ARTVPS Releases AV6.5 ART Renderer

Published 16 May 2008

Posted by Al Dean

Article tagged with:

ART-VPS has released a new version of its ART Renderer which updates support for the latest revisions of 3ds Max and Maya and brings some new goodies to users. One of the biggest bottlenecks is the creation of accurate lighting and scene set-up to ensure your product rendering looks absolutely photo realistic.

If you haven’t come across ART-VPS (it stands for Advanced Render Technology - Virtual Photography Systems) it developers raytracing acceleration hardware in the form of standalone devices (RayBox and RenderDrive) as well as component cards for your workstation (Pure). New options include a new ‘infinity cove’ and ‘sphere’ options within a skylight feature allowing you to alter the shape of the environment dome upon which your HDR image is going to be mapped. The new real-time reflection feature enables users to view ART materials and HDR reflections in real time, giving you instant feedback and real-time environment shading reduces test renders.

There’s also a bunch of other updates including quicker GI (Global Illumination) calcs, added support for Microsoft Vista and RayBox monitoring system now runs better on Mac OSX.

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Microsoft Touch Screen TouchWall

Published 15 May 2008

Posted by Al Dean

Article tagged with: design, hardware, visualisation, user interaction, engineer, multi-touch

Seems like Josh over at got to it first, but this looks sweet. Its a hacked together rear projection unit with some fancy bits and bobs running on Vista. What’s interesting is the multi-touch manner. A lot of the CAD vendors are talking about this as the future - SolidWorks went multi-touch crazy at their press event preceding the last SolidWorks World. I wonder how it could be packaged up - maybe some sort of hand held device like the Wacom’s Cintiq maybe. One thing’s for sure, we all ain’t gonna be standing in front of a wall to get the job done are we?

As a recent convert to the Apple platform and owner of a macbook air, I have to say multi touch is pretty compelling - as this technology develops, its going to be interesting to see how its implemented in CAD systems. Of course, most of my work is done on a big old workstation running windows, but I do my writing on OSX.. but if I do fancy designing something, I now have the early test version of Rhino for the Mac - and that has multi-touch implemented in a very subtle manner.

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Reading Matter: Designing Interaction

Published 14 May 2008

Posted by Al Dean

Article tagged with: design, industrial design, human factors, innovation, interaction design, engineer, ideo, visualization

I don’t really want this to turn into a book review blog, but there have been some amazing publications in the last few years. One of my personal favourites is Designing Interaction by IDEO founder, Bill Moggridge. For anyone involved in design, in product development, its chock full of interview and studies of how designers are adapting to accomodate how users interact with their products, be that by software, hardware - whatever. One of my favourite chapters is an interview with Kenji Hatori, a software engineer at Canon who developed PhotoStitch. It describes the stitch assist mode for cameras and Rikako recounts the process used to design the screen behaviors for the PhotoStitch software, with a clear structure indicated by tabs and actions clarified by animations. The book is supplied with a DVD that’s worth sitting a watching (and yup, boring your families with) - a great deal can be learned. You can see a video of the interview here.

If we’re to develop truly stunning products, whatever field they are active in, then the whole user experience needs to be address - and its something that CAD vendors should take note of - more so now than every before. The technology we use to develop products seems to be getting easier to handle, but without some form of forethought, some sort of rationalisation, its all for nothing. and again, the question of whether the Microsoft Ribbon UI is the way forward spring to mind. We develop in 3D - should our tools follow the same UI characteristics as Word, Excel and Outlook. Familiarity is the reason that vendors have jumped all over it. the argument being that if you can drive Word or Outlook, you can drive SolidWorks, SpaceClaim, Inventor et al. I’m not convinced.

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New PhotoWorks book from Rob Rodriguez

Published 14 May 2008

Posted by Al Dean

Article tagged with: solidworks, design, rendering, visualisation, book

Rob Rodriguez has a new book out for those of you looking for some assistance with PhotoWorks. One thing that’s always baffled me is the complexity of PhotoWorks. Yes, you can produce stunning imagery, but it Takes A Lot of Time. Rob’s book is surely a good place to start if you’re looking for more information on how to step up your rendering and visualisation skills.

What I love about the wealth of books coming out of the user community is that they are exactly that - books. Printed matter. And people like books, they aren’t a throw away PDF that’s hard to track down, but something tangible that you can pick up, flick through and learn something from.

Pre-order details are here

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STL for Revit

Published 13 May 2008

Posted by Al Dean

Article tagged with: prototype, design, autodesk, inventor, stl, revit

I found the recent addition to the Autodesk Labs web-site pretty interesting. There’s a new download for an STL exporter for Revit. According to the web-site you can “Create 3D Prints of your Revit 2009 models. As architects and engineers start their digital designs earlier and keep them digital for longer, they want a way to still physically interact with their designs. With the economical availability of 3D printers this has become possible.”

This is interesting for two reasons. Firstly, the Architectural world is going nuts-out-crazy for 3D printing and other rapid prototyping technology that designers and engineers have been using for decades (in some cases). Also, its interesting that this comes out for Revit, when the Inventor STL output tools are a little sketchy. It doesn’t allow you to export individual parts from an assembly (each has to be created separately), and it only supports the heavyweight ASCII version of STL, rather than the more compact binary version.

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Mike Hudspeth on ID for all

Published 13 May 2008

Posted by Al Dean

Article tagged with: design, industrial design, innovation, engineer

Desktop Engineering is a magazine I’ve written a lot for over the past few years and its odd that I never actually get to read the paper version. But anyway, I like Mike Hudspeth’s comment peice this month, on the relationship between Industrial Design and 3D design tools. Just because you have the tools, doesn’t mean you’re any good at it - something i couldn’t agree with more.

“First, and perhaps most important of the myths, is that anyone can do industrial design. After all, it’s just about styling, right? Wrong. Not everyone can design.”

“Industrial design is a whole lot more than meets the eye. It takes into account how things work and what the target audience needs — with an eye turned to their expectations. Customer psychology plays a huge part. Industrial design also has to do with responsibility — to one’s customers as well as to the environment. Safety issues are very important. And form doesn’t always follow function. Sometimes a product cries out for an artistic re-imagining to reinvigorate it and save it from sheer market boredom.”

Its not a case of trying to protect a career, or trying to protect a field of specialism, but one of training, of research, and shear bloody talent. Just because you have a set of paints, you’re not a good painter. And the same goes, just because you have a 3d design tool that includes surface modelling, G3 curvature continuity, does mean you’re an industrial designer.

Nice one Mike.

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Think3 are back - YAY!

Published 12 May 2008

Posted by Al Dean

Article tagged with: web, cad dealers

Its with no certain amount of shear, unadulterated joy that I can announce that think3 are back. For those that aren’t aware, think3 has been one of the most entertaining companies to watch in the CAD industry for years. They started out decades ago, as CAD Lab I seem to remember. Went through a rebranding excercise, ran a competition to find their new name (think3). Hired a big shot CEO (can’t remember.. Joe Costello) and started calling themselves an upstart MCAD company. That CEO caused a bit of stir because he ripped into the press for not covering his products and came unstuck. They also released training tools that used a video game to teach 3D modelling - The Monkey Wrench Conspiracy.

But the shame of it is that they had some interesting tools, some technology that was uniqe. Many vendors couldn’t touch their styling and surfacing tools, particularly the Global Shape Modelling (GSM) tools.

These were pretty unique back then - but if there ever was a story of a loss of potential, then this is it. Times have changed and with today’s technology, new players on the market, and the old guard doing innovative stuff, I wonder if this is a last gasp attempt - at what, I’m not too sure - acquisition?

I wonder if the users on the web-site are still using it - are the design teams at Alessi, Buel, all those others, still plugging away with ThinkDesign? Who knows.

The Press Release says: “Think3, the only supplier to offer technology solutions that combine product concept, development and design implementation environments, has launched new release of its CAD and PLM product lines ThinkDesign Suite and thinkPLM Suite 2008.1.”


Welcome Back.


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