The Power of Universal Tags

We’ve been hard at work on the ability to easily convert 2D textures into RPC and now have a new Dashboard-integrated RPC Creator tool in widespread use. Converting your PNG and TIFF cutouts into RPC is as easy as dragging and dropping those alpha-masked images onto the Drop Zone within the RPC Creator. Add a Name and Height and an RPC is generated complete with a custom icon and preview. As an RPC you’ll find many advantages over the original PNG or TIFF format including automatic Sketchup-style “Face Me” capabilities within applications like 3ds Max, Revit and Autocad. For those of you who have gone through the process of trying to get your 2D cutouts to play nicely in those apps you know how many steps it takes to accomplish what should be a simple task. RPC makes that pain go away.

We’re also introducing the first of a series of organizational tools designed to make finding the right content easy. Accompanying the RPC Creator is a new Tag Editor. The Tag Editor lets you add Tags (metadata) to the RPCs you create. These Tags make content searchable within Dashboard. We’re also introducing a visual tag-cloud feature called Filters that presents the Tags that have been added to content in an easy-to-navigate visual interface. Click on a Tag or Tags and quickly filter to the content you need.

Filters

As we began working on these new features we thought about how best to help you organize and make use of your content. We made several observations:

Observation #1: Everyone knows tagging can be a powerful organizing tool but there’s one big problem… nobody wants to spend time tagging things.

Observation #2: A lot of the content you use is also being used by other people around the world.

So why not take advantage of the fact that the same content is in use across the globe and let Tags automatically follow the same content? With Dashboard we have the ability to do just that! We’re excited to introduce a concept we call Universal Tags. Here’s how it works. We don’t share your content. In fact, your content never has to leave your local environment for Universal Tags to work. We create a unique identifier for each piece of content and use that to track the Tags associated with the content. The effect is that when you introduce a piece of content into your own environment that has been viewed in Dashboard by someone else, we essentially get an up-vote  for common Tags that have been associated with that content. After a specified number of up-votes the Tags can be converted to public tags.  If no one has added tags or you’re the first to introduce the content to Dashboard you’ll have to add your own tags. It’s a powerful network effect, as tags are added by one person everyone benefits!

As you know, information is only as useful as it is accurate. So it’s up to you to add meaningful tags. The Tag Editor will let you remove Tags that you don’t find useful and we use those as votes as to the value of that Tag to others.  We also use this concept to automatically provide a Name and Height to RPCs during the RPC Creation process so assigning a descriptive name and accurate height helps everyone.

We look forward to hearing your thoughts on these new features.

Presentation Styles of Christopher Dutton [Ocean Designs]

This month we’re profiling the work of Christopher Dutton of Ocean Designs in San Diego, California.  Christopher contacted us after he saw the new Presentation Styles section of our blog and offered to pass along some tips for creating better work in Revit.  Following are some of Christopher’s Revit renderings as well as some tips, tricks and techniques he’s learned along the way:

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Materials: “Materials, materials, materials! If you’re using the out-of-the-box materials that come with Revit, find ones that are as close as possible to what you want, then take the time to customize them in the Material Editor to get them even more accurate. Pay special attention to the scale of material and bump images to make sure they are properly sized (for example, roofing, tiles and siding are critical).”

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“Also, use the tint setting to customize the color of your materials. This usually takes some trial and error to get right, so you’ll need to do some low-quality renderings to test your colors. Another alternative that’s worth the time is finding custom material images. These can be found doing a web search, through third-parties and are slowly starting to be provided by manufacturers. Lastly, be sure to fine-tune the settings for glazing to optimize reflectivity and translucency. Getting the right effect from your glass can make a huge difference.”

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Content: “Start building a robust content library. There are many great resources online for downloading custom families, either from other users, third parties or manufacturers. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, take the time to create a custom family. Most of the time you’ll find another project to use it in later, so it’ll be worth it. Custom families will help add another level of detail and realism to your renderings so they don’t look so generic.”

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Lighting: “Lighting is key. For exterior shots, take into consideration your camera angles and prominent architectural elements when setting the sun angle so that you get nice shadow lines that accentuate depth and details of your building. Mid-morning and late-afternoon sun settings will usually give you a softer light and create shallower shadow casts that won’t engulf the faces of the structure, especially at eaves and overhangs.”

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Interiors: “For interior shots, proper selection and placement of light fixtures will really make your renderings pop. Also, mid-day sun will provide indirect exterior lighting and help eliminate long, distracting shadow lines at exterior openings. Make sure to set up light groups and turn off the groups that don’t affect the area you’re rendering to eliminate unwanted light casting and reduce the amount of processing.”

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Plantings: “Planting. Revit’s RPC plant library isn’t always perfect [… Christophers choice of words, not ours ;)  Perfect.. no, but pretty darn good!], but find plants and trees that you like and locate them to help accentuate and add texture and context to the composition of your rendering. I’ve found that locating a tree in the foreground just outside of the field of view so that some of the outer leaves and branches are at the edge of your view can help frame in your image and add a level of realism.”

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Backgrounds:  “Don’t use Revit’s sky and clouds for your background. It increases your rendering time and the quality is usually not that great. Build a library of images that you can use as backgrounds (the higher-res the better). I’ve created a library with categories such as sky, neighborhoods, landscapes, hills and valleys, cityscapes, etc.  Find images that relate to the context, scale and camera angle of your renderings. Render with the background style set to “Color” and “White (255-255-255)”. When the rendering is complete, select “Export” and save the image as a PNG. This will save your image with a blank background. Then you can open the PNG file in a photo editing program such as Photoshop and drop the background image you’ve selected behind your rendering. Scale and move the background image as needed to fit with the rendering and then adjust the layer’s brightness, contrast and exposure to get it to blend properly.”

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“Lastly, get creative with your camera angles. Use overhead views, think about perspective and focal point as well as overall context.  Hope everyone can find something useful to take from this!”

Thanks for the tips Christopher!

If you’d like to show off your work send an email to rstevens@archvision.com and we’ll work to feature you on the blog and in an upcoming newsletter!

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Presentation Styles of Corbin Savopoulos [MVE & Partners]

This month we’re profiling the work of Corbin Savopoulos of MVE & Partners (Irvine, California).  We came across Corbin’s work after seeing a post on the Autodesk Revit Forum regarding non-realistic effects with RPCs.  Corbin was looking for ways to affect the geometry and take advantage of the various line/shading modes available in Revit.  We shared some insights into a new project we have underway (project named Ghost) that will provide some great new non-photorealistic workflows with RPCs within Revit.  More on this next month!  You can get a little preview of the direction in our response here.

Corbin shared some of his work which we’re profiling here.  Corbin says his intent is to create a “soft/light watercolor style efficiently & effectively”.  That’s exactly what caught our eye.  As you can see from these renderings, mission accomplished!

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How does Corbin accomplish this look?  Revit, Layers & Photoshop!  Here’s some tips Corbin shared…

“One alternative I have setup before was to export three versions of the same elevation by temporarily using view templates and overlay them together in photoshop (as smart objects so I can automatically reload changes).

  • Export 1 (Optional)  – (Consistent Color) – No Shadows. No Entourage/Planting. This will be used as your first layer (temporary) in photoshop set as normal. Used purely as a temporary color selector/wand tool for setting up your masks for any additional effects such as storefront images. Therefore, once you are done with masking (mask applied to groups, not layer) turn off this layer/smart object.
  • Export 2 – (Realistic) Override all lines/surface patterns under ‘Projection/Surface’ in Visibility/Graphics to solid white except Entourage/Planting. No Shadows. This will be second layer (overlay) in photoshop set as multiply. White surfaces of building will not effect main colors.
  • Export 3 – (Consistent Color) Turn on shadows to your liking. No Entourage/Planting. This will be used as your third layer (main) in photoshop set as normal.

*Note: Folder structure in photoshop is very important in order for advanced PSD to operate efficiently.”

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Thanks for the tips Corbin!

If you’d like to show off your work send an email to rstevens@archvision.com and we’ll work to feature you on the blog and in an upcoming newsletter!

Presentation Styles of Dan Nevin [Alisco Designs]

When we come across great work we like to celebrate and share it with all of you.  Welcome to the new Presentation Styles section of our blog!

We’re kicking things off with the great work of Dan Nevin who works with Alisco Designs in Australia (http://www.aliscodesigns.com.au/).

Cannon St 4(Dan Nevin | Alisco Designs | http://www.aliscodesigns.com.au)

We asked Dan if he had any tips or tricks for getting great results from renderings in Revit and here’s what he had to say:

“As for tips and tricks mate here are a few things that hopefully can help a few people:

  • Materials are very important when rendering. You want to get your materials as close to what you want as you can, colour wise and bump wise. I find that rendering by region is a good way to check this, you can render at a higher quality without it taking anywhere near as long.

262 James 3(Dan Nevin | Alisco Designs | http://www.aliscodesigns.com.au)

  • Re-render and re-render. You can never do enough draft renders. This saves a lot of time picking up things you may have missed before tying up your computer for long periods of time. The closer you think you are to having it right the higher you make your quality. The region tool is great for this if you want to render an area in the highest quality before doing your final render.

67(Dan Nevin | Alisco Designs | http://www.aliscodesigns.com.au)

  • Once you have your final render, you may want to up the saturation and contrast to your image. This is done best using a program like Photoshop. But if you can’t get your hands on Photoshop there are other photo editing programs out there that will do the basics that you need (I am currently using paint.net). play around with your editing tools a lot, go from over saturated to under saturated just to get a feel for what the image colours are doing, then adjust it until you are happy. Do the same with the contrast. I find that adjusting the contrast of an image can have a negative effect on the colours so you may want to do this before the saturation or just remember to double check your saturation afterwards.

106 Bridge St(Dan Nevin | Alisco Designs | http://www.aliscodesigns.com.au)

These are just my steps when working on my renderings, different things work for different people so don’t expect great results immediately. Find something that works for you. In the end all good renders come down to one thing, time. The more you spend the better your result.”

Lionel Drive 2(Dan Nevin | Alisco Designs | http://www.aliscodesigns.com.au)

Awesome work Dan and thanks for sharing!

If you’d like to show off your work send an email to rstevens@archvision.com and we’ll work to feature you on the blog and in an upcoming newsletter!

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kitchen(Dan Nevin | Alisco Designs | http://www.aliscodesigns.com.au)

Lionel Drive(Dan Nevin | Alisco Designs | http://www.aliscodesigns.com.au)

 

 

Dashboard 2.1 Adds Viewport Mode and Channel Filters

A new version (2.1.5) of Dashboard has just released that includes a couple of significant features we think you’ll enjoy.  You can download the latest installer at https://archvision.com/dashboard/download.
 
Viewport
 
Viewport for Dashboard is a new 3D viewing mode that lets you preview your RPCs in full 3D.  For 2D motion RPCs (2.5D) it will also let you scrub through the animation sequence with a simple time slider.
 
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Besides being a great new RPC preview tool Viewport for Dashboard can drastically improve your work flow for using RPCs in Photoshop.  If the name Viewport sounds familiar it might be because you’ve been using the RPC Viewport plug-in for Photoshop.  That plug-in allows you to open and view RPCs directly in Photoshop, choose a viewing angle, and open the chosen view onto a new layer.  Sounds ok but for anybody whose used the tool to place lots of RPCs the process can be tedious.  When you use the Viewport plug-in directly in Photoshop it has to close each time in order to place the content on a new layer meaning you have to go back into the menu to initiate it each time.  Viewport for Dashboard replaces that workflow.
 
Now when you preview an RPC directly in Dashboard using the new Viewport viewing mode you can choose your viewing angle and click the Render button.  A small thumbnail will appear just below the Render button that you can then drag & drop directly into Photoshop.  If you’re using Photoshop CS5 or above the new rendered view of your RPC will be placed on a new layer as a Smart Object that you can scale and place within your scene.
 
We think you’ll find this new work-flow to be a huge time saver when using your RPCs in Photoshop.  Hopefully you’ll love us for it rather than cursing us for not having it sooner!
 
Filters
 
We’re continuing to roll in expanded features to the core of Dashboard.  With this new release you’ll see the addition of Filters at the bottom of the browser.  
 
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The idea is to take meta data associated with content and use it as a Tag Cloud.  That Tag Cloud can then be used to filter content being viewed in each Channel.  For example, if you click on the People Channel and open the Filters panel you’ll see all of the Tags currently associated with the content in that Channel.  The Tag Cloud will by default sort by Popularity of the tag but you can also choose to display them alphabetically.  Clicking on one of the Tags will filter the content within that Channel to show only those RPCs that have that Tag.  Pretty simple.  Choose an additional tag from the cloud and you’re performing a boolean “and” search.  Clicking on “female” and “sitting” will show you only the RPCs of sitting females. There’s also a new “local only” option on the Filter bar that lets you choose to see only content that resides locally (ie. already downloaded).
 
Give it a try! It can be a huge time saver.  We believe the concept of filtering rather than explicit searches provides you with an alternative quick way to drill down to just the right content in an intuitive, visual interface.  

ArchVision Heads to the Revit Technology Conference 2014 in Chicago, IL

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One of the best conferences for BIM and Revit users, the Revit Technology Conference offers users and managers the opportunity to explore new and emerging technologies in the industry.

Industry leading speakers, consultants and trainers will be on hand to work with attendees to share best practices, teach new methodologies, and share tips and tricks. Stay current with the latest happenings at the conference, follow #rtcna2014 on Twitter.

Some of our favorite speakers and users will be on hand to share their firm’s BIM and Revit success stories:

Marcello Sgambelluri, one of last year’s top rated speaker will dig into Dynamo for Revit.

Paul Aubin, the well known author will be presenting topics that served partly as inspiration for his recent Renaissance Revit book.

Aaron Maller. @Twiceroadsfool. Revitforum.org. One the industry’s most well respected bloggers.

Jeffery Pinheiro (aka “The Revit Kid” Blog) is going to walk us through going from Revit to Max to Vray.

What about ArchVision?
ArchVision’s team will demonstrate some new features while there, including the latest version of Viewport. This version of Viewport offers real time previews for RPCs and the ability to drag & drop rendered views directly into any application that supports alpha masked images. No RPC Plug-in is needed. We’re excited to show it off!

It’s a great line up!

Fresh Update: V-Ray 3.0 for 3ds Max Now Supports 3ds Max 2015

V-Ray_Andrey-Kobushenko

A new update for V-Ray 3.0 for 3ds Max 2015 is now available for download. In addition to support for 3ds Max 2015, Chaos Group has added a new VrayPointParticleMtl material. This is a free update for current V-Ray 3.0 for 3ds Max users.

This update also includes:

  • V-Ray: Added option to the .vrmesh exporter to automatically create a Multi/Sub-Object material when exporting multiple objects in a single file
  • V-Ray RT CPU: Added lights include/exclude list support
  • V-Ray RT: Implemented showing Safe Frame when rendering in a viewport
  • VRayProxy: Added option to render particles as points
  • VRayProxy: Added option to enable/disable Alembic full names support in visibility lists
  • V-Ray MetaballsVRayProxy: Added support for hair and particles color channels from Alembic
  • VRayProxy: Make the “Animation offset” parameter animatable
  • To purchase additional licenses or for more information, please visit: ArchVision.com for the latest on feature update availability. Click product version for current purchase options.

    Licensed users may access the update directly from Chaos Group here.

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