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Is anyone still using the Maxwell plugin for FormZ?


bbuxton
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Just wondering if I am the only one that has found the plugin to be really awful.

The problem for me is the plugins interpretation of face normals, so smooth objects alway have splotchy artefacts. This might not be very noticable for most archviz but for close up product renders it is a bind. In older versions of Maxwell I could use Maxwell Studio if I had issues I could not resolve in FormZ but v5 requires multiple licenses to do that.

Has anyone else still using Maxwell experienced these issues?

 

 

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Hi Mr. bbuxton, yes I’m using it on a daily basis, my workflow is dependent on it. I generally do archviz for “not always nice looking” buildings etc. I have found the Maxwell plugin to be very reliable, even for massive projects.

However, I have found on some occasions that MR can produce some triangles on some but not all smooth surfaces. I usually get over this by temporarily converting to faceted. 
Otherwise, I’m happy with the plugin and the renderer. 
just wish I had one of “those” jobs where I could spend time getting the best from Maxwell. Some day huh?

des

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Thanks Des

I have been a bit frustrated with the v5 version for FormZ. Previously I ran Maxwell 4 through Studio and Cinema4D but on my rather old MacPro and Nvidia Titan card the Maxwell plugin does not work in Cinema4D (no AVX on the two Xeons). So I opted for FormZ for v5.2 but in retrospect should have chosen Studio. The FormZ plugin does not have the normal correction functionality of Studio. I can only get good results if I first export my scenes to Cinema 4D then export again as FBX for FormZ. If I try to just mesh the objects in FormZ I get shading artefacts on smooth objects that ruin my renders.

I have been using Maxwell since its early paid pre-release beta that took over 3 years to deliver Maxwell v1,  it has been a core tool in my work ever since. The license changes in v4 and again in v5 have left me less able to deal with issues like shading normal artefacts and I have been looking for other options. Perhaps I will wait for the Black Friday sale and pay a chunk to restore my license to what it was at version 3 with access to all the plugins and Studio. There have been no hints of what to expect of a Maxwell 6 release or if it will ever materialise. 

 

 

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Do you think you could post a FormZ file which shows the problem? Maybe we could figure out a workaround between us.

I think Maxwell is at around 2.5% of the render market so your guess is as good as mine on their future.

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While I do not run into shading artifacts in my Z to Maxwell work (which I use extensively for arch and interior design vis) I do remember conversations in the past about artifacts. My recollection is that it was caused by long triangles. Users who were able to employ triangulation strategies that avoided long triangles avoided the artifacts. Hope that helps….my memory is occasionally suspect.

Best,

Gary

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Thanks Des, Gary

Looking at my renders cylindrical objects with subtractive booleans are the worst culprits but this issue is not limited to just these shapes.

I'm digging through my archives to find culprits but normally I only keep the good geometry. I think this is where the frustration is, as it has always been where I need a clean wireframe and matching render. 

Gary:- Thin triangles render perfectly in Renderzone and if I export as a mesh file the geometry renders perfectly in Redshift and Octane, Cycles etc. 

But this is definately the problem for almost all the rendering artefacts. Unfortunately FormZ does not like millions or tens of millions facet geometry when attempting to hide the artefacts.

Exporting a step file from FormZ then using Moi3D to generate a facetted OBJ or FBX then taking that into Maxwell Studio 4 to Export as MXS and render in Maxwell 5 works even with very high polygon counts. However you can see where workflow is falling apart with such a palaver. This is the main reason I get so irate with Nextlimit for their license changes. It is often necessary to take another plugin route or use Studio.

 

https://www.dropbox.com/s/0ggh25m1nm5aw86/long triangle fix.zip?dl=0

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Hi Brian,

Thanks for posting a sample file. When I tested it without doing anything I could see the triangles near the seams to the lower section in View 3. I didn't have your environment HDL so I just used a simple Dome and downloaded the materials from the MXED browser.

Anyway, there were two things I noticed in the FormZ file. Firstly you have the Display resolution set to "Scheme 1". I changed that to "Default High Resolution". Secondly you have the Smooth Shading to Override all faces, I turned that off. I tried a render to Studio as it was in the Maxwell setting (but I had to change the camera settings because of the different light I used) and there was a huge improvement. See snapshot in Studio.

So playing with the resolution setting in Z is the way to go I think. It's not perfect but you should be able to get a resolution setting which suits better with experimentation.

TrianglefixSnapshot.thumb.jpg.e35e2f573c2236ac468ccfc3fbb59cf2.jpg

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Thanks Des

Scheme1 was my setting to get rid of the long triangles, the effect of which was just to push the artefacts to the edges.

Although your render does look substantially better, I can still see the polygon edges even at low resolution. It is particularly evident in the Studio OpenGL view. With a darker rough metalic material those artefacts will be drawing attention to themselves again. The smoothshading check was left on by mistake and because of what it is I think is a clue to what is wrong in how Maxwell interprets shading normals from FormZ. Exporting as a mesh, then removing the shading normals in another application and generating a fresh set is how I have been fixing this problem over the last couple of years.  

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This is the image from exported step file straight into Cinema4D I changed the mxs to the RAL9002 metal rough from the Maxwell download site but nothing else. The HDR is from Adobe Substance Source but any HDR is good. The difference between Maxwell FormZ output and MaxwellC4D(trial) is night and day. I think this is better than when I bring the mesh back into FormZ. The hard transitions on the rounds are because they are not G2. When I model objects like this in F360 or Moi3D those transitions are much better.

 

 

Maxwell4D.jpg

Edited by bbuxton
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Yes, that's a massive difference!

Have you been in touch with Nextlimit or AutoDessys? It'd be interesting what they have to say about this. While I use the Maxwell FormZ plugin every day, it's not affecting me due to our different model types. Although I have noticed something similar on say smooth curved walls, but it's not noticeable due to the type of materials used (matte brick for example). I am inclined to agree with you though, the way FormZ handles its shading normals or whatever. I have even noticed this happening with FormZ to Twinmotion can you believe? On this early test animation, you can see the problem on the white wall beside the gate about 6 seconds in (I had to reduce the resolution). It's flat in FormZ.

 

 

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I have posted on Maxwell forum and also raised a support ticket but no response yet. I should contact Autodessy too but will see what Nextlimit have to say first.

In all likelyhood Nextlimit will tell me that I should have raised this earlier and refuse to help, but Maxwell is a very slow renderer so I only use it when I absolutely need to use something special like measured data or IOR files.

For most renders I do, Redshift or Octane is sufficient and much faster.

Unfortunately measured data is no good if Maxwell cannot manage to interpolate normal vectors correctly. Maxwell Studio 4 does a better job but sometimes I see artefacts.

I'm not sure whether it is FormZ or Maxwell (or in your example datasmith).

I think your white wall is non planar did you check with the object doctor? 

 

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Des, about your last post, I get the impression that the sun is parallel to that wall, which is always problematic, and could be increasing, even more, the shading problem and banding effect.

I have been testing Twinmotion, and in the image below with high-quality settings, you can see the shading problem in the column. In any case, I find this kind of problem subtle and acceptable enough considering the advantages that Twinmotion offers to show my architectural/interior designs to clients, and the few problematic cases, if any. Next time, I will do some more research.

However, it's another story for object design and visualization with close-ups, and the problem should be reviewed and fixed.

image.thumb.jpg.0912283f7619999843841e80d72b71b2.jpg

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Des & Ztec,
If you observe triangulation artifacts in Twinmotion on a object exported from formZ, please isolate the object (curved wall, column) in a new project and send the .fmz file to support@formz.com. Please include "@datasmith" in the subject line. Thanks in advance.

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Posted (edited)

The only other time I experienced problems like this was exporting polygon objects out of FormZ to Modo and Lightwave. In both Modo and lightwave random polygons would be inside out, but this was never a problem with Cinema 4D which is why I still use it and moved away from Modo and Lightwave. More recent versions of Cinema 4D (after version 20) can import step files which is when I stopped exporting everything as meshes for rendering. The Cinema4D mesher always generates a clean result from step files. My thinking is that historically not all applications process normal vectors in the same order, or one vector might be reversed. I think this is what Maxwell is struggling with, and no doubt TwinMotion too. I remember how difficult it was to get a good FACT export out for the later versions of Electric Image many years ago after they changed the FACT format.

Edited by bbuxton
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Posted (edited)

Nextlimit have acknowleged the issue, unfortunately their resolution was to state that they are not supporting FormZ anymore.

So I am now left with a product that is not going to be fixed. I could pay 325 euros to move to Studio or Cinema4D but who knows what support that will entail in the future??

"Hello Brian,

The smoothing can be recalculated in FormZ by using the Inspector window > Attributes tab > Shading smoothing (not Maxwell's) > Edges with angle.
This option works a bit differently than in other software as, if you want to smooth a 90º edge, the angle has to be smaller than 90º. Maybe it could help a bit.

Here, when I do some rounding with automatic Point setback is when the normals seem to brake.

Sadly, we are not supporting FormZ anymore as the low sales level doesn't justify the maintenance cost, so I don't think this will be fixed, I'm afraid.

I'm sorry for the bad news.
Fern****"

Edited by bbuxton
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I have to say that I'm very disappointed to hear that ... I warned myself years ago not to put all my eggs in one basket but did I listen?

Of course I didn't 😭

 

 

Thanks for the heads up bbuxton.

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19 minutes ago, Des said:

I have to say that I'm very disappointed to hear that ... I warned myself years ago not to put all my eggs in one basket but did I listen?

Of course I didn't 😭

 

 

Thanks for the heads up bbuxton.

tmp.gif.3caead51ad0825d9826ac05c700ecbaf.gif

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I'm sorry it worked out like this, but you use Studio too?

Nextlimit have offered to move my FormZ license over to either Cinema4D or Studio.

I'm not entirely sure which one to pick. The Cinema4D plugin renders as expected and I would probably need to pass my FormZ geometry through C4D before going to Studio but my C4D license is stuck on R21 for the forseeable future.

One interesting thing in FormZ, that I have not seen in either Studio or the C4D plugin is the Ambient Field light. It really helps clearing noise when rendering interiors - have you used this in your Maxwell/FormZ renders?

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Yes, I've used the ambient light when doing some interiors and it does help a bit. I prefer the window emitter technique to boost the brightness and will give more realistic lighting results.

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Quote

Sadly, we are not supporting FormZ anymore as the low sales level doesn't justify the maintenance cost, so I don't think this will be fixed, I'm afraid.

Sad to hear....I was hoping I could make it to the retirement finish line without having to learn a new rendering engine. I was always happy with Maxwell's quality and workflow with FormZ.

Edited by Gary
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Tech,

I did a new test with the same file using the current versions of formZ and Twinmotion and exporting with the same quality as before. This time, the shading problem with the banding effect didn't happen.

The only change was to re-import the column, and before, I probably used the previous versions of FZ and TM.

Excellent, thanks!

1181109823_image1.thumb.jpg.2b59617e4434641a23c544c25d4450f2.jpg402033537_Image2.thumb.jpg.68d894e4510af35e185d32f499ec0f36.jpg1719867486_Image3.thumb.jpg.d0a108dbfe10c90677e578eeeb1f4a69.jpg

Edited by ZTEK
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  • 3 weeks later...

@ZTEK@Des

Ztek, great to hear there is no longer an issue for you with shading artefacts in Twinmotion.

Des, If you have a moment, can you re-export the white curved wall you mentioned, and confirm that it no longer exhibits artifacts in the latest version of Twinmotion? (And please send to us, if it does...)

 

 

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