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AutoVision 2.0

AutoVision 2.0

AutoVision 2.0 provides a wealth of rendering tools capable of generating realistic images of 3-D AutoCAD R13 objects. In addition to the capabilities of the original release for R12, AutoVision 2.0 adds background, landscape, fog, and depth curing. Rendering controls allow trading image quality and rendering time. Shadow capability is enhanced, and walkthrough and light animation have been added.

I used AutoVision with R13 for Windows and found it tightly integrated with R13. It provides access through both an extensive menu and a toolbar. The extensive, nested dialogs are clear, making complex choices easy to follow. Default choices produce reasonable renderings, reducing the chance that a first-time user will be overwhelmed.

Rendering. AutoVision offers three major rendering choices: the original AutoCAD renderer, the basic AutoVision renderer, and the AutoVision Raytrace renderer. The basic renderer can process bitmapped and transparent objects and rudimentary shadows; while the Raytrace version adds reflection, refraction, and more sophisticated shadow effects.

The appearance of rendered surfaces is controlled using intuitive concepts such as materials, lights, and shadows. The addition of volume mapping allows easy inclusion of effects such as wood grain and mineral patterns, producing pleasing effects on all faces of an object. Mapped effects process rapidly, and are easily scaled and reoriented to fit varying geometry. Further control of background color, and the addition of bitmapped images as background and as landscape objects, leads to realistic scenes with minimal effort.

AutoVision 2.0
AutoVision 2.0 is a full-featured still rendering package with added animation features. It is fully integrated with AutoCAD R13 and is compatible with hardware suitable for R13. Version 2.0 adds useful image and development tools that enhance both productivity and the quality of final output. The product is available in R13 for a 30-day free trial.

List Price: $495

Autodesk, Inc., 111 McInnis Pkwy., San Rafael, CA 94903; ph. (415) 507-5000; fax: (415) 507-5100.

Time savers. AutoVision 2.0 offers features to minimize the time required for initial rendering trials. Selective rendering is possible for complex models, selecting one or a few objects to be rendered while refining material and lighting effects. A scene can be cropped, rendering only a small portion of a view including all objects in the cropped area. Rendering can also be subsampled, producing a lower resolution image with most of the visual effects retained.

Used individually or in combination, these options can dramatically reduce rendering time for preliminary work. I used object selection and cropping most frequently, and found them very effective. I had some difficulty extrapolating the effect of subsampled images to the final product.

Animation. AutoVision animates scenes by producing sequential images made by a moving camera. These animations are suitable for architectural applications and provide some capability for illustration of machine design. However, relative motion of machine parts is not supported.

Animations are created as a sequence of frame files on the hard disk. The compiled animation must be completed outside AutoCAD with a supplied utility. I experienced memory limitations compiling an animation with high resolution Targa files, though I was able to produce a good NTSC video animation from these files using a DPS Personal Animation Recorder. I think the animation capabilities provide a satisfactory introduction to animation; however, I recommend that users planning serious production consider 3D Studio as a cost effective addition. Given the R13 and AutoVision transportability with 3D Studio, a later transition should be easy.

For still rendering, I found AutoVision to be a very capable tool. Its availability from within AutoCAD adds to its value. It offers the ability to generate extremely realistic images, and includes many of the features found in full production rendering packages. I'm particularly pleased to see the emphasis placed upon rapid rendering during preliminary work, and the flexibility of control over these features.

A similar product:

RenderStar4 - RenderStar Technology, Keizersgracht 448, Amsterdam, The Netherlands; ph. 001 (800) 763-7787.

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