The Maxwell plugin

Is anyone here currently using the plug-in?
It's been a while since I have looked at their site, the Beta plug-in has been updated several times since then. So just wondering if anyone
is having success with it?
If you are using it, I would like to see your results and get feedback on ease of use.
After just downloading SWX2006 I am frustrated that the PhotoWorks plug-in is the same as it is in SWX2005, (that is buggy). I would like to evaluate Maxwell but the only way is to buy it!
Regards John Layne www.solidengineering.co.nz
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I have not used Maxwell but lurk at the site quite often. I'm like you. I want to try but there is no free trial. There are some incredible sample renderings in the forums section that were rendered out of solidWorks. I have heard the GUI needs work and there are still some things to work out but all in all Maxwell is easy to use and works well. I've been told it will provide a true high end rendering option for SolidWorks. The down side I see, all the incredible images I've seen are taking 4, 6, 8 or more hours to render.
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why do you guys who forked out for Photoworks want to spend $1000 on another renderer? you should hassle SW to improve PW rather than look to where the grass seems greener. imho it is the operator who makes the real difference in what comes out of the rendering process. time spent = quality result. rendering is an expensive thing to do. most people will max out their image budget well before they reach the limits of the software to produce pretty results. just a thought neil
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neil wrote:

I agree time put in equals the quality of the output, Paul Salvador is living proof.
BUT-- I have complained to my VAR and to SolidWorks, PhotoWorks doesn't seem to get any Service Packs and still has the same glitches of 2 years ago. I give up -- I still have 11 SPRs one looks like getting fixed in SP5.0 and it's not PhotoWorks related.
Maxwellrender as an independent product that plugs into many differing platforms has an incentive to maintain it, at least that's what I hope. The grass may or may not be greener, maybe someone here who has used both can render some grass and let us know if it is in fact greener!
I am seriously considering downgrading from SolidWorks Office Pro to plain SolidWorks, just trying evaluate the alternatives.
John Layne Solid Engineering Ltd
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I am all for making SW try harder to improve quality and innovate. If direct requests from customers doesn't do that then some healthy competition might... but it seems like a lot of money to me - $ NZ 1800 - I am afraid I don't have that for occasional rendering which is why I picked up on free Blender. I can understand why you would want to downgrade your subs...I ended mine altogether. Mostly my lack of confidence/ fatigue with the product outweighed the cost and benefits. cheers neil
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neil wrote:

I'd like not to pay subscription either, but when my clients upgrade so do I, unfortunately!
I will give blender a go, downloaded it, on my Linspire box, yesterday and will run through some tutorials. The interface does seem illogical coming from Windows 3.1, 95, 98, NT and XP (missed 2000 completely).
Regards John Layne
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John Layne wrote:

for the interface: http://www.ibiblio.org/bvidtute/contrib/interface.avi for an introduction to SW-Blender: http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Blender_3D:_Import_and_Render_a_SolidWorks_Model
have fun :o)
Ewout
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Hmmmm... Hassle SW... good luck with that, it's worked very well in the past...!
As for PW vs. Maxwell; PW is, let's say "mature" and it still is incredibly hard to use (compared to other renderers). You would do better using something free like Blender... If you are doing "quick" renders to see what a finished part might look like, then go ahead (still a wate of time for me...).
IF you want to do photoreal renders for publication or the like, Maxwell is a good choice. BUT REMEMBER, it is still "Beta". There are LOT's of things not implemented. Also, unlike a lot of renderers (Lightwave, etc.) where you can get good results because alot of the work "is done for you", you really have to have an understanding of lighting and photography (you set up Maxwell EXACTLY as you would "in the real world", lights, camera, sirfaces, etc.). And yes, right now, the render times are veeeeerrrrrrryyyyy looonnnngggg. But, if set up correctly, you will get fantastic results. If you think that you will use Maxwell as part of a pipeline, buy now... price is going up in October...
Mike Tripoli
wrote:

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do you have to set up 'everything' each time or can you save a scene for reuse?
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wrote:

The maxwell materials are saved in the sw assembly file at present, so I have set up a studio that has the most common materials I use already set up .
I import the SW assembly into my SW Studio asm template and place the model and lights how I like.
Then using the Maxwell material present in my SW studio file I assign them to the model parts and faces.
If I need a new material I create it and add it to the list in my Maxwell list in the SW Studio file. It is not the easiest list to navigate and - I must admit this is not ideal and hopefully Maxwell come up with a better way of handling materials so we can create libraries that can be quickly imported into SW assmeblies - like PW - but hopefully better and that actually work everytime :-)
TTFN
Jonathan
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Sounds like a progressive renderer.cool stuff. Does it have any animation tools? sub surface scattering capability?
OT:I have finished a material library script for Blender. At the moment I am waiting for Blender 2.4 to arrive to finish defining the materials because it has a new metal shader and also an animation make over. The script matches SW materials to full blown Bender materials for an assembly in a few seconds. It is just a matter of tweaking things a bit if you want and unchecking some options for rust and grime textures etc if needed. Coupled with Ewout's batch import script this makes rendering very easy. Some time soon I will probably make it available to people who want a copy although this time it will be on an individual email basis rather than waste my time with a user site. There will probably be some standard scenes included for no brain gallery display and basic fly by / fly around animations.
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wrote:

It can do animations - but don't ask me ! I just know people have with 3d Max - however with the render time issue , people have held off the animation side.
SSS - not in the SW plugin - but iI believe it will be in the released October version - but don't quote me.

Sounds like I ought to check out blender again - I looked about 5 years ago !! - time flies !!
I think Maxwell will offer a tool to those who want to test lighting products etc because their aim is to simulate light exactly and not just produce a render that uses techniques to create good looking but artificial pictures. On the forum people have even mocked up a pin hole camera and sure enough an image apeared on the back wall !! just as you would predict.
Thank God PWs days are numbered. ;-)
Jonathan

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Neil

I'd appreciate a copy once it's finalised please.

I just went to go there and upload some stuff and it's gone! It should have been left up, takes time to get traffic going especially for a relatively minority interest like Solidworks>Blender. (Unlike Blender on its own)
Rich
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Rich, I spent many many hours on that content and no one visited or contributing anything (other than Ewout dropping by to tell us about his wiki)...It attracted very few members almost all of whom chose not to receive any email and they did not reply to my managers messages. I may be community minded but I am not going for sainthood....it had it's run and failed...people will be able to find their own way in Blender without it I am sure. I have offered Ewout the screen shots to reuse if he wants but I won't be doing anything more to promote Blender other than perhaps making the new script available...and you can bet I will have spent hours on that BTW. Ewout's wiki will be a good home for SW-Blender stuff in the future. It has a better format and has been well received. It will be a one stop shop for people interested in SW-Blender. I suggest you put your content there. neil
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Mike Tripoli wrote:

That seems like a more logical way to work to me, maybe I'm somewhat naive about the possible problems. And at $1000 USD (not discounted) to find out for sure is something of a worry.
Are you using Maxwellrender?
Regards John Layne
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On Wed, 24 Aug 2005 11:36:38 +1200, John Layne

Hi - John -
Timezones? - go to sleep and wake up and there are 8 replies to a thread I can actually answer !! :-)
Sorry not to keep you all up to date.
I have been using the new Maxwell Plugin and it works fine.
Here are my thoughts.
Very easy lighting set ups and minimal settings that are based on 'fudges'. If you know about photography you can use Maxwell out the box. Maxwell comes with predefined solar times of day around the world and a thing they call the 'Sky dome' which gives generic light. However I have quickly modelled up a studio in SW where I have created reflectors and lights. One of Maxwell's materials is a thing called Emitter - They have a set of generic Light Type with the colour temps - tube, light bulb etc or you can set your own and give them a power in Watts or Watts/m2. There is no shadow control. You get what ever shadow comes with your studio set up. So if the light is large and far away the shadow id blurred. If small and close the shadow is sharp. Just like a photostudio.
Materials are still being defined by by core atributes, roughness, specularity , absotion etc and there is no material library just yet so there is a steep learning curve to get your materials correct. Setting materials and applying them to the model is still in its infancy and I know Maxwell are keen to improve this as a top priority.
Render times These are slow at the moment but Maxwell is still under development and I am sure this will be improved once all other parts are locked down and rock solid. It is important to note that Maxwell renders in a way most are not familiar with. Before you hit the render button and the image starts rendering, you set a time you want to take and a number of 'loops' of calculations. However at any time you can stop the render if you feel it is good enough, and restart it later when you want to. The more time and cyles you give it the less noise there is and the more the finer details like 'caustics' becomes apparent. If you don't use dielectrics (glass etc) in your renderings then the noise reduces very rapidly.
Decals Still not implemented, while MX textures uses the SW texture feature - but I am not sure how good this is as how reliable SW has been when implementing these sorts of features. I thing MX are a hostage to fortune using SW textures but this may change.
Summary PW - takes for ever setting up to get anything halfway decent. MX - set up lights literally takes a few seconds if sunllight is all you want !.
PW - materials and their assigments is adaquate but after 7 years you would have thought it would be better! MX - Materials and their assignment are adequate after 6months development - Hopefully they will become great.
PW - renderings can take a few minutes if you can get the damn thing to light well. MX - renderings at 800x600 can take 15 minutes if no dielectics and simple materials. Poster size interiors etc can take hours, but the time is literally a function of quality oif image acceptable and 'grunt' in your box. More 'grunt' faster render. Maxwell can also be run from the C prompt (what ever that is ;-) - my memory is failling me) and you can set up a sequance of renderings to be done over night on the network. Not done this but I believe it is possible.
So is maxwell worth it ?- I think so - I have used it on a live project because it was a white product that was just impossible to light well in PW - In MX - no problem - so for me it has paid for itself already
Maxwell can be used to render over a network and the licence is I believe for 4 cpus and one interface. So if you have a network this should be a great help with rendertimes - However I have not tried this as i am a one mand band ;-(.
TTFN
Jonathan
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On Wed, 24 Aug 2005 07:59:32 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@SPAMuko2.co.uk wrote:
I forgot another MX bonus - once you have hit the render button and the Maxwell starts to render - you can go on working in SW - Maxwell just renders away in the background -
Of course if you want a render quickly you leave you machine alone so the cpu can be used by maxwell. Or perhaps those with better computing knowledge could set up a system where Maxwell rendered on another machine on a network.
TTFN
Jonathan

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I use Maxwell as my prime renderer, with Lightwave as a second...
To clarify a few points:

Not entirely true: there are resellers with a demo version. It is limited in output size (I think) and slaps a big watermark in the middle of the image. Contact Next Limit to find a reselers near you.

Spot on.

Material setup isn't that bad, if you've had some experience with other 3D programs. It will be better with the final release.

It calculates radio frequencies actually, so in essence it is calculating "real light". This is one of the reasons it is slow, but if you thnk about the calculations it's doing, it's not "bad"... I use other renderers, and to acheive a soft natural shadow takes FOREVER... forget about things like caustics and sub-surface scattering (SSS)... you could wait forever and they are difficult to setup. In Maxwell, you don't even think about them, it's automatic....

This is an awesome feature. You can do a quick render and to show a client, then let it go to get the quality you like.

Not really true. You can apply an image map to any surface you like. They must be color RGB images and there are a few things to watch for, but you can apply "decals" as you wish. UV mapping too (though still limited).

Yup.

They will...

LOL! You never used DOS! The "c:" prompt is a command line! Open a "Command Prompt" window in any of the Windows versions. Maxwell is actually a command line renderer; the "plugins" mentioned (for LOT'S of software packages) are just GUI's to the command line. There are command line options for quite a few things... read through the manual and visit the forum....
my memory is failling

Yes, but in some plugins it's not fully implemented....

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wrote:
A fellow convert Mike !
Add to the list of features you want at the MX forum - I know Juan is getting his head around future features and would value peoples input.

Your correct - I have limited experiance with other render packages and I think most SW users will be like me and find the intial learning curve quite steep, but for engineers it will be a bit of fun night time reading !!

Good to know the background.

I have to get my head around apply textures etc - on my system it seems to lose the settings and does not always attach onto the part.

I remember using punch cards and Fortran - but I have to trawl back to memeories that are forgotten - It is quaint to see the C prompt still in use - its just I remember why I hated computing at college :-)
-
Mike - have use set up a network that renders ?
TTFN
jonathan
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I actually own two seats (8 render nodes) but to date, have not tried network rendering for a few reasons. One, I haven't really needed it, as I do product still shots (mostly). Second, it's a little rocky right now, so I decided to wait until it's more robust.
BTW, for those following this thread. There have been a couple of questions regarding "animations". Please remember, an animation is nothing more than a series of still shots chained together, no if's ands or buts. So, yes ANY program (including things like Photoshop) can do "animations. You just need at least 24 "frames" (individual images) per second x minutes to make an animation. I know of people (my son, for instance) that has used MS PAINT(!) to create animations. So yes, render a few thousand frames, string them together (Quicktime, XP's video editor, whatever) and you have a movie!
Miek Tripoli
On Wed, 24 Aug 2005 11:54:48 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@SPAMuko2.co.uk wrote:

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