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Help for Autodesk 3ds Max

RPC Interface

The RPC interface may be opened by choosing Create → Geometry and then selecting RPC from the main roll-out. Once selected, the RPC interface will open, allowing the user to select and place RPC content.

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RPC Selection

The RPC Selection roll-out is the primary interface for selecting and placing RPCs. It displays currently available content and provides previews of specific content selections.

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Project List

The Project list displays collections of RPCs stored as a project. Projects are created using the ArchVision Content Manager. This allows users to customize which RPCs are available for projects.

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Content Category List

The Content Category list displays the separate RPC library divisions. When open, the user will see one or more categories corresponding to the type of RPC content available through the current bitmap path configuration.

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Content Name List

The Content Name list displays the currently available RPCs in a particular Category. Selecting an RPC from this list and "Clicking" in a view port will place that RPC object. The selected RPC will also display a corresponding Preview.

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RPC Thumbnail Browser

The Thumbnail browser allows users to quickly browse for RPC Content and to view multiple previews simultaneously. RPCs can be sorted by Project Name or Content Category. The RPC thumbnail browser can be expanded to view even more RPCs simultaneously. To open the RPC Thumbnail Browser select the Object Type RPC thumbs or select the Thumbnail Browser icon.

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Configure Content

The Configure Content button contacts the ACM and retrieves the RPC Content currently in the Content Paths. This option should be used when new content is added to existing paths or when the ACM's Content Paths have been changed.

About

The About button contains information regarding the plug-in version and contact information. Prior to contacting ArchVision's Technical Support, please note the RPC Plug-in version number found in About.

ArchVision Media Launchpad

help_icon_2

Launches help.archvision.com

chat_icon

Launches support.archvision.com for Live Chat assistance

facebook_icon

Accesses the ArchVision Facebook page

twitter_icon

Launches the Ask ArchVision Twitter feed

blog_icon_2

Launches blog.archvision.com

Preview Window

This window displays the currently selected RPC's preview image. As well as providing an example of the RPC subject, the preview also indicates the type of RPC:

stillpreview

Still RPC (or 2D) previews are indicated by a green vertical stripe along the right side of the image.

stndprev

Standard RPC (or 3D) previews do not show any additional information.

motionprev

Motion RPC (or 2.5D) previews are indicated by a blue vertical stripe along the right side of the image, and show the number of frames in its animated sequence.

walkingprev

Walking RPC (or 3.5D) previews are indicated by a yellow vertical stripe along the right side of the image.

3D_preview

3D+ RPC previews are indicated by a red vertical stripe along the right side of the image.

hiprev

Hi-Res RPC previews are indicated by a green vertical stripe along the right side of the image.


Parameters Rollout

The Parameters roll-out contains the controls for editing RPC properties. These properties can affect the visual characteristics and/or the rendering time for an RPC object.

The Parameters roll-out can be divided into a number of sections. The most common sections are the Parameters section and the Motion section.

SMART content RPCs can have a number of sections within the Parameters roll-out, but many of the controls will be similar to the ones discussed in the Parameters and Motion sections.


Parameters

The "Parameters" section of the RPC Parameters roll-out contains several controls for adjusting RPC properties. These properties can affect the visual characteristics and/or the rendering time for an RPC object. Some of the most common parameters for an RPC are:

Height: The height of the RPC in the current units.

Cast Reflections: Creates a "backside" for the RPC, allowing for more accurate reflections. Can increase rendering time.

Jitter: Make animations smooth at the cost of some image clarity.

Billboard: Sets the RPC to not change images based on camera location. This can reduce rendering time.

Cast Shadows: Sets the properties of the RPC to cast and receive shadows.

Filter Effects: Applies image filters to the RPC for added effect.

parameters

Height

Height controls the size of the RPC object. Each RPC has a real world default height. If it is necessary to change the height of an RPC to match the scale of a scene, it is better to adjust this value rather that apply a scale transform. The height of a RPC can affect the Speed property of an RPC.

Cast Reflections

The RPC Plug-in has a "Cast Reflections" option that differs in meaning from the standard 3ds Max definition. RPCs are essentially specialized textures applied to a flat plane. However, as the texture applied also appears on the opposite side of the plane, unusual reflections can result. The RPC Cast Reflections option produces a more realistic result.

When Cast Reflections is checked, a second plane is created for the object. This plane faces away from the camera and has the image of the opposite side of the RPC applied to it. The reflection is only accurate when the RPC object is directly between the camera and the reflective surface. As the reflective surface moves to a more acute angle the reflection will thin out.

Turning Cast Reflections on can significantly increase memory requirements and increase rendering time. This option should only be used when the RPC is expected to cast a reflection in a vertical surface directly behind it. RPC trees (and other plants) may not always need this option turned on, even when expected to be seen in a reflection, as the front of a tree closely resembles the back.

Jitter

When representing objects with a large diameter (such as a tree) a rotation of one degree may equate to several inches at the edge of the object. If you rotate slowly around this object, you may notice the object "jumping" as it switches images during the rotation. We refer to this problem as "Jitter". To address the issue of Jitter, the Plug-in will take two adjacent images and blend them together at each frame to achieve a smooth transition between images. The main drawback to this feature is that the RPC object will be slightly blurred due to the blending. Use of this feature can be turned off in the object's properties on a per object basis. The Jitter control does not affect 2.5D (Motion) or 2D (Still) content.

Billboard

Billboarding allows you to "lock" an RPC to a fixed image. As the camera revolves around the RPC, the RPC will not update the image but will continue to face the active camera in the scene. Turning this option on greatly reduces the RAM required and can reduce rendering time. The actual frame that is displayed can be adjusted globally in the file. The Billboard option does not apply to 2.5D or 3.5D RPC files.

Cast Shadows

All RPC Objects can cast shadows if the light being used is casting ray-traced shadows, and the RPC is set to Cast and Receive Shadows. RPCs have a Cast Shadows option.

Enabling the Cast Shadows option:

  • Sets the properties of the RPC objects to "Cast and Receive" shadows
  • Creates a special shadow material so out of view objects will cast shadows

For the RPCs with a Cast Shadows option to actually cast shadows, the active scene light(s) must have:

  • Shadows option turned On
  • Shadow Type set to Ray Traced Shadows

In order for RPCs to cast shadows, they must also be included in a light source.

If an RPC is included in the light source, it may be necessary to configure the self-illumination value to compensate for the effect that the light source will have on the RPC.

Not all RPCs have a Cast Shadows option. This only applies to RPCs with a Cast Shadows option.

Randomize

The Mass Edit dialog provides the ability to randomize RPC attributes. Just place the RPCs in your scene. Then launch the Mass Edit dialog, and select the RPCs to be randomized. Click in the Height column of one of the selected RPCs. In the right panel area you will see various options for setting the height. To randomize the height set a minimum and maximum value and click the Apply button. The height value for each of the selected RPCs will be set to a random value between the minimum and maximum values.


Motion

The "Motion" section of the RPC Parameters roll-out contains the controls for animated RPCs. These controls are available for 2.5D (motion), 3.5D (walking), and some SMART RPCs. The common controls that are available on the "Motion" section are:

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Speed

Speed controls the rate of movement for walking RPCs and for RPC Automobiles. This value can be adjusted to reduce or prevent sliding, but should not be changed by a large amount.

For Walking People and RPC Automobiles, speed does not alter the speed of the character's legs or rotation of the wheels, so care must be taken when adjusting this value to minimize any sliding that may result. Generally, best results are achieved using the pre-selected speed set by ArchVision.

The units used for Speed are based on the selection Unit Scale in your 3ds Application:
In Generic units speed is expressed in inches per frame.
In English units speed is in miles per hour.
In Metric units speed is in kilometers per hour.

Cycle

The Cycle check box is an option causes the RPC to loop continuously (1,2,3,4,5,1,2,3,4,5,1,2,3,...).

The Start Frame option allows you to specify a non-default start frame (3,4,5,1,2,3,4,5,1,2,...).

Start Frame

The Start Frame control determines which frame of the RPC animated sequence will coincide with frame zero of the animation.

Example: One of ArchVision's 2.5D RPCs depicts a person bending down, searching through a shopping bag and then standing up. This RPC has 600 frames of animation (about 20 seconds worth). Midway through the sequence, the character bends down to look in the bag. To configure the RPC to start at the point where the character looks into the bag, set the Start Frame to 300 (about midway through the 600 frame sequence). Render a test frame at time 0. You would notice that the character had not yet begun to search through the bag. By adjusting the Start Frame to 360, the desired position is identified. The value may now be used and the animation can be rendered with the 2.5D character's searching through the bag coinciding with the animation's starting point.

Ping Pong

The Ping Pong check box causes motion content to cycle in a ping pong fashion. If the Ping Pong check box is checked then the content will ping pong between the min and max frames specified (1,2,3,4,5,5,4,3,2,1,1,2,3,...). If the ping pong start frame is set then the ping pong cycle will start at that value (3,4,5,5,4,3,2,1,1,2,3,4,5,5,4,...).

Example: One of ArchVision's 2.5D RPCs depicts a person bending down, searching through a shopping bag and then standing up. This RPC has 600 frames of animation (about 20 seconds worth). To configure the RPC to only search through the bag you would check the Ping Pong check box, set the ping pong min frame to 360 (just after the person has started searching in the bag), and set the ping pong max frame to 520. This will cause the person to start at frame 360 (searching through the bag), proceed to frame 520 (just before standing up), animate backwards to frame 360 (the beginning of searching through the bag), and continue this sequence until the end of the animation. If you wanted two place two individuals looking through a bag, you would follow the same steps as above, but would set the ping pong start frame for each RPC to a different value. In this case you would want to set the ping pong start frame for one of the RPCs to 400. This will cause that RPC to be slightly ahead of the other RPC in the sequence, so it is not as obvious to the viewer that they are doing the same action.

Ping Pong Controls

The Ping Pong Start Frame controls the frame that will be displayed at time 0 of an animation. It is also the frame where the ping pong cycle begins.

The Ping Pong Max Frame control determines the largest frame number that will be used in a ping pong animation loop.

The Ping Pong Min Frame control determines the lowest frame number that will be used in a ping pong animation loop.

You can see an example using these controls in the Pong Pong overview.

Use Specified Frame

Use Specified Frame provides an additional level of control for managing 2.5D RPCs within your animation. It allows you to lock certain defined points of the RPC's 600 frame animation to specific points within your animated scene. It even allows you to isolate specific sub-motions within the 600 frame sequence and repeat them or play backwards as your scene requires.

To use this option, place a 2.5D RPC in your scene. Go to the Modify panel, check the Use Specified Frame check box, and hit the Animate Button. Move the time slider to a frame in the animation to which you want to peg a particular point of the RPC's animated sequence. Adjust the Frame value to the RPC's animated sequence position (similar to the process in Start Frame) and hit the Enter key. A key frame will be added that contains the selected frame of the RPC animated sequence.

Repeat this process to place additional keys at points along the animation, as desired. Because this process stretches or compresses the normal speed of the RPC's animation sequence, care should be taken to avoid setting keys that create excessively fast or slow segments.

Example: Using the same 2.5D RPC as in the earlier example for Start Frame, we'll set the RPC to move through a specific portion of its 600 frame cycle. Set the total animation length to 1,000 frames. For the purposes of the animation, the RPC character needs to look into his bag for the entire 1,000 frame animation. That action, however, only takes 120 frames in a regular playback of the RPC cycle. So the Use Specified Frame option will help us isolate the 120 relevant frames from the RPC to last for 1,000 frames of the animation. First, check the Use Specified Frame check box found under the RPC controls on the modify panel. Next, with the time slider set to 0 and Animate "on", set the Frame value to 360 - that's the point in the RPC animation when the character begins to look into his shopping bag. Hit enter to set the key frame. Now move the time slider to frame 130 and set Current Frame to 480. Again, hit enter. Repeat the process setting the time slider to 240 and the Current Frame to 360. This creates a "ping-pong" effect and by repeating the steps will fill all 1,000 frames of the animation with the right portion of the RPC's overall cycle.


RPC Mass Edit

The RPC Mass Edit Dialog contains the ability to affect multiple RPCs at once. The user can select, sort, alter parameters, switch content and apply Photoshop filters to one or more RPC objects. These features are accessed by selecting the Mass Edit button in the RPC Edit Tools Rollup.

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The RPC Mass Edit dialog contains several icons indicating the current properties of the listed RPCs. The properties for selected RPCs may be adjusted by clicking in the column under the appropriate icon. The following list describes the meanings and effects of the icons:

Object Name: Displays the object name
Filter: Applies Filters

reflect

RPC Cast Refections option (C = ON)

jitt

RPC Jitter option (J = ON)

billbrd

RPC Billboard option (B = ON)

shads

RPC Cast Shadows option (S = ON)

hght

RPC Height Value

selfillm

Self-Illumination Value

start

RPC Start Frame Value

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Mass Edit Height

When the Height column is clicked, all currently selected RPCs will be affected by the changes made in the Height section, which will appear to the right of the RPC list in the Mass Edit dialog. All changes are applied when the Apply button immediately below the entry is clicked.

Height: The height in current units

Height Factor: A multiplier applied to all RPCs selected (Multiplies the Height)

Random Min/Max: Provides a range in which selected RPCs will be assigned random height values

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Mass Edit Self Illumination

When the Self Illumination column is clicked, all currently selected RPCs will be affected by the changes made in the Self Illumination section, which will appear to the right of the RPC list in the Mass Edit dialog. All changes are implemented when the Apply button immediately below the entry is clicked.

Self-Illumination: The percentage of lighting that comes from the image

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Mass Edit Start Frame

When the Start Frame column is clicked, all currently selected RPCs will be affected by the changes made in the Start Frame section, which will appear to the right of the RPC list in the Mass Edit dialog. All changes are applied when the Apply button immediately below the entry is clicked.

Cycle: If the RPC plays its animated sequence in a loop.
Start Frame: First frame displayed for the loop cycle.
Randomize Start Frames: If this is checked the value in Start Frame is ignored, and each item will receive a randomly generated Start Frame between 0 and its maximum frame number.
Ping Pong: If the RPC will cycle from the Start Frame to the End Frame and back throughout the animation.
Randomize Start Frames: If this is checked the value in Start Frame is ignored, and each item will receive a randomly generated Start Frame between Min Frame and Max Frame.
Min Frame: The lowest numbered frame of the Ping Pong sequence.
Max Frame: The highest numbered frame of the Ping Pong sequence.
Use Specified Frame: If the RPC will display the specified frame.
Frame: The frame to be displayed (this can be animated for fine control).

massEditStartFrame

Mass Edit Filters

Filters can be applied to objects in the Mass Edit dialog just like in the Parameters dialog.

In order to turn off filters from the Mass Edit dialog, first select the items that you want to remove the filter from, click the filter column, select a filter to apply (any selection will do, the filter will be turned off), and then cancel from the filter settings dialog. This will remove the previously applied filters from the objects.

Mass Edit Switch

The Switch option allows the user to change selected RPC objects with an RPC chosen from the Switch Content list. This list appears after user presses the Switch Content button located above the RPC list in the Mass Edit dialog. Switched RPCs maintain the orientation of the original RPCs.

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Mass Edit Selection

RPCs may be selected in the dialog either singly, by holding down the Shift or Control keys, by dragging a box around the items, or by using the All, None, and Invert buttons. All adjusted modifiers will be applied to selected RPCs.

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Mass Edit Sorting

RPCs may be sorted alphabetically or by category type. Additionally, RPCs can also be sorted using the icons located at the top of the Mass Edit dialog box. Selecting an icon toggles it between active and inactive, alternately adding or removing the particular RPC type from the list.

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Icon Meanings:

Mass_Edit_08

RPC 2D: Still Content - (example library: Plantscape)

Mass_Edit_09

RPC 2.5D: Motion Content - (example library: Moving School Children Volume 1)

Mass_Edit_10

RPC 3D: Standard Content -(example library: Casual People Volume 5)

Mass_Edit_11

RPC 3.5D: Walking Content - (example library: Walking Business Volume 1)

Mass_Edit_12

RPC 3D+: 3D+ Content - (example library: Parking Lot Cars Volume 2)


RPC Mass Populate

The RPC Mass Populate feature allows you to quickly fill a scene with selected RPC Objects. To use the Mass Populate feature you must first place a series of RPC Proxy objects in your scene. RPC Proxy objects can be placed using any conventional placement tool (ex. the Array feature in Autodesk 3ds Max). Make sure that when you copy RPC Proxy objects that you use the Clone:Copy option.

After placing RPC Proxy objects you may also wish to place RPC Attractors, RPC Repulsors, and RPC Foci in the scene. These objects will modify the results of the RPC Object placement.

After placing the RPC Proxy, Attractor, Repulsor and Foci objects you need to define a Rule Set. You define a rule set in the RPC Mass Populate - Rule Set Editor dialog. You can access the RPC Proxy Rule Sets dialog by selecting the Mass Populate button in the RPC Edit Tools Rollup. The RPC Edit Tools Rollup is available when any RPC object is selected (include Proxy, Attractor, Repulsor, Foci and RPC Objects).

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RPC Proxy Helpers

RPC Helpers are the objects that help you generate mass placement of RPC Objects.

RPC Proxy: These objects are placeholders that may be filled in with an RPC Object. They can also be empty (providing randomization of empty spaces). RPC Objects will be oriented like the proxy object unless they are modified in the RPC Mass Populate - Proxy Rule Set Editor.

RPC Attractor: These objects are used to attract RPC Objects to an area of the scene. An attractor will cause the RPC Proxies nearest it to be filled with more RPC Objects than empty spaces.

RPC Repulsor : These objects are used to repel RPC Object from an area of the scene. A Repulsor will cause the RPC Proxies nearest it to be filled with more empty spaces than RPC Objects.

RPC Focus: These objects are used to make RPC Objects face toward the Focus.

The RPC Helpers can be found on the Autodesk 3ds Max create panel under helper objects as RPC Helpers.

rpchelpers

RPC Proxy Rule Sets

The Basics

Editing RPC Proxy Rule Sets is like defining a script for placement of RPC Objects. The RPC Proxy Rule Sets dialog helps you define the placement script.

When you first access the RPC Proxy Rule Sets dialog a new Rule Set is created for you.

The first thing to do is to select the Proxies that you want to assign RPC objects to. There are four ways to select the Proxies. First is to select them in the List View. Second is type in the edit box above the list. This will work just like an Autodesk 3ds Max selection causing any item that matches the text to be selected. Third is the Use Scene Selection button. This will cause any Proxies that are selected in the scene to be selected. Fourth is the Select All button, which will select all of the proxies in the list.

The next step (and the last required step), is to define which RPC Content will be used as the objects placed where the Proxies are located. This is done by clicking the Select RPC Content button. The RPC Mass Selection dialog will appear. Select the RPC Content that you want to use for placement and click the Accept Selection button. The items you selected will be added to the content list, and the distribution percentage will be evenly distributed amongst them.

At this point you can hit the Populate button, and the RPC objects will be randomly placed among your proxies.

Intermediate

To further control your RPC object placement there are 4 other types of options that can be assigned to a Rule Set: Attractors, Repulsors, Foci, and Random Transforms. You must scroll down in the rollup window (or minimize the Proxy Selection and/or Content Selection roll-ups), in order to see the Attractor, Repulsor, Focus, and Random Transform lists.

In order to use an Attractor, Repulsor, or Focus setting you must be sure to enable them in your rule set. Once you have placed them in your scene, scroll down to the appropriate rollout in the Mass Populate dialogue and check the box to activate your setting. For example, if you have placed an Attractor, you will scroll down to the Attractor rollout and then click the checkbox to the left to select that option in your rule set.

Random Transforms will effect a rule set when they are added to the Random Transform list.

  • Attractors, and Repulsors
    Notice in the RPC Content list the final entry is <Empty>. This is the percentage of proxies that will not be assigned an RPC object. Attractors and Repulsors affect the distribution of these <Empty> Proxies.
    • Attractors
      Attractors are used to attract RPC objects to them. If an Attractor is being used by a Rule Set then Proxies closer to the Attractor are less likely to be assigned <Empty>. The higher the Strength of the Attractor, the more the RPC objects will be clustered close to the Attractor.
      For example if you were creating a parking lot, you would put an Attractor close to the building, since most people would park near the building.
    • Repulsors
      Repulsors are used to keep RPC objects away from them. If an Attractor is being used by a Rule Set the Proxies closer to the Repulsor are more likely to be assigned <Empty>. The higher the Strength of the Repulsor, the more the <Empty> assignments will be clustered close to the Repulsor.
      For example if you were creating a parking lot, you would put an Attractor on the outskirts of the lot, since most people would park near the building.
  • Foci
    Foci affect the rotation of the placed RPC Objects. By default RPC Objects face the same direction as the Proxy they are associated with. If a Focus is being used by a Rule Set then the RPC Objects are going to rotate to face the Focus. How closely they face the Focus depends on the Strength of the Focus.
    For example if you were placing a crowd watching a speaker on stage, you would place a Focus where the speaker would be located. This will cause the people to look at the speaker.
  • Random Transforms
    Random Transforms affect the position, rotation, or scale of the placed RPC Objects. Random Transforms are applied in the order that they appear in the dialog. You can move a transform up in the order by clicking its Move Up button. You can remove a transform by clicking its Delete button. The available transforms are:
    • Percent
      This Transform starts a group of transforms. The Percent transform determines what percentage of the RPC objects being placed that will be affected by the transforms that follow it. If no Percent transform is specified then all of the placed RPC objects will be affected by the listed transforms.
    • Scale
      This modifies the height of the RPC Object (not really the scale).
    • Z Rotation
      The Z Rotation affects the rotation of the RPC Object. This is applied in the RPC Object space, and is applied after any rotation caused by a Focus.
    • X, Y and Z Translations
      The X, Y, and Z Transforms affect the position of the RPC Object. These transforms are applied in the Proxy space.
      For example if you place a series of Proxy objects along a bench, facing the front of the bench, then an X Transform would move the RPC Object along the bench, regardless of what direction the RPC Object ends up facing.
    For Example, for a Parking Lot we would like some of the cars to be facing backwards in the parking space, and we would like the cars to not be at the exact same position in the parking space. The first thing we would do is add a Percent transform of 25 percent. Then we would add a Y Translation with Min -2 m, Max -2 m and Step 0. Then we would add a Z Rotation transform with Min 180, Max 180, and Step 0. This will cause 25 percent of the cars to be rotated 180 degrees, and the Y Translation corrects for the fact that the pivot of the cars in at the rear axel instead of in the center of the car.
    Then add another Percent transform of 100 percent, followed by a Y Translation with Min -1 m, Max 1 m, and Step 0. This will cause all of the cars to be moved backwards or forwards slightly.
Advanced

  • Rule Sets
    • If you need to define multiple Rule Sets you can click the New Rule Set button. A new Rule Set will be added to the list of Rule Sets, and it will be selected.
    • You can switch between Rule Sets by selecting the desired Rule Set in the Rule Set Name combo box.
    • If you want to change the name of one of the Rule Sets just select it and then edit the name in the combo box.
    • If you want to get rid of a Rule Set select it in the combo box and click the Delete Selected Rule Set button.
  • Proxy List
    • If you want to remove the populated RPCs from a set of Proxies you can select the Proxies in the Proxy list and click the Depopulate this will delete the RPC Objects and reset the Proxies to the unassigned state.
  • Object Selection List
    • If you added an RPC Object to the Object list, and then decide that you do not want that RPC Object used in the placement you can select the RPC Object and click the Remove Selected button. This will remove the RPC Object from the list and add its weight to the <Empty> pool.
  • Settings
    • If you like the settings you have configured, but Bob just happens to show up right next to himself when you click Populate, you change change the seed used for the randomization to get a different result. To change the seed, select Change Seed on the Settings menu. You will be prompted to specify a new seed. Select a new value and hit OK. Click the Populate button again and you will get a new distribution. If you decide that you liked the old distribution better, just change the seed back to the previous value.
    • If you need to see previews of the RPC Objects in the Material Editor then you can select the Generate Preview option on the Settings menu. By default this is off, and changing this setting will cause approximately a ten fold increase in Population times.

RPC Proxy Mass Selection

The RPC Mass Selection Dialog allows the user to select multiple RPCs at once. Content is listed in a tree view on the right of the dialog, sorted by Category.

Selection: You can select or unselect an entire category by clicking the check box next to the category name. You can indicate that a piece of content is selected by checking the check box next to the piece of content. When a piece of content in a category is selected the category will also be checked. This allows you to determine which categories have selected content even when the categories are closed.

Preview: You can obtain a preview of the content by clicking on the content name.

Accept Selection: When you have made your choice about which content to select click the Accept Selection button to close the dialog and process your selections.

You can also Update your content list, get information about your RPC Plug-in, and access this Help file from the RPC Mass Selection Dialog. Review the sections listed below for more information on these features.

RPC Selection → Configure Content
RPC Selection → About
RPC Selection → Help
massselectiondialog

Convert to Proxy

Proxify allows users to place proxies onto selected objects. For example, if a box has been placed where a tree should be the box could be selected and the proxify button selected.

proxify

If proxify is selected, the following options will appear that will define what will happen to objects that have been proxified. Proxified objects can be deleted from the scene, hidden, disabled from rendering, or remain unaffected.

proxifyselected

RPC Mass Utility

As of plugin version 3.13.0, a new RPC control panel is available. You may access the control panel in the following way:

utilPanel
utilPanelMore
utilities
  • Step 1: Click the Utilities tab on the control Panel.
  • Step 2: Click the More... button.
  • Step 3: Select "RPC Mass Utility" from the list and click "OK."

You should now see the RPC Mass Utility your Utilities panel.

05

What does all this mean to you?

This new control changes the way the plugin handles new RPC objects in a scene. It is designed to allow you more control over how RPCs behave in your scenes, as well as save you some time in the process.

Let's start with the function of each checkbox:

Include Planar RPCs in Lights on Placement: If checked, this will automatically include any new RPCs placed in every light in the scene.

Include RPCs in Exposure Control on Render: If checked, when you render your scene, RPCs will be included in the exposure control calculations.

Ignore RPC Self Illumination on Placement: If checked, each new RPC placed in your scene will have their self-illumination set to zero. Otherwise, it will be set to its default value.

How does this affect older files?

It doesn't! Whenever you load a file saved prior to version 3.13.0, all of the checkboxes will be unchecked by default. This means that the plugin will behave exactly as you are used to. You can still change the options, however, and they will be applied to any new RPCs you place in the scene. Also, the settings you choose are saved with the file and will be loaded automatically the next time you open the scene.

Using RPC

With an RPC you can add rich content to your scenes with as few as two mouse clicks. Choose content from your RPC library, click to place in the scene... render! RPCs may be altered by adjusting the RPC material and/or applying Photoshop filters. These adjustments can dramatically change the appearance of RPCs, providing additional flexibility.

In this section:
  • * Choosing Content
  • * Placing Content
  • * Material Editor
  • * Rendering with RPCs
  • * Network Rendering with RPCs
  • * Updating Content
  • * mental Ray
embim1

Choosing Content

Open the RPC interface by choosing Create > Geometry and then selecting RPC from the main roll-out. From the Content Type menu choose the category of content you wish to place in your scene.

launch
image2e

For example, choose People [Casual] from the Content Type menu. A list of people available in this category will appear below the pull-down menu. An image will appear below the content name giving a thumbnail preview of the content selected.


Placing Content in a Scene

RPC content is represented in the scene by an icon. Placing the icon determines the location of the RPC object in the final rendering. Content is placed in the scene by selecting a RPC from the Content Type list and then clicking in a viewport with the left mouse button.

  • * Select a RPC from the Content Type list.
  • * "Left click" and hold the mouse button in a view port (usually the top view.) An icon will appear, indicating the RPC's position.
  • * Move the mouse to rotate the RPC to the desired angle. Release. The base of the content will default to the zero depth of your current viewport, placing the RPC firmly on the "ground".

Additional Steps required for 3.5D Walking RPCs and RPC Automobiles:

Walking RPCs and RPC Automobiles require a spline to be defined as a path when placed. After following the preceding steps:

  • * Create a path for the RPC by "left clicking" points defining the spline the RPC will follow.
  • * "Right click" when done. (Please refer to an online tutorial for a more in depth description: www.archvision.com).

The RPC is now ready for rendering.


Material Editor

Each RPC object placed in the scene is assigned a unique material that can be edited in the Material Editor. Once the material is acquired, it may be adjusted. RPC materials appear as Multi/Sub Object material containing only one entry. Selecting this entry opens the material and allows for editing. Various properties of the RPC material can be altered to produce different effects.

Self-Illumination can no longer be controlled from the Material Editor for most RPCs. In order to change the Self-Illumination setting the user should use the Mass Edit dialog.


Rendering a Scene

The scene can be rendered from any viewport or camera angle after RPC content has been placed. An exception to this rule is rendering non 3D+ RPCs from the top or bottom viewport. The icon that is used to identify it's placement and orientation in the scene will not be visible in the finished rendering. The scene may be rendered normally with no additional settings. However, the "Mapping" option must be checked in the Render dialog for RPC objects to show properly.

RPC Content can be included in network rendering jobs as long as an RPC Plug-in is installed onto a rendering node and the RPC Plug-in is configured to contact the ACM. Please note that the RPC Content must be stored in a location that all network rendering nodes have access to. UNC naming is recommended for network rendering.


Network Rendering

One of the many features of the ArchVision Content Manager is that it eliminates several of the difficulties associated with network rendering. The ACM can manage paths to your RPC content for all of your rendering nodes from a single point of administration on your network server. If you follow the simple guidelines here, you will be able to quickly configure your RPC Plug-ins for network rendering.

Guidelines for Network Rendering RPCs
  • 1. The ACM should be installed onto a file Server (preferably where the RPC content resides).
  • 2. An RPC Plug-in should be installed onto each of the rendering nodes.
  • 3. RPC content should be located in a directory (folder) that is accessible to all of the rendering nodes.
  • 4. A UNC path should be configured to the location of the RPCs from the ACM.
  • 5. The RPC Plug-in must be configured to connect to the ACM.
configurationc
1. The ACM Should be installed onto a file Server.

This is recommended because Server Operating Systems are necessary to accommodate large numbers of connections. If fewer than 10 rendering nodes will be present on the network, then it is acceptable to use an ACM installed onto a non Server Operating System.

It is ok if the ACM is installed onto other Servers or rendering nodes, but the RPC Plug-ins should be configured to point to one ACM when network rendering. This will insure that the same content is available to all of the rendering nodes.

2. RPC Plug-ins should be installed onto each of the rendering nodes.

All rendering nodes must have the exact same version of the RPC Plug-in installed to render a scene with RPCs in it. A rendering node without the RPC Plug-in cannot render RPCs and will generate rendering errors.

The RPC Plug-in files can be added to each of the rendering nodes by running the RPC Plug-in installer. Alternatively, the files can be copied to the directories where the RPC Plug-in installer would place them from a node that has already been configured. This eliminates the time necessary to perform the install and configure the RPC Plug-in to connect to the ACM. Files should be copied from their current directories to respective directories on the other rendering nodes. The necessary files for ACM enabled applications are listed below.

  • plugins\RPC.dlo
  • plugins\RPCapi.dll
  • plugins\RPCcls.dll
  • plugins\RPCFilterhost.dll (32-bit only)
  • plugins\RPCJpeg.dll
  • plugins\RPCPopulate.dll
  • plugcfg\rpcapi.ini
  • mentalray\shaders_autoload\include\RPCavMR.mi
  • mentalray\shaders_autoload\shaders\RPCavMR.dll
  • mentalray\shaders_autoload\shaders\RPCapi.dll
  • mentalray\shaders_autoload\shaders\RPCcls.dll
  • mentalray\shaders_autoload\shaders\RPCjpeg.dll

Note: RPC Plug-in for Max 6-8 users should run the installer on each of the rendering nodes so that the necessary modifications are made to the registry automatically. Manually copying the files to the correct directories will not work because the registry edits will still be needed.

3. RPC content should be located in a directory (folder) that is accessible to all of the rendering nodes.

This is the most problematic issue that users have. Their content will be configured correctly and the RPC Plug-ins will be configured to connect to the ACM, but the rendering nodes will not be able to access the RPC Content. This is often because the path has been configured locally and the rendering nodes do not have access to non-shared folders. Another issue is user rights. If a particular rendering node cannot access the content due to a rights issue, then it will not render.

4. A UNC path should be configured to the location of the RPCs from the ACM.

A UNC Paths looks something like this:

  • \\servername\sharedrpcfolder

Paths like the following are not recommended:

  • X:\MyRPCfolder (this may or may not work)
  • C:\Program Files\ArchVision\RPC Content (this almost certainly will not work)

It is important to remember that just because one of the rendering nodes can access the RPC content does not mean that they all can. Mapped paths, will sometimes work, but they are unpredictable and will vary from rendering node to rendering node. Even if your network rendering appears to work with this configuration, it is not recommended.

Local paths will not work, because the rendering node will look to the local machine for RPC Content. This can only be configured if the RPC content is located in the exact same folder on every machine and mapped correctly. This is troublesome because it costs users a considerable amount of disk space and is cumbersome to manage.

5. The RPC Plug-ins must be configured to connect to the ACM.

The intended use of the RPC Plug-in is for it to access the ACM for all path and license information. It may be possible for a user to configure paths via other methods in their choice rendering products, however the ACM should be used instead to eliminate extraneous paths and simplify the configuration process and management of the paths.

Other Common ACM Network Rendering Questions
  • Q: Is it necessary to install the RPC Plug-in onto each of the network rendering nodes?
  • A: Yes, the RPC Plug-in must be installed onto each of the rendering nodes.
  • Q: Should the ACM be installed onto each of the rendering nodes?
  • A: No, only one is recommended so that there is only one ACM to connect to.
  • Q: I only have one license for my application (this only pertains to applications that require the purchase of a license for the RPC Plug-in). How can I network render?
  • A: It is not necessary to have a license for every network rendering node. As long as there is one license to open the scene, the job can be sent to the other rendering nodes.

Updating Content

If you've updated a map path or added content files to an existing map path after starting Max you must update the content listing by pressing the Update Content button found in the RPC Selection → Configure Content dialog.


mental Ray

History

Prior to the mental ray Plug-in for Autodesk products, users were unable to use RPC Objects and the mental ray Shader in conjunction. If an RPC were placed into a scene and rendered using mental ray, only a gray plane or untextured mesh would render. Now, thanks to the development of ArchVision's mental ray Plug-in for Autodesk products, RPC objects can be rendered using the mental ray Shader.

Licensing

ArchVision's mental ray Plug-in for Autodesk Max and Viz requires a license. Each mental ray shader using the mental ray Plug-in must have an available license present in the ArchVision Content Manager (ACM). The mental ray Plug-in licenses are sold per seat or may be included with your version of Autodesk Viz or 3ds Max. Licenses can be purchased at www.archvision.com.

Getting Started

The mental ray Plug-in is very simple to use. Users simply need to select mental ray as the renderer, from the Assign Renderer Dialog located on the Rendering menu, to enable this renderer.

assignmr
Using mental ray

mental ray is integrated into Autodesk Viz and Max's standard interface. When the mental ray renderer is selected, new options will appear in the rendering dialog. These options include the Indirect Illumination menu and the Processing Menu.

newoptions

New materials and other options will also be added to the work environment. This document will explore some of the more common options.

Optimizing RPC Objects for use with mental ray

Self-Illumination behaves differently for mental ray than it does with Scanline rendering.

Known mental ray Materials Issue

If the Fresnal Effect is enabled for materials adjacent to RPC Object, the opacity map will be revealed causing the RPC to render a semi-transparent plane.


Troubleshooting

Occasionally, RPC will produce unexpected results. The following sections describe common problems and appropriate actions to resolve them. Please read this section prior to contacting ArchVision's technical support.


Frequently Asked Questions

The following questions are frequently asked to our cutomer service department. These may help you to address any difficulties you are encountering using RPCs. Of course if you do not find the answers you are seeking here, please contact our helpful staff.

What is RPC?

RPC stands for Rich Photo-realistic Content. The term RPC is used to describe the software and content associated with ArchVision's award-winning Image-Based Rendering Technology. RPC is also the file extension for our image-based content. RPC is supported in the most popular 3D graphics and design visualization applications including 3D Studio Max, Autodesk Viz and Viz Render, Accurender from Robert McNeel and Associates, Bentley Systems Microstation, New Tek's Lightwave, and Adobe Photoshop.

What does it do?

RPC provides a way to represent complex objects economically in computer visualization projects without relying on extensive polygonal geometry. The RPC approach results in faster rendering time and in a marked improvement in finished image quality over traditional geometry-based solutions.

How does it Work?

RPC technology uses hundreds of high quality 2D images to create the illusion of 3D. By carefully controlling the display of the right images at the right time, relative to camera position and movement, these images effectively reproduce the appearance of a three dimensional object without relying on complex polygonal geometry.

Why are RPC Objects Watermarked?

This indicates that a valid license is not present. Please configure the RPC Plug-in to connect to the ArchVision Dashboard using the address 127.0.0.1.

From what angles can I view RPCs?

All RPC content can be viewed from eye level. We have found that all RPC content holds up very effectively until the camera reaches an angle of approximately 40 degrees above the ground plain.

However, some RPC content can be viewed from any angle. Content that can be viewed from any angle will be a member of the SMART content type. Not all SMART content is viewable from any angle, but some is. Each library should indicate if it allows any angle viewing. If you are unsure if a library you possess allows any angle viewing you can download the content using ArchVision Dashboard and test it out.

We encourage you to experiment to better understand these limitations.

What is Jitter?

The Jitter option controls the transitions between images as the RPC loads and displays the images required in the scene. The option should be used when the camera in the scene is relatively close to an RPC and/or moving slowly around it. When the jitter option is unchecked, it is possible to see small image jumps or ticks in an animation. Setting jitter to "on" results in a smoother appearance during an animation, but may cause the RPC to appear blurry in stills.

What does "Cast Reflections" Do?

The Cast reflections option creates a double-sided material that contains the front and back views of the selected RPC image-object. This allows for a reflection that is accurate when the RPC is between the camera and the reflective surface. The reflected image will become increasingly distorted as the angle between the RPC and the virtual camera increases, relative to the reflection.

What does "Speed" Do?

Speed determines the rate at which an RPC object with a spline travels.

For Walking People and RPC Automobiles, Speed does not alter the speed of the character's legs or rotation of the car's tires, so care must be taken when adjusting this value to minimize any sliding that may result. Generally, best results are achieved using the pre-selected speed set by ArchVision.

The units for Speed are based on the units you are displaying:

  • * In Generic units speed is expressed in inches per frame.
  • * In English units speed is in miles per hour.
  • * In Metric units speed is in kilometers per hour.
What does "Cycle"?

Cycle is an option that determines whether a 2.5D RPC will repeat continually. When unchecked, the RPC will not play its animated sequence. 2.5D RPCs contain 600 frames or 20 seconds of animation.

What does "Start Frame"?

Start Frame allows you to specify at which frame the 2.5D RPC animated cycle should begin. 2.5D RPCs are 600 frames, or 20 seconds long. You may determine that the best result for your visualization animation would be obtained from having the 2.5D RPC begin midway through its cycle. Start Frame allows you to specify the beginning point as any frame from 0 to 600.

What is "Current Frame"?

Current Frame is an animatable option that allows the user to select a particular frame from a 2.5D RPC animation cycle and "key" it to occur at a specific frame of the animation sequence.

What is "Billboard"?

Billboard allows you to "lock" an RPC to a fixed image. As the camera revolves around the RPC, the RPC will not update the image, defeating the 3D illusion. The locked RPC image will continue to face the active camera in the scene. This option offers advantages in both RAM savings and in rendering speed. This option is best used for RPCs of trees and other plants that occur in the scene's background.

Why Don't My Lights Affect RPCs?

This section pertains only to RPCs that have a Cast Shadows option.

The default condition for RPC content is to be unaffected by lights and to not cast shadows. There are two reasons for this: First, RPC content is actually a series of flat, two-dimensional images. As the plane rotates to a 90 degree angle relative to a shadow casting light in the scene, a distorted shadow appears. Secondly, the flat plane onto which the RPC image is projected can flash when the plane becomes perpendicular to the light source.

How do I adjust the brightness of RPCs?

By default many RPC objects are not affected by lights in the scene.

To match the brightness of the scene you can adjust the self-illumination of the RPC object. You can alter the self-illumination of the RPC object in the Mass Edit dialog.

If you would like a light in your scene to affect an RPC just move the RPC object to the include list of the light.

Why Don't the Shadows meet the Base of an RPC?

One of the limitations that result from the way that RPC images are captured is that the apparent depth changes around the feet of the RPCs. This causes the "feet" of our human content to rise in the texture as they spin on the turntable. In most scenes this will be un-noticeable. You can carefully tweak the position of the RPC by moving it up or down relative to the ground plane to compensate for this shift. If you are creating an animation you can animate the physical position of the model to keep the bottom of the RPC content against the floor. Again, in most cases this problem is not noticeable.

Why Aren't My RPCs Touching the Floor?

Because the texture maps are really two-dimensional maps, the illusion of depth in the texture maps varies as objects are placed in close proximity to an RPC. In this case moving the RPC content a foot or two away from other objects should fix the problem.

Why Don't Modifiers Affect RPCs?

RPC was not designed to work with modifiers. Because RPC uses 2D image data instead of geometry to represent an object, there is no geometric model to modify.

When I open my file, I can't select my RPCs - Why?

This happens most commonly when a file is opened and then saved on a computer without an RPC license. Part of the security in the RPC Plug-in is to prohibit manipulation of RPC content on licensed machines, yet still allow rendering to occur. The solution to this is to open the file on a licensed machine and un-freeze the RPC objects.


Known Issues

This section contains some known issues to keep in mind when working with RPCs.

Copy, Instance & Reference

In this version RPC content may be copied, instanced and arrayed just like any other object, but they may not be referenced.

Edge around some of the people

If you render against a very dark background you may see artifacts around the RPC content. As hard as we've tried to completely remove all effects of the blue-screen process some artifacts still exist. These are most apparent when viewing the content against a dark background.

One way to further eliminate any artifacts is by shifting the position of a mask in the opacity channel of the RPC material. Go to the Maps area of the content in the Material Editor. Click on the Opacity map .rpc file setting. Change this map from a Bitmap to a Mask. Keep the old map as a sub-map of the Mask. Copy the .rpc file from the Map position into the Mask by dragging and dropping. Edit the Mask offset parameter in the U direction to tighten the edge of the RPC content. A positive value will move the mask tighter on the left edge of your content. A negative value will tighten the mask on the right edge. It only takes a slight adjustment to get positive results. Try a setting of .002 and check the results. Large values will adversely affect details such as facial contour, etc.

Modifiers

The RPC geometry in any scene can be scaled using the scale tool or by adjusting the Height Parameter for the object. Modifiers can cause unexpected results on the mesh of RPC content. Modifiers can affect the transformation of the object.

RPCs fail in network rendered job

Check to make sure that each machine has a properly configure map path pointing to the location of the RPC content files. For best performance, each machine should refer to the location in the exact same fashion.

Semi-transparent rectangle around the people

Chances are some type of environment effect is on in your scene such as Volume Fog or Volume Light. Many environmental effects do not correctly work with alpha masked images by default.

Many environmental effects have an option that will allow them to work with alpha masked images. As an example Volume Light and Volume Fog have a check box called exponential that will fix the problem if it is checked. Some other environmental effects will have an option similar to "Use Alpha".

One known conflict is with UltraShock 1.0 ®, but can be resolved by upgrading to UltraShock 1.1 ®.

Shadow Casting

This section pertains only to RPCs that have a Cast Shadows option.

The RPC content libraries have been designed to contain subtle shadows in order to "ground" the content placed in a scene. By default, RPC content does not cast shadows based on scene lights. The RPC option Cast Shadows sets the object properties necessary for casting shadows with an RPC. However, there are a number of other considerations when casting shadows with RPC objects:

  • To produce a detailed shadow from RPC content each light source casting a shadow must use the raytraced shadow option.
  • Because the plane used to render the RPC content is always facing the camera it is best to keep shadow casting light sources behind the camera at all times.
  • If the shadow casting light source will be behind the RPC then you may need to use the Cast Reflections option.

See Also:User Interface and Cast Shadows

Backwards Compatability

RPC 3.x is designed with several features not available in previous versions of the Plug-in. Because of this, files utilizing RPC 3.x will not function with older RPC Plug-ins. However, files created with older versions of the Plug-in may be opened with 3.x. A warning message may appear indicating that the content is obsolete and to re-save the file. Once the file has been saved it can no longer be opened with the older Plug-in.

Failure with Material Editor using file created wth previous RPC version.

If a file that was created with a version 1.x RPC Plug-in, and the RPC materials were modified in the material editor and then the RPCs were deleted, RPC materials can get stranded, and accessing the material editor may result in a crash.

The fix is to place an RPC into the scene, and render a frame. This will cleanup the stranded materials, and the material editor will be usable again.