AU Rumormill: Combustion2008 release confirmed

•November 28, 2007 • 2 Comments

augrab.jpgI heard on the AU show floor here at AU that Combustion 2008 was shipped today. The Autodesk website is showing that Combustion 2008 is shipping/available, though I have not seen a press release confirming that. If you try to download the free trial, it takes you to the version 4 download page. I did see a sneak peek a the new color corrector somewhere 😉 and if it works as cool as it looks it will be great. The guru is trying to confirm its release and I will follow up with facts when I get them.

UPDATE: This is confirmed, though no press release was issued (to my knowledge). is explcitly naming Combustion 2008 as the shipping product the trial download page has been updated.

AU LIVE BLOG: Session – New Mental Ray Features in 3ds Max 2008

•November 28, 2007 • 2 Comments

augrab.jpg This session is being presented by Pierre Felix-Breton, Product Designer for 3DS Max, Autodesk.

The session is starting, agenda, introductions, etc…

First up, mrPhotographic Exposure Control (I will be talking about this in my presentation too). PEC is actually a tonemapper based on the Rineart algorithm. This maps available tonal ranges so we can see them. PEC works in a completely physically based work flow. He shows an LDR photo with a high dynamic range (brights and darks) and tells us the photo settings, 1/15, f3.5, ISO200.

Shows the same image in true HDR format (made from 5 EV’s). Plugs that image into Max’s environment map slot. Sets the PEC settings to match the first example image. And hits render. Its almost a perfect match. Thus proving that PEC is working correctly in phyically based work flow.

Goes over the features of PEC. It works like a camera (shutter speed, fstop, ISO) Shows the control dialog on tweaking highlights, midtones, and shadows (These are great). Talks about when to use”unitless” (for HDR).

Next topic, Glare Shader. Simple easy to use post process. Not physcially based. For aesthetics only.

Next topic: A&D Material (ArchDesign Material). Self illumination. Works best with Photometric lights. It is physically based. Now has EXACT ambient occlusion, meaning it now considers color of objects, not just proximity, as to whether it should darken it.

Next topic: Showed the portal lights. These are great. Like area lights, but considers the environment as the light source. (works with HDR)

Next topic: Hidden Gems. Show mrBlackBody shader. Creates physically accurate reflections with physically based lights. Showed the Production shaders, showed to to reveal them (read my previous post here for more info).

Concluded by showing a movie of Zap Andersson’s Production Shader example movies.

AU LIVE BLOG: Session – Autodesk Software Production Questions Answered

•November 27, 2007 • 1 Comment

augrab.jpgThis session is being moderated by Gary M. Davis (good friend of mine) and he will be taking questions from the audience…

The session is starting.

  • Gary Davis, Production Artist
  • Mark Gerhard, AE from ImagineIT
  • John Higgs, Partner, Corgan Media Lab.

Question: Network Rending with Mental Ray… whats allowed and what isn’t

Distributed Rendering has some limitations, to use distributed rendering vs. not distributed rendering

Use rendering passes.

Distributed rendering is not the same thing as network rendering. So you can have the rendering farm rendering with MR in the same unlimited fashion as scanline. (machine per frame). Distributed rendering is many machines per frame.

All machines are tied up with distributed rendering, regular network rendering the machines are not. If you have to stop a machine in distributed render mode, you stop the whole rendering process.

Continue reading ‘AU LIVE BLOG: Session – Autodesk Software Production Questions Answered’

Revealing The Production Shaders in 3ds Max 2008

•November 22, 2007 • 9 Comments


Thanks Zap Andersson (his blog here) for creating a series of shaders for Mental Ray in 3ds Max called “the Production Shaders”. These shaders ship with 3ds Max 2008 and are available for you use, but they aren’t revealed to the program but default– so you have to reveal them yourself by changing a single configuration file.

Why isn’t it revealed? I can’t speak for Autodesk officially of course, so my opinions here are speculative at best, but I suspect its because there is no official support for these shaders. That doesn’t mean they don’t work. In fact, the ones I have used work great. But you should be aware that using them requires a comfort level on your part that you’re OK with changing a configuration file and that you may need to be resourceful in finding other individuals who are also using them for “support” and info sharing.

If you’re still reading, I’m about to show you how to reveal them. In future posts, I will be posting a couple of examples from my Autodesk University talk about Image Based Lighting (see this post) where I will show you a couple of very distinct advantages these shaders bring to the table.

BEFORE YOU BEGIN, I have to put this disclaimer. Changing this file is at your own risk. Be smart, back it up. Once the shaders are revealed, you are technically on your own, as I know of no direct Continue reading ‘Revealing The Production Shaders in 3ds Max 2008’

Zbrush 3.1 now with a 30-day trial

•November 16, 2007 • 3 Comments

troll-1.jpgGood news from Pixologic landed in my inbox today. They are now offering a 30 day trial of Zbrush 3.1. You can get the trial by clicking here.grab.jpg

This is from the website, sorry its not more of a substantive review but other gigs are pulling me in different directions.

ZBrush 3.1 continues Pixologic’s pursuit of artist focused and artist driven tools. 3.1 addresses many requests from users of ZBrush 3.

Notably, we have added the following items:

  • New Brush Palette that allows users to load and save their own brush presets
  • New Brush features such as Color Masking and BackFace Masking.
  • User Assigned Hotkeys
  • ZMapper
  • Displacement Exporter
  • Poseable Symmetry using Smart Resym’s Topological Symmetry feature
  • A New Mesh Relaxation Tool: Reproject Higher Subdiv’
  • Support for square alphas while sculpting
  • Support for sculpting with both ZAdd and ZSub
  • Mesh Projection now projects PolyPainting”

3ds Max 2008 on a Mac Book Pro

•November 15, 2007 • 4 Comments

adesk.jpgI’ve been dreading this post for a while. And not because I have bad news to report. Quite the contrary. 3ds Max 2008 works just fine on my MBP. Installation was no problem. My fear is that I would have little to say on the matter. Which at the moment, is true.

I have not used it in production yet (though, i probably never will unless its an emergency) but I have been working on some of my image-based lighting material for my upcoming talk at Autodesk University (see this link) and everything has been cranking along just fine. No problems to report.

My only remaining issue in general (unrelated to 3ds Max) is that I can’t mirror the LCD panel in the DVI out port. It only extends the desktop. As a presenter and instructor, this is bad news because I need to be able to see whats on my LCD at the same time I’m projecting it.

Other than that, 3ds Max is the smokin’ hotness on a MBP.

Editor’s note: Here are the links to the 1st three parts of the MBP + 3dsMax experience. Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

3ds Max 2008 Hits First Customer Ship

•October 19, 2007 • 1 Comment

3dsmax08_flexshot3-d-1000.jpgIts time to welcome the next version of 3ds Max. dubbed “3ds Max 2008” the new version heads off the “10” moniker, thus seeming new (or rather futuristic since its not 2008 yet).

Announced at SIGGRAPH 2007 in San Diego last August, this version of 3ds Max. These are the highlights of the new features you can now get your hands on;

Accelerated Performance
The integration of new technology into the software’s Adaptive Degradation System improves interactive performance by automatically simplifying scene display to meet a user-defined target frame rate. You control how 3ds Max adjusts scene display—whether the smallest objects are hidden, or distant objects have less detail, etc.—and 3ds Max calculates how best to achieve it. When combined with the new Direct3D® mesh caching that groups objects by materials, the result is that tens of thousands of objects can be just as interactive as ten objects. In addition, loading, arrays, Autodesk® FBX® and OBJ export, and other areas of the software perform significantly faster.

Scene Explorer Scene Management
3ds Max 2008 delivers Scene Explorer, a robust new tool that provides you with a hierarchical view of scene data and fast scene analysis, along with editing tools that facilitate working with even the most complex, object-heavy scenes. Scene Explorer gives you the ability to sort, filter, and search a scene by any object type or property (including metadata), with stackable filtering, sorting, and searching Continue reading ‘3ds Max 2008 Hits First Customer Ship’

New ZBrush plugin: ZAPPLINK VERSION 3

•October 11, 2007 • Leave a Comment

This just in from the dudes over at Pixologic. They have just released this plugin for ZBrush3.

From the release:

“ZAppLink 3 is a ZBrush plugin that allows you to seamlessly integrate your favorite image editing software into your ZBrush workflow. Call up your image editing package while in ZBrush, use it to modify the active ZBrush document or tool, and then go straight back into ZBrush.”

We haven’t tried it out yet, but when we do, we’ll let you know.

You can get the plugin here.

AU2007: Realistic Lighting from Photographs– Image-Based Lighting Revealed

•September 28, 2007 • 3 Comments

augrab.jpgHave you ever been to Autodesk University? This year its in Las Vegas and the 3DGuru will be attending, and speaking! Yes, its been a while since I’ve been on the conference circuit. But, alas, I’m coming out from under my rock a little.

If you attend, please come to my session! Its titled Realistic Lighting from Photographs– Image-Based Lighting Revealed. Here’s the description and course number:

DV300-1 (Design Viz track)

“Intended for emerging Autodesk 3ds Max users, this session will explore the world of image-based lighting for rendering images using High Dynamic Range (HDR) maps and mental ray software. We’ll begin with the process of capturing the existing real-world environment lighting. From there we’ll see the steps involved in creating HDR image maps that are used within 3ds Max for photorealistic scene lighting. Finally, we’ll employ camera techniques that will create very real images that combine computer graphics and real photographs for completely believable and seamless final imagery.”

What is AU? Check this out…(from the AU Website & heres the link to the FAQ)

Autodesk University is all about … experience.

  • The experience of hands-on training with tools and techniques that help you experience your ideas before they’re real.
  • The personal experience of learning from the world’s top instructors, Autodesk insiders, and industry experts.
  • Autodesk’s 25 years of experience developing the software you use every day.
  • The professional expertise/experience that you bring home to benefit your company and your career.

Come on out and say “howdy”! And tell me that you saw my blog!

Mac Book Pro and 3ds max, Part 3; The Reconciliation.

•September 27, 2007 • 30 Comments

mymbp.pngWell, its been 3 months. We’re back together again, my Mac Book Pro and me. After she left she lost 2 inches off her monitor and is now a svelte 15″. She’s gained some power and doubled her RAM and showed up on my doorstep. She was willing to do anything I wanted; Parallels or Bootcamp whatever it took. So I caved and gave her a second chance. But this time, I was much wiser and made sure we were using Bootcamp 1.3 before any hanky-panky ensued.

You know how they say absence makes the heart grow fonder? Well. Its true. We’ve been back together, actually working together now for about 3 months and I have to admit it. Its been great.

Remember the heat problem? Gone. The funky boot up order? Fixed. The occasional crash? Not anymore (ok, ok… that may have actually been my fault.)

But what I can tell you is that 3DS Max 9 on Mac Book Pro 15″ with a 2.33GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 2 GB ram is sweet charity.

But we are still in therapy on a couple of issues.

  1. The keyboard layout for keyboard shortcuts is still a little off. The inability to delete anything in Max is solved but you must add the function key to delete key… Not perfect, but I can live with it.
  2. The DVI port doesn’t mirror the desktop, only extends it. This is not fun for demos or training gigs.

There may be a couple of other nit-picky things here and there but overall, the reasons for the original breakup have longs since faded.

The MBP is a viable 3dsMax-worthy machine for light to medium duty work.

On the upside, I have really enjoyed using some of the OSX based production apps. Especially Motion. Thats a fairly decent little compositor. it also seems pretty well integrated into FinalCut HD, which I’m slowly picking up.

lilmini.jpgSo for now, this Mac bachelor is in a one-laptop relationship again. But where is this relationship going? We’ve been talking about adding a little one, and it looks as though there might be a Mac Mini in the offing. More later (wink wink, nudge nudge, say no more…)

Editor’s note: Here are the links to the 1st three parts of the MBP + 3dsMax experience.

Part 1, Part 2,