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CARMELHILL

VW compared to Chief Architect

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Has anyone ever compared Chief Architect to VW? I always liked Vw because it was a bit cheaper but I just checked and VW with Renderworks is now $2895 for a total new license while Chief Architect is $2590. And I think the user renderings on the Chief User Center Area are much better than anything I have seen in our own VW user area. The renderings for me are the most important because that's what sells my services to my prospective clients. They have difficulty perceiving my higher value over another architect without them. But if a client saw some of VW's renderings and saw some from Chief Architect, I think they'd hire the guy with Chief Architect.

So, tell me fellow VW users, what keeps us with VW? Persuade me to stay. Thank you.

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I tried Chief Architect about 5 years ago, and found that its 2D drawing tools were so primitive that drawing good details was nearly impossible. And its stair wasn't as good as Vw, either. Haven't tried it since, though.

And getting my new version of VwA/RW only cost $400, which is very reasonable compared to a $750 Revit subscription.

Edited by Bob-H

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I agree with both of you. I used Chief Architect 9 before I heard of VW, and switched because I felt VW was a more sophisticated program, which I think it is, especially for design and construction drawing organization and production.

However, since switching, I have found myself constantly frustrated at the dim and flat default rendering style (Open GL), while CA, while a bit cartoon-y sometimes, is at least bright, cheerful and easier to manipulate colors and materials,such as trim in a room, for a nicer looking image on-the-fly. More symbols and vendor packages as well. Better columns. I have and use Renderworks, but don't have the time to use it when sitting with clients.

I think VW is better for most commercial and is more professional, whatever that means, but I do find myself looking back as CA sometimes, or using Sketchup for the same reasons. I do mostly residential design.

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I understand people are fiercly loyal to whatever they are currently using, but I have to get the most bang for my buck. Ialso noticed that Chief Architects yearly upgrades are half the cost of Vectorworks. They also have monthly oject librarys that you can download and add to your system. But if your right, and it's not that good of a drafting program, then that's a major problem. But after 9 years of being a VW user, I am starting to see the limitations of this program.

I need a new computer first, but then I have to investigate the program. It seems to take me forever to do interior renderings. I REALLY wish VW was more "drag and drop" friendly. I also wish the renderings "popped" more. The ones from Chief might look cartoony, but I still think they look better. I think their reports and materials lists are better and more automatic. I wish Vectorworks set that up easier for us with some premade material templates. Vectorscript programing is freakin impossible. But there has to be a reason that Chief isn't as popular. Maybe it's a cheesy GUI. It does look a little too simple. And maybe that's what it is. Maybe you can't modify lots of things. Maybe they simplified the program to keep it idiot proof and uncustomizable. It looks awefully similar to those Home Design Programs you buy at Staples, like Punch 3d, which is a total crap product.

I am looking at their animated tour and I downloaded their trial version.

If they have a competitors program upgrade I might plunge in for a look.

Anyone else have input?

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The US price listed on the NNA website for VW Architect2009 / Renderworks is $2395.00 USD, not the $2895 price that you mentioned. That price is for Designer2009 / Renderworks.

I've never used Chief so I can't compare the two, but I would think that you should be comparing the feature set & price for VW Architect instead of VW Designer.

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Designer includes landscape and all the other goodies. Chief also does lasndscaping. And from what I've seen, it's plant library, tree library, material librarys, and other included items seem to make it a better value thatn even Designer. So I am still reviewing it. Cadalyst gaev VW a better recommendation than Chief, I think partly because it doesn't have XREF ability or "work group referencing".

So other than the ability to do machine design, I think my price comparison still applies.

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I compared CA and VW when I switched from ACAD roughly 18 months ago. CA felt a little too much like cheap, home design software to me. I chose VW because it seemed more powerful and flexible. I also felt like I could get more out of Renderworks (RW) than I could out of CA.

With roughly 18 months of use under my belt I'm able to get VW & RW to produce anything from "hand sketches" to photo-realistic renderings. This range of capabilities seemed lacking in CA when I looked at it. I left ACAD because I wanted to dramatically improve my client presentations and I'm happy that I did.

There was definitely a learning curve to get VW to produce what I wanted but now that I've gone through it once, I'm quite a bit quicker at getting what I want out of VW & RW.

There are quite a few materials libraries (/Applications/Vectorworks 2009/Libraries/Textures on the mac) that come with VW. I've found them to have almost everything I need.

I've also found the Renderworks section of this forum to be quite helpful in getting more rendering in less time.

I'd agree that, overall, CA's gallery looks better than VW's (are you listening, NNA?) but if you compare the best stuff on VW's site with the best stuff on CA's site, I think you'll see what I mean about the range of possibilities with VW when compared to CA.

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I've looked at the movies from CA and must say that it looks like a VW clone. Much things look the same and from what you can see, works the same (sort of). I know that VW can be fully made automated and that you can expand it the way you want through scripting. I can't find such thing with CA and that's a thing software like this should havE.

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Here is my comment about using VW as a modeler tool for perspectives. Vectorworks at this point creates very reliable Boolean operations, nurb shapes, test it, not just with simple plane surfaces, try a curved roof, model a spoon, organic forms in other words, and then play with other application and see if you can get to the same level and the time ad knowledge that takes.

Renderworks has a decent style but the key factor here is to understand how the light affects materials, bounces of indirect lights make huge improvements that drives you away from the cartoonist look or amateur finish as some would say. To achieve this, I would suggest to start using HDRI backgrounds, specially on exterior shots and is all part of Renderworks. ( see attachment, modeled and rendered in 6 mins) I know this because we usually prepare quick competitions on fridays and see who models faster, ha ha.

Then, if more realism is needed and moving parts are a most to help tell the story, well, I make use of my plugins and export them to Cinema 4D or Artlantis Render, depending on the mood of the day.

Hope this helped.

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H...( see attachment, modeled and rendered in 6 mins)...

Really?

Perhaps I'm just slow but I think that I'd be lucky to get that thing render in 6 minutes, let alone model it.

What's your secret?

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Secret:

Start with the core of the building, then one wing, create walls from polygons, be sure to add exterior textures, add doors and windows, be sure they are all in schedule, select them all and duplicate array 3 copies 90deg origin at 0, create design layer viewport and duplicate array 20 copies at x=0 y=0 z at 14', create a camera, point to the top of the tower, add a hdri background, reduce environment light to 30%, then render at best quality in renderworks. at this point when the render is done we stop the clock.

One of our girls at tech support finished in 3:40 secs, shes is fast!

I think we should upload the video we made with the steps to our web, it is always fun to create challenges like that at any office.

Edited by Luis M Ruiz

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luis is not a normal human when it comes to modeling and rendering. he is like lance armstrong telling us "yea you can do bike races like me." i worked w/him.

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