Two Simple Fixes for Revit Drag & Drop Issues (Recently Discovered)

Last week there were three separate support incidents where users experienced difficulty with Drag & Drop. These were caused by something my team had not encountered before. In each case the users were dragging and dropping RPCs from Dashboard into Revit 2014 but nothing was appearing in the project. Upon troubleshooting we could not find any incorrect configurations that would account for this inability to Drag & Drop.

After hours of trying to reproduce and determine the cause of this, I called in the aid of ArchVision’s Development Team (the code wizards). They quickly analyzed thousands of lines of code to discover explanations for these issues. It turns out that there were actually two separate issues that have very simple fixes. First I will explain the causes and then the simple solution.

Cause # 1: Missing RPC Family Template file.

When Revit is installed a special family template folder is created in C:\ProgramData\Autodesk\RAC 2014\Family Templates\English_I (location varies slightly by Language pack). RPC Family.rft must be present inside this folder or Drag & Drop cannot be performed. The problem occurs when non-default install locations are used. Inside Revit the location of the Revit Family File path is shown by clicking on Revit–>Options–>File Locations.

family_location

This can be resolved by downloading the following file and putting it into the directory specified in “Default path for family templates file”

Download the necessary file here: RPC_Family.zip
It will need to be unzipped for Revit to recognize it. Once in place simply restart Revit and Drag & Drop will work.

Cause # 2: Language Pack Issue.
The second Drag and Drop issue was caused by an issue with non-English language packs. The Development team has resolved this with 2 special patch files contained in a zip. Please download these here:
AVRevitPlugin.zip

Unzip these files and extract them to C:\Program Files (x86)\ArchVision\Revit Plug-in\2014 replacing existing files of the same name. Restart Revit and Drag & Drop will work.

As always, if you experience any issues at all, please contact ArchVision Customer Service at support.archvision.com.

A Recipe for Better Rendering with the mr Daylight System.

explanation1

Mental ray daylight systems are popular with Autodesk 3ds Max users because it is a single click source of light. However, without proper configuration, the RPCs can look to dark or to bright, or just not match the coloration of the rest of the scene. In an effort to reduce some of the difficulty users experience I wanted to provide some settings I use to get good results.

First, we will take a look at a rendering created with the default settings and a mental ray daylight system. Looks pretty dull. Definitely not what we would expect to see in daylight. The color is poorly saturated (caused by the gamma settings), the RPCs are dark (caused by the exposure settings) and the RPCs don’t have the correct contrast (caused by the physical scale of the scene).

default_rendering

With only 3 changes we are going to make this look completely different without greatly affecting the red, blue and green spheres (representative of other objects in the scene). This will affect the way that the mental ray sky looks, but it should look more realistic in a scene lit by daylight.

Change 1
First, let’s change the Gamma to 2.2. Gamma for RPC objects is accessed by clicking on the Utilities panel and then selecting More followed by RPC Mass Utility. Instructions for this are available here. The results will look like this. Not an overly noticeable change, but the color is now more saturated.

gammato22

Change 2
Next, we need to brighten the RPCs. To do this, go into the Exposure Settings (Rendering–>Exposure Control) and change the Exposure Value for the mr Photographic Exposure Control to 14. This will make a great difference in the brightness of the RPCs.

exposure14

Change 3
Next we need to change the the Physical Scale (located just underneath the Exposure controls to Unitless and 90,000. This makes a world of difference.
unitsto90000

Lighting is the key to realism in 3D rendering. There are many different variables that can be modified to achieve different results, but I have found that when users are experiencing difficulty changing these few settings usually yields much better results. If you ever have difficulty with anything RPC related, ArchVision’s Customer Service is just a click away at support.archvision.com.

ArchVision Software License Overview

ArchVision currently offers two annual licenses that give users access to all RPCs and plug-ins for 3ds Max, AutoCAD and Photoshop. The ArchVision Software License Floating (sold for $499/year) is portable and can be hosted on a network server to be shared among multiple users (one user concurrently). We also offer the ArchVision Software License Node-Lock version ($249/year) that enables RPC usage on a single computer. I have created a new video to show an overview of purchasing and activating either of these license types.

Rendering the RPC Environment with a Mental Ray Daylight System

Many users have noted unexpected results when using the RPC Environment with a Mental Ray Daylight System. This is primarily because of the way that Mental Ray blends colors. There is a large sky texture that is some shade of blue and a ground plane that is brown or green. The effect of the blending of these two becomes a murky brown/green where blue should be. Through a little trial and error I have created a settings formula that works nicely with most scene configurations.

When the RPC Environment is added to a scene with a Mental Ray Daylight System it will render something like this:

RPC Environment with Mental Ray - Default Settings

This looks nothing at all like the rendering results with the scanline rendering. I will show you how to fix this.

We will start by changing the Physical Scale values under the Environment and Effects panel. I have changed from Physical Units to Unitless and changed the value from 1500 to 90,000.


Physical Scale set to Unitless 90,000

This gives us the following results:


Rendering results with new Physical Scale

There isn’t much change shown, but when we make the next modification it will be apparent. Go into the RPC Mass Edit Dialog and change the Self-Illumination value from 0 to 55.


Mass Edit Dialog Self Illumination

Now the RPC Environment’s color will render much better.


Rendering with New Values Applied

Finally the sky looks more blue than green. To make it look even better I will brighten the scene by boosting the exposure value from 15 to 14 (lower values increase brightness). This will give us a rendering that looks like this:


Rendering with New Exposure Control Value

Utilize the exposure controls to tweak your rendering even further.
I hope this tip helps and good luck with your next rendering.

Chaos Group Phoenix (FD): Amazingly Realistic Simulation

Chaos Group just announced the release of their follow up product to Phoenix Fluid Dynamics, Phoenix (FD) 2. Best known for V-Ray, Chaos Group’s products have pushed rendering realism to the extreme, and this product is by no means an exception.

Phoenix FD simulates realistic smoke, fire, liquid, explosions and more. Unlike many other 3ds Max plug-ins, this product is very intuitive. Simply add the PHXSimluator box around the object you want to set ablaze and let Phoenix FD work it’s magic. The simulation calculations can even be viewed directly in the viewport prior to rendering. Control the intensity of the explosion, the density of the smoke or the viscosity of the fluid. This simulator is amazing.

Check out the version 1.2 version of this product demonstrated by Autodesk Certified Instructor and Visual Effects wizard, Michael McCarthy:

Phoenix FD 2.0 now features a foam and splashes particle shader. View a video by Dimitar Krastev showing this new feature here:



Don’t take my word for it though. Download a demo today. You can access the demo at http://www.chaosgroup.com by registering and then clicking on Phoenix FD under the downloads menu.

Phoenix FD 2.0 can also be purchased for $960.00 here:
http://commerce.vismasters.com/catalog/products/phoenix-fluid-dynamics-20_4587.aspx

This product requires a $35.00 V-Ray license dongle.

Fall Harvest: Custom Meshes for RPC Creation

Begin in 3ds Max by drawing the outline of your mesh. Users typically load an image that that they used for creating an RPC into the background and trace it using splines. Don’t worry about the size. This is determined at the time the RPC is created. Be sure and close the spline.

I have created an outline of the pumpkin from October’s blog and create a shape to represent the base of the RPC. The tip of the triangle depicts the front of the RPC. Right click on these and select Convert to editable mesh.

Once I have created the shapes for my RPC’s mesh I arrange them the way the final mesh will look.

To export the mesh, select the geometry to be exported and then click on the 3ds Max icon (File button), Export then Export Selected. Choose AutoCAD *.DXF as the file type when naming the file. Choose the option for Selected Objects and click on OK.

At this point a .DXF file should be successfully created, however we will need to convert this into a .msh file to use it with RPC Creator. This can be performed by using the Convert to RPC Icon Tool. This file can be downloaded here:

ConvertToRPCIconInstall.exe

Once installed open the Convert to RPC Icon Tool and select the .DXF file just generated and then select a name and creation path for the RPC Icon Mesh file that will be created. Click on Convert and the .msh file will be created.

This is the file that will be used during the RPC Creation process. Select the custom mesh option and then browse for this file.

When the RPC is added to a scene it will now have a mesh representation prior to rendering so that a better example is given of what the actual rendered object will look like. Custom meshes save RPC users the time necessary to have to reposition objects that could have been placed more accurately using this technique.

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