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Problem exporting 3DS file and "Normals"

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Hello,

 

I am having issues exporting from Vectorworks 2020 to MA3D. The problem as I understand it from talking to people is the "normals" are flipped on the model? Here is what happens:

 

I export the model as 3ds, include textures. I have tied as jpeg and png, neither change the results. In the Open Gl render in vw2020 you see the stage complete. When I import it into MA3D, the surfaces of the items are translucent. Everyone I have asked says it has to do with the normals being flipped but have no idea how to fix it. This is keeping me from using vw for drawing shows if I can not import them into the render software.

 

I have included an image of what is happening as an example. Left side is Open GL in 2020. Right side is how it imports into MA3D.

 

Any help or ideas would be really appreciated.

 

Thanks,

Anthony Wayne

2020-01-09_18.18.13.jpg

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there are several potential causes for what you are seeing.

 

Which version on MA 3D are you using, the MA2 version or the MA 3 version?

The reason I am asking is that currently the MA3 version of MA 3D cannot read or use textures yet and will just display the objects geometry. I have no idea how long it will be before this is addressed.

 

On the Vectorworks side, as of 2020 SP 2 we correctly export normals (bump), specular (reflectivity) data and alpha masks (transparency). Because this is a very recent upgrade the default Renderworks textures are not set up to export this data to other applications. They are specifically formatted for Renderworks.

For the textures to export correctly, to other applications, you will need to edit them in the resource manager or create your own. The key for exporting this data to other applications is that the different 'shaders'  in the Edit texture dialogue have to be set as an 'image', otherwise the data will not export in a form that another application can use.

We plan to create detailed workflow document for this in the future.

 

If you have access to Vision, you can use this to check whether the textures in your file are exporting in the correct format as it can render the normal maps and specular maps (can be turned on in the document preferences)

 

Another way to check what you are exporting is to export an MVR file of you design,

change the file extension from .mvr to .zip, this converts the MVR into a uncompressed zip folder that you can look inside of and open the contained files.

search the folder for the texture name used on the stage decks, if the texture is correctly set up it should consist of 3 or more .png (image files) the first is the color, then there should be a bump (normal map) and reflection (specular map) version.

 

 

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Just realised I forgot to mention that if you check out the Vision forum and the Rendering forum there is more info about how to prepare textures and other experienced user who may be able to answer questions in more detail than (I'm an ex lampy and sytem tech not a rendering specialist)

 

 

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Good morning,

Thanks for your feedback. I will try posting on the rendering forum as I do not use Vision. To answer your questions, I am using MA2/MA3D, version 3.8, not MA3 for this project. I am using VW2020 SP 2.1 just updated this morning from 2.0. I have worked a long time in MA3D, and now trying to make the change to VW2020 hasn't been the easiest. I want to be able to import into MA3D what I see in VW2020, and so far, that has not been simple at all.

 

The picture I attached is a file I started just trying to learn how to use the program. I added a basic stage from the stage tool. I added a basic LED Wall from the tool in the events tab. Both of these are simple items that are internal to the program, and I would think have nothing special about them.

 

When I click on the the stage deck and 3D options, each piece is set to default "Black" They do not have a texture assigned. When viewed in Open GL in VW2020 they display correctly. Once exported, they display with no stage top.

 

For the LED Wall, it has a texture of a picture I imported and made of the video map. I was not sure how to get the LED wall to "display" the map without making it a texture. Is there a way to assign the image directly to the surface?

 

Thanks,

Anthony

Edited by mesmericdesigns

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Regarding the stage deck, the texture is a 'default' renderworks texture.

 

Try editing the texture

 

change the 'color shader' to an image, currently it is set as a color.

change the 'bump shader' to none, or image. You can use the free app Crazy bump to create a bump map from the color shader image.

 

Both of these are currently set to what are called procedural shaders, which will not export correctly.

 

For the LED wall because this is a plug in object (a symbol with more data and parametric controls) you have to create a texture.

Another option would be to import the image directly into your model using the import image file command and then rotating it to the correct orientation in 3D using the rotate tool from the basic tool set. next snap it to the front of the LED screen. I've not tried exporting this into MA 3D myself so I'm not 100% sure it will work!

 

Hope this helps

 

images below shows a correctly set up Reflection shader that will create a Specular map that will be recognized in other software, the same for a bump map for normals

 

 

reflection map.PNG

bump map.PNG

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Good evening,

 

On 1/29/2020 at 2:42 AM, jcogdell said:

Regarding the stage deck, the texture is a 'default' renderworks texture.

 

Try editing the texture

 

change the 'color shader' to an image, currently it is set as a color.

change the 'bump shader' to none, or image. You can use the free app Crazy bump to create a bump map from the color shader image.

 

Both of these are currently set to what are called procedural shaders, which will not export correctly.

 

Starting with some good news, half of the issue is fixed and half is closer. Please see new attachments and I will explain my findings.

 

Changing the color shader to an image and turning off all other settings worked for the LED wall. It now is displaying the same and correctly in both VW2020 and MA3D. YAY

 

For the stage deck the texture is there...but inverted. If you see my screen shot, looking from normal top it as though we are seeing from the bottom. Looking from below I see the texture I should see on top. Why is this flipping and more importantly how can I fix it? I see the main stage from underneath with black and the lonely deck with red. This is all correct, now how to I flip it? Does this have to do with flipping the normal of the object?? (I don't know what this is, only heard it mentioned in talk)

 

I really appreciate your help in figuring this out.

 

Thanks,

Anthony Wayne

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Try inverting the bump shader image of the texture,

edit the texture, and select the edit option for the bump shader. in the dialogue there is a invert button.

 

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Good evening Jesse,

 

I tried inverting the bump shader. It appears to have no effect. There are a few settings however, maybe one of those is wrong. When it ask for the source image I used the option to use same as texture. I then inverted it. I played around for about an hour with different options but never saw any changes in the render or in MA3D. I also dabbled with Reflectivity and Transparency with using the image, same as texture. No luck with the settings tried with those as well.

 

Any thoughts? I was excited this was going to solve it but we're not quite there yet.

 

Thanks for your help and have a great evening.

 

Thanks,

Anthony Wayne

20200131_162558.jpg

20200131_162611.jpg

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for the bump shader image try using the free app crazy bump to edit it and then reload into VW. Crazy bump correctly creates normal maps and was used to create the normal in the example above.

Other wise I am out of idea's. I will contact a college in the US and see if they know how to fix this

 

 

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On 1/28/2020 at 2:32 AM, jcogdell said:

On the Vectorworks side, as of 2020 SP 2 we correctly export normals (bump), specular (reflectivity) data and alpha masks (transparency).


@jcogdell What exactly does this mean? Is this statement only referring to the referenced texture maps being exported correctly to Vision, or does is apply to all 3D Export formats? How has this behavior been changed from before? 
 

I have not tested this in 2020 yet, but based on what @mesmericdesigns is describing, it sounds like the face normals of the 3D geometry are facing in the wrong direction (flipped inward), which would not be corrected by inverting the colors of the texture maps.
 

Inverted (flipped) face normal geometry is a long standing bug / complaint about Vw PIO objects: Search the forums for “normals” to get a sense of how long this bug has been around.
 

This is why in Twinmotion (and other 3d apps) you often need to use two-sided materials when using 3D geometry exported from Vw.

Edited by rDesign

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I know this has been a long term bug/issue.

 

As of 2020 sp2 Vectorworks will correctly export this data correctly as long as the texture has been correctly prepared. (This refers to texture normals and not geometry normals)

The first step in the process of addressing the issues with texture and geometry exports, has been to get VW to export the texture normal data correctly ,using the image option in the edit textures dialogue.

In practice this means currently that all the 'shaders' have to be set to image (or none) in the edit texture dialogue.

All the other options use procedural 'shaders' designed for  renderworks and will not export correctly for other applications.

 

As far as I understand (and I may well be wrong as i am a lighting system tech and technical planner by background not a 3D designer or artist) we still have to use an external app like crazy bump to create the normal map for Vectoworks to use with the bump shader, but once this has been done the normals can be used in Renderworks and will be correctly exported to other applications.

I know this process works correctly with the new MVR file format but I do not have any experience with obj, 3ds or the other file types and will have to speak with the rendering development team to find out the current state of play regarding these file types. If you have Spotlight or Designer you can check the MVR export by changing the .mvr file extension to .zip and looking in the resulting uncompressed zip folder. If the textures are correctly formatted they should export in 2 to 4 .png files in the folder, the first will be color shader image and the other parts have had in this case bump, reflectivity or transparency added to the name.

Below is an example, from a recent project file

mvr example.PNG

 

This can also be checked inside of Vision (if you have access to it) as Vision has the option to render normals and specular maps to help you check imported files. Due to Vision's development history it works in line with other rendering applications.

 

As I said earlier this is just the first step and the dev team is working hard to fix the remaining issues.

 

 

Edited by jcogdell
clarity
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I am really reaching the end of my frustration with this as it seems the more I read the more I am learning that Vectorworks does not care to fix this problem. Literally the only reason I bought this program was to draw a plot and import it into my 3D program and that does not work. You guys say "try checking it in Vision" but you do not include this program and just want more money...I'm ready to ask for my money back because nobody can help me fix the issue.

 

I find it completely unexceptionable to pay thousands of dollars for a program and 2 months later I still can not use it for what it was bought for. There is no real tech support for the issue. You have numerous other users complaining of the same issue. I have met now more than 15 people through other online inquires all having the same issue and have given up! How is this OK?? I have a colleague that has let me know the only way they can fix it is by importing into 3DS Max and inverting Normals in there. That is not acceptable to need to use another program like this costing more money and time.

 

On 2/3/2020 at 12:33 AM, jcogdell said:

for the bump shader image try using the free app crazy bump to edit it and then reload into VW. Crazy bump correctly creates normal maps and was used to create the normal in the example above.

Other wise I am out of idea's. I will contact a college in the US and see if they know how to fix this

 

 

 

I downloaded the program. I has no real explanation how to use it. Would you like to since I have no wasted another 2 hours trying to fix this problem? I import my black image that is the image for the stage deck. In the normal tab is makes a multi colored image I saved. In VW for my texture- It is set to image, the black image. The bump is set to image, to colored normal image made in crazy bump. Still NO CHANGE in the exported file. Any ideas? Am I correctly inverting the normals in crazy bump? WHY IS THERE NO WAY TO FIX THIS IN VECTORWORKS????

 

On 2/3/2020 at 10:03 AM, rDesign said:

I have not tested this in 2020 yet, but based on what @mesmericdesigns is describing, it sounds like the face normals of the 3D geometry are facing in the wrong direction (flipped inward), which would not be corrected by inverting the colors of the texture maps.

This is the problem I am having. The stage does have a texture but it is facing the wrong way. Looking from above you see through the stage. Looking up from below you see the black surface you should see from the top. @rDesign have you found any work around that fixes the problem?

 

THE STAGE TOP IS LOOKING DOWN, NOT UP. I AM NOT UNDERSTANDING HOW THE IMAGE IS EFFECTING THE SURFACE DIRECTION. I would better understand if I was having so many problems because this was a custom model or something I imported. But the fact is it's the simple stage tool built into the program and you guys can't even get that working right.

 

Hours of trying inverting images has led to nothing but more frustration so far.

 

So far every free hour has been spent trying to get this working instead of enjoying learning my new software and working on designing projects. It has left a very bad taste in my mouth about the whole Vectorworks experience.

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@jcogdell Another question for you- What are the effects/consequences of converting an object ie a stage deck to NURBS? Once this is done the object displays correctly in 3D.......This might be enough of a work around for my needs until maybe you guys can get the software actually working correctly... I would love to know what you guys are doing to fix this issue? I see post going back to 2013 stating problems with this. I lost another 4 hours to it today alone.

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7 hours ago, mesmericdesigns said:

This is the problem I am having. The stage does have a texture but it is facing the wrong way. Looking from above you see through the stage. Looking up from below you see the black surface you should see from the top. @rDesign have you found any work around that fixes the problem?


No, unfortunately I have not found any work around to fix flipped geometry normals of Vw PIO objects inside Vw, without using 3rd party software as you described. I’m still using Vw2018, so I don’t know if it has been fixed in 2020, but it doesn’t sound like it has. [I have never used MA3D / Vision, so I have no experience with those software packages].

 

But it’s probably less of an issue for me than for others — as my architectural workflow does not typically require exporting 3D files to 3rd Party software; Most of my renderings are all done inside Vw, where the flipped geometry faces are not as much of an issue.  Occasionally, I do use Twinmotion 2019 — but it has a ‘two-sided’ material setting to deal with flipped face normals, so it’s not as much of an issue. 


Sorry I couldn’t offer a possible Vw work-around for you. I sympathize with your frustration. 

 

Edited by rDesign

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I'm afraid @rDesign is correct that we currently do not export the PIO geometry normals correctly and as this is not my area of specialty I am not sure how to correct them.

 

In case it helps I have attached a en example of a custom stage deck symbol I created myself with high quality textures, I know will works correctly in Vision when sent over as an MVR but I am not sure how it will look in MA 3D.  It was created as 2 simple extrudes, one for the legs and 1 for deck itself.

 

Let me know if it solves your issue,

 

The only other thing I can suggest at this point is to get in contact with tech support and see if they can suggest a solution

 

 

@rDesign I got some more info from my colleges about the texture normals and our progress to date, we currently are only exporting texture normals as grey scale height maps and so far this is specifically for the new MVR file format.

 

However I know that the team is also working on creating plugins for Twin motion and Enscape

 

simple stage deck example.vwx

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@jcogdell - Thank you for your reply and the additional information; I’m looking forward to those plug-ins being released.

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I have had this problem occasionally. Even though people have always insisted that all objects in vectorworks have double faced normals, an nobody had a way to check normals in Vectorworks. I think maybe they are correct, but the reversed normals are an artifact of the export. I have inadvertently  printed a solid block of PLA, because Vectorworks reversed the normals on one of my models.

 

The solution I use is to open the object in Blender and check and fix all the normals before importing it into MA3D. I don't remember the exact process, but Blender is free and with a bit of Googling, I figured it out pretty quick. 

 

One other suggestion, If you don't need to see the legs or construction of the stage decks, set your deck style to "simple". This will basically just export it as a solid box. This is a lot less for MA3D to render. 

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What I usually have to do is convert any 3D objects to generic solids. This usually fixes all my export issues into MA 3D. It was suggested earlier to select 'simple 3D' in some of the plugins, and I highly suggest doing this if you want to keep your MA file size down and high FPS in 3D. Remember, all those 3D objects are stored in your show file, and get pushed down your whole network regardless of 3D being connected or not!

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Thanks everyone for trying to help figure this out. At the time of my last post I pretty much gave up on it exporting correctly as .3ds because of the long standing issues with how Vectorworks handles this process. Maybe someday they will fix it so it works correctly. I have spent the last few months learning more workflow in vwx and using the software for what it was intended. I have found enough work around for now getting my work into 3D as I do a lot of previs. Mainly if an item has a simple 3D option this seems to export ok most of the time. Otherwise I will convert it to mesh and simplify larger meshes. I hope someday this works like it should this adds a lot of time to the workflow. I have to save a separate "converted" file because once you mesh things you can no longer work with them the same way you could when they were objects. Then if I need to make changes it is back to the original, make the change, and then you have to start meshing again- this can take a lot of time depending on the number of objects. I have started learning more in Blender and will try to figure out changing the normals in there. @Ryan Lilly If you have any idea of what to check in Blender or think of where to check/change the normals let me know.

 

Have a  good one and I hope everyone is staying healthy and safe during these times.

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@awlightingdesigns I have not used blender for anything in quite a while. For some reason most of my .3DS and .STL exports have worked fine recently(mostly simple objects made from extrudes and solid additions/subtractions). In Blender, I think there was a plugin made for 3d printing, that had a very quick way to reverse normal. Basically it puts a bunch of tiny arrows around your model to indicate the face, but I'm pretty sure it was a separate add on/plugin, that streamlined the process, though I'm sure you can do it anyway, I'm just not sure how.

 

Learning Blender was on my to do list during quarantine, and the closet I got was planing some video games that could have been made with Blender.

 

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Just thought I'd jump in here with more than just a +1 to this line of inquiry.

 

I, for the longest time, have wanted to use VW drawings in several packages, Unity and Blender primarily - however prevented by the seemingly random normal directions when using formats such as .3ds and .fbx.

 

I hit the very same (if not very similar) series of roadblocks in 2016:

At the time I, along with a few others ( @rDesign & @zoomer for example), were having grievances in the way VW renders normals overall.

Being able to use objects created in VW in other packages fluidly would have great benefit moving forwards into AR/VR experiences, game intergration and rendering overall.

 

I believe I gave up the day that I drew a 1m cube, exported it, viewed in Blender/Unity the top and the bottom were inverted normals.

I then in VW rotated the cube 90 degrees in an axis, exported it, viewed it was completely inverted.

That was the day I knew until a core fault was fixed we'd never move a model from VW to Blender/Unity.

 

**Note: There is an answer here to "Double Normal" both side of an object, and yes - this would appear to be a correct solve on face value (no pun intended), however there are multiple downsides including additional excess rendering power, texture map rotation/flipping and overall general messy practice.

 

I would love to see this resolved however looking at the progress and interest thus far I don't really expect it.

 

I'll be following.

 

J

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On 5/6/2020 at 2:46 PM, awlightingdesigns said:

Thanks everyone for trying to help figure this out. At the time of my last post I pretty much gave up on it exporting correctly as .3ds because of the long standing issues with how Vectorworks handles this process. Maybe someday they will fix it so it works correctly. I have spent the last few months learning more workflow in vwx and using the software for what it was intended. I have found enough work around for now getting my work into 3D as I do a lot of previs. Mainly if an item has a simple 3D option this seems to export ok most of the time. Otherwise I will convert it to mesh and simplify larger meshes. I hope someday this works like it should this adds a lot of time to the workflow. I have to save a separate "converted" file because once you mesh things you can no longer work with them the same way you could when they were objects. Then if I need to make changes it is back to the original, make the change, and then you have to start meshing again- this can take a lot of time depending on the number of objects. I have started learning more in Blender and will try to figure out changing the normals in there. @Ryan Lilly If you have any idea of what to check in Blender or think of where to check/change the normals let me know.

 

Have a  good one and I hope everyone is staying healthy and safe during these times.

My days of exporting into visualizers is pretty much over so I may not be much help, however, I do have a suggestion. The Plug-in tools developed for VWX can be time savers, but can also cause issues as they were designed specifically to be used inside VWX before there was much concern for exporting into anything other than a DWG file. For the purposes of exporting and real-time rendering, you may be better served with direct modeling. Even the most complicated staging surfaces can be created with two simple pieces of geometry: a deck and a face. Working this way avoids any need to understand how the PIO tools are built, allows you complete control over number of vertices, complete control over how textures are created and applied and can be faster overall.  Just a suggestion. 
 

a few years ago when we were exporting into MA3D, my team always talked about converting items to generic solids to avoid issues. 
 

Perhaps this can help? 

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