Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Missing menu files for AutoCAD Architecture and MEP?

For those that still use AutoCAD Architecture (ACA) or AutoCAD MEP (AMEP) - you will find this of great interest. I suppose its about time I tracked this issue down. Back when I installed ACA earlier this year, I noticed there were no pulldown menu's. It didn't bother me much as I was so focused on assimilating the new ribbon. One of our customers finally came across the same issue which forced me to track it down.

After trying a reinstall of the product, looking in the Doc&Settings UserDataCache folder, and reloading CUI files to rebuild them, verifying I had the latest product version, nothing worked. I went on a week and a half long quest with Autodesk support. They told me to try all the things I had already done and then some, but none of their suggestions addressed the fact that the menus were completely missing from the CUI file. In the process of this quest, I also noticed there were no toolbars in the default ACA CUI file.

I asked Autodesk to send me their default ACA CUI file so I could try and load the menus from theirs. It too was blank as was another CUI file I got from a colleague 10 states away that worked at a different company altogether. When I posted this info back to Autodesk support I was getting rather unsettled to put it mildly.

Today they finally sent me a zip file containing all menus and toolbars that I was looking for along with instructions on how to integrate them with ACA. This left me with several questions unanswered that I'm sure you are thinking as well. Why were these not included by default with ACA 2010? Why did they not release a product update to fix this? Why did they assume we would not want these toolbars and menus in 2010? Why did it take a week and a half for them to figure out they needed to send me these files? Oh well - at least I have them now. If you are running ACA or AMEP 2010 you will likely need these files at some point. Rather than re-host them somewhere else, I found they are already posted to AUGI.

Download from this AUGI post

Monday, December 28, 2009

Friday, December 11, 2009

What a week!

Last week saw the birth of my first son! Less sleep, less time and a bundle of joy. What can I say? I couldn't ask for anything better.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Autodesk Product Survey

Not happy with the products your are getting from Autodesk? Well here is your chance to make your voice heard!

Product Survey

Thursday, November 12, 2009

2009 Visualization Industry Survey

It looks like things are picking up a bit. I just finished reading up on an interesting survey on the design visualization industry and it has some very interesting insights.

Survey Results

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

MachStudio Pro is the real deal

Well, I have to say that I'm thoroughly impressed with MachStudio Pro (or MSP for short). I made a previous post about this technology on my blog earlier this year and got some great feedback via the comments. One blogger (tomacmuni) made a very interesting comment about MSP and other technologies that I wanted to address.
Quote from tomacuni: "Machstudio is graphics card based and you get the so-called partnership ATI provided card to make sure that it works well.
You can't buy the software without the card - I asked. They said no.
Presumably your computer itself will also contribute to how well that performs.

I asked myself, to what extent might it be the graphics card that boosts the render time, as opposed to the software?

Vray RT is CPU based -- without a networked suite of *up to to 10* slave processors for instance, from what I can tell it's not going to be that helpful for acceleration.
....
I'm not sure, but Artlantis seems to be a kind of intentionally optimised renderer, using simple material presets and simple render settings that look at best adequate ... a bit like Vray with 'low' quality sampling. I haven't seen high quality rendering from it."
The ATI card (or GPU for short) does all the heavy lifting when it comes to rendering the image. Your computer specs need to be able to support the ATI card, but do little else when it comes to pushing the limits of MSP. MSP is coded/written to take advantage of the processing power of the GPU. None of the other softwares you mentioned do that to my knowledge. The ATI V8750 has 800 cores to process data. 800!!! The unfortunate reality is that most applications today have not been written to take advantage of the GPU and its processing power. How many CPU's can you link together for VRAY's RT technology - ten? Alright, so then what? After you link them together and preview your render in the viewport, are you able to save that image or can you output it to a full HD image plate without having to render and use a render farm? As for Artlantis, I have yet to see high quality renders, much less renders completed as fast as what MSP can do set to full high quality.
Quote from tomacuni: "For actually rendering, Maxwell and Machstudio Pro send out content for rendering to an external application."
Vray and Mental ray do this too - its just transparent to the user. As far as I have been able to tell, MSP does not send anything out to an external application for rendering - it is all done in the same interface with the same program and nothing needs to be translated (another one of the problems with mental ray or vray).
Quote from tomacuni: "It seems to be that these render 'solutions' may mark the fin de si├Ęcle of standard renderer software given they're based on technology that's aging fast. It seems there's a looming shift in approaches to rendering. I wonder in two or so years which of these 'new' renderers will attract the larger user base.
...
I'm a 3DSMax user mainly, so
I wonder if, at some point, 3DSMax itself may ship with some kind of 'real time' rendering technology which simply eclipses all the tools commented on here. A few years ago I guess that's what the incorporation of mentalray aimed to do."
I come from a background mostly utilizing 3ds MAX too. I look forward to seeing which technology will attract a larger user base as well. If Autodesk has an ounce of smarts in their R&D team, they are already looking at how their products can take advantage of the GPU to increase render times. I know a couple products already do but it will likely take time for a company the size of Autodesk to move it into production for 3ds MAX and Maya (I hope I'm wrong on that though).

3D World magazine recently had a review from Dan Alban of AGA Studios published and gives yet another testimony to MSP. I personally am just starting to get my feet wet with MSP and how it can integrate with Architectural Design Visualization workflows. There have been some great studies done already on StudioGPU's website. In the image that was posted to this blog post, can you tell which was done with MSP or VRAY? There are some great examples done on their site as well that incorporate Architectural Design Visualization use of MSP. If you want to get more discussion on what MSP can do in this regards, there is a great discussion thread already unfolding on their forums.

Yes, this might be a brand new technology, but the potential is so big, I can't imagine this technology sitting idle - I see it advancing further very rapidly. I love the feedback this technology has prompted - I hope this post will spark further interest!

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Video Cards - Can you help me pick one?

No!

I can however equip you with a great article to help you better understand the market and better select one for yourself. I just finished reading a very insightful and well put together article in the latest AUGI World magazine.

Click me for a link to a low-res version of AUGI World!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Setting up a render farm

I found a great topic that has been getting some attention on LinkedIn recently. Thought I would share in case you didn't happen to see it.

Building a render farm link

Monday, September 21, 2009

How a golf cart ride can change your world

I think this website lies. It says July 13th was my last post. It just can't be. 21st of September already you say? More than 2 months without a post? Well, I guess I could just go edit the time of the last posting, but that wouldn't be fair now, would it? Anyways, my apologies for being distracted this summer. Between kids, work, moving and other activities, I just haven't had the time I usually do.

Earlier this month I had a little dream fulfilled - working behind the scenes at Disneyland resort in Anaheim, CA. Call it childish if you want, but I have always been fascinated with what lies on the "other" side of the fence. Cast members walk in and out like there is nothing special about it. The thing is, growing up as a kid, there were always all these stories of what "might" happen if you went and explored the other side without invitation. Well, now I've finally seen the other side and somehow, even the other side is magical. It will be a day looong remembered in the empire...

Monday, July 13, 2009

New Webcast for 3ds MAX and Civil Engineers

There will be a new webcast in the Design Visualization series on Wednesday July 15th at 10am Pacific. It will feature a workflow for the civil engineering industry and how 3ds MAX can be used for these types of projects.

Edit: The link stopped working and I have replaced it with a link to all Design Visualization webcasts presented by Autodesk.

Alternate link

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Dynamite VSP 4.0

Double news bulletin:

3am Solutions
has released their latest version of their flagship product - Dynamite VSP 4.0.
  • Full compatibility with 3ds MAX Design 2010 & AutoCAD Civil 3D 2010
  • Full 64bit support
In addition, U.S. CAD has become authorized to sell Dynamite-VSP within the United States. I hope to give you more info as we become deeply involved with this product.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Simple Scene, Deep Impact

Just a great little article I came across on a scene done in 3ds MAX. I loved the simplicity the artist took at developing it, yet used his tools to convey a sense that the image was far more complex than it really was.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Command Trends

Have you ever been a trainer? Have you ever developed additional tools for software?

If so, you may have come across a few things I've observed in these environments. Sometimes in a classroom training environment, you come across someone who says they are having a problem with completing an exercise. They have gotten the screen all rearranged and buried 5 levels deep in some remote command, yet they swear up and down that they didn't do anything wrong and followed the exercise steps "word for word". Perhaps you've developed a set of tools or custom add on tools for CAD software and wonder if the users that requested it are really using it to its full potential. They might not even be using the tools, but you have no way to validate whether or not they are.

What if you could track these things? What if you could understand what led the person to take a wrong turn in the exercise and use that to avoid potential problems in future training environments? What if you could use feedback on how your custom tools were being used (or not)? Having all this info could lead you to provide better training in the future. Better tools, more refined, based on user actions would help fine your tools & make happy users of the software.

A good friend of mine is currently looking into the possibility of creating a program that would allow you to do just that. He is currently doing some market research for the value of user data and would like your feedback. The survey only takes about ten minutes and it would help a ton if you provided some feedback.

Here is the link to the survey - http://tr.im/jJ8f

If you know of anyone that manages, develops, or trains AutoCAD software, please feel free to send this on to them. For questions, feel free to drop a note to:

contact AT commandtrends DOT com

Friday, May 29, 2009

BIM City Comes to Life

This week we replicated... err... printed BIM City on our Z-Corp Z-Printer 450. Needless to say, it was a learning experience. We have plans for a larger version of the model showcasing the buildings better and allowing a better view of the city.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Real Time Rendering - is it possible?

What if I told you it were possible to have instantaneous feedback on changes made to your rendering? What if individual frames could be rendered in sub-seconds instead of 20-40 minutes a piece? What if you could work with your animated content from any program and render out Beauty, AO, DOF, etc. passes for editing in post - still in sub-seconds? What if poly count was no longer something you needed to worry about and could deal with scenes in the billions of polygon range? What if I could do this all on ONE desktop computer and ditch my hoard of render farms?

Would you think I'm on crack? Probably. I thought the people telling me about this were too - until I saw it with my own eyes.

I visited a company called Studio GPU this week. I can't tell you how incredible it was to see this first hand! Whether tuning your AO pass or playing with lighting conditions or camera bloom effects or scrubbing through the fully rendered animation - it's real! The DoF pass was so easy to tune and you could do it real time as if you were in post! You can even generate volumetric lighting in real time. HDR lighting is supported too for matching existing environments. It was so sweet it almost made me break down and cry. Pure joy!

Check it out!

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Let the voting for AU Classes begin!

Hey all! In a shameless bit of advertising, AU is looking to have the general public vote to see which classes they want to make the slate in December. Don't forget to vote for your favorite speaker!

I've submitted 2 topics this year. One will be an encore presentation of "Implementation Tools and Techniques That No CAD Manager Can Live Without" and the other will be "Making Autodesk Products Sing the Interoperability Highway Song".

The second class I mentioned will have Melanie Santer, Tod Wallace, Carlos Orona and myself as co-speakers. Your vote can help make these classes happen! Use this link to go vote for a class! All you need is an AU Online account. Look for other U.S. CAD instructors listed in the speaker list – vote for them! Get their classes approved!

Monday, May 04, 2009

Looking for Informational Resources?

Whether you use AutoCAD or 3ds MAX, Revit or Civil 3d - you'll find something for you at the Autodesk Resource Center. Check it out! http://resources.autodesk.com/ You'll find webcasts, tutorials white papers and more. Finally they have consolidated everything in a one stop shop!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

BIM City

This was a group effort by U.S. CAD Technical Specialists showcasing how Autodesk 2010 software solutions can help improve your business and add value to your existing workflow. The software used to complete the demo reel is: Revit Architecture 2010, Revit Structure 2010, 3ds MAX Design 2010 and Adobe After Affects CS4. Each of these help bring the latest value to your workflow and help in designing projects which are geared towards Building Information Modeling (BIM), Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) and Sustainable Design (SD) initiatives. To learn more please visit www.uscadbim.com



P.S.- The embedded video is not! the special project I mentioned in a previous post - that is still in the works.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

3ds MAX Design 2010

So after having played around with max for a few weeks now I'm beyond words with excitement for the potential of this release. To mark the occasion I have a special project planned to celebrate. Here is a little clue to what it involves...

Monday, April 06, 2009

AutoCAD 2010 Tips & Tricks by Lynn Allen

An exclusive for AUGI members only, you can now download Lynn Allen's AutoCAD 2010 Tips & Tricks book well in advance of any other Autodesk product user. Check it out!

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

3ds MAX 2010 Viewport Shading

Here is a couple of screen captures I took of a scene I opened on my computer of an interior house with artificial lights. Both shots were taken on the same laptop with a Nvidia Quadro FX 1600M. 2009 is significantly darker, less shadow pronouncement and generally low in graphic quality. 2010 is brighter, smoother, better all around. Click one of the image previews for a larger version...

AutoCAD on a Mac?

If you had just about given up hope that Autodesk would release AutoCAD for the MAC OS platform, think again. This recent survey shows Autodesk is researching market interest. If you've ever wanted to see it on a MAC OS, fill out this survey!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Well that's just great

DVMC has been canceled. I knew I should of waited a bit longer to buy that airline ticket! While they are considering a virtual conference, I don't feel I would pay the $299 they quoted me.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Your support for AUGI

Your support for AUGI is needed. There is a survey of particular importance currently open for vote. Please take 2 minutes from your day and complete this survey! Survey link

There will also be an upcoming special session vote to elect new Board of Directors who help run the organization. Some may think that this does not affect them since they only visit the forums once in a while to ask questions only they need answered. However, if there is no Board of Directors functioning for AUGI it puts the whole organization at risk of ceasing to exist. That means the forums which we all value so dearly could go away completely. ~Poof~ Vanish into thin air. What would you do without such a valuable resource as AUGI? I'll post back later when the special session opens.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Design Modeling and Visualization Conference (DVMC)

Its official! This year marks my first trip to the DVMC. I'm really looking forward to seeing what this conference offers. I'll be sure to report back on how it goes.

Monday, February 09, 2009

3ds MAX Design 2010

Holy Osnap! This next release of 3ds MAX Design could be a huge leap if this stuff comes to fruition!
Area Blog Post

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

3ds Max Lighting Analysis called 'Gold Standard'

Well, many people I've talked to over the past year have asked just how accurate the lighting system in 3ds MAX Design. I haven't been able to give a great answer to that question until now. As reported on by Ten Links, a joint venture between the National Research Council Canada (NRC), Harvard University and Autodesk. Their test results and published white paper can be found here: 3ds Max Design Exposure feature is as good as gold
Needless to say, Autodesk got it right for once!

Monday, February 02, 2009

Full speed ahead

Well, If you've been wondering about my lack of posts lately, I've been busy in other avenues of life. I married a very special woman on Jan 23, 2009. Leslie has brought me great joy, passion & hope. On another front, I've recently been promoted to the position of Technical Manager for our Building Solutions Division at U.S. CAD. The future is bright indeed! I'm looking forward to continuing to blog on our industry as things progress rapidly in 2009.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Link an FBX file like a DWG file in 3ds MAX Design 2009

Like most of the stuff Autodesk takes a first stab at, there is usually more to be desired. The best I can offer for a temporary workaround is the following:

  1. Export from revit to fbx.
  2. Import fbx into max scene A and save
  3. Create a second file in 3ds max - we can call it scene B
  4. Use the option File-> Xref Objects to bring the 3ds max file scene A into scene b. Bring all objects in - filter out unneeded ones
  5. While they are selected create either a group or selection set for control later on
  6. Add all entourage to scene B, change colors or materials as well if needed in MAX.
  7. If the design of the building changes in revit, follow steps 1 & 2 again only erase the existing geometry before re-importing the model.

I know its not ideal, but better than nothing and sets it up like a linked autocad file. If you are looking for changes made in max to go back to revit you will have to wait. If you recall, this was not possible with autocad files that were linked either.