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scottmoore

Seriously improved volumetric rendering for entertainment

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Since the introduction of the current rendering engine, volumetric lighting effects, which are crucial to presenting concepts to clients in the entertainment industry, have been sorely lacking.  This functionality is available in the rendering engine in Cinema4D but the necessary parameter controls are not available to VectorWorks users.  There are several real time visualizers (Vision, Light Converse, MA3D, Wysiwyg) that produce results that are far and away superior to anything VW can do currently.  Having to rely on other expensive and time consuming applications simply to produce this one crucial effect (which by the way worked much better in VW2010 and earlier) is a serious weakness to an otherwise great platform.  

 

For those that are not aware of the issue, I will explain it as this:  

 

1.) A beam of light exiting a lighting fixture should appear to originate at the same dimension as the aperture from which it is emitting.  In other words, If the lens of a lighting fixture is 8" in diameter, the origination of the beam of light should also be 8" in diameter.  Currently the beam of light originates as a pinpoint.  Completely unrealistic.  

 

2.) A beam of light in nature follows the law of squares.  In the simplest of terms, the light is brightest where it originates and then falls off in intensity over distance.  Currently VW appears to deal with a volumetric cone of light as a piece of geometry.  The larger the cone, the brighter it appears.  The result of this is that the beam of light is then, in fact, dimmest at it's origination point and gets brighter as the beam widens which is exactly how lights do not behave in the real world.  

 

A program such as Vision produces both of these results quite well and do it in real time using OpenGL.  Using the render engine in VW to produce volumetric effects takes a very long time and  the end results are far from satisfactory.  I am certainly not suggesting that OpenGL is the solution, however, it is unfathomable to me that a program as expensive as VW that markets itself to entertainment professionals is so completely lacking in a feature upon which a majority of those professional rely to sell concepts to their clients.  

 

Attached are images comparing the 2010 rendering engine to 2015.  Nothing has much changed since 2015.  The quality of the volumetric space is much more smooth and less granular than in 2010, but you can clearly see the difference the fall off.  Also note that neither 2010 nor the 2015 examples address the aperture.  

 

 

1_2010.png

1_2015_none.png

1_2015_realistic.png

1_2015_smoth.png

2_2010.png

2_2015_none.png

2_2015_realistic.png

2_2015_smooth.png

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Well said, pretty critical. Missing one point. I think prior to 2010 there was also (?) and option for low fog, that would be great to have back as well. Especially important for performance pieces that lay down bed of fog on the ground, or to help illustrate cryo effects

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Kevin,

Thanks.  I am indeed pretty critical at this point.  Eight years is a long time to be banging this drum.  I actually do not recall the low fog option, but yes, that would be very cool.  I get that there are some things that are going to be beyond the scope of VW.  It is primarily a drafting program that happens to do a really good job of 3D.  It just frustrates the daylights out of me that this functionality exists, but we do not have access to it.  There are a ton of things that Cinema 4D can do that VW cannot and vice-versa and that is as it should be.  But this level of functionality is crucial to what it is that VW says it does do and it does it really, really poorly.  Embarrassingly so at this point.   

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I am a fan of the closed eco-system, if you will. I think VWX should do all of the things. Acquiring Vision is, in my mind, a serious step in the right direction. I understand the time required for integration, but the simplicity of an interactive export is critical to team work and collaboration.

 

Currently collaborating with an LD, I'm the SD, and the LD is working with WYG which he prefers to Vision at this point. Many extra steps involved in sharing information, and updating files. The more VWX can do, the better I can present and she info, and the less I'll have t argue other's choices.

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45 minutes ago, Kevin Allen said:

I am a fan of the closed eco-system, if you will. I think VWX should do all of the things. Acquiring Vision is, in my mind, a serious step in the right direction. I understand the time required for integration, but the simplicity of an interactive export is critical to team work and collaboration.

 

Currently collaborating with an LD, I'm the SD, and the LD is working with WYG which he prefers to Vision at this point. Many extra steps involved in sharing information, and updating files. The more VWX can do, the better I can present and she info, and the less I'll have t argue other's choices.

Wysiwyg produces beautiful volumetric renders.  However, like Vision, it does so at the expense of all the other attributes that make for great renders such as reflections, bump textures, that sort of thing.   Something that Wysiwyg does do really well is allow for quick user control of lighting instruments.  You can grab any light, focus it, color it, add a gobo right from the computer.  No focus points or any other nonsense.  You can also grab multiple fixtures, focus and fan them.  you can do all of that in a matter of minutes as opposed to the eternity it takes in VW with focus points.  Vision does some of this, but to a lesser degree. 

 

I've argued that  Nemetshek could off better control of RenderWorks for an additional fee and the simple control capabilities of Vision for a fee.  Most, if not all designers would seriously benefit from some simple lighting control for focus, gobo, color, and shutter control without the need for a full blown visualization package.  Just try setting a shutter cut in VW.....  We would all benefit from better RenderWorks functionality for volumetrics without requiring a full-blown Cinema4D license.  

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@scottmoore THANK YOU for continually beating this drum. I don't use lit fog beams anymore because they look so unrealistic in Vectorworks. Thankfully I haven't had to render many rock concert-style shows recently, but if I were a lighting designer I would be livid at the current functionality.

 

The funny thing is if you go to the Vectorworks home page http://www.vectorworks.net/ you're immediately greeted with an image that's completely unattainable in Vectorworks. O.o:D

 

Screen_Shot_2018-02-16_at_8_59.10_AM.thumb.png.106c1a912a13bad22b8e992d4885983f.png

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Added my vote.   I agree with all of the above points.   I've had to resort to Cinema 4D with Hantmade's Stage  plugin to get nice looking volumetric lighting renders.     (And easy fixture fanning/focusing etc.)   But I wish VW could do this internally.   It kinda blew my mind that it didn't when I first starting using it.

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Wesley,

I've been leaning the same way for a while now, but I keep holding out hope that VW will get their act together.  

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49 minutes ago, scottmoore said:

Wysiwyg produces beautiful volumetric renders.  However, like Vision, it does so at the expense of all the other attributes that make for great renders such as reflections, bump textures, that sort of thing.   Something that Wysiwyg does do really well is allow for quick user control of lighting instruments.  You can grab any light, focus it, color it, add a gobo right from the computer.  No focus points or any other nonsense.  You can also grab multiple fixtures, focus and fan them.  you can do all of that in a matter of minutes as opposed to the eternity it takes in VW with focus points.  Vision does some of this, but to a lesser degree. 

 

I've argued that  Nemetshek could off better control of RenderWorks for an additional fee and the simple control capabilities of Vision for a fee.  Most, if not all designers would seriously benefit from some simple lighting control for focus, gobo, color, and shutter control without the need for a full blown visualization package.  Just try setting a shutter cut in VW.....  We would all benefit from better RenderWorks functionality for volumetrics without requiring a full-blown Cinema4D license.  

 

I'm so NOT a fan of WYG. 

 

That said, I would like VWX to make some things easier, or have options. I like focus points, but shuttering could be easier and somehow interactive. I'd like to be able to eyedrop and flip shutter cuts.

 

Adding a gobo in LW ought to add the gobo in VWX and Vision...

 

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I feel that if the ability for OpenGL to understand the "not cast shadows" nature of renderworks textures was implemented, then adjusting shutters and other fine control over focussing fixtures would be much more achievable. (The wireframe beam and shutter projections are a helpful guide but never line up with the actual beam of the light when rendered.)

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1 hour ago, Kevin Allen said:

 

I'm so NOT a fan of WYG. 

 

That said, I would like VWX to make some things easier, or have options. I like focus points, but shuttering could be easier and somehow interactive. I'd like to be able to eyedrop and flip shutter cuts.

 

Adding a gobo in LW ought to add the gobo in VWX and Vision...

 

I am not necessarily a fan of Wyg either; especially when one sees the paperwork produced. It’s the “how quickly can I present an idea to my client so we can sell the project and move on” aspect that is pretty great. 

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A couple of additional images detailing what is lacking.  Here is an Aryton Magic Panel.  Fig1 depicts what VectorWorks Spotlight plug-in will create on it's own.  Note the very large aperture of the lighting fixture and the pinpoint light emitting.  Also note that the pin point is hardly visible compared to the beam of light 60" downfield.  Fig2 is a workaround where I have placed three lighting objects actually BEHIND the fixture so they have some ability to spread by the time they reach the face of the light.  This looks a little more reasonable, however, the beam of light will totally obliterate anything downfield as it simply gets too bright to be usable.   Also, this is extremely time consuming and hardly worth the effort.  

aryton_fig1.png

aryton_fig2.png

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Similarly, I hope there will one day be a means for VWX Light Objects to 'know' what should be a square or rectilinear beam and what should be a round beam. There's also a difference between circular and oval, different units, different expected results. The same issue seen here is true of devices like Kino-Flo units used in film and tv.

 

On a related note, I think all SLDs project a hard beam, with no option for focus. Some types of lights create a hard edge. Often we designers will want to soften those edges. To render, I add a custom gobo. Other types of lights have a soft edge; Fresnels, Kino-Flo, the magic panel. Spotlight should know and reflect these differences.

 

And one more thing, not to pile on, but... Most units have some type of beam adjustment. On a Fresnel, that can be spot or wide. There are zoomable units of all kinds, There are units PARs and the like where the oval beam can be rotated. These features should be in VWX and transfer back and forth between VWX and Vision

 

As an aside, as a set designer, I was collaborating with an LD,  friend and colleague on a project. The look was a specific gobo on the floor in specific places. The plan was to use s4 zoom units. Since VWX does not allow for zoom, and since the fixed beams were all wrong for the throw, I simply put the gobo in a PAR head. Sharp focus, perfect throw, looked just right. My friend has never forgiven me for putting a gobo in a PAR.

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Definately got my vote!

 

I have recently purchased Capture Nexum just to get some more realistic renders of lighting, I was tempted by vision but was unsure on weather Vision used the same "components" as vectorworks. with how much we pay to keep up to date with the latest software it would have been nice to see an intergration of Vision and Vectorworks within the vectorworks software!

 

thank you for bringing this to the attention of the folks at Vectorworks! 

 

Alex

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On 2/17/2018 at 8:03 AM, Kevin Allen said:

As an aside, as a set designer, I was collaborating with an LD,  friend and colleague on a project. The look was a specific gobo on the floor in specific places. The plan was to use s4 zoom units. Since VWX does not allow for zoom, and since the fixed beams were all wrong for the throw, I simply put the gobo in a PAR head. Sharp focus, perfect throw, looked just right. My friend has never forgiven me for putting a gobo in a PAR.

Kevin,

I don’t use the Spotlight symbols as I have my own library. I can certainly change the beam and field parameters in the OI palette so I would assume you could do the same with Spotlight fixtures. In fact, on our custom symbols that have zoom capability we set the beam to the minimum and the field to maximum so we quickly know the options. Then adjust as needed. 

 

Like you, I often create custom gobos to achieve soft edge beams and, while I’ve not done it, a soft edge oval gobo would mimic a PAR lamp. 

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I use a combination of symbols; my own and the VWX Libraries. When I write, teach or lecture, I rely on the libraries, then show my own as examples of what might be done to personalize the work. That said creating your own symbols is usually pitied the classroom or lecture hall.

 

That said, I don't have zoom capability. Do you then have an additional parameter in the OIP? Setting the beam and field as you suggest should always give you a soft beam, as I understand how the vWX Light Objects work. I'd like to be able to control zoom, and edge of the beam.

 

As such, I'd like to also NOT maintain a set of custom gobos that affect beam shape and edge quality.

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Kevin,

You are correct in that the beam projected in VW is more or less hard edged which is another short coming in VW. My point was that you should be able to adjust the beam/field to accomplish whatever degree you might want from a fixture as opposed to being locked in to a fixed beam spread. 

 

On related a note, the lack of control over volumetric beam control impacts almost everything to do with lighting in renderings. As an example, a typical method I employ to speed up renders is to pre-light objects like curtains and walls, export or screen shot the image and then create a texture based on the resulting renders. That way, background details simply become a single polygon with a texture applied as opposed to having to have a cyc with a lot of fixture lighting it for instance. I used to be able to do that and create all sorts of realistic hot spots or “blooms” with a respectable fall of for the field. Sometimes I would use a second fixture to create that bloom but could typically get what I wanted with one. I can no longer do any of that because there is no way to “bloom” the initial output of the beam. Not good at all. The point being is this wishlist item also impacts those that never use volumetrics. 

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On 2/16/2018 at 11:04 AM, Kevin Allen said:

I am a fan of the closed eco-system, if you will. I think VWX should do all of the things.

 

I'm not sure I necessarily agree.  At some point, the program becomes too bloated from it's true purpose.  At what point does it go from beefy CAD program to full 3D animation program?  Then, people will want all the features of full 3D animation, which is a massive set of features.  Not to say that VW couldn't use a lot of work on a lot of features.  I'd love to see Cinema's level of texturing, lighting, true 3D coordinate system.  But, I'm in the camp of letting complimentary programs do their strength and work with each other.

 

At this point, it's almost like we just need Cinema to have some of VW's tools...then we'd have everything we need!

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I do not disagree with you Sam. I certainly do not need VW to be a complete presentation and animation program. Instead, I am suggesting that we need additional control of lighting objects that we already have. If VW is providing rendering capabilities, volumetric capabilities and markets itself as a lighting design solution while using a rendering engine that “can” produce what a designer would want, then it seems to me that it should. Otherwise someone needs to buck up on the idea of a VW/C4D bundle price. 

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1 hour ago, scottmoore said:

Otherwise someone needs to buck up on the idea of a VW/C4D bundle price. 

 

the issue there is, though both are under the Nemetschek umbrella, they are two separate, wholly owned subsidiaries, autonomous to themselves.  

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