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Saturday26 July 2014

V-Ray plug-in gives industry a new set of imaging tools

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The latest in visualisation software looks set to make a visible difference to architects’ working methods

V-Ray for Sketchup
Asgvis
Visualisation software developed by Chaos Group
www.asgvis.com
3/5

As a quick 3D-modelling tool, Sketchup is great, but it falls short of producing the sort of “wow” visuals that architects and their clients are often looking for. The default material palettes delivered with the package are limited and lighting options are basic.

It is common for practices to work up a scheme in Sketchup before handing the model over to someone using “proper” cad software to re-model the project and render the visuals. This workflow duplication is the gap V-Ray render specialist Asgvis has spotted and is looking to fill with its V-Ray photorealistic render plug-in.

V-Ray is without doubt a serious piece of visualisation software with a long (in software terms) pedigree. Developed by Chaos Group in Bulgaria, it is better known and widely used as an external renderer for 3ds Max and other heavyweight visualisation packages.

The good news is that most of the functionality that existing V-Ray users might already be familiar with is available for use within Sketchup. The latest release (v1.49.01) runs on Windows PCs and Mac OS, and is compatible with Sketchup version 8.

Workflow duplication is the gap Asgvis is looking to fill with its V-Ray photorealistic render plug-in

Features include: proprietary materials, shaders and textures; integration with Sketchup materials; a material editor with preview; per-material irradiance, reflection and refraction options; IES support for accurate light modelling to manufacturer specifications; transparency, lighting reflections and refractions; glossy reflections; global illumination; soft shadows; HDRI support to realistically render high contrast scenes; multi-threaded ray tracing; depth of field options; physical cameras; and finally the ability to use a “render farm” of up to 10 computers to produce a scene or animation. Network, pooled software licensing, is also available.

In actual use, this plug-in is extremely easy to get on with. Scene illuminations are simple to set up, and integration with native Sketchup materials means that a decent quality render can be produced with relatively little effort. Real benefit can be gained by following the tutorials available on the developer website to fully exploit the ray-tracing power of the V-Ray engine.

From an IT administration point of view, however, the product is difficult to deploy and manage. Documentation relating to installation of the highly desirable network licensing
feature is particularly obtuse, if not completely incorrect.

Liam Southwood is director of IT support provider nittygritty.net

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