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

Rendering vs Presentation

Images courtesy of Steven Shell (http://scshell.wordpress.com/)

For years we considered RPC a “rendering” tool, designed to help create photorealistic imagery quickly and easily.  Photorealism was at the core of our DNA.  How deep? The “P” in RPC stands for “Photorealistic” (RPC = Rich Photorealistic Content)! Our ongoing observations of how imagery is created has led us to a broader definition of where and how our products are (or could be) used.  Many more people are creating “Presentations” as opposed to “Renderings”.  What’s the difference?  I think it has less to do with the technical definition than it does the workflow.  In the early days of design visualization someone created a 3D model and then created “renderings” in specialized software like 3dsMax where materials and lighting were painstakingly added to produce an image.  The workflow looked something like 2D Cad > 3D Model > Materials > Lighting > Rendering  where multiple specialists generally assumed roles along that process to produce visuals and the person creating the design was generally not the person creating the renderings.

I’ll claim the traditional world of design visualization changed when Sketchup was introduced.  Sketchup wasn’t about rendering, it was about modeling and for the first time (Another claim… the magic was the the push/pull feature – http://www.google.com/patents/US6628279) 3d modeling became accessible to every designer no matter the level of cad/graphics proficiency.  I can remember being at various tradeshows when Sketchup was first introduced and witnessing older architects (who had largely skipped CAD) almost giddy with excitement because they now had a tool that wasn’t intimidating or downright scary to use.  That’s software magic and anyone who was around Brad Schell and the @Last Software team in those early days knows exactly what I’m talking about.  I know for ArchVision it was a bit of a paradigm challenge as we worked to understand how RPC could and should play in this new world of design “modeling”.  There wasn’t a traditional “rendering” process to interface with.  We punted on trying to make RPC function directly inside Sketchup, recognizing the technical advantage of RPC at the time was in the “rendering” pipeline and not in this new world that was a hybrid of both modeling and visualization.  With the ongoing success of Revit we’ve changed our tune.  What we now think of as “Presentation” is here to stay and we believe will continue to be the dominant form of design visualization in the future.

I need to give credit to my friend Steven Shell, who I met at the RTC Conference (http://www.rtcevents.com) this past summer, for pushing me to think about this a bit more.  Steven does some incredible “presentation” and rendering work natively within Revit.  You should check out his website (http://www.scshell.com/) and blog (http://scshell.wordpress.com/) to see some of his work.  Steven is also a great teacher so if you get a chance to sit in on one of his classes don’t miss it!  He’ll be passing on some of his wisdom at Autodesk University later this month – https://events.au.autodesk.com/connect/speakerDetail.ww?PERSON_ID=31B2FC96BD614DDB34740336273DBBC2.  Steven is an architect who uses Revit to create great communication tools to share with his clients.  No external renderer, no Photoshop.  Pure presentation techniques from within Revit.

What used to be a multi-step (and often multi-disciplined) approach to creating visualizations of a design are now emanating from a single-step process; building a model.  All of the tools, previously part of a linear production line process for producing a rendering, are now “built-in” and the visuals are quickly becoming a byproduct of the modeling process.  This is leading ArchVision to look for opportunities to extend RPC to accommodate these new workflows.  Watch for new enhancements to the way RPC works in Revit in the coming months.  We’re adding the ability to display silhouetted views of RPCs within Revit as an alternative to the default photorealistic views.  Next up will be the ability to assign and manage varying geometric representations of content.  All of these enhancements acknowledge that design visualization is evolving and becoming more accessible.  Great news for the design industry!

The Wait is Over! Autodesk 360 Cloud-based Rendering for RPC Content is Available.

cloud2Since the release of Autodesk 360 Cloud-based Rendering, the demand to render RPC Content in the cloud has been constant. Initially, only the in-application RPC entourage rendered in the cloud. After much collaboration between ArchVision and Autodesk, RPC rendering support is now available for all ArchVision Dashboard RPC Content objects. Please keep in mind that this is early in the release cycle; user feedback is critical. Let us know how your experience goes!

How do I enable support?
To enable support for rendering RPCs in Autodesk 360 download the Autodesk Revit 2014 Update Release 2 from the Autodesk Revit Services & Support page.

How do I place RPC Content into my Revit Project?
To take advantage of this feature simply Drag & Drop RPC objects from ArchVision Dashboard into your Revit project and then click on Render in Cloud under View. For instructions on using RPCs in Revit, please click here.

Which RPC Content is supported?
Every RPC that is featured in ArchVision Dashboard will render. Custom created RPC Content support is coming soon! ArchVision Dashboard provides the platform for a series of new features, including RPC Drag & Drop into Revit and will also enable support for RPC Custom Content in the future. We are seeking beta testers now. Email us at support@archvision.com for more information.

Things to Know
To ensure correct rendering results, please use a camera view. At present, orthographic views are presenting unpredictable results. This is a known issue and is being addressed. Some users are reporting ‘Unknown Errors’ with job submissions. This is also being investigated. If you experience other issues, please report them to Autodesk 360 and to our support@archvision.com channel.

Watch for updates here at blog.archvision.com.

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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