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Ben Godlington

Best Rendering

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Hello all,

We currently make use of Vectorworks/Renderworks 2014 to produce visuals. But we are trying to push the envelope of what is possible in Renderworks. The quality of visuals doesn't seem like the best in the industry. So does anyone know of any tips/tricks/tutorials to help improve our visuals. But also, can anyone recommend a better alternative? We have done a little research into using 3DS Max, Vray, C4D and Artlantis. what do you all think is the best option, also taking into consideration price/training etc. We are also looking to create better walkthroughs, as the functions available in renderworks aren't great.

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What specifically are you having problems with or looking to accomplish other than with animations? (Which definitely need a revamp.)

Edited by JimW

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CINEMA 4D is the preferred external rendering solution for Vectorworks. The sky's the limit, for more sophisticated animations, plug-in renderers, etc.

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Hi Ben I use artlantis exports easily from vectorworks and updates every time you change the vw model if you would like to see the quality of the visuals let me know and I can send some over for you to have a look at ....... I have had a look at cinema 4d but it's a steep learning kerb the other thing with artlantis it updates in real time so for intance if you add a light to the model you can actually see the difference as you increase the slider in fact I have just bought another licence so I can render on both of my computers

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Well, preferably we would like to continue building models and creating plans using Vectorworks, then perhaps export elsewhere to render visuals. Mainly it's for interiors and exhibit stand design. So something that can easily import from Vectorworks seems the most logical option.

It would be really great to see a few examples of what is achievable. So far visuals using Vectorworks really aren't that great!

It seems artlantis is the option that's the most appealing.. Both on the learning curve front and the capabilities/compatibility.

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While I don't think I get C4D quality renders, I feel like I can get a pretty realistic render out of renderworks. When it started clicking for me was when I started using the rendermode realistic interier and that really made a difference. The other thing that really helps and lighting. Don't try to light it like you would like in real life, you'll end up with way too many lights and it still might not look the way you want it to. Light for each picture/render.

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I use RW for interior renderings quite often. I don't typically try to get completely photorealistic output, though because I usually want clients to focus on design decisions rather specific materials & colors.

With the implementation of the C4D rendering engine in RW, I have found it quite easy to get good interior renders with an HDRI background and a single directional light (heliodon.) The key for me was using Custom Renderworks, setting the Indirect Lighting to 4 Bounces, and turning off ambient lighting. Then I play with the intensity of the HDRI background (often greater than 100%) and the directional light to get the lighting to look the way I want. I will generally work without material textures (other than clear glass to let light in) to set lighting levels and then apply textures. I generally create a RW Style and then tweak it as I go. Then I can apply it to other scenes to get consistent output.

Ben, can you post examples of renderings that you have created and tell us what you'd like to improve?

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I use VW to produce renderings on the Mac for client PR visuals and Trade show environments. High end quality renderings of product in real world environments. I have spent countless hours trying different techniques to make these renderings better. Post production Cinema 4D dumps many textures but has much more depth to the renderings. The heart breaker here is that it is simply is not what it could be, Nemetschek could really step up to the plate and provide some decent "how to Render effectively", tips/videos on the site! Better yet, work on the rendering plugin to add more depth and camera lens adjustments. Training from them really is lacking on many levels. BTW, Artlantis also dumps the textures. WE REALLY NEED TO HAVE THIS ADDRESSED!

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Nemetschek could really step up to the plate and provide some decent "how to Render effectively", tips/videos on the site! !

Working on them now! A few more pressing areas are getting attention first (Worksheets, the newest tools like Taper Face and Twist) but they're coming.

...Post production Cinema 4D dumps many textures but has much more depth to the renderings. ... BTW, Artlantis also dumps the textures. WE REALLY NEED TO HAVE THIS ADDRESSED!

I know C4D export has a number of wishes in currently to improve/include the mapped textures/materials. I'll submit one for Artlantis now if I don't find one listed.

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I don't understand what you mean by dumping the textures. VW -> C4D export doesn't lose any information.

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Dave,

I'm not sure what they mean by dumping the textures, but there are some issues with textures and the VW->C4D workflow using Send to C4D using recent versions.

Most things work fine but anything image based will fail to render in C4D. The images come through but the file paths to the full size images are invalid. A good example to try sending is a Spotlight Television object. C4D will give you an Asset Error when trying to render.

Ben,

Personally I would highly recommend the VW->C4D pipeline. The image quality is very scalable and motion picture quality is possible if that's what you want. Once you understand the interface of C4D its actually not as difficult as you would think. In some ways, like navigation, its more intuitive than VW. There's also lots of great training available online. Free options include http://greyscalegorilla.com. I've also paid for training at http://www.fxphd.com.

Cheers,

Kevin

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Hey Kevin did you save the project when and then it started failing to render the images?

When you save after Send to C4D make sure to save using "Save Project With Assets" so that the images get saved in a "tex" folder with the .c4d file. I tried sending a Spotlight television object over then saved with assets and that seems to work OK here.

Edited by Dave Donley

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Thanks Dave. I had no idea I had to use the "Save Project With Assets" option the first time I save a project. Is this documented somewhere? I tried to look but for some reason Adobe Air won't launch today.....

Kevin

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It's documented in the Cinema 4D manual/help. It's a function of how C4D works, not VW. It's standard operating procedure for it. It doesn't embed textures in the file, it always links to them via a path that you specify in the preferences, or by default, the "tex" folder within the project folder (that's why the file sizes are so much smaller). Anytime you want to save any C4D file to another location, you need to use the "Save Project" option to assure the textures are there and in the right place. Or else manually move/copy them.

Of course, I'm using C4D R12 and VW 2011, so it may be something entirely different you're talking about.

Edited by Monadnoc

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Hi Kevin: I asked our documentation team to mention this in the manuals if we don't already (which we might not). HTH

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Hello Ben,

I've been using Vectorworks for over 20 years. In the beginning when there was no Renderworks I use to export my models to Strata. The results were great, however, the process of exporting and importing was very time consuming. If you needed to make a change or you noticed a mistake in your vector works file, you essentially had to start all over again.

Then after many years, Renderworks came out. I thought it was great because I could apply my textures to my symbols one time and I can reuse them in every model with out ever applying a texture to them again. So I went from applying textures every time I changed something to no longer having to apply textures to any symbols. HUGE time saver. The only problem, like you, I found the rendering quality to be cartoonish and poor. I was getting fed up and once again looking for alternatives but I really didn't want to give up the integration. I decided to give it one more chance and devote a ton of time playing with each renderworks setting to see if I can get results that I can live with. Let me tell you, it was time well spent. I am now able to get super realistic output and wouldn't trade the integration for anything. I would show you some of my work but I don't know how to post pictures.

There are many aspects to a good render so its hard to just say do this and ta dah, you will be amazed. I will however offer some general tips to help make things look better.

#1 - Use the custom render works option (you can also tweak some of the others)

#2 - If you are rendering directly in the main working window select the Menu View/Rendering/Custom Renderworks Options. If you are in a viewport, make sure custom renderworks is selected as your background render and hit background settings.

#3 - Once the dialog opens up to adjust the renderer settings hit the button that says Lighting options. There are two essential settings that you must adjust in here to get realistic renderings. The down side to these is that your rendering time will jump up dramatically.

#4 - Most important is that you have something for HDRI Environment Lighting. So hit "From Selected Background" After that a drop down menu will become available. Each one of these defaults do something different so you may want to experiment depending on your application. For a general use though, I would say go with HDRI White or HDRI Curvy Dome.

#5 - The next thing, especially for indoor scenes is to set your indirect lighting drop down to at least normal, 2 bounces.

Other than that, the rest has to do with how well you make your textures, set up your lighting and position your cameras. These aspects are equally as important and finicky in any software you use. These things are learned through time and experience and I would have to write a novel to explain everything. Hopefully you can see some improvements from the tips I have given you... Good luck

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My understanding is HDRI is really for exterior scenes, not interior (but I'm no expert, for sure). It is basically a big dome map around your entire scene. Like a big sky. I don't think you can get that dome inside a room. You can use it if you have a lot of openings (i.e. windows) allowing plenty of light in from "outside". But even then, to get it to look right you need to tweak the settings very specifically. You also need some sort of lights inside the room to supplement the HDRI source. It can be done, but in general you are creating a really, really long render time for not much benefit. For interior scenes concentrate on the other types of lighting, there are plenty of tutorials out there on setting up good lighting for interior scenes. And set the Indirect Lighting bounce to "Interior, 4 bounces". Longer render times but it will produce a nicer final render.

For exterior scenes you definitely want both Indirect Lighting and HDRI lighting for it to look good.

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Thanks Monadnoc.

Everything you said is correct and you reminded me of major point that I missed. I was coming more from a general perspective as I would have to see what they are exactly doing to give specific instructions to make there scenes look more real. I come from a background of designing custom homes so I assumed most people have at least one window, but you are correct, if yo have no openings what so ever to the outside, HDRI Lighting will have no effect.

If you do have a cutout or window though, I stand by my suggestion that HDRI lighting is a must. For me, I just could not get the outside environmental lighting to bounce inside the room in a realistic fashion and that was what drove me crazy. I found the lighting to be very harsh or very dark and everything I tried had very little impact, even with HDRI Lighting on. This is where, I missed a very important instruction and something that should be fixed in the software. Like you mentioned, tweaking of the light dome is necessary to yield good results. To do this follow my next step:

#6 After doing my previous 5 steps you will notice that the HDRI Lighting dome you picked will show up in the resource browser under Render Backgrounds. To tweak the dome, move your mouse over it, use your right mouse button and hit edit. A dialog opens where you can select the button named "Options". Here, there is a place to enter a Brightness Value along with a slider bar. Because it is labeled in % and because if you use the slider the maximum value you can get is 100%, I assumed that this was the Max value. That is not a true and it caused me endless grief until I finally realized that you can enter higher values. Sometimes I set this number to 1000% or higher to get the results I want. (higher numbers also increase rendering times)

This is of course assuming that you set up your scene correctly including at least one directional light. Again, this is not a be all end all guide to rendering. Like I said, I was able to achieve realism using only renderworks, so all I wanted to do is offer some settings that people can experiment with to improve realism in a thread titled bad rendering.

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Very good instructions for tweaking the HDRI for interior. Thanks. And I agree that Renderworks can give very good results. Since they've switched over to the C4D engine I have been able to get images that look almost as good as C4D, and sometimes just as good. I'm very happy with it.

Here's an old image I did a few years ago (sorry to post it again for those of you who have already seen it). It is an exterior scene, but everything in it was modeled in Vectorworks (except the plants, they were modeled in C4D and imported into VW. The grass was modeled in VW) and rendered inside VW with Renderworks. The one big shortcoming is the funky square edges and corners of the "stone" building. But this was done in VW2011 which does't have Displacement Mapping. If I were to do this in VW2014 I would use that to fix it. And note, I made this scene intentionally dark and a little harsh. It was the mood I was going for.

And as an aside, I too started out using Strata for my VW (MiniCAD back then) renderings. I loved it. I was bummed when they stopped supporting that workflow. I even dabbled with Artlantis as a solution, but am now much happier using Renderworks from inside VW or C4D outside.

ubbthreads.php?ubb=download&Number=10223&filename=Stone%20Shelter%20At%20Sunset.png

Edited by Monadnoc

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Very nice work.... I'm impressed that you modelled the grass in VW especially with VW2011. You also did a great job with the lighting.

How did you embed that image on this site? I can't find any tools to do it and I would love to share some of my work.

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If you click "Switch to Full Reply Screen" on the bottom, then in that editor use the File Manager link below the Post box, images you upload into it will auto-embed at the end of your post.

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Thanks. Lighting is the key to any good render, whether it's in VW/Renderworks, 3d Max, Maya, C4D, or whatever. That and high quality textures (which this render doesn't have).

Also, to get your attachment to display in the body of the post, after you do what Jim says, view your post in "regular" mode, click on the link and copy the path/address in the address bar, go back to your post and edit it, then in the edit view click on the "enter an image" icon and choose the first option, non-floating image I think?, and paste in the copied path/address. Once you close and view it in normal mode your image will display in the body of your post. It will be a smaller version if your linked image is fairly large.

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^ Woops, apparently my login works differently than normal user's for posting images. Thank you!

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Thanks guys. I'll give it a try.

I want to give some background to what I am showing. 99% of the model is made entirely within vectorworks with the exception of any plants, and some of the furniture. The renderings are done using Renderworks and they are the raw output, meaning that they were not doctored (photoshopped) in any way after they were rendered.

My job consists of going from scratch to having the house completely designed with floor layouts, An exterior rendering, 3D isometrics renderings of each floor, and a few interior images like below with-in 3 working days. In other words my workflow is based on speed and I must sacrifice quality to achieve this. I must also limit my rendering times to a Max of 1 hr to fit everything in that timeline. If I was able to spend more time tweaking a scene, lighting and with higher rendering settings I would be able to achieve much better results.

ubbthreads.php?ubb=download&Number=10224&filename=kitchen.jpg

ubbthreads.php?ubb=download&Number=10225&filename=bathroom.jpg

Edited by Altivec

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