Why Architects Hate Entourage

Most arch visualization folks hate entourage. They hate seeing people in their renderings. They hate that they have to try to reproduce the world “around” their structures. They hate anything that breaks the realm of photorealism. They hate having to painstakingly place individual people in their scenes. They hate that the model of car they personally drive isn’t readily available to drop into their model. Haters gonna hate.

But you know who loves entourage? Clients! They love seeing their mall parking lot full of cars (customers!). They love seeing rows of semi trucks docked behind their warehouse (customers!). They love seeing life brimming in their restaurants, concert halls, sports venues and retail shops (customers!). We can talk about how entourage helps communicate scale; blah, blah, blah. In the end, customers want to feel great about their new project. Anything you can do to convey warm, happy thoughts about how well the project is going to be received transmits those happy thoughts. Architectural entourage can help.

In late 2013 I wrote a post titled Rendering vs Presentation that outlined our view of the changing visualization workflow in the design industry. The democratization of visualization is changing who is creating the communication work-product, what tools they’re using, and the usefulness in various parts of the design/customer-interaction process. No longer is visualization relegated to “that guy in the corner” who is the only one with the tenacity (read crazy enough) to master the tools used to create photorealistic renderings. Rather, visuals generated from 3D models are being used to convey design intent in presentations at key points throughout the design process.  A new generation or two of new hires joining the workforce with 3D skills combined with less costly software solutions translates into  value understood by practitioner and client alike.

Entourage WorkshopOne of our goals in 2014 was to increase the usefulness of RPCs within Revit by providing users with the tools they need to customize the look and feel of the RPCs in their scenes. Entourage Workshop was born. Entourage Workshop is a Revit add-in that lets you create and apply Styles to RPC people and trees in your model. These Styles control the type of geometry and appearance (color, transparency and brightness) of the RPCs in your model allowing you to achieve photorealistic and non-photorealistic presentation results.

Entourage Workshop lets you create reusable Styles for achieving silhouettes of people or trees, control the model-view geometry of the RPCs in your scene including removal of the “base” and fine-tune the brightness of the RPCs to better match your scene in the various rendering modes.

There’s a love/hate relationship with entourage. We’ve heard thousands of stories over the years. The goal of RPC and Entourage Workshop is to help you learn to love entourage. Give your clients visuals, chocked-full of entourage, with your own personal Style. What’s not to love!

V-Ray 3.0 Launches: Faster Ray Tracing and Rendering Performance

Image Credit: Artwork by FAMA, Courtesy Chaos Group

Image Credit: Artwork by FAMA, Courtesy Chaos Group

V-Ray 3.0 introduces a powerful set of new features and improvements. If you’ve been waiting to upgrade, now is the time to invest in an improved production-focused rendering engine:

Artist-friendly Controls
Designed with new and experienced users in mind, V-Ray 3.0 offers a simplified user interface with fast access to common settings.

Render set up is now faster and easier with V-Ray 3.0’s Quick Settings. Artists can choose from a variety of production presets and fine tune quality with slider controls. And a new V-Ray Toolbar puts all popular V-Ray tools in one place.

Faster Ray Tracing and Rendering Performance
Optimizations to V-Ray’s ray tracing core make rendering in V-Ray 3.0 significantly faster. Depending on scene complexity beta users are reporting speed increases up to 5X.

Faster Feedback
Using a powerful path-tracing engine, V-Ray 3.0’s new Progressive Image Sampler delivers instant feedback to artists and makes look development faster and more intuitive.

An improved V-Ray Frame Buffer adds Lens Effects and advanced color corrections for Contrast, HSL, and Color Balance.

Production-Focused Tools
New tools designed to give artists more control and flexibility include Max Ray Intensity, Probabilistic Light Sampling, Reflection/Refraction Trace Sets, and Render Mask to specify exact render regions with an object selection or image mask.

Open Source Workflows
Support for open source tools and formats include Alembic 1.5, Deep Images and OpenEXR 2.0, programmable OSL shaders, and advanced color management with OpenColorIO.

V-Ray 3.0 also introduces new licensing and pricing policy:

Here are the highlights:

• Universal render nodes to be used across multiple 3D platforms (V-Ray 3.0 for 3ds Max and Maya will be the first tools to support the universal render nodes).

• Workstation Licenses to reduce the cost for an individual user license.

Purchase Options
Workstation and Bundle Licenses available here.

Have more questions?
We can provide quotes to you for your studio, assist with set-up planning and help you determine what will best meet your needs. Contact us at support@archvision.com or call us Monday – Friday, 9am-5pm ET, +1 859.252.3118 ext 117.

Add a License Promotion to Celebrate the New Year

ArchVision

Thanks for helping make 2013 a great year! It has certainly been a busy one. We’re excited about all of the new projects in the works for 2014. We couldn’t have done it without you. To say thank you and help boost your license pool ArchVision is offering a special promotion to add additional licenses and save.

Use the following promotion codes at archvision.com checkout to add an ArchVision Software License.

ADDAUSER to add a user license for $149

ADDAFLOAT to add a floating license for $299

Limited time offer valid through January 10th. License renews at regular price.

Learn How to Render RPCs in Autodesk 360 RaaS

Join us tomorrow December 12, 2013, 2:00 pm EST for a live webinar – Rendering RPCs in RaaS. We’ll show just how easy it is! View it here: http://archvision.com/live #A360 #AU2013 topics.

ArchVIsion December Webinars

Live Webinar Tomorrow: Discover What’s New with ArchVision RPC and Revit

Live Webinar 11-20-2013

Dashboard… ArchVision’s 3rd Epoch

Hard to believe but RPC recently celebrated it’s 15th birthday!  The original 3D Studio RPC plug-in and a whopping 32 pieces of RPC content were introduced to the world at the AEC Systems tradeshow [Booth 631] in Chicago in June of 1998.  The “ArchSoft RealPeople Plug-in” with Casual People Vol 1 was $399.  Business People Vol 1 was another $199.  How things have changed!

Over the years ArchVision’s RPC products moved beyond a relatively simple 3D Studio plug-in and a handful of content libraries to plug-in or native RPC support for over a dozen design/rendering platforms, several thousand RPCs produced by ArchVision and tens of thousands of custom RPCs created by our users.  In hindsight I can break the past 15 years into two major epochs.  The first was one of easing RPC integration with our partner’s software products and continued growth and supply of RPC content.  By 2005 ArchVision had produced and released over 100 content collections and supporting over a dozen rendering applications including most industry standard Autodesk, Bentley and Adobe products.  A customer purchasing all of our products would find a sticker shock of nearly $30,000 at checkout!

Beginning in 2005 we began making major investments in our back-end infrastructure; setting the stage to move to a subscription-based licensing model.  January 2007 brought the start of RPCs second epoch, RPC All Access.  RPC All Access took what was previously $30,000 of software and made it all available for $499 per year!  A huge value proposition for our customers and a dramatic change in how we thought about our products and business model.

DashboardThe launch and iterative release of our Dashboard product over the past couple of years is ushering in our latest epoch in delivering relevant design visualization and content management solutions.  Our goal is to remain current with changes in our customers evolving production environments and continue to provide value.  We have found ourselves serving not only full-time visualization artists using products like 3ds Max but also many architects creating visuals directly inside products like Revit.  We see this as a challenge to move beyond “Rendering” to that of helping create “Presentations”.  We’re excited about ArchVision Dashboard as it is setting the stage for a bevy of new features and services to help in this transition.  Following is a rundown of the latest RPC features enabled by Dashboard and a sneak peek at features we have in the pipeline.

Drag & Drop

Support for RPC with Revit goes all the way back to Revit 3, prior to Autodesk’s acquisition of the platform.  Most recently, Autodesk chose RPC as the native tree/plant solution for Revit.  Revit users will find a good selection of tree and plants shipping with the product.  Getting additional RPCs outside of what shipped with the product was another matter.   As I’m sure many of you are painfully aware, getting an RPC from All Access into Revit was over 20 steps!  We found that unacceptable and went to work on making that a one-step process from Dashboard.  Now users can drag & drop any RPC from Dashboard directly into their Revit (2013 and above) model.  You can also Drag & Drop directly into 3ds Max and Autocad from Dashboard.

Channels

Dashboard_ChannelsOne of the primary goals of Dashboard is to provide improved ways to organize and search your content.  Channels are one of our first organizing tools.  We think of Channels as the first order of organization designed for visual browsing.  Clicking on a Channel within Dashboard filters specific content that has been tagged to that channel.  Dashboard supports what is called a “many-to-many” relationship between content and Channels.  For example, you may find the same Oak Tree RPC in the Trees Channel as well as the Revit Channel.  Channels represent different ways of organizing all of your content into logical groupings.  A future update of Dashboard will allow you to create your own Channels and organize content in new ways.

Search

Search is one of the easiest ways to find content.  In order for search to be effective the content being searched must carry the appropriate “tags” or “metadata” relevant to that piece of content.  With Dashboard we’ve made all content search-able by their tags.

Beacon

updates_1A great feature of Dashboard is the ability to monitor the applications you have installed that support RPC and help you keep RPC Plug-ins and related software installed and up-to-date.  We call the service that enables this feature “Beacon”.  Beacon keeps track of the current versions of software that are available and alerts you within Dashboard of any updates that are available. One click within Dashboard is all it takes to keep plug-ins up-to-date.

User-based Licensing-in-the-Cloud

Over the past year we’ve been working to move from a machine-based licensing model to a user-based licensing-in-the-cloud model.  There are several reasons for this move.  First, it fits better with the way our customers use our products.  They aren’t always working from one machine, sometimes moving between offices and from work to home.  With Dashboard you can log in from anywhere automatically retrieving your license.  This move to cloud-based licensing is also necessary for us to play well with the next generation of our partner’s products and services such as Autodesk RaaS.

Enterprise Deployment

We’re listening!  Many customers have dozens or even hundreds of users within their organization and admittedly, we haven’t made it very easy to deploy our solutions across an enterprise.  We’re working to change that.  Watch for a new “headless” Dashboard release for servers and easily deployable MSIs before year’s end.  We’re also building a new Admin panel inside of Dashboard where you’ll be able to see and manage licenses and content across your organization.  After that we plan to tackle centralized path management.  See, I said we’re listening!

RaaS (Rendering as a Service)

Autodesk launched it’s first labs experiment called Neon for rendering Revit models as a cloud service in 2010.  After native support for RPC was introduced in Revit and the RaaS service became official last year, our respective teams went to work on making sure all RPC Content will render in the service.  We’re about there!  Watch for full RPC-RaaS support beyond the native content that ships with Revit soon.

RPC Creator

We’ve had RPC Creator tools available for most of the 15 year history of RPC and you’ve created thousands of your own custom RPCs!  Soon you’ll be able to drop any 32-bit PNG, TIF or TGA image onto Dashboard and convert it to RPC!  This will allow you to take all of your commercial entourage libraries like those from Imagecels or Dosch Design or your own custom collection and convert them to RPC.  As RPC they become infinitely easier to use in any RPC-enabled application such as Revit or 3ds Max.  Dashboard will even automatically generate the preview images and icons for the RPC.  All you have to do is give the RPC a name and specify it’s real-world height.  No more building geometry, creating materials, adding textures, making objects ‘look-at’ cameras, blah, blah blah.  Just drag & drop and RPC takes care of the rest!

Entourage Workshop

Entourage silhouetting within Revit… that’s all we’ll say for now!

Randall Stevens

ArchVision Dashboard Configuration 101

Team ArchVision has been working to make RPCs easier to use than ever before. We’ve moved the licensing to the cloud and put path configuration right at your fingertips.

I have created two easy-to-follow videos that show you how to configure paths in ArchVision Dashboard and configure RPC Plug-ins to connect to it.

First, lets start with path configuration.

Next, let me show you how to configure the RPC Plug-in to connect to the Dashboard

Piece of cake. So what are you waiting for? Get your ArchVision Dashboard here.

Help documentation is available here: help.archvision.com
Support is available here: support.archvision.com

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