A few thoughts....

Forums SketchUp Plugin A few thoughts....

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  • #3805
    Avatarjenujacob

    Hello!
    I have been following Bella Render (BR) over at Twitter. Being a SketchUp (SU) user and the many options we have for SketchUp, BR would (at least in my opinion) need a USP which would make it standout from the rest.

    Please have a look at this thread from the Sketchucation forums : https://sketchucation.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=80&t=71632

    As you can see, SU users can be pretty unforgiving if they aren’t impressed at the first instance. In the case of the render engine in question in the sketchucation thread posted above, the first NO-NO was due to the pricing policy, which BR is already on top of things in that regards. The next biggest criticism was that the plugin wasn’t able to render from within the application itself, which makes sense since the turn around times for quick concepts are merely hours now a days and we architects cannot spend half a day trying to export the model only to redo the exercise because of a small change required in the parapet height. So that brings us to the question, are you planning to implement a fully functional plugin which will render from directly in SU? Interactive Rendering is a must nowadays with all the GPU power we have (will BR be GPU powered??)

    I agree with loftalofta in the material presets. Architects cant be bothered to create materials from scratch. Having presets of common archViz materials will be a tremendous advantage. Grass, Glass and Water (borrowing from Lumion Tutorials) are 3 items, which needs easy setting up within any render engine.

    I mainly work with interiors nowadays and the most difficult part is the setting up of lights within SU. I work with a render engine called Thea and even though, they have tools for easy placement of different kinds of lights, I end up with emitters.
    One of the problems that I face is when I have to assign a power (wattage) to my light source. Being able to set up a 8W LED light fixture using the real world values would be really handy. One thing I like about Thea is that you can easily switch off the environment Sky and Sun and just apply a light gray color in the illumination tab. That way, i can concentrate on the interior lighting without the effect of the outdoor lights.

    Another feature that would be really appreciated is round edge. It really brings out subtle details in an object like contact shadows and light reflecting off the corners. Ever since Thea introduced this function, my renders have looked much better and more realistic.

    Having a physical camera with real work setting such as F-stop, Shutter speed and ISO along with white balance and glare and bloom effects would be ideal. I know BR already have this so its just a matter of porting over those features into the plugin so that it works right from the word GO.

    SU in itself is a very limited software. The power of plugins is what really elevates SU. Certain plugins such as Skatter if supported would really help sell the plugin. Another plugin would be SU animator, where object animation can be done, which can then be rendered out by BR if it can support.

    Other functionalities which is really appreciated in the ArchViz scene would be multilight, material swap, rendering out panoramas etc…

    Maybe BR would benefit from a Trello page, which can also be read like a road map sort of. Having a road map would help the buyer decide to invest in the software ( but I am sure you knew that already!)

    I am sure there are many other things, and I will continue posting as and when I remember a particular feature that would benefit BR.

    You may take a look at the kind of stuff i create on a fairly regular basis. Its not really photo realistic, but this is more that what is required for my purposes. >>>CLICK HERE<<<

    #3808
    Jeremy HillJeremy Hill

    Wow, thank you so much for taking the time to write all of this, and I see some very nice images on your photobucket! I am very eager to get artists like you working in bella, so I can stop pretending to be an archviz guy in order to make pictures for our twitter. 🙂

    I completely agree about having a fully-integrated plugin, and that (use via plugin) is bella’s prime intended use case. Our GUI’s main intended purpose is just to allow getting the actual rendering process out of the host application, once you are done tweaking things, both because rendering performance can suffer by some percent if you render in the context of the host application, and because it is convenient to be able to keep working as rendering is done.

    I do have some experience with this (integrating a renderer in sketchup), since I wrote and maintained maxwell’s sketchup plugin for many years, and while I am still fairly proud of what was able to be done there, you should expect a superior experience from bella when the time comes, since where maxwell bolted its (fairly revolutionary, at the time) FIRE realtime capability onto an already existing exporter-based plugin model, bella has been built from the ground-up with realtime usage in mind. I am in the midst of working on our rhino plugin, and have been very pleased so far with how much easier it is to accomplish things — we could have had more plugins by now, but chose instead to invest time in design of the programming interface that is used to implement them, and I am not regretting that decision — and I do not currently foresee a reason why anything you can do in sketchup, cannot be made interactive in bella.

    It is interesting what you point out about making first impressions; our approach there is basically just to never promote bella as being a product for people other than users of plugins we already offer. I have created this sub-forum here, and the similar rhino one, for discussing plugins we definitely plan, in order to get input such as you have provided, but you will not see us post anything about bella on an external forum, unless/until there is at least a stable alpha plugin build, and we wish to find more testers than we already have here.

    Here, I will say it has been considered, that while the current plugin (rhino at this time) is in process of development, I might elect to supply a rudimentary export-type script, for people who absolutely wish to use bella, before their plugin is available. This has been discussed especially in the case of blender, since it will be quite a project (due to opensource) to provide an integrated experience, and in the case of sketchup, mainly because I have already written such a script, early on, in order to allow the other developers to have something with which to generate models, for development. However, providing such a script may risk exactly the type of problem you point out, so I’d be interested to hear your opinion about it.

    Regarding most of the features you have mentioned above, with the exception of a material swap, I think that so far, either we have them, or they are on our internal to-do list. We have been discussing here the best way of exposing a roadmap — it is something we want, but I think we must do it carefully, because while we wish to give a view into our thinking, we also always want to avoid the situation where someone purchases the software based on a roadmap “promise”, since plans can change due to unforeseen conditions. Probably it will take the form of another page on this site, where you can see a grid of things that are currently in-process, things that are definitely planned, and so forth, along with our comments & notes on each one.

    #3820
    Avatarjenujacob

    Wow, thank you so much for taking the time to write all of this, and I see some very nice images on your photobucket! I am very eager to get artists like you working in bella, so I can stop pretending to be an archviz guy in order to make pictures for our twitter. 🙂

    i quite like the renders you have put up in the gallery! Don’t think I can do any better! 🙂

    I completely agree about having a fully-integrated plugin, and that (use via plugin) is bella’s prime intended use case. Our GUI’s main intended purpose is just to allow getting the actual rendering process out of the host application, once you are done tweaking things, both because rendering performance can suffer by some percent if you render in the context of the host application, and because it is convenient to be able to keep working as rendering is done.

    You must forgive me, but I need to keep taking examples from the current render engine I use. In Thea, there is an option where one can toggle on and off the interactive rendering. So, if I want to work on the model, while rendering out some test shots, it can be done and there is very minimal loss of performance (since Thea is able to utilize GPU). Maybe that is an option you could consider?

    I do have some experience with this (integrating a renderer in sketchup), since I wrote and maintained maxwell’s sketchup plugin for many years, and while I am still fairly proud of what was able to be done there, you should expect a superior experience from bella when the time comes, since where maxwell bolted its (fairly revolutionary, at the time) FIRE realtime capability onto an already existing exporter-based plugin model, bella has been built from the ground-up with realtime usage in mind. I am in the midst of working on our rhino plugin, and have been very pleased so far with how much easier it is to accomplish things — we could have had more plugins by now, but chose instead to invest time in design of the programming interface that is used to implement them, and I am not regretting that decision — and I do not currently foresee a reason why anything you can do in sketchup, cannot be made interactive in bella.

    When you say “realtime usage” do you mean raytraced real time like the game engines or IPR? I am assuming it is the latter. Though, I firmly believe the real time renderers (like U-render for C4D and Enscape for SU or Lumion) is the future. Hopefully Bella will be able to provide such an option in the future as well!

    It is interesting what you point out about making first impressions; our approach there is basically just to never promote bella as being a product for people other than users of plugins we already offer. I have created this sub-forum here, and the similar rhino one, for discussing plugins we definitely plan, in order to get input such as you have provided, but you will not see us post anything about bella on an external forum, unless/until there is at least a stable alpha plugin build, and we wish to find more testers than we already have here.

    Here, I will say it has been considered, that while the current plugin (rhino at this time) is in process of development, I might elect to supply a rudimentary export-type script, for people who absolutely wish to use bella, before their plugin is available. This has been discussed especially in the case of blender, since it will be quite a project (due to opensource) to provide an integrated experience, and in the case of sketchup, mainly because I have already written such a script, early on, in order to allow the other developers to have something with which to generate models, for development. However, providing such a script may risk exactly the type of problem you point out, so I’d be interested to hear your opinion about it.

    Such a script would be good in a very closed pre beta testing stage, where artists can get a feel of the quality of the render engine and to get a taste of the features and count me in as I am really eager to see what Bella can do. Hopefully down the line, all the options would be able to make it into the plugin itself!

    Regarding most of the features you have mentioned above, with the exception of a material swap, I think that so far, either we have them, or they are on our internal to-do list. We have been discussing here the best way of exposing a roadmap — it is something we want, but I think we must do it carefully, because while we wish to give a view into our thinking, we also always want to avoid the situation where someone purchases the software based on a roadmap “promise”, since plans can change due to unforeseen conditions. Probably it will take the form of another page on this site, where you can see a grid of things that are currently in-process, things that are definitely planned, and so forth, along with our comments & notes on each one.

    This is a very sensitive topic indeed and I would say it all boils down to how the developers interact with the community of users. Earlier, when Thea was a small company, the developers were more forthcoming with the customers and they even shared with the users a rough outline of the upcoming features. In case there was something that was promoted as an upcoming feature, but couldn’t make it to a release, they would state the reasons and provide the users with an alternate time frame and that would have been enough and the users were more understanding. However from the time Thea was acquired by Altair, all that changed and unfortunately, not many of the users are happy. But that’s your decision to make as developers and you know best! 🙂

    #3823
    Jeremy HillJeremy Hill

    Yes, sorry if my terminology there was sloppy, by “realtime usage” I indeed referred to IPR inside sketchup. So what I am saying is that you should expect a fully interactive experience inside of sketchup, with the option of sending out to bella GUI (or CLI) for final production render — if that is desired (whether on the local machine, or elsewhere).

    That said, we have talked about a realtime engine like you mention since early on, but I think it will be quite awhile before we could justify playing with that, as we have yet much to do in core bella. On the other hand, we do have a colleague who did an excellent (both in result, and in being very nice code) realtime engine for a project at our previous company, who we’d love to get on board if bella sees enough success to make it possible, so who knows.

    Regarding the export script for sketchup, I don’t want to create any actual closed group, but it could be fine for it to be a thing where you just have to know to look in this forum to find, use, and discuss it. The script I have is quite old now, but let’s say I’ll look at it in the coming week, and see what I can come up with. If nothing else, it can serve as an example of how to directly write text-format bella files with no special libraries.

    #3825
    Avatarjenujacob

    Thanks jeremy!
    Looking forward to the script so that I can give a go at Bella!

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