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Volumetric rendering


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Greetings. I am fairly new to the forum, however, have been using VW / MiniCad for a very long time. I had resided on version 2010 for quite some time and finally upgraded to 2014 last year and 2015 this year. The transition from the old rendering engine to the new one has left me a bit frustrated. My frustration stems from the lack of control over light objects with regards to volumetric rendering. In 2010 and earlier, it was very simple to create a lit fog spot light object and then manipulate it to where the intensity was quite bright at the source and then tapered off in a fairly realistic fashion. While the volumetric rendering quality is greatly improved in the current versions of VectorWorks, I have yet to find a way to realistically simulate a lit fog light object. Regardless of the setting chosen, the beam originates in a pinpoint with little intensity and then extends off with very little fall off.

As I understand it, VW is currently utilizing the Cinema4D rendering engine. That rendering engine allows for a great deal of control over the appearance of beams of light in a volumetric situation. It is my assumption that we need some additional functionality to make this truly useful. I have seen quite a few renders from other colleagues and they have the same issue, though I am not sure that they realize it.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Scott—I looked into this as soon as you posted it.

I did the following:

a] Web searched spotlit fog images. A wide set of characteristics were displayed across the images displayed.

b] a ran some tests in VWx 2015 and validated all your findings.

c] I happened to be on-set yesterday with a hazer running and made a couple of iPhone snaps and again the characteristics captured varied widely and not necessarily as one might predict.

A couple images to display some of the complexity:

A MAC Viper, looking up into the beam.

A Sharpy, looking down, along the beam as it hits the floor.

Two radically different interpretations of fog vs photon.

All this leads me to imagine that Nemetschek has chosen to offer one simplistic version of spotlit fog, instead of trying to compete with the incredible complexities of Real Life Physics.

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Spotlit fog is tricky. There are so many variables at play. One of the biggest giveaways is that the beam begins from a single point rather than the surface of the lens.

The falloff and pattern created by a gobo are other difficult parameters. I once made image props of the beam to attach to lights in an attempt to replicate them.

I also used to keep a library of beams in photoshop and just place them manually after the fact.

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  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee
Interesting that there are no responses in two weeks. That leads me to believe that users don't recognize the issue.

The traffic on the community board is significantly lower towards the year end/holidays. I'll look into the history and let you know.

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Thanks for the responses. mjm, I would absolutely agree that lit fog includes many variables and there is probably no way to accommodate all of that and, in fact, I do not believe we would want to. The one thing that is always a constant is that the beam emitting from the source is always at it's brightest and it always falls off in a very proportional manner. That is something that was very easy to emulate in 2010 and earlier versions but is no longer an option. Again, I would certainly agree that the quality of the lit fog is greatly improved in later versions of VectorWorks as, most noticeably, it is no longer as "grainy" as it used to be. My argument is that we simply need to have more control over the light beam so that we have a sense of it coming from a source and that it falls off in a reasonable, definable manner. Thank you for taking the time to post by the way.

grant_PD, I believe the feature you describe (One of the biggest giveaways is that the beam begins from a single point rather than the surface of the lens.) is called "clip" in Cinema4D terms. I may be wrong about the nomenclature, however, that functionality exists allowing for the beam of light to be initially visualized somewhere past it's point origin. Where the 2015 rendering engine really fails is the inability to depict "brightness" from it's point source as it appears that the "beam" more or less has a consistent luminosity throughout it's throw (with little regard to the law of squares) and as such, there is very little luminosity emitting from a pin point beam meaning the pin point is, in fact, the dimmest part of the beam.

Certainly, placing beams in Photoshop would be an option and beyond that, one can export into Cinema4D and greatly enhance the image. To my mind, it would be far simpler if we could just have better control over the tools that we already have in place and avoid those steps. For many of my clients, renders directly out of VW have been more than satisfactory, but that is not really the case anymore. Instead of enhancing productivity, I am now potentially adding steps, applications, and potentially personnel to a project that I never required before. My point is that Cinema4D has this functionality and then some. I would think it would not be that difficult to add a few parameter controls to accommodate this. Of course, I am not the one having to write the code so.......

Thank you greatly for your input.

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  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee

Looks like improving this control is on the to-do list. Now that a lot of the backend work has been completed, engineering is getting to focus more on areas like this.

You are correct, individual changes like this are not "that difficult" to add, but engineering hears EVERY request from not only the users here, but from all of China, Germany, Japan and many other markets as well. They have a massive pile of completely do-able tasks such as this one, it just a matter of them sifting through them and decided when each will be implemented.

Adding this thread to the existing task.

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Hey Guys,

Here are a couple screen shots to show what Scott is talking about. He created these a while back to show me the issue. We both do a significant amount of realistic lighting in Vectorworks. This issue has caused us to have to look at other options. Since we have been using light objects for so long it has become a huge part of our work flow.

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  • 2 months later...
  • 8 months later...

I have updated to VW2016 and am pleased with many of the advances. I am especially pleased that issues with volumetric lighting effects and their interaction with image props have been resolved quite nicely. Unfortunately, we still have no realistic control over the volumetric lighting itself. That is quite disappointing. Any word on when or if this will be addressed?

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Greetings all.

I have posted regarding this over in the Renderworks forum earlier this year. Is anyone else frustrated at the complete lack of useful control over "lit fog" lighting effects? I was really hoping that this would be addressed in VW2016, but sadly it is not. With the previous rendering engine (up through VW2010) there was enough control to at least approximate a real beam of light with resonable fall off. That is no longer the case and I find that extremely frustrating as that control functionality does exist in Cinema4D. I am happy to see that the issues regarding image props and their poor interaction with lit fog beams have been resolved, but my kingdom for some decent control over light beams.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I am continuing my multi-year task to get some serious improvement in the control available to users for lit fog lighting objects. In my opinion, the current implementation is vastly lacking to the control we had in VW2010 and earlier. While the quality of the volumetric space is far superior, there is no longer any kind of realistic control over the visualization of light output. In other words, there is no way to depict a light source that is brighter at the source and then falling off in intensity in a realistic fashion. In my opinion, this will be the difference between a good presentation application and one that is fantastic. Until that is implemented, VW remains less than stellar.

I posted about this earlier in both the Spotlight and Renderworks forums, however, my thread title generated no interest. I'll keep banging my drum until I get some traction. I was told a year or so ago this was in the pipeline and was hoping to see the implementation in the current iteration of the software, but no. I will say that I am very pleased that the issues with image props and lit fog have finally been resolved. That had been an issue for about as long as VW has had volumetric rendering. So kudos there.

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  • 2 months later...

No movement on this issue as far as I can see. It looks like I may be switching to WYSIWYG as the quality of presentations from Vectorworks are completely unacceptable. Very, very disappointing. I am holding out a bit of hope for ESP Vision integration but not much.

Edited by scottmoore
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  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee

The requests have been submitted, but no there have not been any changes so far. However, it is extremely uncommon for us to add new features other than in the full yearly releases, I would not expect to see anything unless it comes in the full version.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks Jim. Any thoughts on possible integration of ESP Vision with Vectorworks? If I could get ESP Vision quality volumetrics with Vectoworks texturing I would be a pretty happy guy. If emitting lenses were added to vision symbols I would be happier still. If I could manipulate lights via a DMX/Artnet control scenario I would be very happy and if VW included a simple yet useful lighting control feature, I would be extatic.

Setting focus points, fcusing Spotlight symbols, turning them on, enabling the extraordinarily disappointing and highly unrealistic lit fog option is very clunky and time consuming. But, as always, my main complaint is the quality of light beams in lit fog. Terrible, and have been since 2011.

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  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee

Vision was just recently purchased, I'm mostly guessing here but I would say a minimum of two years until we see heavy integration, but I have been wrong before. Though I have seen requests and heard chatter about volumetric lighting effects while in OpenGL, even before the Vision acquisition.

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  • 1 year later...

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