it )

- Maxwell seems to be the only (and still seriously supported) plug-in for the time being.

- Vray for FZ is always "almost there" but there is no product or announcement.

- Thea has a great product on the market - they got it it out long before Vray - but now refuses to sell it.

(which in turn maybe explains Vray taking so long...)


Please ADS (or who else has a thought) can you put this into perspective for these four render-engines regarding V9 ?

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Hey there,


I think since you are asking specifically about v9, which is still unannounced, it's going to be very hard fro anyone to answer your questions, aside from ADS...  


All I can tell you is my personal feedback having used all of the available rendering engines for FormZ.


Thea, like you, I bought Thea and really liked where it was headed.  However, until there is more demand, it doesn't look like it's going to be updated.  Since being acquired by Altair, Solid Iris is no longer calling the shots and many of their other plugins are no longer being currently developed.  I hope this changes in the future, since it is a great, high value option.


Maxwell, I've used several demos, off and on over the years testing the possibility of purchase, and the speed is just too painfully slow to justify (On a 12c/24t Mac Pro).  That coupled with the high costs and the fact that we wouldn't be able to share our models to others unless they also incurred the high cost of the renderer.  It's definitely powerful and can deliver great results, but in 2017, it's very slow, there are other pure CPU renders (Arnold) that are much faster, just not available for FormZ.  They brought in a GPU rendering option this year, but to be honest, it's still very much in testing mode, and many features do not work, even with very powerful new GPUs.  And it's still limited to 1 GPU which largely defeats the purpose of a GPU renderer, as you want to be able to stack as many as you can in the same workstation to avoid additional rendering licenses like you would need with another rendering node.  Maxwell feels like a relic of the old days of rendering, not unlike RenderZone, certainly more powerful, but just pricey and cumbersome compared to the new options.


RenderZone, seriously it's been a superb integration in FormZ.  The flexibility is amazing and very forgiving to new users.  It's just old now.  Once you have used Progressive rendering and emitter materials of other engines, you'll NEVER want to use RenderZone again.  I also think that Shaded Full has largely filled in this gap and would much rather see that advanced than any more time or money be spent on RenderZone.


Shaded Full,  I added this one because once you start using it for concepts, it's addictive.  The speed when using a modern GPU is incredible.  The shortfall is that it's OpenGL based, which means it's crippled on the Macs compared to Windows.  This is Apple's fault, plain and simple for not updating to the newest OpenGL as they are released.    That said, if there were a way for it to continue to be improved, I'd love to see it!  Particularly emitter materials and saving out fly through animations!  One las thing, Shaded materials translate the best when moving to Thea or Vray, without having to recreate them 100% of the time unlike trying to use RenderZone materials with the other engines.


VRay,  I think every FormZ user should be excited about this one.  It's an old industry standard renderer, but it's been constantly updated and modernized, and in these newest implementations is MUCH simpler to use than the old 3dStudio versions.  The Vray FormZ plugin is even getting the latest Hybrid Rendering Engine from Vray 3.6!  That means CPU + GPU rendering power, not unlike Thea's Presto.  VRAY on a modern workstation, say a 16c/32t AMD Threadripper 1950x and a couple of Nvidia GTX 1070s,  and you have an incredibly fast Vray rendering machine for much much less that was previously possible just a few months ago!   The new Denoiser also helps drop rendering times dramatically!  I think this plugin is getting very close to a public release and I'm looking forward to it being widely adopted.  Since it's an industry standard, sharing Vray rendered FormZ files with other applications is now much easier using the .vrscene export. - https://labs.chaosgroup.com/index.php/rendering-rd/how-to-move-v-ray-scenes-between-applications/


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Thanks Justin, my Point is not so much about how it all works, there have been and will be ways to get renderings out of FZ.

I want FormZ to succeed (so: its a selfish approach) and evolve. Rendering is not my first priority, but the Thea FZ-plugin finally has been a dream come true. I understand it only is a dream for us users with „officially not OSX supported“ hardware. (So in the „world of success“ : not enough sales to make unless Apple comes back supporting Nvidia/CUDA).


BUT: remember the mid- nineties when FZ was king of the hill (on Mac) ?

The modeller was cool already and Renderzone was a decent engine at the time.

The combination was special. This has been lost due to RZ not keeping up in terms of look and -yes- quality. (not to mention Speed).


My hope is that ADS can find a renewal for this combo of superb modelling/rendering one stop shop. Be it maxwell, Thea or vray one day.

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Ahh... The Apple situation...


I feel your pain.  Leaving Apple's ecosystem is not an easy choice.  Unfortunately if you are a 3D professional, Apple has made it really hard to justify continuing to use their offerings, whether it be hardware or software.  After spending the last year planning my options, and exploring Windows 10, I can honestly tell you that it's just fine working on that side.  Quite frankly, it's liberating, It's empowering, it's game changing.  


I suggest you do the same, install Windows 10 on another internal hard drive or partition, and try it out in full through Boot Camp on your Mac.  I think if you can start to see how many more options you have on that side you will come away with the same conclusion as thousands of other 3D professionals.  Apple has left us behind, and trying to make modern 3D design and rendering work with their overly proprietary hardware and software is an exercise is futility, if not stupidity.   

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For what its worth, I think the new iMac Pro is a step in the right direction.  Also, the trashcan Mac Pro is supposedly in line for the cutting block for a more modular version of a Mac Pro.


Personally, I love the apple ecosystem too much because more often than not "it just works."  Updating Windows OS and then separate drivers for graphics, sound card, etc. and making sure they are all compatible isn't for me.


Disclaimer: I'm a bit of an Apple fanboy, so I'm a little biased  :D


But back to the other part of the conversation, KeyShot is a CPU based renderer so a sub-par graphics card on a Mac is not a worry.  This is why I long to see a Keyshot/formZ plugin! 

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I've been using FormZ forever, I still have my books on the shelf from the first version (I'm using the current update for modeling and tweaking clients files) … at the same time I have always used Electric Image as my renderer, it was and still is fast, efficient, incredibly powerful and easy to use …


Electric Image is my render of choice, handles FACT files beautifully (most of the time) - occasionally there are some issues but with tech support (FZ and EIAS assistance) … i've always been able to overcome these "issues" …


The speed at which EIAS renders is amazing, their textures, materials, shading, lighting, cameras are incredible and again extremely powerful.


I wish more FZ users would check out EIAS … it's truly an amazing rendering program.


I've worked on Macs for over 30 years … right now an iMac core i5 (2009 model) - 2TB internal drive, with 12 GB of ram has been incredible and handled all my needs. I'm looking to get the new iMac 27" - 5K (not thinking about the iMac pro-yet) - which seems like it will increase my work flow tremendously plus instant integration of at least 2 - 4K monitors.


And I know EIAS - is taking their time with their next release - but from all the buzz it sounds likes it's going to be incredible. 


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My own perspective is of an imaginative nature boy, reluctant to buy new hardware systems, happy with risky 2012 MacPro and Titan (which does crash if used too long, as it is not recommended by Nvidia, with it's great support)... This keeps me better purposed, in using the default card for my geometric studies, for very long sessions, cutting up complex models into smaller connected files... 

I keep wondering if there is not a method to reverse the "black pixel content "of Shaded render to ply my imagination towards crystalline geometry, even afterwards with photoshop processing.  I barely touch anything with buildings or photo-naturalism from 3d, (besides photos),  nor have used formZ in months, as life presses me elsewhere.  I very much look forward to V9 and any new render options...  I did buy Maxwell at 50% off when that famous world soccer victory was celebrated with the big discount... However. could never find the right tutorial to get up to speed through formZ, (it is a dead version by now). Any new rendering upgrades for me will need very quick start up in my particular rendering interests, but i have saved up some cash and ready to try, before buying.
Justin's testings of fast systems is always great to read, but my ecological side also grabs me, where computer graveyards are so horribly developed in poor countries, devastating formerly nature based peoples, with false promises of a better life, which in fact turns into polluted dystopias of sickness and madness. So i avoided my own corporate ladders, of high pay and fast digital cultures, to stay instead, with ruralism.  I'm able to support myself with low income, low maintenance ruralism, in multiple integrative trades. I'm also a shameless believer in the greater laws of cause and effect, which bites us in the back, to the extent to which we contribute to entropic-dystopian-consumerism.  Instead i rather support software approaches!  Even for getting rendering speed, on my second hand Macs.
Does anyone have a good 2d editing software as an option instead of "3d rendered realism"? Anything to help photoshop or best it?
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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 1 month later...

The V-Ray Plugin is really working quite well already, and since it runs using multiple GPUs with CUDA, this development also gives some hope that Apple is actually not about to abandon CUDA/Nvidia support in the future.

(That said I have no intention to go for windows...)


This really could be a leap forward for FormZ so lets hope for a stable and reasonably priced release of FZ/V-ray soon...

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