Step aside Photoworks, Maxwell is here

For all those that have been asking for a real good alternative to Photoworks check out Maxwell. The full release is in July and there is
a SW plug in. Have not had a chance to try it out, but looks very promising....
www.maxwellrender.com
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    I'm currently using Maxwell "in the background" testing renderings. Though Maxwell is an amazing renderer, it is by no means ready "for prime time". Many options aren't available, and unless you are "really into rendering" and understand lighting, cameras and surface settings, don't even think about this program. I don't want to scare anyone off from this app, just realize ahead of time, it is NOT ANYTHING like PW (ok, frankly speaking, you better know your sh*t to use Maxwell).
    PW just plain sucks. For the current state of renderers, there are free ones better than PW (POV-Ray, for example). Or, if you do a lot of rendering, Lightwave is relatively inexpensive, has a large user base, and does a great job (once you are familiar with the workflow, it is very, very effecient).
    Export to LW can be handled a number of different ways; the fastest I've found is using Baren-Boyms (sp?) 3D File Export. This will save SW models directly to LWO format, and keep surface settings (important for applying the correct shaders and surfaces in LW). It's a breeze going from SW to LW using this add-in. Basically, assign colors to the surfaces in the PART file (not assembly; just take my word for it). Doesn't matter what the colors are, as long as you know ahead of time what surfaces you want to group together. Bring everything together in an assembly (if there are more than one object). Save As LWO. Bring it into LW, and start surfacing. Again, this is really only suggested for people doing a lot of renderings, and would like to work with somehting that makes sense (PW, I just don't understand why it's so bad...).
    I can direct you to renderings I've done using SW models into LW if anyone cares...
BTW, PolyTrans from Okino does SW to LW conversion as well. It's an additional step, and honestly, though lots of people use (and swear by) this program, I have never acheived a conversion that I have been happy with.
3D File Export has one "minor" flaw for me; I would like it to be more like SW's STL export in that you can assign how high a polygon count you want (crashing your machine if you set it high enough!). 3D file has a "max" that is preset. I prefer to output my models in as high a poly count as I can, and then reduce it as I see fit in LW. If 3DFE had this option, I would state that it is the perfect output tool (it does other formats other than LWO, too).
Mike Tripoli

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I need to render a SW assembly and need to use a free renderer since I don't have photoworks. Is Blender a good option? I'm messing with it now, but the interface is awkward. Can a SW assembly be rendered in POV-Ray? If so, how?
Mark

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POV-Ray is a much better choice than Blender for a number of reasons, the least of which, Blender is based more on doing game development than anything else.
    I haven't used POV-Ray for many years (doing everything in LW), but there are a TON of free graphical interfaces to it. There are many file convertors for POV as well. A search on POV-Ray will get you a ton of info, as well as going right the source :http://www.povray.org /
Mike Tripoli
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Mark If you are doing a bit and can afford $500 or so you can get the base version of XSI - allows access to the Mental Ray render engine and associated rendering possibilities - basically pro level rendering and for some reason heaps faster than Photoworks (even though they are based on the same engine I think?). If you add another $150 you can get Deep Exploration - export your assembly from Solidworks as STL, open in Deep Ex and recombine and do any trimming of excess polygons (internal details etc) using the supplied tools and save out to XSI - even with complicated assemblies its pretty fast and it allows you to keep the names of the parts in the listing in XSI (I use Maya, but I'm guessing XSI is similar).
Mike - I thought photoworks was based on Mental Ray - so its the UI that's at fault, not the render engine really as you can get some awesome results with Mental Ray. I might be tempted by Maxwell though as MR is a pain for internal architectural stuff. Cheers Deri
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Mark If you are doing a bit and can afford $500 or so you can get the base version of XSI - allows access to the Mental Ray render engine and associated rendering possibilities - basically pro level rendering and for some reason heaps faster than Photoworks (even though they are based on the same engine I think?). If you add another $150 you can get Deep Exploration - export your assembly from Solidworks as STL, open in Deep Ex and recombine and do any trimming of excess polygons (internal details etc) using the supplied tools and save out to XSI - even with complicated assemblies its pretty fast and it allows you to keep the names of the parts in the listing in XSI (I use Maya, but I'm guessing XSI is similar).
Mike - I thought photoworks was based on Mental Ray - so its the UI that's at fault, not the render engine really as you can get some awesome results with Mental Ray. I might be tempted by Maxwell though as MR is a pain for internal architectural stuff. Cheers Deri
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On Thu, 5 May 2005 17:21:41 +0000 (UTC), Deri Jones

Deri - designing that super yacht ? or do 'Spanish' fisherman now want fancy interior design, co-ordinated fabrics and soft furnishings :-)
Seriously - Maxwell will be great for interior work as it is very quick to set up. Literally it is like using a camera - set shutter and aperture focal length and daylight conditions ( or set lightbulbs as know types of light temp and wattage - then hit the render button.
But this is where things grind to a halt - currently it is very slow to render and the SW plugin does not allow use of textures and decals and many other things - but it is still in Alpha form and a new standalone GUI is expected shortly.
I am no expert on rendering technologies, but from the maxwell forum, I gather that Maxwell renders light as it is, while other renders use special algorithms and tweeks to make renderings look realistic in a quick time. Maxwell , once going just number crunches its way forward, so within a few minutes you do get a good feel for the rendering as it appears out of the noise. It just goes on rendering and reducing the noise untill you feel you have the level of detail you want - but this could be 10 hours later !! if there is alot of caustics and reflections etc. However it is in alpha form so I am sure they will optime things once they get the system as they want it !! SW take note - Get the system working , then just make it faster !! not slower !!!
Nearly forgot to vote today !! - but I can say I did't vote Mebyon Kernow.
For those Americans who have not voted - there is still time left before the booths close. Little known, but the Electroral Commission does not recognize the American Declaration of Independance and like ,Irish citizens, you can vote here in the UK- its just you have to do it over on this side of the Atlantic, and in 1776 your forfarthers were just too lazy to cross the altantic to vote to reduce the taxes being raised to pay for colonial defence of America and Canada against our eternal dancing partner on the other side of La Manche.
Or so says my American friend who takes great delight in voting here every 4 years.
TTFN
Jonathan

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Jonathan Superyachts - I wish - I've got two trawlers and a small container landing craft thing to do - though I have just finished a couple of cool RIB's for a guy! I do a bit of architectural viz work as well as the marine design stuff to keep from complete tedium! Model up in Solidworks, export as STL in to Maya and render using Mental Ray there. I've decided to take the plunge on Maxwell as it looks interesting and I like the idea behind the setup (using percentages and random figures in Mental Ray is a bit too much like art to me!), so we'll see how it goes - Mental Ray takes ages to do a decent render anyway and is a pain for setting up good internal lighting - I generally set up the PC rendering over night (twin Opteron 248, 2Gb RAM) to get decent results. We've remained a LibDem stronghold - Lembit Opik, who actually seems alright on both local issues and have some sort of power base in the LibDEm party, so might do some good. The opposition appeared to be a bunch of muppets who I wouldn't have voted for as local councillors, let alone MP's. Much as I am very proud to be Welsh, speak the language etc, Plaid Cymru seem too parochial in their views, so I'm not surprised their not making headway. Mebyon Kernow - sound like a perfectly reasonable bunch, I'm sure! Probably led by Kilroy Silk's evil twin. Interesting fact about the American's - can we go there and vote as well? Cheers Deri
snipped-for-privacy@SPAMuko2.co.uk wrote:

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On Fri, 6 May 2005 07:50:16 +0000 (UTC), Deri Jones

Great - I bought a licence 2 weeks ago, as at $400 it seems a bargain. Could spend that on a night out at Rick Stein's restraunt in Padstow !! if you could get a booking !!
Maxwell puts the perspective into the rendering , so in SW you keep it turned off,; but in SW2005 the setting up of the view is very hit and miss due to the way SW2005 creates the viewpoint - this is a known issue and is supposedly different in SW2006 when maxwell will gain control of the viewpoint! So I sit and wait but the potential is there. As you have Maya and viz, then the maxwell plugins for these will give you far more control than the SW plugin, which is what I can only use.

How much is a Custom RIB ? - my kids are a couple of years away from the age where I would take them out into the Carrick Roads for waterskiing - Are the RIBs big enough to go for a blast to the the Scilly Isles?
http://www.orcasea-faris.co.uk/main.asp have a nice RIB - even has a toilet in the back !!! and its not a plank hung off the end !!

I Like Lebik - has he got married yet to the weather girl yet? I hear God's representative on Earth, Ian Paisley is going to officiate! We have just gone Orange here for the first time and sent the ex Mayor of Islington back to Islington!
Mebyon Kernow are a Cornish revivalist party but unfortunately Cornish, as a language died out in late 18th century and when it was revived in the 20th it was done by someone from Birmingham so it can be quiet strange to hear a Brythonic Celtic language spoken with a brummy accent, which is the result. !! ;-)

I think we just allow anyone to vote if you just write in and ask and you can show you are a resident by having an electricity bill !. In my student days I have voted twice using this technique !! ;-) but did Maggie no harm ! ;-) I believe in the USA you have to be citizen , not just a taxpayer. "No taxation without representation" is their slogan and they just operate the opposite policy. Taxation but no representation for foreigners working in the US. ;-)
TTFN
Jonathan

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Jonathan

Just got my licence and got it hooked up to Maya so far (I'm still on SW2004 at the mo, but that will soon be sorted I think!) - everything seems pretty simple so far. I like the time/place sky environment idea - handy for the architectural side of stuff. I'll have a play tomorrow and see how I get on.

Crikey - that looks well scary - you'd have some nerve to drive it from that tower affair. Have a look at www.h4inflatables.com for the ones I've done - folded aluminium construction and pretty tough with it. So far there is a 5m, 5.85 and 6.4m, with some larger ones in development - the smaller ones are little put-put boats for tender duty really. The renders on the site were done in Maya, from the original Solidworks model.

Dunno if they'e got married yet- the local jeweller made the ring and he definitly aint cheap!

Odd that - I've a friend up here who is in to his languages and ex Scilly Isles. I'm supposed to be giving him a hand scanning and transcripting a Cornish-English phrase book from the 19th (I think) century - it's currently on microfiche, but using a slide scanner bodge up we can get print outs without having a fiche reader. I've spoken to several Cornish speakers - because I speak Welsh, they see me as a brother in arms I think!
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On Fri, 6 May 2005 21:50:43 +0000 (UTC), Deri Jones

I've seen it full tilt over the swell just off Falmouth and the man on the top is Mad !! and so is the person squatting on the 'head!!!'

Just kidding about the brummy accent, I must have probably just heard a 'born again' Cornishmen from Birmingham speaking Cornish ---- but don't give away any information about the best type of 'fire-lighter' :-) !!
Was in Oz last year and there are more 'Cornishmen' there than here. They wore their nationality on their sleeve and it got abit grating after a while, as they had a completely false idea of what Cornwall is like, having never been to Cornwall. My wife is Scottish and when abroad seems to attract every 'Scot' who has been to the Mel Gibson school of history. She usually politely calls them a 'numpty' and says its a term of endearment in Fife !!
TTFN
Jonathan

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snipped-for-privacy@SPAMuko2.co.uk wrote:

Hmmm...what do you reckon on the H4 jobs? - They'll be at Sewaork exhibition in Southampton if you want to see the real thing (if they get it built in time!)

I can quite imagine - there's a local business man who's learning Welsh - its hillarious (but very touching!) hearing him on the phone to his wife explaining the details of romantic hotel rooms and flowers in broad brum, but 10/10 for effort!

Same here - my girlfriend is from Dumfries and "numpty" is our word of the month, not sure about the endearment part though, but it's a handy word. I'm hopefully coming down that way soon, having never been further south than Bude - dealing with Cornish boat builders and trawler men should be an education! Cheers Deri PS -apologies to everyone else for hijacking the thread and turning it in to a marine/ nationalism/ gossip shop!
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Well hold on there you haven't used POV- Ray in years and you are recommending it over Blender which you say is for game development??? Looky here man Blender is very capable of doing things in rendering and animation only top shelf programs can and it does for it for free...plus now also free render farm available. Really the results you get in rendering is directly related to the effort you put into setting it up and your familiarity with the tools at your disposal....there is no quick way to produce really convincing pics and clips no matter what your program. I just can't let you trash Blender like that. BLENDER FOR EVER! :o)
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Mark wrote:

Indeed the UI of blender is something.. You need to get used to it. Currently I learning it basicly for animation. With blender you could also use yavray as render engine. Rough stl files get smooth by assigning smooth and solid to the mesh. There is a good book on the net.
Johnny
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Mike Tripoli wrote:

to
more
is
sorry i dont agree that there are free renderers out there better than photoworks pw doesnt suck its just slow dreadfully and okino will let you control polycount to export thats the purpose of the program
as for me ill stick with mental ray and brazil
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wrote:
Mike - Like you I am trialling Maxwell in the background. and would second your comments here about its current state and your opinions on PW. Perhaps when the beta release of maxwell comes out with its own GUI we can judge better, but I think it is always going to be 'slow' to render the files and its goal seems to be to create reality, which is great if you like photography ( which I do) but for renderings where you want special effects tMaxwell might not be appropriate.
Intertesting to see you comments on Lightwave.
Regards
Jonathan

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    I'm the wrong person really to ask about Maxwell; I love it with all it's shortcomings... I'm rendering an image right now, I'll post a link to it when it's done. As stated, you can set MX to render forever if you like (which is what I'm doing). When it gets to a point you like, just stop it. If you want to continue rendering, you can restart it as well. As stated, MX is a "real world" renderer; it doesn't care about shadow types, radiosity, caustics, light types, DOF, nothing. It renders everything as in the "real world" so the images are much different than from other renderers. Yes, they are still noisy, and take more to set up, but the results are worth it (IMO).
    As I said, right now I'm using Lightwave for "production" renderings. I've been using it for many years, so it's kind of second nature. I really like it as well. It's it's own animal, lot's to read about to get great results, but good results are a few mouse clicks away.
     My bitch about Photoworks is that there are MUCH better ways of handling things than the way they are done in this "implementation". It's very frustrating to use, though some people take the time with it and get good results. For them, I say, good work. I don't have that kind of patience.
    Here's a tip for rendering, at least in Lightwave. LW only "see's" on side of the polygon's created. Anything "inside" is not needed. In fact, the more poly's in an object, the slower it moves in LW modeler. So, what I do is this. In each part file, I make the "surface" colors that might represent what the finished part will look like. I color EVERYTHING "internal" WHITE. When it's brought into LW Modeler, you can select polygons based on surface color. So, pull up the "stats" window, select the "white" surface and hit delete. Now, you are left with a "shell", and much less polys to deal with. Simple and fast. Select the other surfaces and give them names and such as you see fit.
    As for Polytrans; it has been my experience that this uses some algorithm developed by Robert Lansdale (Okino's "main" guy). It creates (and someone can correct me if they want) an "optimized" mesh. This is not "orderly" AT ALL, making adjustments to the surfaces difficult (at best). Also, because the mesh is not uniform, smoothing (smooth shading) can become a HORRENDOUS mess. As I said, others use it all the time with no complaints, I just have never had good luck with it.
    As for Baren-Boym 3D File Export (http://www.baren-boym.com /); they use a different approach. As you know, the model on your screen is actually an OpenGL poly mesh for display. They "grab" this mesh, and output it in the format you choose. This results in a much more "uniform" mesh, which personally, I like better. The IMPORTANT thing to remember is this; before "Saving As..." your model, crank up your display settings to the maximum resolution. Remember, 3DFE is grabbing the screen image; if it's low rez, you'll get a low rez poly mesh. I prefer to have the highest mesh possible, and do poly reduction later as I see fit.
    One last note, Polytrans vs. 3DFE. When using Polytrans, you can use their tool to "grab" your open file from SW and convert it to a poly mesh. The workflow is basically: SW open to active part> Open Polytrans> Import>"Auto grab" (or open the saved sldprt file). It opens in Polytrans. Now, export to desired format. Too many steps for me, especially if I don't get a "predictable" result.
-OR, using 3DFE you choose "Save As... in SW and choose your output format. Done. Guess which one I like better.
If you don't tell anyone, you can see some renderings done using models built in SW and rendered in Lightwave at "www.jfww.com/renders/". Don't ask what they're for... it's a secret...
Mike Tripoli
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Mike Some good tips there - thanks! Have you looked at Deep Exploration? They have tools to remove internal polys and reduce the poly count on complicated parts. Using the STL - Deep EX - Maya route I can keep the part names I use in Solidworks and have them come up in the scene tree in Maya, which is a big time saver! Deri
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pw2 render is slow exactly!!! this is due to the same problem as every other implementation of the mental ray engine be it maya max or xsi they are all slow to render in my opinion after using it now for some time it gives all the other a bit of a kicking you just have to spend a long time lerning how to make it work
brazil and the other altrnatives capitalize on producing good results for not much set up time and can produce stunning images
i have always said this but my problem has never been the renderer but getting the cad data into a program like maya or max has been a bear up until recently getting the renderer or progam to understand the large data sets and manage them effectively has always been memory heavy and this is what can make the renderer slow
i heard somewhere lightwave 10 was the final release (maybe someone can put me right on this)so its days might be numbered
release 3.2 of mental ray standalone has fixed the speed problem in maya at least it now is very quick and has interactive render
i personally have never had a problem with polytrans as most poly mesh manipulation is done inside maya which has multiples of tools to smooth out mesh both globally and per part
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Actually this is precisely not true. I have been closely following Maxwell development. It represents a brand new technology of rendering. One not available before. So comparing it to PW is not realistic. It does things very differently.
The main benifit for SolidWorks community is that Maxwell will be very easy to use. The technology removes all the dials, sliders and gizmos.. As an example, if you want to set up a outdoor scene, you just select your time and location, and that sets up the outdoor lighting scene.. Then you tell it how long you are willing to wait... You get a image that looks as good as the amount of time it renders.... Very simple.... and specifically does not require an expert.
It is not released yet. So most of the usablity issues are due to an alpha development... Using software under develepment does require a expert. You have to imagine where it will be when its done.
For the SolidWorks users that want true Photorealistic renderings. The kind of rendering where you can't tell if it is a photo or a rendering... Maxwell for SolidWorks looks like it will give them this.... And it won't require a expert.
Joe
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