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Mark Aceto

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Posts posted by Mark Aceto

  1. @herbieherb  nailed it.


    On 11/27/2020 at 5:46 AM, herbieherb said:

    With Vectorworks it will probably perform about last years MBP16 with i9.


    And the base model at that. The latest offering with the 5600M GPU + 64GB RAM is still a beast. Can't wait for round 2 of the Mac refresh!

    • Like 2

  2. 5 hours ago, grant_PD said:

    Are you sure that GI is what you want for this type of presentation?  You have a lot of negative space and most of those bounces are so low energy there is no real need for them.  I usually like to start off with a little bit of ambient light and ambient occlusion, to get the feel of the shots.  If GI really seems necessary, add it back in and remove the former.  But it is not the magic wand that most people think it is.


    Thanks -- these are great notes!


    These are my GI settings (haven't saved it as a style yet). I'm OK with dropping it to 1% but my understanding is that turning it off can have some negative side effects with other textures and FX.




    5 hours ago, grant_PD said:

    There might be more reward in setting up your cameras with different exposures.  


    This is a 360 pano for viewing on a phone or tablet, so I only used a camera to set the origin, and then deleted it.


    I'm reposting the link here: https://cloud.vectorworks.net/links/11eb31531efd2cc89ae412923fa32d81/


    5 hours ago, grant_PD said:

    Black textures should never be completely black, and all textures should be "rich" in that they should contain at least some measure of all three pixel colors.  While it is true that all surfaces are reflective to some degree, I often question the merits of adding in reflectivity to everything.  Again, I would start off with reflectivity disabled, then add it back in and see if the increased render times are worth it.


    Thank you! I don't understand why this is or where it's documented but I've set all my "black" colors to 1% (99% black) in the color picker. However...  what I've discovered is that a non-reflective black surface will turn into flat grey and then white very quickly as the lighting intensity increases. That's where Andy's guide helped out with the plastic settings but it only works on curved surfaces. In my render, you'll notice that black truss and round walls are fairly successful examples of this. FWIW I started with the same procedure you mentioned, starting at 0%, and maxed it out at 3% with all textures (and blur up to 20%).  Here's the section that helped me understand that:




    5 hours ago, grant_PD said:

    To me it looks like what you would see the first 10 seconds you walked into this room from another, lit room.  But after a few more seconds of being in the room your eye would adjust to the low levels of lighting and you would see more.  A photographer might capture this by opening up the lens and gathering more information (hence my note above about exposures).


    Yes -- exactly! This is such a great way of describing what I've been trying to solve! Increasing exposure time "lets more light in" but doesn't add watts / lumens / foot candles...  And black objects don't turn grey when our eyes adjust... 


    I was thinking this exercise is a lot like audio engineering. If I had a PA at one side of the room with the mains shooting directly at the other side of the room, there'd be "slap back" (reflection). And it would also reflect off the side walls, floor and ceiling too. The way to overcome that is to place a lot of smaller low powered point source speakers in the room instead of a few high powered array speakers. Speakers and lights both have beams/dispersion angles, falloff, reflection... Even the language is the same. At the moment, I have 4 point lights running down the center of the room, and hot spots at either end. Each point light is set to 400 with a smooth falloff. I'm wondering if I should use 16 points lights set to 50 (like the point source audio engineering example). I'm picturing what a LIDAR camera sees but offset 5' from each wall. Then I wouldn't be blowing out the walls at either end, and I could just highlight the ceiling and walls as necessary with greater control / modulation.


    BTW maybe your note about exposure could be a feature request for future versions of the 360 pano export (unless it already exists and I missed it). I would love an option for longer exposure vs brighter lights.



    • Like 1

  3. 10 hours ago, Tom W. said:

    Just like to say I also think Andy Broomell's guides are excellent. I'd not seen this one on textures so thanks for sharing.


    I think I found the link here in the forum, so I'm bookmarking it for later.


    Wait -- now I'm wondering what other easter eggs there are on his site... 


  4. Getting warmer... 






    Using image effects to B&W the stock brick image, and then inverting it helped with the bump. Now that I understand that I need the bricks to be light and the grout to be dark, I could bring back displacement mapping (if I was less concerned about render times in this fairly brick-heavy model; maybe as a last step in the final rev).


    I was able to get the Studio Force IES file to work but it looked way too corny for this purpose. It was definitely the best example of contrast without that muted neutral gray washed out look though (obviously scraping bricks with strips is always the best for revealing the texture of the exposed bricks. Speaking of IES files and strips, I really wish we could still import them into Spotlight lighting devices... 




    S4's worked too but I ultimately went with spots (which are actually the same light sources that lives inside the S4). Shutter cutting wasn't as necessary as I thought it would be for this exercise. Actually, it is starting to bother me looking that them side by side... 


    Test Pano S4.jpg


    One key learning for me is that I'll instinctively want to blame the object -- "there's a bug", "something must be corrupt", quit and restart (always worth a shot) -- but then I'll discover something random like having a heliodon outside the building leaking light through a doorway and causing havoc (as in the case below). Look at how the spot beams washing the floor look correct but where the beam scrapes the brick, it's actually a shadow (far left light in the image is the most extreme because there's an doorway facing it on the other side of the building):


    Test Pano CA.jpg

    Simplifying the number of bounces and reflections helped isolate the cause and effect. More isn't always better. I suspect that's one of the reasons OpenGL is so pleasing. KISS


    • Like 1

  5. Thanks to VW Cloud Services cloud rendering, I'm getting reacquainted with Renderworks. Also, how is cloud rendering not the headline screaming from the mountain tops right now? I feel like I have a Threadripper with a 3080 next to my 6-year old MBP that's quietly letting me edit the model while multiple renders are being processed in the background (multitasking heaven).


    I've watched the VW tutorials, and referenced @Andy Broomell's excellent guide to texture creation (that fills in all the undocumented explanations and techniques) but I'm having a bit of a design paradox... 


    Client is converting an old venue into a black box. We're doing demo work, exposing brick walls, removing walls, keeping the art deco drop ceiling soffit feature... so I'm helping them visualize that transformation but I'm running into some design decision challenges:

    • True black textures seem to create a light-sucking void into a fourth dimension, so I've stopped them all at 1% (versus 0%)
    • Brick textures are bumped, parrallaxed, and displacement mapped but I'm not really seeing it because of the LX choices I've made
    • Color Force IES files were not visible at all as custom light sources
    • I tried a couple S4's but the file started freaking out, so I wanted to keep it simple for this round by using Light Source objects
      • Maybe I should reconsider that choice for Renderworks vs OpenGL?
        • Point lights in OpenGL worked great but they're kinda boring in a final render
        • Spot lights in OpenGL had amazing punch (and a chromatic vibrance) but cannot show bump or displacement mapping (plus limited to 8 lights)
    • Lit fog is usually my friend but it just mutes everything here, and hides the ceiling soffit
    • The more light bounces around the room, the greyer the room gets (makes sense)
      • Reflection is 0-3% on most textures
      • Blur is in the 5-10% range
    • Trying to find a balance of light scraping the bumped / displaced brick but the beam / field angles have a soft edge
    • At one point, I added "neon tube" tucked in the soffit (extrude along path with a glow texture) but I felt like that was faking it too much
      • Maybe that's something I should continue exploring?

    Once we have a show in there, the black box will fade into the background as it should, so this is a strange challenge. I could add the existing work lights for accuracy, which I will in the next round but I doubt that will look very sexy.


    I guess what I expected was hoping for was more of a glossy black look than a neutral grey... When I had reflections turned up, it was still grey but mirrored on the floor, walls and ceiling.


    Maybe the solution is repositioning the lights closer to the walls, so they'll scrape the bricks (instead of washing them out at 45º tilt) because the trade-off of the beam spilling onto the floor is worth it... I'll say it's "dramatic" instead of unintentional. And use a plastic reflection on the painted black brick wall texture (similar to the one that I created for the truss).


    Thanks in advance to the 3D artist render masters here in the forum!


    The pano link below is best viewed on a phone or table (or Google cardboard) in full screen (on Safari: Hide Toolbar), and then tap the screen to hide the control panel:




    Test Pano.jpg

    • Like 2

  6. For context, it's stuff like this that keeps me from updating to the latest macOS release every year (and buying a Mac that will only run that brand new release):




    6 of 8 apps in their bundle are not compatible yet.


    It usually takes about 3-6 months before all software / drivers are compatible. Sometimes it take another 6+ months to fix bugs in the same apps / drivers (3Dconnexion).


    Hopefully, removing kernels in Bug Sir will at least help with drivers from now on... 

    • Like 1

  7. @Pat Stanford and @michaelk thanks for your help!


    Decomposing the interpolated surface into NURBS surfaces before creating surface arrays worked!


    I was able to create fairly complex array items (with materials) to align the purlin ends flush with the roof trusses. I converted the framing members into symbols to keep the file size down. There's definitely some wonkiness in the details but this was a huge step in the right direction.


    Going to drape a roof membrane onto it tomorrow... 



    Screen Shot 2020-11-21 at 10.17.43 PM.png


    • Like 4

  8. As I look into my crystal ball, and try to predict the future upgrade path (where there is no roadmap), here are some stray obvservations about the current 2020 MBP 16":

    • I was expecting the usual GPU bump (or price drop) but it seems like that may have already happened this summer
      • Assumption here is that this could be the last Intel MBP 16"
      • However, I'm still 50/50 on whether this is actually the penultimate MBP 16", and they eek out one more spec bump next year
    • I was also hoping for a 10th gen CPU update that would run cooler
    • This is the last MBP that will definitely natively run Windows in Bootcamp (that we know of for now)
    • This is the last MBP that is compatible with an eGPU (that we know of for now)
    • This is the last MBP that will install Catalina
      • It's finally stable after a year of updates (as per usual with Apple)
      • For those of that choose a more conservative / delayed upgrade path, this machine that runs a .7 OS is available now as compared to running a .01 OS on a new machine
    • It has 4x Thunderbolt 4 ports (and we know how Apple loves to kill their darlings)

    A little bit more context:

    • All of the bullet points above will hold a strong resale value for a small set of users that need those features (whether we do or not)
      • The M-whatever out in the wild will make this machine invaluable (irreplaceable)
      • Think how in-demand the 2015 MBP became (the Butterfly Effect)
    • All of the current M1 comparisons thus far have been against low end Mac's or "best selling Windows laptop" (WTF that means) which leads me to suspect it wouldn't destroy this thing
      • In boxing, these matches are called "tomato cans" to build a fighter's confidence
      • What the longterm future holds for Apple ARM is exciting but the next 6 months to a year are uncertain
    • The imminent M-whatever will probably beat this machine but... 
      • By how much? Enough that we will feel buyer's remorse for longer than a week?
      • At what cost? Will they remove ports? eGPU compatibility?

    It sucks that we don't know if Apple will give this thing a spec bump next month but the more I come down from the fever pitch, the more I go back to my initial gut feeling: this is the machine to buy right now, and then upgrade sometime in 2022. Then leapfrog over the next gen industrial design refresh in 2023 when they replace the physical keyboard with a Touch Board, remove all the ports... 


    really resent Apple for not providing a roadmap for their professional user base that depend on their machines for work. And not just us but also our clients, artists, teams, colleagues, crew, vendors... but until they move to a more predictable upgrade path with the M-series, we're still playing Mac Roulette. Although, I absolutely would recommend that "Enthusiasts" hold out for the M-whatever sometime next whenever... Professionals that are using 6+ year old machines with 2GB of VRAM, and holding out for the "smarter purchase", maybe that isn't the smarter business decision for the next year or two.


    Really curious what other folks in our Mac support group see when they read their tea leaves, so I can bet on the right horse this time (see my signature for the losers I've bet on in the past 5 years). If you're the adventurous type, an ARM Mac Mini or MacBook Pro running Bug Sir could be a smart move (hopefully your 3Dconnexion mice still work). If you're less adventurous, the 2020 MBP 16" running Catalina could be a smart move (if it ain't broke, don't fix it). However, riding out the next year (or more) on what will shortly become a 7-year old machine as we take on more work during a pandemic seems like it could be the dumb move (notwithstanding budgetary restrictions; gotta put food on the table).



  9. @neal-2002 "Comparison is the thief of joy."


    On the one hand, a strong case could be made for buying a $1700 Mini now (the one with ports and a fan), and gifting / reselling it a year later. On the other hand, I'm still on Mojave, waiting for Catalina supplemental update 3 to upgrade to 10.15, so I'm not eager to beta test Bug Sir. I currently have my bare 2014 MBP operating in clamshell mode elevated (for maximum airflow) on the desk next to me.


    Although I totally get Apple's strategy to upgrade from the ground up, I was questioning the rumors, "Would they really release machines at the low end that will outperform / cannibalize sales at the mid to high end?" Adding insult to injury, professionals like us who've been ignored by Apple while they continue to update everything they can except pro machines have to continue waiting another 6 months to a year... How many years have we been playing that game? Every year.


    We need to form a support group: Remaining Mac Together.

    • Like 2
    • Laugh 1

  10. It's a case of "yes and". Yes, these are excellent machines and you will have buyer's remorse a year from now when the next gen is released. So, it's a win-win!


    Thankfully, the improvements to v2021 like multicore processing and graphics caching are helping me ride out the transition on this 2014 MBP that would get trounced by the low end M1 machines that were just released.



    • Like 2
    • Laugh 2

  11. @Wes Gardner would the recommendation be to use the Structural Member tool, the Framing Member tool, or a combination of both?


    I'm thinking the SM tool for the vertical and horizontal members, and the FM tool for the diags:

    • I may use the bottom chord for rigging, so the SM object will work great for that
    • FM objects can't go to 90º vert, so SM for the those
    • Even when I turn off auto-join in the SM tool mode, SM objects will still auto join later when I move / reseize them
    • SM tool doesn't seem purpose built for 2x's (I found the Timber styles buried in the settings but it doesn't seem native)
    • SM tool seems purpose built for steel W-Beams to frame out a warehouse (not for a bowstring lumber sandwich)

  12. Tested and confirmed that both conditions need to be met:

    • Pull-back Bar and Rigging Frame objects need to be generic solids
    • Pull-back Bar and Rigging Frame objects cannot be nested in the speaker symbol
      • I'm sure I'm saying that wrong but in layman's terms, they need to be at the top / parent level of the speaker symbol

    Screen Shot 2020-11-14 at 2.45.50 PM.png

    Screen Shot 2020-11-14 at 2.46.38 PM.png

    Screen Shot 2020-11-14 at 2.48.42 PM.png

  13. OK, I sort of figured it out with the exception of the Braceworks caveat. I cut the rigging frames from the nested speaker symbol, exited that Edit view, deleted the remaining 2D geometry, and pasted them in place (at the top level of the symbol along with the pull-back bar). I didn't expect that to work because the manual says all (speaker and bumper) symbols need to be hybrid.


    I'm going to test this with converting those objects to 3D only symbols... 


    Screen Shot 2020-11-14 at 2.25.23 PM.png

  14. Hey Andy,


    That solved the issue with the pull-back bar visibility. However, the rigging frames (already generic solids nested in that symbol) are still only visible at 0 tilt:




    Converting the rigging frame hybrid symbol to a generic solid also loses it's weight which I was hoping to get in a Baceworks-aware calc:




    OpenGL render time was a few seconds on my wimpy MBP:



  15. I'm trying to accomplish 2 things:

    1. Add a Pull-Back bar symbol to the bottom box in the array
    2. Keep the rigging frames that are in the original speaker symbol

    My assumption is that these objects are not visible in the array because they don't have a record attached to them... 


    Just trying to get one step closer to this reality:


    Screen Shot 2020-11-13 at 12.50.40 PM.png



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