Author Topic: Test Renders + Comparison  (Read 2712 times)

2020-03-20, 09:22:57

spr0ckets

  • Active Users
  • **
  • Posts: 47
    • View Profile
Here are a bunch of test renders I did for a project we're working on and submitting for permit and I wanted to compare how the output directly from ArchiCAD using the Corona plugin was to the same project rendered through Corona in 3ds Max was, and to basically show just how not that far apart they are in terms of usability and productivity.

The ArchiCAD renders using the Corona alpha plugin (each took between 15-20 minutes on an Intel Core i7-50H (9th Gen) Laptop with 16GB Mem):-







....and here are the 3ds Max versions (Rendered with Corona's v5 version), with assets and entourage using proxies and Forestpack for grass.











...and this is a previous version of the project also done in 3ds Max but with Corona v3 (so that should let you know how long ago it was.







Overall, I would say that this plugin is not that far from being production ready, and with just a few tweaks and additions it could easily fit into any office's workflow and pipeline with the least effort even on the learning part.
The obvious suggestions would be getting the proxy solution for large geometry objects and entourage like plants and 3d people, and an in-built scatter solution that can allow for grass (A big deal for architects and designers. Don't ask) and plant and tree scatter capabilities (in conjunction with the proxy files).

As for some notable issues, I did have a problem with the background, HDRI usage in some cases.
Choosing to use a separate HDRI or background image as an override (while using Corona/ArchiCAD sky and sun to light the scene) quite a few times caused a crash in ArchiCAD.
Also some HDRI's that worked fine in 3ds Max weren't showing at all in the ArchiCAD plugin or would show wrong. I'm not really sure what the issue there was. And I still think there might be a discrepancy between the color mapping currently in ArchiCAD's Corona plugin and how it shows in 3ds Max. Hard to describe exactly, but there was some more tweaking necessary to get the images to look as close as possible to how they would render in the 3ds Max version. Perhaps it was just a LUT/Gamma setting in 3ds Max (which we obviously don't have on the ArchiCAD side, but honestly I don't believe that would be the issue).
Lastly, the ability to transfer materials or use a common material library (with at least a basic template) in ArchiCAD would be a big plus - as materials are the only other current drawback of the plugin in its alpha state.

But overall I would say this is pretty close as one can get to a production-ready solution for the first draft.

Great work, guys!
Keep it up, and really looking forward to the next release and to see what's ahead.

2020-03-20, 09:58:15
Reply #1

alexhajdu

  • Active Users
  • **
  • Posts: 233
  • SW engineer - ArchiCAD
    • View Profile


Hi and thanks for sharing both your work and experience with Corona for AC.


The renders should share the same qualities as the rendering core is the same for all our plugins.


Please let me know more in-depth what was the issue with using HDRI?


" Perhaps it was just a LUT/Gamma setting in 3ds Max (which we obviously don't have on the ArchiCAD side, but honestly I don't believe that would be the issue)."
We have support for LUT's in the Postprocessing tab. Also see Tone mapping for the next image tweaks.


I'm not sure if I understand your next sentencte: "Lastly, the ability to transfer materials or use a common material library (with at least a basic template) in ArchiCAD would be a big plus -" Can you be please more specific? You mean better conversion from AC common materials into Corona material?


Lastly, we surely want to deliver scattering and materials...


---


The following section has nothing to do with your submitted work here, it's just a personal observation.
IMHO sometimes the quality seems to be better for 3rd party software like 3ds Max but only because the users in AC are working less with the camera possibilities ( like using DOF for interior renders for example ). The renders from a technical view are perfectly the same, but somehow it lacks some visual aesthetics which leads to these subjective feelings.

2020-03-20, 11:12:52
Reply #2

spr0ckets

  • Active Users
  • **
  • Posts: 47
    • View Profile

........


Please let me know more in-depth what was the issue with using HDRI?


" Perhaps it was just a LUT/Gamma setting in 3ds Max (which we obviously don't have on the ArchiCAD side, but honestly I don't believe that would be the issue)."
We have support for LUT's in the Postprocessing tab. Also see Tone mapping for the next image tweaks.

I wasn't referring specifically to LUT files, but rather in 3ds Max there's a general Gamma/LUT correction setting in the preferences that greatly affects how everything in not just your render looks, but also how things look in the material editor and the color pickers, and whatnot.
And having it checked on or off can wildly affect how images look and whether they look correct relative to other programs (like Photoshop) with similar gamma and color correction settings.
ArchiCAD has no setting for this (nor has any of the rendering engines, as far as I remember) and while you can correct or adjust the image gamma of a rendered image in something like the internal Cinerender engine (and I guess Corona as well), that setting varies from image or project file to project file.
It was just a speculation on my own part that this might have been the reason why some images might look a bit different.

Using LUTs is a bit tricky for me to do color correction because again I find the same LUT file gives me a different look in a program that has a different gamma setting (or even monitor calibration, as with image processing programs like Photoshop).
Maybe the tone mapping for the next image tweaks you've mentioned might clear it all up and make it all moot.

As for the issue with the HDRI, specifically I'm referring to a situation where I use ArchiCAD's sun and sky to light the scene (since  I can control directly in the 3D window where and how the sun sits in relation to my model), but then I might want a different background (like with clouds in the sky or some backdrops with buildings or treelines like some HDRI images have), and so I decide to use the "override background" option under the Environment tab and select the HDRI to achieve this, and in like 1 out of very 5 or 6 cases the program would sometimes completely crash.
At the time I thought it was because some of the HDRI files I was using were large, but then when I use those same HDRI files to light the scene, there's no crash and it renders fine.

The other HDRI issue I mentioned has to do with certain HDRI files that I used to light scenes (in 3ds Max for instance) either don't show or don't show correctly when I open them or try to load them in the Environment tab setting with the plugin. If it was just a question of not seeing it in that preview window as you adjust the settings, then it would be fine, but then it also wouldn't light the scene at all meaning it's just not leading. The same HDRI files as I mentioned work fine when I render the same projects through 3ds Max and Corona, so at the time I just assumed it was a memory issue since I'm using ArchiCAD 21 and that version has had issues with memory handling in certain situations that's supposed to have been fixed in version 22 and above.


I'm not sure if I understand your next sentencte: "Lastly, the ability to transfer materials or use a common material library (with at least a basic template) in ArchiCAD would be a big plus -" Can you be please more specific? You mean better conversion from AC common materials into Corona material?


Lastly, we surely want to deliver scattering and materials...

Okay, so this one was a little bit of a long shot, but if you'll bear with me I'll try to explain where I was coming from.
Before I used Corona (in both 3ds Max and ArchiCAD now) I used Vray, but more pertinently Maxwell renderer, which had (and I guess still has) an ArchiCAD plugin as well as plugins for other software. Along with this they had the ability to save your custom materials in a certain file format that the plugin in other software (ArchiCAD, Sketchup, Rhino etc) could read and open and which only saved the basic material settings (and not extra things like texture maps) that then allowed you to use the same materials with the same consistency across many platforms, and more importantly to build up a personalized material library that saved time for multiple projects.
I don't expect anything this extensive for the Corona plugin (after all, Maxwell had a material editor that pretty much allowed you to create materials from scratch using either a wizard with templates or just basic settings, and was in many ways almost a separate program in and of itself), but something like a material library template that took cues from the same library you now have in 3ds Max and which can even allow users to use it as a template to just plug in custom textures where necessary and adjust the basic settings, would be greatly and immensely helpful.

Again, I realize the comparison is not that great (another thing Maxwell had was a entirely standalone Studio program, and I don't really think most people want whole other subset of a different program to have to learn and use), but it was a basis for something that could come in between and make our lives a little better.


---

The following section has nothing to do with your submitted work here, it's just a personal observation.
IMHO sometimes the quality seems to be better for 3rd party software like 3ds Max but only because the users in AC are working less with the camera possibilities ( like using DOF for interior renders for example ). The renders from a technical view are perfectly the same, but somehow it lacks some visual aesthetics which leads to these subjective feelings.

I totally agree, and I should add that my intention in posting these wasn't to make the sort of comparison to show "look how  much different or "worse" the ArchiCAD versions are compared to the 3ds Max versions". If anything the complete opposite as in my opinion there's not a lot of difference or daylight between the two (aside from the things you can do by virtue of 3ds Max itself as opposed to the plugin) - which speaks well of the ArchiCAD plugin being an alpha version.
I understand that it's a comparison between a plugin that's still in the alpha stage and one that is not only complete but in the 5th or 6th version, so from that perspective it's not a straight or fair comparison in many ways.
But showing just how not that different or how not that far apart they are is a useful thing to see  and also just helping get an idea of what might help bridge the gap (from our perspective) without necessarily creating unwanted or unnecessary features or functions.

Even something like DOF, for ME is not a problem because, thanks to Corona's image format and VFB capabilities, I can just export out the ZDepth map or render element and get the DOF I need and want using Photoshop (which is how I do it even with the 3ds Max version). But even the fact that ArchiCAD's cameras already come with the ability to specify the camera target and have this information as separate means that it should theoretically be possible to set your DOF in your render settings directly and not have to go the photocompositing route like I do, for those who prefer one-and-done.
Personally I prefer getting everything I need from the VFB as render elements and then combining or adjusting them either in photoshop or even Corona's own image Editor, but that's just me and my workflow, so from my perspective a proper working VFB is more important than extra features that ArchiCAD itself can't carry in this respect.

2020-03-23, 11:24:54
Reply #3

alexhajdu

  • Active Users
  • **
  • Posts: 233
  • SW engineer - ArchiCAD
    • View Profile

Thanks for the valuable feedback!


LUT and HDRI
Ah, I see your point. Yes, there is no such option in AC.
Could you please share those HDRI maps so I can test for the crashes and mentioned issues?


Materials
We are working and talking on materials workflow improvements. It's quite a big topic...




VFB capabilities are definitely great, but I think if you can use DOF right in the camera, you should. The result will be more pleasing. Oh, I wish I had more time to make some comparisons :)

2020-03-24, 05:24:23
Reply #4

spr0ckets

  • Active Users
  • **
  • Posts: 47
    • View Profile
Hi Alex,

I will try to upload the HDRI files along with the ArchiCAD project (actually it's this very one) sometime this week.
It's a little bit of a hectic schedule on my end trying to work remotely away from the office thanks to all the self-quarantining that people are being forced into nowadays, but I should be able to carve out some time.

I should have mentioned earlier that the ArchiCAD version is 21 (most recent update), and the 3ds Max version is 2017.
I don't know if any of that information will be useful.

Yes, making comparisons is something I love doing. It helps me know how close (or far) I am to being able to ditch the 3ds Max part of my current workflow to be able to do everything straight from ArchiCAD through Corona if and hopefully when we do get there.