Easiest RPC Opacity Trick Ever

Just when I think I know everything there is to know about RPCs, I learn something new. My latest nugget of knowledge came from long time user Steve Phong, of Overland Partners in San Antonio Texas. Steve taught me a super easy way to change the opacity of RPCs using Mental Ray. I had always thought that the only way to do this was via the material editor or via scripts available for the Scanline renderer.

To change opacity in Mental Ray:

1) Right click on an RPC and select Object Properties.

2) Change Visibility to a value between 0 and 1. A value of one is completely opaque. A value of 0 is completely transparent.

Thanks to Steve for this excellent tip. If you you have a tip or trick to share, please e-mail me at support@archvision.com.

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.

Revit Architecture: Using Additional RPC Content from ArchVision

RPC Plants & Trees in Revit Architecture

RPC Plants & Trees in Revit Architecture

Many users refer to our video tutorials for tips and tricks using RPC Content in Revit Architecture. Another great resource is Autodesk. Autodesk provides a great series of Revit Architecture User Assistance documents.

Topics include:

  • Creating an RPC Family
  • Specify a Render Appearance for an RPC Family
  • Create an Entourage Family
  • Using the ArchVision Content Manager
  • Using Additional RPC Content
  • Placing Plants and Entourage in a Project view
  • Changing the Size of Plants

We encourage you to check them out. Happy rendering!

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.

Make Your Own Pumpkin RPC

It’s Halloween again and time to put your creativity to good use with the FREE RPC Creator tool or RPC Creator Pro. RPC Creator can create anything you can dream of. All you need is the Free RPC Creator software, an RGB (Red, Green, Blue) image and an alpha image. The possibilities are endless.

You can download the Free RPC Creator here.

You can view usage instructions here:help.archvision.com

Here are some sample images to test out creating your very own pumpkin RPC. Left click on these images to view them at high resolution. You can then right click and save to your hard disk.

RGB Image

Alpha Image

From all of us at ArchVision, we wish you a safe and Happy Halloween!

Resolving Network License Issues in Revit 2012 with RPC Content

The Problem
Unable to connect to your ACM on your Network when using Revit 2012. While Autodesk is reviewing this issue, a customer presented a workaround solution to access your ACM. Mike Hart of Centerbrook Architects and Planners, LLP found a fix that will have you successfully accessing your license from across the network with just a few clicks.

Applications like Revit have a configuration dialog where the location of the ACM is specified. When this information is provided a file called rpcapi.ini is written. This is normally written into the local user profile in the Autodesk Revit Architecture 2012 folder. While troubleshooting and testing with Mike, he discovered that by copying the ini file into C:\Program Files\Autodesk\Revit Architecture 2012\Program the issue was resolved.

The Cause
After a little further research I determined the cause of this behavior. When changes are made to RPC configuration in Revit, an rpcapi.ini file is written to %appdata%\Autodesk\REVIT\AUtodesk Revit Architecture 2012. The issue lies in the fact that at render time, Revit is looking for a license and not checking here.

The Solution
Configure the ACM connection in Revit (under the Render Settings found in Options) and then copy the rpcapi.ini file created from %appdata%\Autodesk\REVIT\AUtodesk Revit Architecture 2012 to C:\Program Files\Autodesk\Revit Architecture 2012\Program. Once the rpcapi.ini with correct configuration information is located in this directory Revit will be able to access the license the next time that it is initialized.

If you need any assistance configuring your Revit, please contact me at

Landscape Architects Will Appreciate LANDCADD for Revit

Architects, Landscape Architects or Designers are always seeking increased functionality and ease of use within Autodesk Revit Architecture. LANDCADD for Revit provides users the ability to quickly and easily lay out site components, as well as produce a landscape design fully integrated into the project. Users are able to leverage LANDCADD tools to locate trees, shrubs, flowers or ground covers into the model, including ArchVision RPC Content. The team over at LANDCADD posted a useful overview video:

For additional information, contact Eagle Point Software or ArchVision Customer Support.

Revit RPC Tree Guide from a Revit User

Some of our favorite tips and tricks come from users themselves. RevitCity.com member, dianoink, shared a useful RPC Tree Guide that was picked up and shared by several Revit and BIM blogs including, The Revit Kid and What Revit Wants. We think the Revit RPC Tree Guide is pretty cool too!

Visit revitcity.com for more helpful tips.

RPCs at the Speed of Modo

Luxology’s Modo is an incredible product. It was developed by some of the brightest developers in the industry. Luxology isn’t an old company, but their team has been around since the birth of CAD. Modo is used by artists and designers from every walk of the 3D rendering community. Modo 501, the latest version, has been used in the production of Video Games, Motion Pictures, Architectural Rendering and Product Design just to name a few. So what makes this product so great? It takes advantage of hardware and software to quickly produce high-quality ultra-realistic results. You can learn all about Modo at www.luxology.com.

Support for RPCs has been present in Modo for a while, but I just recently had an opportunity to work on some documentation for the latest version and wanted to share a video demonstrating how quick and easy it is to place RPCs into a Modo scene. Modo works seemlessly with RPC. It is RPC Enabled so there is no plug-in to install. Check out this super-short video and see how RPC is integrated into Modo.

Help on Managing Firewall Issues

One of the top challenges for developers today is building software that will compliment restrictive corporate firewall and security implementations (software and hardware). Applications want to take advantage of a the dynamic content of the web, while IT Departments want to control what data is going into or coming out of their network. Understandably there is a need to control the flow of this data to protect the network. Unfortunately, when a network is overly restrictive it can lose the power of the Internet and access to all of the data outside of a network. ArchVision is actively working to address this need with future versions of our products.

The ArchVision Content Manager (“ACM”) and ArchVision Dashboard are two applications which actively rely upon the Internet. These software tools enable users to access a growing database of RPC Content (33GB+) and drag and drop RPCs into scenes of various applications or download them to local drives. The only thing standing between this conduit of RPC content and plug-ins is a firewall. It is helpful to understand how our applications behave so that they can function in harmony within your IT department’s defined parameters.

Like an Internet browser, the ACM and ArchVision Dashboard communicate accross port 80, a common Internet port, to access the following sites:

Usually opening communication ports enable the ArchVision Content Manager and ArchVision Dashboard should be able to coexist with Firewalls and Internet Security and function as intended. However, sometimes the IT department may restrict permissions for applications themselves. Make sure that Internet Security software is not blocking the ArchVision Content Manager application (rpcacmapp.exe) located in C:\Program Files (x86)\ArchVision\ArchVision Content Manager or ArchVision Dashboard (dashboard.exe) located in C:\Program Files\ArchVision\Dashboard.

Feel free to contact me if you have firewall experience, or feedback to share.

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