Thea Render 1.5 Review

What is Thea?

Thea is a hybrid GPU and CPU renderer with plugins for a bunch of applications. I use cinema4D so that’s the awesomeness im going to cover here.
The GPU part (the super fast part) is CUDA based, so you will need an Nvidia card. so if you have a new mac pro, this isn’t going to be super useful to you.
Read my hardware building article here //ace5studios.com/hardware

Grab the full functional ( watermarked) demo here: https://www.thearender.com/site/index.php/live-plugins/thea-for-cinema4d.html

[note]: you have to install both the c4d plugin and the standalone studio. Or you will experience crashes and other strange behaviour

 [hm_content_toc title=”Table of contents” headers=”h1, h3″]

Lets get started with a quick video overview of how Thea render works inside cinema4D.

So that’s awesome right? But how does it handle large scenes with forests you may ask? Well have a look here. It does it amazingly!

Ok that’s great, but what if i want to set up a studio for my product shots? Also easy as pie!

Something that i missed earlier ( too many new features coming in) Is that if you tick “continous with material change” in the “ir” drop down menu of dark room, you dont have to re-transfer the scene to see changes you made in materials!

material realtime

Materials

And what about the materials? are they difficult to set up? Nope, pretty straight forward.

Mograph Shaders

And some love for the mograph Color shader! Thea supports the color shader in all its loveliness. The mograph multi shader is in the works apparantly. Hopefully that will come soon.

Limitations

Can’t be this great and not have any draw backs can it? yeah, there are some things it can’t do yet, but they are working on it really hard.

In Summary

  1. Can’t hide an object and keep its reflections – this unfortunately is a permanent limitation, the render engine is physically real, so you will have to hide your reflection planes like photographers. Or multi pass.
  2. X-particles – Geometry render fines, so fluids, and particles which have geometric shapes applied will render find. For the rest you will have to do some compositing. But they are really excitied about this plugin and hopefully soon there will be support.
  3. Hair, If you turn on geometry it works. Its kinda slows the whole thing down, but it does work. The actual render engine has hair on the roadmap, but there is no solid date for the release of that. edit: significant progress has been made, since i wrote this. still not seamless, but much better than before. 
  4. Some shaders dont bake properly, like 3d noise/gradients. Most stuff is baked and transferred pretty well. but it is baked, so if you get pixelation you will have to increase the texture baking size.
  5. Motion blur is currently not supported by the Thea cinema4D plugin. But hopefully it wont be too long. Development is moving along great!
  6. 32bit output is not supported for animations in the c4d plugin. ie through the picture viewer. Darkroom can output 32bit stills. So if your workflow relies on 32bit images, write an emails and explain how much you need it 🙂

Rendering Guide

So how do you actually render out animations with Thea in c4d? Well here is a quick guide of stuff you need to know

  1. You have to render animations with c4d picture viewer.
  2. Disable linear workflow
  3. Make sure your “production render” is set to “Presto” by default its set to TR1.
  4. Xparticles need to be outside system sometimes and cached   This seems to have been fixed now 🙂

Extra Materials?

Yes there is a pretty large collection here://www.thearender.media/site/home.php

and other resources here:
https://www.thearender.com/site/index.php/resources/thea-libraries.html

But unfortunately there is no way to get the trees they have on the thea site into c4d. they are only for thea, and programs that support thea instance objects ( sketchup apparantly is one). But hey, there are plenty of places on the internet to grab trees. Cinema 4d’s content browser has a bunch that ship with it!

Also there is a Substance -> Thea converter. It’s still not 100% accurate, but they are working on it, and it looks really promising!

Render farms

One of the other big advantages of Thea over its competition is the availability of 3rd party render farms. And the ability to purchase render nodes at discounted prices. You get 2 included with your purchase, you can buy extra ones either for 49 euro per node. or 30 nodes for 395 euro.
https://thearender.com/site/index.php/category1/category/52-nodes.html

Some other engines, don’t provide or sell node licenses. so you have to buy a separate license for each computer you are using to network render. This also makes it prohibitively expensive for render farms to support that render.

You can find a list of render farms here: https://thearender.com/site/index.php/resources/render-farms.html

Newton render farm is by far my favorite. The guy is super helpful: //www.newtonrender.com/

Conclusion

And finally, the conclusion. I love thea render. its crazy fast. It has a tonne of supported features, with more constantly coming in. Great developers, reasonably priced. And most importantly there are render farms that support it, so you are not stuck building your own farm or tied to the developers service.

So go grab a trial version from the link below and tell me what you think of it!
https://www.thearender.com/site/index.php/live-plugins/thea-for-cinema4d.html

5man white c4d cinema 4d character rig dummy rigged man guy milk man pick things up

Picking Things Up in Cinema4D

In this tutorial i go over how to use the PSR constraint tag to pick up and place objects.

If you have any questions feel free to leave a comment and i’ll try and help.

Razer naga, the shortcut Junkies best friend

Hey guys, so i’ve been asked what kind of input device i use for working with Cinema 4D. and well here it is. Its the Razer Naga 2014 edition. I’ve been using this one for just over a year, and had the previous version of this for about 3 years, before the right click stopped holding. So im a pretty big fan of these mice. This one as you can see has sustained some damange on the buttons, but i only noticed it now when i started taking photos 🙂 just some of the paint coming off, i guess because of all my body oils and sweat, from all the hard work i do =)

12 Extra Buttons

Originally the 12 buttons on the side where intended for gamers so they can cast spells, or whatever they do, but i find them just as handy in every day work.

for example i have the tilt of the Scroll wheel set to copy and paste, ) it can tilt right and left as well as scroll and middle click.

Then i have the top row set to Num Enter ( comes in handy in many places, but the Num one is used because in photoshop it lets you drop a transform quicker), left, right arrow keys  for browsing through image galleries

Row after that is mouse button, 4,5 ( the regular back forward commands, rectangular selection in c4d, v key radial menu). 8 key is boung to F9, so i can set keyframes quickly.

Then the row at the bottom, so the Numbers 1,4,7 are mapped to F8 to play timeline in c4d ( with ctrl it does a render region), F6 top open picture viewer with ctrl.

The rest get mapped as i need them Sometimes i find myself pressing the same thing a lot. so i map that button/or command to one of the other buttons. Its pretty organic.

Acceleration

Really important feature, especially if you are working on multiple screens, or just a really big monitor. what it does basically is this: the slower you move your mouse the less it moves. But the faster you move it, the father it goes. So that way, if you need to click something small, you move your mouse slowly and its very accurate, and when you need to access something on the other side of the screen, you don’t need to do the awkward lift and move thing, you just flick it between your fingers.

2015-10-18_17_35_30

My settings for the Razer Naga 2014

My settings for the Razer Naga 2014

Hope this was helpful, if you have any questions shoot.

Cheers,
Aleksey

Building your system for VFX ( mostly with Cinema 4D)

With the inevitable abandonment of the professional market by Apple lots of people are switching to windows. And more often than not either building their own workstations or at least picking the components and getting someone to build one for them.

A couple of questions keep coming up in the forums, so i thought i’d write a short article about the main questions.

Desktops

What processor?

Firstly, its Intel. AMD stepped out of the professional arena a while back, and generally deal in low end  to mid range markets. [AMD seem to have re-entered the market with the Ryzen series of CPU’s, so check out the benchmarks and reviews, April 2017] So there are 2 main factors to consider when picking a CPU. You have processors with lots of cores, but lower core clock speed. For example the i7 5820K wich has 6 cores, but runs at 3.4ghz and then you have the i7 6700k which has only 4 cores but runs at 4ghz. Generally it seems to make sense to go for 6x 3.4ghz, rather than 4x 4ghz. But that is only true if what you need the power for is multi-threaded. And unfortunately lots of stuff still isn’t multi threaded and runs on only one core. For example the viewport in cinema4d, Xpresso, character rigs, and most of the realtime stuff you see runs on one single CPU core, so you will get a  more responsive viewport while working with a 6700K, but your renders will go slower ( assuming you are rendering with a CPU based renderer, more on that next).

Regarding Xeons. They only really make sense if you are going the Dual cpu route. But the previous issue with clock speeds is still in play. check the single core benchmarks and compare. The xeons usually score significantly less on those.

Check //cbscores.com for how CPU’s score in both single and multi core. Also make sure when googling for cpu scored, that you are looking at cinebench R15 results, not R11.5 ones. They don’t match up.

And Just a final note to make this all more confusing. Not all Ghz are created the same. If you check cb scores, you might notice that a 6700k scores more than a 4770k even though it has a lower clock speed. Thats because its a newer generation and its more efficient. So a 5 year old CPU at 3.2 ghz won’t necessarily match a 3.2ghz cpu from this year.

What Video card (GPU)

Nvidia. Not because its faster, but because all these awesome GPU renders that are out run on CUDA, and thats an Nvidia technology. I’ll be writing an article on them later.

You want to go for the GTX series. Quadro cards have no real benefit in Cinema4D or the GPU renderers. ( maya apparently benefits from Quadro cards).

I think rendering is moving mostly towards the GPU. So i’d buy a motherboard with at least 3 pci-x slots. and fill them up as your budget allows. As of the time writing this article. The 980Ti (6gb) is probably the best choice for GPU rendering. The Titan X is great too, since it gives you 12gb of memory. And when rendering with a GPU renderer you want as much ram as possible, because you cant use your system ram. Or in the cases where you can use it, is slows down significantly. But honestly its rare that scenes are that large.

I wrote a more expansive article on what you need to know for GPU rendering here: //ace5studios.com/gpu

Hard Drives

I’ll admit, im still on good old fashion spinning hard drives. My laptop came with some SSD’s and while its great to boot things up really quickly, while working, all your applications are going to be in your ram, so i don’t notice that much of a difference.

If you do lots of work where you are dealing with lots of files. image sequences, Cache files for simulations. Than definitely get an SSD, or three. Check Toms hardware for the latest and greatest ( google it, its a hardware review site).

RAM

Just get 16GB for now, but make sure your motherboard supports at least 32GB. Careful don’t cheap out and get the slowest ram, that noticably lags your workflow. But also don’t go overboard and buy the fastest, because without overclocking you’re not going to feel the difference. Check what your processor supports without overclocking.

Also i notice some people think more ram will make your system faster. This is true to some extent, but its not like adding more ram will make your existing system faster. Think of ram like waiters at a restaurant. If you don’t have enough of them you REALLY need more, otherwise everything grinds to a halt. But once you have enough, adding more won’t help. They will just sit there with nothing to do. Ram is similar. If you don’t have enough it’s going to slow you down a lot because, you computer will have to swap files in and out of ram from your hard drive. But if you have 16gb, and don’t use the whole capacity adding more wont have any effect.

Overclocking

I personally don’t overclock, but if you want to tinker with stuff its a viable choice, often making up for the shortcomings of multi-core processors. But keep in mind that it may void your warranty. Do a lot of reading about before just pushing at numbers. 🙂

Case and PSU

If you are building your own system yourself, don’t skimp on the case, make sure it has screwless everything, will make the whole build a much more pleasurable activity. Youtube reviews of cases are a good place to start with when picking a case.

The size of the powersupply you will need depends on the components you are using, once again google is your friend here. spend a bit extra and get a name brand one, like a corsair ( and not the cheapest one). It’ll run quieter and probably last longer. Also less chance of it getting hit by a surge and frying the rest of your system. Never happened to me, i used to use cheapest PSU’s i could get and lots of them died, but no permanent damage. But the volume is a noticeable difference.

My build

I chose the higher clock speed, and got myself and 4790k with a gtx 970, the 980ti and the titanX wern’t out back then. I was planning on building another machine to act as a render slave, with a multi core processor, but in the end i just ended up using render farms when i need to render lots of stuff. It just works better for me. Renders come back waaay faster, and i don’t have to maintain another computer.

Looking for builds? I approve these 🙂

Here is a great list of builds by Sage:  http://www.thesagery.com/builds/

Laptops

Right now, you want to look the MaxQ laptops, they have Nvidia 10 series video cards and perform like champs. The best way to compare then is check their benchmark points. Cinebench for CPU and Octane Bench for GPU. I would suggest getting atleast a 1060 in there, but a 1050ti is not terrible either. It’s about on par with a gtx 970 in benchmarks, which i use and depending on your workload may be enough.

For battery life the Razer Blade seems the undeniable winner in all its Forms. Its basically a black Mac book pro, with real hardware inside and a really ugly font on the keyboard.
read more here: //www.engadget.com/2014/05/06/Razer-Blade-14-review-2014/
800x600-01800x600-10

I personally got the MSI GS60 with a GTX970M with 6gb of memory on it.  It seemed to be a good balance of price/performance for me. I personally dont really care about battery life. If im doing work i’ll find an outlet, for everything else i have tablets and phones.

The thing that bummed me out most, was the lack of a windows key on the left side of the keyboard.

read more here: https//www.engadget.com/2014/04/17/msi-gs60-ghost-review/ ( but keep in mind, internals are always updated, so basically just look at the pictures)
update: now with the the 6th gen i7 in the GS60, it support upto 32gb ram. by using 2x 16gb sticks.

Screenshot 2015-10-16 18_30_39-Engadget _ Technology News, Advice and FeaturesScreenshot 2015-10-16 18_31_52-Engadget _ Technology News, Advice and Features

[Update]: For australians, you might want to check out: //metabox.com.au/store/index.asp they seem to have some nice configurations there.

And finally always remember to do your research, google benchmarks, check forums for feedback on products. Do your homework, things change quickly. Even people who work at computer shops often cant keep up. For example, my 4790k when i bought it, turns out in the combination of the motherboard i bought it was automatically overclocking and then throttling due to heat, had to install new firmware on the motherboard, and then use intel extreme tuning utility to force to just go at stock… And all because i bought the newest thing that was out. Could’ve just went for the 4770k which was tried and true, and only a slight bit slower.

Hope this article helped!

Cheers,
Aleksey

9 Modelling tips in Cinema 4D

These are some modelling tips that where being discussed on the mograph chat. I decided there should be a little summary of them.  thanks to Brasco for clarifying some of them.

  1. use the ‘.’ ( the full stop button). click and drag while holding to wheight edges of a SubD surface
    edge wheights
  2. hold ctrl while in slide edge tool to make loop
    edge loops
  3. Weld Tool (M,Q) Hold Ctrl with no points selected to weld. Or use Stitch and sew tool for same effect.
    weld Ctrl
  4. Dissolve – Melt Difference
    dissolve MEtl
  5. ctrl+shift click to select polygon paths
    ctrlshift select
  6. u,l loops selection, u,f fill selection
    loopFill
  7. split command, then hit delete to have 2 separate objects
    split
  8. top of shape with hex object
    hexCap
  9. python script to import  c4d objects from your drive. So you can for example have a c4d file with 4 or 5 of those hex discs, and you can import them all with a button to any scene. and then pick the right one.
    def main():
      fn = 'X:\[Asset library]\Model library\Modeling Toolkit\Base Geometry\Hexahedral_Discs.c4d'
      c4d.documents.MergeDocument(doc, fn, c4d.SCENEFILTER_OBJECTS | c4d.SCENEFILTER_MATERIALS | c4d. SCENEFILTER_DIALOGSALLOWED | c4d.SCENEFILTER_MERGESCENE)
     
      c4d.EventAdd()

Tell me if i missed anything you love to use =)

Cheers,
Aleksey

Hey there!

This is a news roll kinda place. To see the latest stuff i posted, if you are looking for specific topics/tutorials, check out the Tutorials section, it has categories and just topic titles, so you don’t have to scroll through entire articles.

Enjoy!

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