“Inspired Vision” Rendering Competition!

This annual competition, which is sponsored by Nemetschek Vectorworks, Inc. and MAXON Computer GmbH, recognizes today’s top architects and designers from around the world, and their abilities to visually render Vectorworks® models with Renderworks® or CINEMA 4D. Professional and student designers can submit entries to the 2012 Inspired Visions Global Rendering Competition. Submissions will be accepted from April 17 to August 16, 2012, in the following categories:

 

  • Rendering with Renderworks 2012
  • Rendering with CINEMA 4D
  • Monochromatic model (rendered in Renderworks or CINEMA 4D)

The panel of judges includes Daniel Jansenson, principal at Daniel Jansenson Architect and author of Remarkable Renderworks, from Santa Monica, Ca.; Tyler Littman, principal designer and owner of Sholight, LLC, from New York; Nicholas Dunand, freelance designer and sculptor, from Melbourne, Australia; Erik Recke, freelance architectural visualizer at Datenland, from Hamburg, Germany; Alejandro Nogueira, CEO at DECC Arte 3D from Tecamachalco, Edo. de Mexico, Mexico; and René Racz from Lichtmaschine Multimedia GmbH, Basel, Switzerland.

Each category winner chosen by these judges will receive $2,500 USD and will be featured in an official media release and on Planet Vectorworks. Winners will also be promoted on the Nemetschek Vectorworks and MAXON social media channels, such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

In addition, the public will select their “Fan Favorite” from all entries, which will be posted on the competition’s website. Voting will take place directly on the site.

Designers may enter multiple categories. However, all entries must be built on a Vectorworks model. Interested competitors who lack the current versions of the software can request a free, 30-day version of Vectorworks with Renderworks software at www.vectorworks.net/trial/form or student.myvectorworks.net (for students), or they can download a 42-day free version of CINEMA 4D at www.maxon.net/downloads/demo-version.html.

To enter, vote or learn more about the competition, visit inspiredvisions.vectorworks.net.

Behind the Scenes of John Carter with Kevin Hudson and ZBrush!

Pixologic recently published another great example of just how important ZBrush is to the design workflow within a live action film and an amazing effects studio. Kevin Hudson talks to Pixologic about how he and his team at Double Negative use ZBrush to create the fantastic characters in the recent sci-fi fantasy film, John Carter.

How did you come to be involved with the John Carter project? What was your role in the production?

I was recruited by Double Negative Visual Effects in London from Los Angeles to head up the modeling effort on this major Character piece. To date, it was the largest project they’d tackled. While in California, I first tried out ZBrush while working on Ghost Rider. I expanded its use to build the sixteen Zombie creatures for I Am Legend. I then used it to sculpt Dr. Manhattan for Watchman. But with over forty characters, John Carter was going to be the largest scale ZBrush character project that I’d ever attempted. It was also going to be Andrew Stanton’s first foray into live action film making, which meant we had to do an outstanding job.


What was the overall pipeline for your work on this project?

We received ZTools of character concept sculpts from Legacy Effects that had been developed with Andrew Stanton in California. We then took these and retopologized them in Maya using some basic Maya shrinkwrapping tools. I don’t use anything tricky for my retopologizing, but use Maya’s World Space Transfer Attributes tool to shrinkwrap my retopologized model onto the concept sculpt.

We then used ZBrush’s Projection tools to extract as much data as possible from the initial concept sculpt. The model was then reposed into a more standard pose and we began resculpting with an eye for preserving as much of the concept sculpt’s intentions as possible. Everyone would have a say at this point and often revisions to the anatomy to better serve rigging would be done.

We also made modifications to proportions based on animation tests using the basic model. All of this would lead us towards our final production models and sculpts.

ZBrush did a great job when reprojecting new topology onto our sculpts over the many generations of revisions throughout the show. I found that by taking the Blur setting down to 1 we preserved a lot of good detail. Andrew, who had spent a lot of time with Scott Patton at Legacy Effects, was very much in love with his characters and was always there to smack us if we varied too much from the original concept.

Was ZBrush used for environments at all?

The Environment team — headed by Guy Williams — also used ZBrush to touch up all the environments to give the stone a weathered and chipped look. They built intact structures, then used the Clipping brush to chip and flatten sections in order to make them appear old and broken. These chunks were then retoplogized before more subtle weathering was done.

What character posed the greatest challenge for you?

Tars was the biggest challenge and a lot of modelers all had an impact on Tars. He is on screen a lot, and there was a lot of talk about the character looking like Willem Dafoe, or at least his essence. We did a lot of exploration on how much it should look like Willem Dafoe — at one point we did a reworking of Tars to incorporate a lot of Willem Dafoe’s facial characteristics. This was often refered to as the “Eleven” version. Ultimately, we backed off from this almost completely and returned to the original concept.

In the film industry, this process of coming back to the original concept isn’t uncommon. Sometimes, the director needs to explore all the variations to confirm that the original inspiration was the best. Or at least, what they really wanted.

The White Apes were a technically challenging character because of their size and ZBrush poly count. I really took ZBrush to the limit and ultimately had to break the model up into separate UDIM pieces in order to export the displacement maps. For the most part, all of the characters were able to be exported using the Multi Map Exporter from ZBrush, but because of the high poly count on the Apes we couldn’t do this. I used the Group UV tool to create separate groups for each of the UDIM tiles. I then then used the Groups Split tool to break the White Ape mesh up into separate SubTools. Even with splitting the model up, it was a challenge exporting the maps, as I maxed out the RAM on my machine.

To read the full interview in detail click here.

A Great Example of Motion Graphics in Cinema 4D

Oversights from Christian Lerch on Vimeo.

The main goal for Christian Lerch with this “Oversights” thesis was to view events from a completely different point of view. It was to be based on real-world events that he had found on an accident database, he then used Cinema 4D to re-create these destructive elements.

Christian made liberal use of particle effects to animate the large amount of debris, which were controlled using a combination of Dynamics, MoGraph and XPresso. His programming experience made it possible for him to create custom C.O.F.F.E.E. scripts to achieve the desired effects. CINEMA 4D’s Hair feature was also used in the creation of this project – albeit with a different purpose: Long hair was used to simulate dynamic wind currents or falling rain.

Sketch & Toon was used to render the visualization, whereby depth, shadow and specular elements were rendered to separate layers. The final compositing was done in After Effects. Since this 180 second short film produced a vast number of frames, NET Render was used to render across several computers.

Thanks to CINEMA 4D’s comprehensive feature set and reliability, Christian was able to complete the project to meet his own – very critical – standards.

NewTek Announce That There Is To Be A LightWave 11!

NewTek have announced that there is to be a LightWave 11!

Although it won’t actually be available until the end of the year, LightWave 10 and 10.1 users can upgrade to the latest version before the rest of the public.

New to Version 11!

LightWave 11 takes the  animation, rendering and powerful 3D modelling, tools of the previous version and adds in some brand new features and improvements.

Another new addition to look out for is Instancing. This creates mass duplication of objects in a scene with virtual polygon counts, without huge amounts of virtual memory overhead and drawn-out render times.

If you’re animating herds of animals, you’ll also be very interested in the new Flock controller, which creates realistic natural motion across flocks by letting you set parameters for crowd avoidance, target alignment and avoidance.

One of the favourite tools in the previous version of LightWave was the Bullet Dynamics so users should look forward to the new improvements in version 11. It will now run directly in Layout so it can be used with the new Fracture tool. This will create animations with more natural, random fracturing and collapsing.

Among the other updates is Virtual Studio Tools, which lets you naturally animate your scenes using third-party controllers. In version 11 you can now configure more controller types, even including the Playstation Move control.

Depending on when users registered version 10 or 10.1 NewTek is charging between about $400 and $700 dollars to upgrade to the Pre-Release version of LightWave 11.

The Full UK pricing will be available when it comes out for the general public.

For more information or to purchase the current version of LightWave click here.

New Keyshot 3.1 is Here!

In this new update Luxion introduces all new time-saving features and improvements. This includes unique metallic paint material, material templates that allow 3D professionals to ‘auto-paint’ their models, interactive HDR editing that allows real-time editing of the lighting environments, network rendering to queue render jobs and spread them across multiple computers, improved animation interaction, Maya importer and improved texture mapping!

To buy the very latest version of KeyShot or for more information click here.

Vray For Softimage Released!

Vray for Softimage is the latest addition to Chaos Groups suite of rendering solutions.

Some major features of this are:

  • ICE support
  • Complex mesh support using V-Ray Proxy objects
  • Versatile shaders with V-Ray materials
  • Quick and accurate global illumination.

Others include:

Shading with V-Ray for Softimage

Create materials quickly and easily using V-Ray Materials, and simplify the creation of complex, layered materials with the V-Ray Blend and V-Ray Car Paint Materials.

Render Elements
Take control of your compositing workflow using the expansive list of Render Elements.

V-Ray Proxy
Manage scene memory and efficiently render massive amounts of geometry using V-Ray Proxy objects.

Hair & Fur Shading
Render hair and fur with unprecedented quality, control, and speed with the VRayHairMtl shader.

Check out the full list of features in V-Ray for Softimage and see pricing information and supported platforms here.

Zbrush 4R3 Release Imminent !

Zbrush 4R3 is to be released on the 28th February!

New features of 4R3 include:

FiberMesh.
Significant advancements to the FiberMesh settings provide you with greater control and flexibility. Curve modifiers have now been  added to a number of FiberMesh settings including: Length, Coverage, Gravity and Color Profile. Revolve has also been added as a new setting.  Textures applied to FiberMesh and MicroMesh objects can now be transparent (true black pixels will be hidden), allowing even greater diversity in their use. FiberMesh settings can now be saved and loaded as needed it. In addition, various FiberMesh presets will ship with ZBrush 4R3. These presets can be pre-viewed in Lightbox, as well as modified and shared amongst ZBrush artists.  Once you have styled your FiberMesh to perfection, export the fiber guides to other applications for further use. Moreover, fibers can also be exported as unique vector displacement maps to be rendered in external applications.

Vector Displacement Maps.
ZBrush 4R3 will export both 16-bit and 32-bit Vector Displacement maps, providing  you with a powerful and easy way to export your sculpted details to other programs for rendering. Take full advantage of the capabilities inside rendering engines by using maps to displace the surface in any direction, including undercuts.

BPR to Geo.
You can now convert your MicroMesh and FiberMesh renders into actual geometry with a single click. The resulting geometry can be further edited. With the additions of the dot preview and Spin Edge features, control the direction of any MicroMesh before rendering or converting into geometry for future edits.

NoiseMaker.
We are pleased to be releasing the NoiseMaker plugin. This powerful enhancement to ZBrush 4R3 allows you to create a wide variety of noise and patterns.  With over 25 parametric generators, limitless combinations, and the ability to work in both 3d and UV mode, NoiseMaker is sure to help get the job done. NoiseMaker, will now use interpolated masking per polygon for an accurate display of noise and patterns even on lower polygon meshes. Furthermore, NoiseMaker features ZBrush navigation style, a larger preview window and new masking capabilities to provide multiple scaling options to your noise.

Interface Enhancements.
Sub-palette sections will allow you to control the length of each sub-palette simply by collapsing or un-collapsing sub-sections. Show what you need, when you need it! Moreover, a new Magnify option allows you to zoom into portions of the canvas or interface.  This is especially useful when recording videos or turntables.

Auto Updating.
ZBrush 4R3 will include a new web-enabled update feature. Enjoy “click of a button” access to check if new updates or plugins are available from Pixologic. Never miss a new plugin or enhancement!

ZBrush 4R3 will also include further enhancements and fixes for items reported and identified in ZBrush 4R2b.

Uformia Releases Symvol For Rhino

Symvol for Rhino – Community is a volumetric modelling system plug-in.
The user can think of clay or metal when working with Symvol. It means a volume is a piece of malleable material, not a collection of paper sheets glued together, as an equivalent analogy to existing modelling systems. Whatever is done during modelling, the volume created is always a valid solid object, unlike in traditional solid modelling, where objects can have cracks and other surface issues.
 
Symvol is useful for:
• 3D printing and digital fabrication
• Teaching the basics of modelling
• Rapid customization of designs and models
• Modelling of organic and fluid objects
• Jewelery design and fabrication

LumenRT 2 Review for SketchUp Out Now!

E-on Software have released a new version of LumenRT.  LumenRT is e-on software’s revolutionary 3D technology for the interactive visualization of architectural projects. Create high quality real-time visualizations of your models and explore them with your mouse!

With its new real-time engine, LumenRT 2 has a number of new features and enhancements, including:

– Complete physical simulation of light
– Physically accurate reflections
– Adjustable time of day
– Precise anti-aliasing and motion blur
– Soft shadows with varying softness
– Water and underwater effects
– Advanced material rendering
– Realistic skies
– Low quality mode for optimized performance on slower boards

LumenRT 2 Review is available for SketchUp on the Macintosh (OS X 10.6) and Windows (XP, Vista and Seven) platforms

The realtime engine is compatible with Google SketchUp, with support for other platforms coming soon, and allows for publishing scenes as self-contained executable files that play on PCs and Macs. A trial version is available for download.