Maxwell for Rhino 4 version 1.7.0 Release Notes
The following topics outline changes and improvements made in the Maxwell for Rhino 4 plugin in the new 1.7.0 version.
Version 1.7.0 introduces a new plugin tool: the Database Manager. The Database Manager window provides convenient access to a collection of plugin Materials stored on your machine. In contrast with previous versions of the plugin, in which Materials were only available in the Scene in which they were created, the Database Manager allows for different models to share the same Materials while still allowing a full implementation of the Maxwell material model natively in the plugin, and also not requiring any direct interaction with files and folders. Materials are still saved directly in the document, to ensure seamless document-portability. Additionally, the Database Manager holds collections of sub-Material components, specifically: Emitters, BSDFs, Coatings, SubSurfaces, Displacements, and individual Textures. These may simply be dragged back and forth between the Database Manager and the Material Editor’s layers tree to provide for the building of new Materials using pre-configured components.
The Database Manager can easily manage a database of several thousands of Materials. For this reason, they are purposefully not shown with thumbnails in the Materials Catalog, instead being represented using a simple tree-structure. Since it would take a great deal of memory to fully-load all of these Materials into memory, the actual Materials are only loaded on-demand. This is efficient, but it is also not very convenient since it is not possible to know what each Material looks like without loading it – to address this, the Database Manager offers a thumbnail-style sub-window: the Volume View, which provides a way of loading a Volume of Materials into memory complete with thumbnails for easier browsing.
The Scene Materials Browser is now located directly in the Scene Manager window. While the Materials used by the Scene ‘live’ in the database, it is still useful to know and control which ones are used by the Scene. All of the Materials shown in the Scene Materials Browser will be saved directly in the document. When the document is opened on a machine whose database does not contain the Materials found in that document, they are automatically added to the database.
The Material Editor has been updated to provide access to the new Maxwell SubSurface system. A BSDF layer no longer has a SubSurface as a child layer. Rather, a BSDF is converted into a SubSurface by right-clicking its’ node and choosing ‘Turn to SubSurface’. Reverting the layer back to a BSDF is done in a similar way. In the SubSurface editor window, there is a ‘Presets’ drop-down which sets the layer parameters to one of a collection of pre-defined types.
Similar to the new 1.7 Maxwell MXED material editor, plugin Materials also now provide a run-time-only ‘history’. At any time, you can click a button in the Material Editor which will take a ‘snapshot’ of the current state of the Material. This will be added to a list which may be recalled by pressing ‘Back’ and ‘Forward’ buttons, similar to those used in a web-browser. While Material ‘snapshots’ are not saved in files, the are actually live Materials - that is, they may be edited in-place when they are recalled, and they may be saved as a new Material by dragging them from the Material Editor to the Database Manager.
In response to user-requests, a new command, ‘Maxwell_ExtractMaterials’, has been also added to the plugin. When this command is executed, the plugin will traverse the model, building Materials from each of the regular Rhino materials it finds (and detecting duplicates), in the same way as is done when exporting an MXS. Optionally, you may also specify that the generated Materials be assigned to the objects whose Rhino materials they were generated from.
In Plugin Options there are a few new settings which relate to Materials. ‘De-select All On Drag’ does what it says, de-selecting all objects when Materials are dragged over the viewport. In the Material Defaults section, you will find a new setting: Preview Threads. This setting simply controls how many threads will be used by MXCL when it is used by the plugin to refresh Material previews. This is good for making sure that the preview-refresh routine does not slow down the whole machine. The ‘Only Export Active Camera’ setting also does what it says, preventing multiple Cameras from being exported when they are not needed.
The plugin’s support for the Maxwell Real Scale Texture feature has been substantially improved. It is no longer necessary to define any explicit Rhino texture-mapping in order to use Real Scale. Rather, the plugin will automatically generate and manage a custom mapping for objects which use Real Scale Textures on its’ own. The mapping created by the plugin always stays oriented to the object - it is created based on how the object which uses it was created. Because of this, version 1.7.0 also adds a new section to the Maxwell Object Properties window: Real Scale Texture Control. Here you will find three numeric inputs which control how the Texture will be rotated in respect to the selected object or objects. Furthermore, the plugin now makes it easier to work with multiple Rhino texture-mappings: when a Texture is selected in the Material Editor, the Rhino mapping which corresponds to the texture’s Channel will be shown in the viewport. This will also happen when changing a Texture’s Channel number.
The Material Editor’s texture-editor pane now supports visualization of the new saturation, contrast, brightness, and RGB clamp parameters which have been added to Maxwell textures in version 1.7. These parameters (located in a small window which drops down from the texture-editor toolbar) are per-texture, and they work with the CTRL and SHIFT keys in the same way as the other Texture parameters – CTRL applies changes to all Textures in the current layer, and CTRL+SHIFT applies them to all Textures in the Material.
Version 1.6.8 Cameras have an Auto-exposure feature. This has been extended and improved in version 1.7.0 with the new EV (Exposure Value) parameter. When Auto-exposure is enabled, the current EV is used to calculate the exposure whenever fStop, Shutter, or ISO are changed. When Auto-exposure is disabled, the EV is figured whenever these parameters are changed. Therefore, it is possible to adjust the exposure, then ‘lock’ it in by enabling Auto-exposure. EV may also be adjusted directly. Charts giving ballpark EV figures for different lighting conditions are available by searching the web.
In addition to the readouts provided in plugin version 1.6.8, the Camera Heads-up Display in 1.7.0 now also shows the Camera’s current focal distance, DOF near, and DOF far readings.
For convenience, each page of the Scene Manager now includes a button in its’ toolbar which has performs the function of re-setting the page’s parameters to default.
The 1.7.0 plugin also provides some new commands found in the main Maxwell menu, under the Scene Data Management item: Export Current State and Import Saved State. These functions allow for exporting and importing complete sets of Scene data using standalone files (.sxl) which may be shared as desired. Also in this menu, you will find another new command: Relocate Paths. This is basically a ‘pack-and-go’ command, which prompts you to choose a new MXS output location. When the new path is chosen, the plugin copies all referenced files to a ‘textures’ folder located in the target directory, and modifies all plugin paths to point to the new location. When an MXS is then exported, all of the paths in it refer to the newly-copied files, making for easier MXS portability.
In the Environment Settings page, you will find controls for the new Maxwell Physical Sky’s atmospheric parameters. It is also possible to import and export the new Maxwell .sky format from the plugin using buttons in the Environment Settings toolbar. In the Render Settings page, you will now find controls for MXCL’s Simulens parameters: Glare and Scattering, in addition to the already-present Vignetting parameters.
Support for Maxwell instances has been added in this version. This capability is implemented in such a way that Rhino blocks are exported as Maxwell instances, when the plugin option ‘Export Blocks as Instances’ is enabled.
With the release of 1.7.0, the Rhino and SolidWorks plugins now share most of their codebase – they both use the same basic structure, and share Material formats. It is possible to export a Material library (.mxl) or Scene state (.sxl) file from either and import it into the other. Furthermore, when installed on the same machine, the Database Manager in each plugin uses the same database, allowing the same Materials to be used in documents in both applications.
Next Limit Team