Thursday, August 14, 2008

Interaction with Papervision3D

The above image has been created with Papervision3D by Den Ivanov and can be viewed on his website. It is a lovely piece of work and shows some of what Papervision3D can achieve.

enables Flash / Flex users to use 3D content for the web. Flash was originally designed for just 2D input / output, however interactive. Macromedia Director was the tool that designers used to create interactive 3D interfaces for CD-ROM's / DVD's, not Flash. This is changing rapidly with this rather fantastic render engine.

I am not an expert on this but in trying to see how it works, there does not seem to be an interface that most of us would recognise, such as in Mental Ray. Once downloaded and installed, within Flash, you then have Papervision3D as an AS3 scripting page. Already, those of you who have any experience with code and Flash will know that this is new to me. What I have learnt is that it is an open source 3D render engine for Flash, the programming behind this only enhances the fact that there is a whole world of very clever people out there, making my skillset miniscule by comparison.

To explain - my husband is the Flash / Web designer, I ususally stick to my 3D work, and between us we are looking to use the interactive capability of Papervision3D in The Talking Walls project for Beaulieu Abbey. Unfortunately, neither of us are expert in code - of any sort. Paul uses CSS, AS2 etc as part of his job but his background is in graphics not programming. (Traditionally the two were always separate - not the case now, with programmers designing, and vice-versa.)

As for the 3D modelling aspect of Papervision3D, we are able to bypass this part of the coding, as we have Swift3D and Max. Papervision3D /Flash will import 3D content from either Swift3D or Max, using Collada as the export from Max, and Papervision3D export from Swift3D.

We have searched high and low for step-by-step tutorials for what we want to achieve. Looking through the web, there are some absolutely wonderful examples of Papervision3D, some of them showing exactly the kind of interactivity we want to incorporate.



But how to do this evades us at the moment. I know it won't be too long before we work it out, we already have interactivity on a single object thanks to this website we just need to know how to add the other cubes and make them interactive at the same time, and still allow the user to rotate the KubeMatrix.

In Director, this would have been fine, but we would really like to create the whole application in Flash.

If anyone reading this knows the additional code to make each cube interactive i.e. click and go to another page, then we would love to hear from you. It needs only to be the full faces on each cube, i.e the faces without the connectors, not every face.

Meanwhile, perseverance and determination (and stubborness) will succeed I am sure. As soon as we have worked it out, via help or otherwise, we will post the tutorial on this blog.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Building Beaulieu Abbey - Revit Architecture 2009

The image above is my first render 'out the box', i.e. using the standard settings within Revit Architecture 2009. This is perhaps the biggest area of change within the latest release of Revit Architecture. Mental Ray has been incorporated in the new version which is a great boon for all the architectural practices who do not have access to follow on programmes such as 3DS Max. It allows their scenes to be rendered much more realistically, with soft shadows using the Mental Ray Sun and Sky. The previous render engine, Accurender was very good, but gave a less photorealistic image, more illustrative, although you did have the option of Radiosity for interior scenes, which produced some excellent results.

There are a few set backs though. The trees, for me anyway, are too soft, almost fuzzy. These are RPC trees, the ones you would have used in the previous version will not render in the new version, they now need to be these RPC trees. They render very softly and are not sharp in detail - or shadow - as the previous type. They are far better for Elevations though, as they show the flat shape of the tree, showing as grey. This can be overcome by using a paint fill on the pertinent face.

For the people used to using Max, they will be disappointed with the lack of settings that Mental Ray gives them in Revit Architecture 2009. Mental Ray is so powerful within Max, but in Revit Architecture 2009 it has been whittled down to presets, some of which you are able to customise. Both programmes now have Pro-Materials. The images below are on Medium at 300dpi - this gave quite large images which have been compressed for uploading:

As you may remember from the previous post, the shadowing is much more realistic, giving a very much nicer image.

I would recommend though, that if you want far more control over how this renders, including the trees / plants, then it would be worthwhile exporting from Revit Architecture 2009 as a '.fbx' file and take it into Max (or equivalent). Then add your trees, using Max's own. With the fbx format the materials, unlike a dwg import, remain with the model, so you will not need to adjust unless you actually want to. It depends on how far you need to take the image. Revit's rendering with Mental Ray may be all that you need, the images above are not too shabby considering they are from purely bringing in the model and pressing Render.

The Abbey, since the last post, has been added to with work now started on the interior of the Abbey and the surrounding buildings. It will not be long now before this goes into Max, to create the finer details. These are often less easy to model / manipulate in Revit, as you cannot get to the vertex / edges / faces. The strength of doing as much modelling as possible in Revit Architecture, is that it is easier to see the construction by creating sections as and when required, and easier to model to the correct size by using styles, dimensions and levels.

Back to work....