156 hours of rendering…gone!

156 hours of rendering…gone!

My latest image was busy rendering – estimated to take a whopping 156 hours to render (after the initial radiosity pass) that is 6 ½ days! I was using Vue 9 (64-bit) as a render engine. Bryce 7 wouldn’t handle the file (over 2.5Gb big) and it is limited to 32-bit address space so it can’t use all my 8Gb of memory! The render started last Tuesday and when I checked last night at 11pm there was only 4 hours left and a thin strip remained to complete, so I went to be happy in anticipation for the results for the next morning.

So this morning (it is now a full week later) I got up all excited and instead of being greeted by a completed render, I was greeted by the Windows 7 welcome screen! My PC had rebooted in the night, and 156-hours solid of rendering was gone! Even Vue’s famous “Resume Render” function didn’t work becuase the machine had simply shut down!

Needless to say I was more than slightly irritated…I was furious! What caused this reboot? It certainly wasn’t a powercut. I have a nice little UPS that will keep my system going for a couple of hours should the power go down.

Then a little notification popped up that revealed the guilty party. Windows ***ing Updater! By default it seems Windows 7 updates regularly and reboots the system once the update is complete!

After much cursing andsmashing my forehead into the keyboard, I discovered how to prevent this potentially disasterous occurance from happening every time Microsoft patches its operating system! This will work with any version of Windows 7 – Professional and above. It might even work with XP.

  1. Click the Windows 7 orb
  2. Type “gpedit.msc” in the Search field to find and start the Group Policy Editor
  3. Go to Local Computer Policy -> Computer Configuration -> Administrative Templates -> Windows Components -> Windows Update
  4. Double-click on “No auto-restart for scheduled Automatic Update installation”
  5. Enable it!
  6. Reboot the computer

In Vue I also set the Rendering to render to a file rather than the screen and to backup the render file very hour. I will report back next week – at the same time – with the results of my looonnnggg render!

[After this posting I recieved a note from David Brinnen informed me that Bryce can be made to see more than the default 2Gb limit for memory. Techpowerup has a link to a little utility “LargeAddressAware” that can allow Bryce to have a 3Gb limit – Thanks David]

Speed up preview rendering…

Speed up preview rendering…

Any user of Bryce with common sense will tell you that the “nano preview” postage stamp isn’t worth a damn! It is too small to see any meaningful detail in it, and you cannot really use it for the “tweak-check-tweak-check” method that most of us use when using Bryce, especially with big files.

Add a HDRI file for lighting or switch on “soft shadows” and then you will see your render times jump from minutes into hours. (or days) A bristlecone pine’s growth now becomes fast compared to Bryce’s rendering speed!

I often use the Light Lab’s Render Options and change the settings in the drop-down menu (that appear when you click on the small white arrow below the Preview Window) and change it to “Render in Scene” to see how my file will look. The preview is double the size of the useless Nano-preview in the Main Editing Window, but you still have to jump back and forth between the Main Editor Window and the Light Lab, and if you have Bryce 7, then prepare yourself of random crashes when you jump between Labs too quickly!

But with the frustrations of using Bryce 7 (a good, but still a Beta product in my mind and opinion) I have discovered a useful little trick that allow you to reduce the render time of your main window to handle quick tweaks.

Take  look at a normal render time…36 Minutes! (Time to leave the computer room and go make some coffee, or do some washing or take an afternoon powernap!)

You would have to wait 36 minutes each time you move a light or an object. By switching off the Textures in the render, the render time is reduced.

You can switch on the Fast Preview mode too. This will show you a more complete picture sooner rather than rendering line for line.

The rendering speed is reduced considerably from 36 minutes down to 1 minute 15 seconds! You sacrifice the rendering of textures, but when you are tweaking and changing settings back and forth, time is important, textures are not! Later when you have set your lighting and atmospheric settings just right, you can switch the textures on again for the final renders.

The discovery of this little setting certainly has done my impatient nature a ton of good!

Keep on Brycin’

Speed up preview rendering…

Using Collada models from Sketchup Warehouse

Here's some tips for using the DAZ Studio Beta to convert Google's SketchUp Warehouse models into OBJ files to use in Bryce. 


Not all of the models could be converted (only about 1 in 5 or so..) and many of those were either poorly made or poorly textured, and thus un-usable. 

*But*, even with that, there are some really neat models there which I could bring over to Bryce and render. Many of the world's most famous buildings have been made into 3d. and the best thing is that they are free! There are a few problems to be dealt with, but I'll mention those later.

If you are interested in the process:

1.) Download from SketchUp Warehouse the model you are interested in: choose either the zipped Collada file (.dae), or the Google Earth (.kmz) file. In my run-through any of the actual 'SketchUp' (.skp) files are useless, as you need SketchUp Pro (ie. money!) to convert them.
1a.) If you choose the Google Earth (.kmz) file, **rename the file extension to .zip***…. (KMZ is a form of zip, and you should be able to open it with no problem once the extension is changed.)
2.) Open the zip file as you normally would.
3.) Using the latest D/S beta (not sure if the latest regular version can handle it, so I used the beta, which definitely does…) import the .dae file from the opened zip file.
4.) If all is well and good, you should see the model. If you don't, follow these steps:
4a.) On the list of the scene content (usually in the left-hand tab column), find and select the item called "Model".
4b.) On the list to the right-hand side of the screen, look under the "Surfaces" tab for the "Shaders" drop-down. Click on that, then click on the first listed 'mesh'. Then when you are exited from there, click on the "Shaders" drop-down again, scroll down to the last listed mesh, and shift-click on that mesh name. This will highlight all of the included meshes for the next step.
4c.) Just below the "Shaders" box, will be a slider for "Opacity". Slide that all the way to the right (100%) to have the model become visible.

Once it's visible, it is ready for export for Bryce. Choose the File_Export option from the menu, and In the OBJ Export box, make sure that the Convert Maps (for Bryce) is checked. Name your model, and you're good to go.

Now for the caveats:

While most of the models are low-poly, and don't take a lot of memory, there are a few that are HUGE! (Pity, because some look *beautiful* There is a reproduction of the Baths of Caracalla which is superb in it's preview, but I couldn't convert it.). Some of the models should only be used as background filler, as the lack of close-up detail may be noticeable.

To make up for the lack of modeled detail, the system relies heavily on photographic detail on the texturing. As a result, there are sometimes baked-in shadows, and things like people and cars that are captured when the person took the photo of the building. Again, you may have to choose which side of the building to render.

SketchUp/Google Earth for some reason uses white as it's transparency color, so some items (for example, a propeller blade) which is modeled as a simple square with a picture attached) will render out the whole image; prop blades on a white square. You may have to do a bit of trans-map work.

Lastly, because of the system, most of the model makers call their model "Model.dae" and all of their textures something like "Image1.jpg" and Image2.jpg"…. Thus, trying to use more than one of the models in a scene becomes a nightmare, with cross-references getting all messy.

But, if you can maneuver around these pitfalls, there are some gems to use. I have gotten about 100 building models converted to a fairly acceptable stage. Some will need tweaking, but most render quite well as middle to long distance elements.

And the reason I started rummaging around in SketchUp Warehouse: Bryce 7 beta 'lists' the Collada .dae file format in the import menu… not yet working, but once it is, you won't have to do the DAZ Studio conversion run-around.
 Alcazar Castle
Alcazar Castle

Boston's Trinity Church

Boston's Trinity Church

 Brabant Castle

Brabant Castle

Mont St. Michel

Mont St. Michel

 Schloss Schwetzingen

Schloss Schwetzingen

Speed up preview rendering…

Quick Tip: Exact Colour Sampling

Quick Tip 2If you are using the colour picker tool (the pipette) in the Material Editor to copy or duplicate colours, then you should be aware that the colour picker  samples the program interface NOT the colour field that you might be trying to copy.The colour fields only have a very small area in which the exact colour can be sampled (in the image this area is marked in white) The light blue area samples the colour one less than exact colour. Try it now, and click on a white colour field. It will sample as 254,254,254 and not 255,255,255.

If colour accuracy is important to you use the colour picker on the right edge of the colour field to get the exact colour.

(Discovered on a printout from an old Usenet Bryce Group for Bryce 3 and 4! Even in Bryce 6.1.3 this “bug” still is around)

Speed up preview rendering…

Quick Tip: Changing the preview pictures of Material presets

Quick Tip 1Discovered on a printout from a now defunct Bryce newsgroup…

To change the preview picture of a material, adjust the preview to the object and orientation (using the Alt, Ctrl, Shift and Space Bar) you would like to have as the material's preview, then Ctrl-Shift-Click (Cmd-Shift-Click for Apple users) on the material's thumbnail and it gets replaced by the current preview!

Speed up preview rendering…

Genetica Viewer textures in Bryce – a quick tutorial

Using Genetica Viewer 3 to generate textures is very easy. What to do with them in Bryce might be a little daunting to the n00bs – myself included. So here is a quick-and-dirty tutorial to help you:

First of all fire up Genetica Viewer 3 and select the texture that you want to render:

Then select the "Render Effect Maps" on before rendering. (The Genetica Viewer 3 can only render to a maximum of 2048 X 2048 pixels but that is fine for most needs)


Sit back and wait…make yourself a cup of coffee, read your e-mail, take a walk around the garden… because some of the textures will take a long time to render. Once the texture is rendered it is time to export to a usable format.Click the Export Image:


Once the "Diffuse" image is saved change the drop-down menu (to the right of the 6 big numbers) to a channel other than "Texture" to save the Bump map and other maps like Specularity etc.


…in this case I want a bump map (which is called "Bottom Material" in this instance) so I export that.


Export to .JPG format with 0% compression the reults will be quite satifactory.


Once that is complete it is time to fire up Bryce, create your object and set your materials (by clicking on the tiny [M] button next to the object in Bryce's Main Editor)


Select the P button to select or create an image-based texture.


Then click the rightmost button above the "Leonardo Vitruvian Man" thumbnail to open up the texture editor.


 Click on an emply block to load the diffuse channel image.


…then click on the middle white placeholder to load the bump map as an alpha channel to drive the bumpmapping.


If the results look like this, you can click the green check mark on the lower right corner to exit the Texture Editor.


 Now set your Bump Map in the A Column on (with the blue button switch) and set the value to get the right bump detail. (I used a value of 50+)


The render will show you if your settings are correct. In this instance the Ambience is set too high and the image is washing out a bit.


Return to the Material Editor and set the Ambience to 0.


Fiddle with the Specularity too by putting a blue button in the A column next to Specularity.


This will make the rock texture less washed out and shinier.


That is it – in a nutshell – of the basics of using Genetica Viewer's textures in Bryce. It think you will agree that the results are quite spectacular!

Keep on Brycin'


aka Hamfast