20, 1998 Design News
Reviews on tools of the trade
3D Studio VIZ R2
Hunter Davidson, Jr.
Northrop Grumman ESSD, Oceanic Systems
Spec box: 3D Studio VIZ
3D Studio VIZ is a modeling, rendering, and
animation application targeting AEC applications.
It runs under Windows 95 and NT 4.0. Minimum
requirements: 150-MHz Pentium, 64 Mbytes of
RAM, and 200 Mbytes swap space, with dual Pentium
Pro or Pentium II processors and at least 128
Mbytes of RAM recommended for complex scenes.
List Price: $1,995
Kinetix, Div. of Autodesk Inc., 642
Harrison Street, San Francisco, CA 94107; Tel:
(800) 879-4233. Product Code 4370
A similar product: Form Z--auto.des.sys
Inc., 2011 Riverside Dr., Columbus, OH 43221;
Tel.: (614) 488-8838. Product Code 4371
To speak with a company representative call
1-800-828-6344 x011 and enter the product code
3D Studio VIZ is an adaptation of 3D Studio MAX, tailored
to enhance productivity in the AEC environment. VIZ
and MAX share the same user interface, plug-in architecture,
scripting language, and rendering engine. While VIZ
lacks some of MAX's advanced animation and post-processing
tools necessary for media production, VIZ adds construction
and CAD interface tools that greatly improve productivity
in an architectural environment. With a significantly
lower purchase price than MAX, VIZ also offers designers
in other disciplines an economical 3D Studio entry point.
As a MAX user, I was immediately at home in VIZ. The
interfaces are identical, with only variations in command
availability, so an environment using both VIZ and MAX
would be very efficient from a training standpoint.
To test this apparent commonality, I loaded a MAX model
I'm currently developing, and simply continued work
without missing a beat (I picked a MAX model using only
features common with VIZ). As a mechanical designer,
I primarily import models created as solids in AutoCAD,
and compose, render, and animate in MAX. It's clear
that I could perform a significant fraction of this
MAX work in VIZ.
VIZ's documentation is clear and well- written, following
a task-oriented style that I find very effective. The
printed tutorial provides an easy-to-follow introduction,
and the Getting Started video tape (a new Studio feature)
provides an excellent place for newcomers to begin.
On-line documentation is presented through a browser
interface, and is as good as any I've seen.
For architectural applications, VIZ offers alternatives
such as importing drawings and shapes in a variety of
file formats. A typical application might import a 2D
AutoCAD floor plan, extrude this plan to create a 3D
structure, then add 3D features using VIZ's construction
tools. Alternatively, all construction could be performed
in VIZ, directly creating the 3D objects.
The real power of VIZ for architectural applications
is evident when adding fully parametric features such
as doors. They can be extremely time-consuming when
starting from scratch; however, VIZ's built-in tools
make creation and modification of these objects effortless.
The primary purpose of VIZ is to produce photorealistic
rendered images and animations. Using 3D Studio's materials,
lights, atmospheric effects, and camera controls, this
purpose is well met. VIZ adds the Walkthrough Assistant,
a MAXScript application, which automates most standard
aspects of walkthrough creation and is a time-saving
tool. VIZ also includes a streamlined version of SmoothMove
Panoramas, which creates spherical, dynamic, panoramic
images that can be interactively panned horizontally
More sophisticated VIZ features include drawing linking,
which permits associative connection of AutoCAD drawings
and VIZ models, and camera match, which lets you place
a VIZ model in the setting of a photographic image background,
with the VIZ camera matched to the film camera's view
and optical characteristics.
Although primarily an AEC tool, VIZ could serve as
an excellent Studio entry point for other disciplines.
Its capabilities for high-quality rendering and animation
can be used for visualization of any design, animated
exploded models, mechanism animation, and a wealth of
other applications. The primary limitations when compared
with MAX are the lack of sub-object animation, video
post, and inverse kinematics, with the latter the most
significant for mechanism designers.
VIZ is an excellent example of 3D Studio's capacity
for enhancement and tailoring for specialized applications.
It provides a cost-effective solution for architects,
and many others who need realistic presentation of concepts
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