Maya – Setting the V-Ray Sun direction according to location, date and time

Software:
Maya 2018 | V-Ray 3.6

To set the VRaySun photometric light source diretion according to the location in the world, the date and the time:

  1. Select the VRaySun parent node – ‘VRayGeoSun1Transform‘ and rotate it so its Z axis points to the architectural plan’s south.
  2. Select the VRaySun node – ‘VRayGeoSun1‘ and in its attributes un-check Manual Position.
    This will make the location / date / time parameters accessible.
  3. Set the GMT zone of you architectural project’s location in the world, the Date and time.
    * haven’t found how to set daylight saving time….

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Related:
V-Ray for Maya Physical Camera
V-Ray for Maya White Balance
Daylight system addon for Blender

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Measure Distance & Angle in Blender

Software:
Blender 2.79

To create and edit measurement Rulers & Protractors:

  1. In the Tool Shelf > Grease Pencil,
    Press Ruler/Protractor to activate Ruler/Protractor mode.
  2. LMB Click & Drag the 3D Viewport to create a measuring Ruler.
    * Hold Ctrl while creating the Ruler to snap its start and end points to 3D elements.
    * If a one or more measuring Rulers already exist, Ctrl must be held anyway to create a new Ruler.
  3. LMB Click & Drag along an existing Ruler line to turn it into a Protractor for angle measurement.
    * Hold Ctrl while creating the Protractor to snap its apex to 3D elements.
  4. LMB Click & Drag a point in an existing Ruler or Protractor to change its location.
  5. LMB Click an existing Ruler or Protractor and Press Delete to delete it.
  6. When finished creating measurement Rulers & Protractors,
    Press Enter to save them for later use of the Ruler/Protractor mode,
    Or Press Escape to discard them (without discarding Rulers / Protractors that were previously saved).

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To Delete all Ruler / Protractor data:
In the Properties Panel > Grease Pencil Layers,
Delete the RulerData3D Layer.

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Animating the sample settings in Cycles

Software:
Blender 2.79

A quick Cycles rendering tip:

There are situations in which we need to render an animation with changing lighting complexity, and as a result, parts of the animation need more samples than others to be effectively rendered.
For example when the camera starts it’s movement on the outside in an exterior scene, and moves into an interior space like house or a cave, or a vehicle, in many cases, the exterior part of the animation can be rendered with much less samples than the interior part.

In such cases, rendering the whole animation with the higher sample settings will demand unneeded render time in the simpler parts of the animation.

One possible solution would be to simply render the animation in two separated render jobs with different sampling settings, one for the less demanding part and another for the more complex part and than append the two parts in an editing / compositing software. but that requires more work on the shot, more management etc.

A simple solution is to animate the sample settings in Cycles.
Make tests at different times along the animation to determine how many samples are needed at each part, and key-frame the settings accordingly.

AnimateSamples

Basic architectural glazing material in UE4

Software:
Unreal Engine 4.18

  1. Create a new material, and double click it to edit it.
  2. In the Details panel, under Material, set Blend Mode to Translucent.
  3. In the Details panel, under Translucency, set Lighting Mode to Surface Translucency Volume.
  4. Set Base Color to White.
  5. Set Metallic to 1.
  6. Set Roughness to 0.
  7. Create a Fresnel node and connect it to the Opacity input.
  8. In the Fresnel node, set Base Reflect Fraction to control reflection amount in perpendicular surface viewing angle (front).
    * Note that its connected to Opacity, but since the material is basically a flat mirror, when it’s not purely transparent it will be reflective.
  9. In the Fresnel node, set Exponent to control the reflection amount falloff curve from perpendicular surface viewing angle (front) to parallel surface viewing angle (sides).
    * Higher values will create a steep falloff curve, resulting in less reflection in most viewing angles.

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Exporting 3D camera data from After Effects to 3ds max

Software:
After Effects CC 2018

  1. Download the AE3D_Export script here:
    http://www.urbanspaceman.net/shared/AEscripts/AE3Dexport/AE3D_Export.jsx
  2. Perform 3D tracking on the footage if necessary.
  3. Select the 3D Camera layer and also Null layers if available.
  4. Choose File > Scripts > Run Script File and locate the AE3D_Export script.
  5. In the Script parameters highlight 3ds max.
  6. Click Options and set the scale.
    * you might need to try and see the scale in 3ds max to set it right.
  7. Set a name for the exported ms (MaxScript) file.
  8. Click Export.
    The resulting ms file will appear on the Desktop.
  9. Drag the ms file into 3ds max Viewport.
    The script will run and create an animated Camera and Dummies.
  10. Group the Camera and the Dummies, and link them to a new Point Helper.
    This will allow for easy orientation and scaling.
  11. Display the Original video sequence as Viewport Background to check the camera motion.

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3D Tracking in After Effects

Software:
After Effects CC 2018

  1. Select the footage layer in the composition and choose:
    Animation > Track Camera.
    * A 3D Camera Tracker effect will be applied to the layer, tracking will be processed, and when finished tracking points will be displayed.
  2. Hover over the tracking points and click to select a planar position, a location where the round icon is placed between 3 planar tracking points.
    * If you don’t see the tracking points make sure the 3D Camera Tracker effect is highlighted in the layer’s Effect Controls.
  3. Right click and choose Create Null and Camera.

Related:
Export 3D camera data to 3ds max

HDRI / Environment Sampling in Blender

Software:
Blender 2.79

Improve HDRI sampling by increasing the MIS (Multiple Importance Sampling) map resolution in World > Settings

2018-01-19

When the Sampling method is ‘Branched Path Tracing’ the environment sampling isn’t found in the general Sampling Settings but in World > Settings.

2018-01-19

* The Sampling Method can be chosen in the Render > Sampling settings