AIA National Convention and Exposition “BEST of SHOW awards”

Architosh, the leading online publication devoted to Mac and iOS CAD and 3D software applications, has announced its first AIA National Convention and Exposition “BEST of SHOW awards” in two categories for desktop and mobile software for architects and related AEC professionals.

“The American Institute of Architects’ national convention is the premier event for practicing architects in the US,” said Anthony Frausto-Robledo, AIA, LEED AP, architosh’s editor-in-chief, “and thousands of architects attend to see what digital tools are shaping their profession. It makes perfect sense to not only report on the show but to select what we feel are the best products at show time.” “We hope this honor will help sharpen the perspectives of our readers on what are significant developments in computer software for architecture.”

Winners of BEST of SHOW Awards

Products that are eligible for the architosh BEST of SHOW award must have been introduced within the past 10 months and be available in the market within the first 9 months of the awarded year.

Eligible products in the desktop software category must run on both Mac and Windows platforms within the release awarded. And eligible mobile products must run on Apple’s innovative and market leading iOS platform. Without further ado, the honors go to:

Desktop Winner

The 2012 architosh BEST of SHOW AIA National award in the desktop category is given to Graphisoft’s latest ArchiCAD 16. “ArchiCAD 16 introduces powerful new direct-modeling technology,” says Anthony Frausto-Robledo, AIA, LEED AP, editor-in-chief, “and explicit modeling has been clearly identified as in need in BIM market research, including Architosh’s large 2010 BIM report. In addition, the integration of Graphisoft’s EcoDesigner into ArchiCAD 16 encourages architects to design buildings with the environment in mind.”

Readers can learn more about Graphisoft’s award-winning BIM solution that runs on both Mac and Windows platforms here: www.graphisoft.com

There tends to be many excellent solutions at the AIA and we wanted to call some attention to those others with special notes below. Runners-Up are:

Runner-Up: Shaderlight

Shaderlight deserves recognition as the first cloud-based rendering solution for Google’s popular SketchUp rendering program. With this unique solution SketchUp users can produce photo-realistic renders of their models at up to 5x speeds faster than on the desktop and up to 128x faster at animations. You can learn more here.

Runner-Up: Vectorworks Architect 2012

Vectorworks Architect 2012 deserves recognition for its extremely well-balanced feature set, including integrated CINEMA 4D renderer inside its Renderworks add-on option as well as its improving interoperability and excellent modeling capabilities. We also think the 2D X-ray mode is ingenious! Learn more here.

iOS Mobile Winner

The 2012 architosh BEST of SHOW AIA National award in the iOS mobile category is given to CADFaster for its innovative utilization of Apple’s iOS-based iPad and the mobility of BIM in the field.

“CADFaster is now available for a native Mac CAD/BIM application with its latest CADFaster for Vectorworks,” says Anthony Frausto-Robledo, AIA, LEED AP, “but the company deserves kudos for its overall implementation with bringing real-time collaboration to the mobile iOS space and its utilization of cloud computing.”

CADFaster’s unique innovation partly lies in its proprietary file compression technology which enables the application to export an entire 3D model (BIM) file into a tiny executable which contains its own application. With CADFaster on the iPad a collaborator can see and navigate a model and participate in mark-up discussions in real-time. You can even host a collaborative session via the iPad. “What was really impressive to me while watching Tuomas Holma of CADFaster show me the product was not just its amazing fluidity and speed but the way in which commentary threads work,” says Anthony Frausto-Robledo, AIA, LEED AP.

Runner-Up: HP ePrint & Share for iPad

HP ePrint and Share app for iPad allows AEC professionals like architects to send mark-ups to remote HP DesignJets back at the office with ease. If you are using Autodesk AutoCAD WS on your iPad the new integration with is an extra convenience. With HP’s new tech your file are saved to the cloud for either sharing, storing and printing.

V-Ray for Rhino Upgrade Available for Limited Time Only!

The V-Ray 1.5 for Rhino Upgrade will only be available for a limited time!

Customer’s who purchased V-Ray for Rhino between September 1, 2011 and March 28, 2012 are eligible for a free upgrade. Free upgrade requires the purchase of a hardware key (licensing dongle).

The V-Ray 1.5 for Rhino Upgrade will no longer be available after June 30th. After June 30th, all V-Ray 1.0 for Rhino customers (excluding academic license holders) will have to purchase a full 1.5 license.

To upgrade your V-Ray for Rhino product or to buy click here.

Dyson Design Winner Uses Rhino to Design IWA

Design student Oscar Fernandez has used Rhino 3D for his entry into the Dyson Design Competition to create something that solves a problem.

Fernandez’s product is a motorized add-on called the IWA (Independent Wheelchair Assist) that attaches to a wheel chair, turning it into a small automobile.

People can use their manual chairs while at home, then rev up the IWA, instead of a separate motor scooter, if they need to get out of the house. Fernandez’s design may look futuristic and slick but it was inspired by a very common problem, and one that’s deeply personal for to him.


The IWA isn’t just a concept car for the geriatric set. It is the product of an intense design effort that started with a four-month-long research phase where Fernandez learned from people who lived with wheelchairs. He actually spent a week confined to one himself and says the experience was actually harder psychologically than physically and adds, “After a week or so I was pretty good at using the wheelchair, but I hated always having my neck popped back and having to talk up to people in social situations.”

He then proceeded to sketch up solutions to the problems he experienced, created rough mockups to test ergonomics, and made working prototypes to prove the functional concept. Once Fernandez settled on the basic design, he used a laser cutter and 3-D printer to create the structural elements of the model and assembled the final product with old-fashioned hand tools. The IWA has been thoughtfully considered as a medical device, but lookscool enough that even the able-bodied would take a second look.

The James Dyson Award is an international student design award running in 18 countries. It’s run by the James Dyson Foundation, James Dyson’s charitable trust, as part of its mission to encourage the next generation of design engineers to be creative, challenge and invent.

 

 

 

The brief is to “Design something that solves a problem” and there will be a number of prizes,

International Winner:
– £10,000 the student or student team (of up to four members)
– £10,000 for their university department
– James Dyson Award trophy and Certificate

Two International Runners-up:
– £2,000 each
– James Dyson Award Certificate

Fifteen International Finalists:
– James Dyson Award Certificate

National Winners:
– £1,000 each
– James Dyson Award Certificate

Up to nine National Finalists from each country:
– James Dyson Award Certificate

The James Dyson Award is open to product design, industrial design and engineering university level students (or graduates within 4 years of graduation) who have studied in the following countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland, UK and USA. See the Terms and Conditions for full entry criteria.

The competition is judged in 3 stages,

Stage 1: A panel of leading designers, engineers and design critics in each of the 18 participating countries shortlist the top ten entries and name the national winners.
Stage 2: A panel of Dyson design engineers scrutinise all national projects selecting the top 50.
Stage 3: An international judging panel of high-profile designers, engineers, academics and journalists pick 15 international finalists. Informed by the international judges, James Dyson will name the winner and two runners-up.
To see more information on the competition click here, or to see more information on Rhino 3D go to CAD Software Direct.


The KeyShot 3D Rendering Competition!

 

The KeyShot 3D Rendering and Animation Contest is on!  It’s two weeks into the competition with over 60 submissions already and with only another two weeks to go. KeyShot are giving away two seats of KeyShot Pro with Animation – one for Best Rendering and one for Best Animation.

The KeyShot rendering competition is a chance for KeyShot users, and those interested in using KeyShot, to compete among each other, displaying their ability to create the most stunning composition using KeyShot. The theme of this year’s competition is style and class with the challenge to render and/or animate a watch design. The goal? Use all the creative juice you can muster to render a captivating scene with the materials and environments of your choice. Free watch .bip provided or use your own!

Many renderings have been submitted and the first animation by Abed Sabeh is a must see! More entries can be viewed on the 3D rendering contest forum or seen all together on the  KeyShot Pinterest board.

Visit the forum to see more details about this competition!

V-Ray Anniversary Challenge!

We are very excited to announce the first initiative from the V-Ray Anniversary campaign – the V-Ray Anniversary Challenge!  


Chaos Group and CGSociety are inviting artists to create an image which tells the story of a Decisive Moment – a moment that changed a person’s life or the course of human history. Perhaps a knockout punch in a heavy weight championship. The first human to step on the moon. The last block placed on the Pyramids. A wrong step, a gunshot or a glance, the decisive moment that changed the big picture or had an impact on someone’s life.

Chaos Group is offering a great prize pool for the winners. Thanks to their partners the winners will get a package of prizes worth more than $25,000.

V-Ray users from all industries are welcome to participate! Visit the Challenge page to learn all about it.

New KeyShot 3.2

Luxion have announced the release of new Key Shot  3.2 with all new feature completion, UI clean up and stability.

Here just some of the important improvements that Luxion have brought you in KeyShot 3.2 :

  •  Improved material templates – support for parts and materials as template items, plus wild card support (*.*)
  •  Instant loading of library – no longer do you have to sit and wait, even if you have thousands of materials in your library (same goes for environments, backplates,textures, renderings
  • Completely re-worked UNDO stack – UNDO pretty much everything.
  • Support for scale and transformations (remembered on all levels in the model)
  • Support for “unlimited” decimal places
  • Cylindrical texture mapping improvements
  • Use the arrow keys to move around in the scene tree, through the camera list etc.
  • Sync of realtime and advanced render settings in render dialog (raybounces, shadow quality)
  • New camera “unsaved” state
  • Increase of maximum raybounces in realtime settings to 64.
  • UI cleanup and performance improvements throughout the system
  • Improvements to SolidWorks importer (faster, more robust)
  • Improvements to ALIAS importer (Import by layer AND shader)
  • Support for Autodesk ALIAS 2013
  • Support for Autodesk Maya 2013
  • Bug fixes
  • Added Spanish language support (UI only)
  • New materials
For more on this latest update you can go to their Forum.

New Indigo 3.2 Release!

Indigo 3.2 marks the latest release of Indigo Renderer, the world’s most photorealistic rendering system. Indigo 3.2 introduces new features such as direct integration into Cinema 4D, the groundbreaking new sun & sky system,  and major performance improvements. All these features, together with new tutorials and new documentation, make this the most powerful and easiest-to-use Indigo yet.

 

NEW SUN AND SKY SYSTEM

Indigo 3.2 introduces a new sun & sky system based on our highly accurate atmospheric simulation. Unlike the classical sun & sky model which breaks down when the Sun is at low elevation, the new model remains true to life.

Computed directly from the physical laws which produce blue skies and red sunsets in nature, the new system produces extremely realistic skies at any time of day; not only is it more realistic, but it also renders faster.

PERFORMANCE IMPROVEMENTS

Pure CPU rendering speed is up to 2.5x faster in CAD scenes and 20 – 50% faster in most architectural scenes, as a result of significant optimisation efforts in the core since Indigo 3.0.

Start-up time has been dramatically reduced in many cases, especially when using environment maps and many light sources. This enables much faster feedback when creating scenes and greatly accelerates animations of simple scenes.

Network rendering efficiency has been greatly improved, scaling much better with added computers.

STREAMLINED MATERIAL EDITING

Realistic rendering crucially depends on the ability to create realistic materials, and we’ve been working hard on improving the material editing capabilities introduced in Indigo 3.0. The new material editing interface is more compact, easier to use and places a stronger emphasis on workflow.

The online material database browser has been complemented with an offline material database, which holds all materials you’ve downloaded from the online database. The new material painting tool allows you to apply materials to objects simply by clicking on them.

NEW DOCUMENTATION AND TUTORIALS

Learning Indigo is easier than ever, thanks to a new 230 page PDF manual included with the Indigo download, and also available online.

Many new tutorials are available, including video tutorials on material editing and installation, and comprehensive tutorials on Indigo for SketchUp (SkIndigo).

View the tutorials

 

For more information click here.

Mass Effect 3 – Behind the Scenes with Pixologic!

Pixologic recently interviewed the amazing Bioware team that’s behind the spectacular game, Mass Effect 3. The artists talk about the progression within Zbrush that has helped move the process faster for them and the new and improved tools that have contributed towards these fantastic characters. Here is some of what they had to say…

Of course, the software industry moves at lightning speed, so the tools have evolved dramatically since you began work. How has that impacted you the most?

Herbert: Polygon limitation is now a thing of the past because now most software can handle millions of polygons without any major lag. My primary modeling tool for hard surface modeling is XSI and a lot of my models are millions of polygons in my XSI scenes. There is a lot of software to choose from and they all have their own strengths and weaknesses. For example there are now great tools for generating AO, UV’s, etc. It is because of this that I feel character artists spend less time dealing with technical issues, allowing them to focus more on the art creation process.

Rafael: Tools that have been developed which speed up the process affected the pipeline a lot. ZBrush tools like Decimation Master, SubTool Master and UV Master are very handy on every model. Most recently, DynaMesh is a very amazing tool that helps a lot when sketching a new idea for a character.

Rodrigue: The biggest impact was on time and quality. We can now really go to town with the details on our characters. ZBrush and 3DS Max allow us to work faster, yet also put more and more details and love into our characters with a lot of flexibility. (Layers, etc.) But of course having great high-res models is not enough and you need a good engine with nice rendering and nice shaders to really show all the hard work put into the high-res models. On that side we were very lucky on ME3; we had a very nice budget for the polycounts of our characters and I was able to re-work some of the shaders to add more reflection and sweetness to our armor. If you compare the rendering between ME1, ME2 and ME3 you can see a big jump in terms of character details and quality between each installment.

Tools and tech are very important but on top of it the biggest impact for us came from the Art Director and the concept artists. It’s a great feeling to see a new concept and think, “Wow! This guy looks awesome I want to work on it!” and you know that ZBrush and the ME3 engine give you all the tools you need to deliver it without losing quality.

You’ve also seen significant advancements in ZBrush since you first started using it. How have those changes affected you?

Herbert: Greatly! I remember the first ZBrush version that I used was 2.5. I had to sculpt my characters in pieces because of the polygon limit and there was no SubTool Master or Decimation Master at the time. I sometimes like to generate my normal maps outside ZBrush and my AO with Mental Ray. Without decimation master, getting the best results outside ZBrush was very difficult. The new selection of brushes is awesome as well. With each update, sculpting in ZBrush feels more like sculpting in real clay but with symmetry, undo and “save as” enabled!

Rafael: I kind of adapted my workflow when I first started using ZBrush, so all the changes haven’t really impacted my work. But for sure tools like the new DynaMesh, SubTool Master and Decimation Master, sped up my pipeline like crazy.

I use DynaMesh a lot to concept new characters and ideas. Decimation Master is a must now for the pipeline in all my projects.

Rodrigue: Again, speed. The workflow is getting smoother and all the new brushes and layers give us so much flexibility and creative freedom. One of my favorite parts is the sculpting feel. I don’t feel like I’m moving points around anymore. Now I feel like I’m actually sculpting. That feeling is great and because it’s so fun I try to stay inside ZBrush as much as I can.

How much were you able to carry forward from ME2? Was there anything that you significantly re-worked like what you did for the Salariens with Mordin?


Rafael: We had to re-work almost all the assets we used from ME2. I had the pleasure to re-design the Keeper and Rachni Queen. I did this by using the same base model and with ZBrush I changed all the details and textures. For other models like civilians and romance bodies we added more details on top of the existing models using ZBrush and re-working normal maps and textures.

 

How did you use ZBrush for Shepard and his squad? How was it beneficial for things like armor?

Herbert: For the humanoids armor, ZBrush was used mainly for the cloth and rubber areas.

Rodrigue: We used ZBrush on all the faces, but also on most of the armors for the cloth and leather parts. In ME1 all the folds were modeled in 3Dsmax and were very basic but with ZBrush we were able to bring greater realism to our more organic parts.

What are the advantages to using ZBrush for concept creation as opposed to traditional methods like going from a drawing to the game’s base mesh and then finally to detailing?

Rafael: With ZBrush it is really easy to play with shapes and try different designs. The best thing about doing concept creation in ZBrush is that you have a base to start modeling on top of or a 3D feeling for how the character will react later with skinning and with the other characters in the game. On the other hand, it’s really slow to do a lot of major variations. So if you don’t have a base idea to start sketching in 3D the work can become useless in the hands of the art director.

Rodrigue: I used ZBrush on some armors to quickly test designs as well as different shape and size variations. It’s really fast, especially when the team is not sure about a specific design. With ZBrush you can quickly make 3D propositions to show to the Art Director and the rest of the team. Seeing the design in 3D helps to make decisions; a 2D concept can be interpreted differently depending on who looks at it but with a 3D model it’s easier to get everyone on the same page.

With the various Reapers you really got to go all out creatively. How did ZBrush help with that?

Rodrigue: These guys were a lot of fun. We had concepts but they weren’t precise. The team really wanted us to have more room with these guys and they are the characters that the 3D artists changed the most. We really had the opportunity to just let loose in ZBrush and let the sculpt talk. After so many armors, it was great to be able to go with an all ZBrush sculpt on these creatures. The Cannibal, the Banshee and the Brute had multiple revisions based on gameplay requests. Using ZBrush, we were able to quickly make them and propose different solutions.

What techniques in ZBrush do you find work best for detailing characters?

Rafael: ZBrush has a lot of brushes that truly help the detailing process. I don’t find myself playing a lot with alphas and other tools. Only brushes and patience are needed to handle the job.

Rodrigue: Like Rafael, I mostly use simple brushes and a lot of work and patience. But I would say that sculpting layers are still my favorite tool in my pipeline. I sculpt almost everything on different layers. With that I can boost or reduce the effect of my sculpting or delete it and do something different. Or I can close the mouth of a character or re-size the arms and quickly show the difference to the Art Director. I do use alphas and Drag-Rect once in a while. Or in the case of faces I texture them and then convert the texture to a mask and use that mask to add some details. When I do use these two techniques I always do it very subtly and add most of my details by hand. It’s just the best way to get exactly what you want.

This is probably your last chance to speak as a team to the ZBrush community. Is there anything else you’d like to say while you have our attention?

Hertbert: Big thanks to Pixologic to keep updating ZBrush with awesome new features, ZBrushCentral is a great forum for people to get inspiration and feedback to keep growing as artists. So keep posting!

Rafael: ZBrushCentral for me is one of the best communities online. All the tools you need to learn are available online. Keep studying and building your portfolio because we always keep an eye on ZBC!

Rodrigue: Keep rocking, Pixologic! Every new release is amazing and the ZBrush community is huge and full of awesome artists. What you do is great, so continue doing it.

And to all the characters artists out there: like Rafael said, we always keep an eye on ZBC.

 

To read the full interview click here.

If you are interested in more information on this product or to buy ZBrush click here.

Flamingo nXt released

This third major Flamingo release is based on completely new technology. Designed to provide the highest possible quality images with the minimal rendering technology expertise. Flamingo nXt is also designed to minimize the time and effort required to set up a model for rendering.

 

With nXt you don’t need to be a professional renderer to get realistic results quickly. You provide materials and lighting and press the Render button. nXt provides the simulation. Unlike many rendering products, there are very few settings to worry about or understand.

To see more information or if your interested in buying the lastest version of Flamingo go to CAD Software Direct.