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scottmoore

Seriously improved volumetric rendering for entertainment

Question

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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1 hour ago, scottmoore said:

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. 

 

If you're referring to lighting and basic rendering upgrades, then agreed.  Vectorworks could certainly benefit from Cinema's lighting options.  A single Cinema light has upwards of 90 options.  I thought you meant that Vectorworks should have "all the things" that a full 3D modeling program would have.

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Well, I don't know about the architects and landscapers, but I'd like to have the ability to show scenery moving and lighting changing either from within VWX or with and updateable export like "send to Vision. I remain a fan of Julian Carr's animation works PIO.

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Ugh. Well it would be nice to at least have the amount of control that we had back in 2010. What we have now is a joke. 

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Great points Scott and I agree we need an all in one solution from Vectorworks so that we, as designers, can quit bouncing around between 4-5 different programs just to get renders out the door. The amount of time we waste tweaking and adjusting the "render" file is starting to get out of control.

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19 hours ago, scottmoore said:

Ugh. Well it would be nice to at least have the amount of control that we had back in 2010. What we have now is a joke. 

 

Well, I don't know that I entirely agree with this broad statement. As I recall we had more low fog, and a slower render engine.

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5 hours ago, Kevin Allen said:

 

Well, I don't know that I entirely agree with this broad statement. As I recall we had more low fog, and a slower render engine.

I was referring to lighting control or the lack thereof. Certainly the rendering engine is superior to what we had previously. The lighting control, not so much. 

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@scottmooreyou've got my vote here!

 

Definitely for more drag/drop control over shutters and interactive zoom. With sliders to control beam and field angles already in place for Light objects, having to apply that to Lighting Devices shouldn't be too far a stretch?

 

Gabriel

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Just curious how the volumetric rendering might be affected if Spotlight Lighting Device incorporated IES files? How might that translate into Vision? 

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6 hours ago, Kevin Allen said:

Just curious how the volumetric rendering might be affected if Spotlight Lighting Device incorporated IES files? How might that translate into Vision? 

Sure makes sense to me

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6 hours ago, Kevin Allen said:

Just curious how the volumetric rendering might be affected if Spotlight Lighting Device incorporated IES files? How might that translate into Vision? 

I’ve wondered about IES files as well. I’ve not worked with them before so there would be a bit of a learning curve for me. 

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I think what Kevin's asking is what if the IES file drove the beam shape and Lumens. If built-in as part of the spotlight fixture it 'should just work' is how I read this.

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2 minutes ago, mjm said:

I think what Kevin's asking is what if the IES file drove the beam shape and Lumens. If built-in as part of the spotlight fixture it 'should just work' is how I read this.

Yup, that's what I'm asking/suggesting. I have some IES Vectorworks Spotlights, I may try and see how they look...

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My understanding of this is that IES files do not work with Spotlight Instruments despite being able to run the "edit light" command and change the light to read an IES file. The Spotlight instrument just reverts back to normal behaviour. Light objects with IES files attached are not able to utilise Lit fog either. All those ETC IES files on their website are essentially useless for spotlight instruments.

 

Sorry to be such an "Eeyore"!

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I haven't tried as yet, but what I am suggesting might mean a reworking of the SLD symbol structure to achieve better volumetric rendering.

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I am fairly sure that this would require a complete rework on the VW side, and would most likely never be implemented on the Vision side, even though they both use similar data.  Really, an IES file contains the beam and field angles and the lumen output, so the same things used now to create the light object in Spotlight fixtures.  What I would rather see worked on is the ability to have multiple light sources for a fixture, and for that source to better represent the real world; as another tread I think mentioned so that it fills the Lens, and not the current limited shape.

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Actually, it occurs to me that perhaps an explanation as to my usage and workflow is in order. 

 

- I do understand that most production designers utilize programs like C4D, Studio Max, etc. I do not because my workflow typically has me moving from the presentation phase to the shop fabrication drawing / lighting shop drawing immediately. Therefore, having to translate from one program to another to accomplish those tasks is a serious time drain that I often cannot afford. To that point, if I design something in the presentation phase that may require CNC machining, I start that on it’s own class so that it is ready to export when the time comes without having to “re-draw” it later. 

 

- I find that texturing while I go will often inform my decision making as I go. Therefore, the idea of modeling in VW and texturing in another program impedes my work flow. 

 

- so.....it would be really nice to be able to produce some reasonable volumetrics in VW. I would pay extra for that. In fact, if that was the only new improvement in 2019, I could not imagine I could possibly be happier. 

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Scott,

 

It seems you and I work very similarly, and indeed, the way the program is designed to work, as a unified production tool. That said, we all hope for further improvements and features. OK, I know not everyone wants more features, but I certainly do. Improved volumetric rendering is high on that list.

 

The fact that I can keep my work, and my file within the single eco-system is very important. I usually say that I start with a pencil and paper sketch, but that isn't necessarily true any longer. I can start by doodling in Vectorworks just as readily as I can start cooling on paper. In VWX, I can refine those doodles and rough space planning until I have a finished design. The rendering process reflects the same thought process and development.

 

Recently, I worked on a project with a colleague, he was doing the lighting, I was doing the set. However, in order to get the look he wanted, we needed to export the file to another application. That meant at a certain point, further development of the set had to take a backseat so we could deal with the export/import process.

 

Within Vectorworks, all of that development can take place simultaneously.

 

Our reason for the two applications, the final renderings. The look of the lighting.

 

 

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I would also agree about workflow. 

We haven't been using this product for long, but already for us, a design process will need multiple changes after being viewed fully rendered. 

Were we to be using more than just VW, this process would take much, much more time. 

 

And yes with us as well, the need for the render is a full lighting look.

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As mentioned earlier in the thread,  I am one of those guys that incorporates Cinema 4D for my presentation/volumetric renders.    I agree with the need for this feature "in-house",  but here are a few related thoughts:

 

For me, doing these renders often takes quite a few low-quality test renders to get everything how I want before cranking out a HQ final.   It has been my experience in Vectorworks 2017 and 2018 that, for whatever reason, after handful of these test renders the renderer will stop showing new or changed geometry and will just keep re-rendering whatever the geometry was when it stopped recognizing updates.    You then restart Vectorworks and the problem goes away for another handful of test renders,  rinse, repeat.   I don't know how widespread this problem is,  but I know it's not isolated and restarting Vectorworks every 45 minutes or whatever to "deal" with this gets to be pretty irritating. 

 

Another thing,  there isn't always a real way to cleanly abort any render immediately for whatever reasons you may require.   You have to wait until it allows it,  or worse force quit.   It kinda reminds me of older windows versions where explorer (the host) wasn't really in charge of it's processes,  they more or less controlled it,  versus something like Linux where it is basically always the boss and can kill a process immediately upon asking.

 

My point is, I think there are some overall stability/control issues that need to be addressed to really make the requested features as useful as everyone wants.   I don't intend for this to be a C4D commercial but when you are rendering it's nice to have a platform that simply doesn't crash.    Always updates the geometry in renders,  even after hours of changes.    Can abort any render,  at anytime, for any reason.  

 

Just some thoughts...

 

-W

Edited by Wesley Burrows
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I haven't had the issue with stopping a render, Command-. or ESC seems to work fine, but I have had the issue with the rendering finishing and then the screen render going black. That's a known bug and the solution seems to be creating a SLVP and rendering there. This does disrupt my process, but it does get me through the trial render process.

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2 hours ago, Kevin Allen said:

Scott,

 

It seems you and I work very similarly, and indeed, the way the program is designed to work, as a unified production tool. That said, we all hope for further improvements and features. OK, I know not everyone wants more features, but I certainly do. Improved volumetric rendering is high on that list.

 

The fact that I can keep my work, and my file within the single eco-system is very important. I usually say that I start with a pencil and paper sketch, but that isn't necessarily true any longer. I can start by doodling in Vectorworks just as readily as I can start cooling on paper. In VWX, I can refine those doodles and rough space planning until I have a finished design. The rendering process reflects the same thought process and development.

 

Recently, I worked on a project with a colleague, he was doing the lighting, I was doing the set. However, in order to get the look he wanted, we needed to export the file to another application. That meant at a certain point, further development of the set had to take a backseat so we could deal with the export/import process.

 

Within Vectorworks, all of that development can take place simultaneously.

 

Our reason for the two applications, the final renderings. The look of the lighting.

 

 

^^what he said.

 

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58 minutes ago, Kevin Allen said:

I haven't had the issue with stopping a render, Command-. or ESC seems to work fine, but I have had the issue with the rendering finishing and then the screen render going black. That's a known bug and the solution seems to be creating a SLVP and rendering there. This does disrupt my process, but it does get me through the trial render process.

 

I have recently changed my render workflow to be almost entirely built around SLVP. I am sorry it took me so long to get to that solution, but it has improved my render life measurably. It is irritating to bump out to the SLVP for the render but the gains have been more than offset. renders are easily controlled, faster and client-ready due to the ease of template creation. Having said that, I continue to be irritated by the volumetric lighting flaws, but because my clients do not want haze or atmospheric effects all that often it is less of an issue for me.

 

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