ArchVision Composer Reviewed
By Jeff Mottle (firstname.lastname@example.org)
ArchVision RPC’s are pretty much a household name in the industry of architectural rendering, and you do not need to look long before finding an image somewhere on the Internet with at least one of their people, trees, cars or accessories placed somewhere in the rendering. Very recently ArchVision added a new tool to their arsenal by creating an ingenious new standalone application called Composer, which allows users to place RPC content quickly and easily in any 2D image.
The tool itself is very straight forward and while it only has a few settings to content with, allows you to very quickly drop in and position the RPC content within your scene. Before I show the Composer workflow I wanted to quickly mention the new ArchVision Content Manager as well as it ties in to this Composer release, making the management and licensing of RPC content a very convenient task.
The content manage itself is run as a service on your computer and allows you to easily keep track of your RPC licenses and organize your RPC content on a per project basis. When you purchase RPC content or a software you will now be able to download the content and licence directly through the ACM. The ACM allows you to float licences across your company, rename RPC content and organize content based on the project and location within a project. To see the complete description of how the new ACM works and all of its features you can visit the ArchVision website here: http://www.archvision.com/ManagementTools.cfm
As I eluded to earlier the Composer interface is very simply to use and consists of only three tabs to the upper right of the interface, a minitool bar to edit individual RPC content and the file menu at the top left.
The Place tab allows you to choose the RPC content you wish to place, the Edit tab lists the individual editable RPC properties and the Setup tab lets you position the sun for shadow casting and auto-scaling options.
There are two ways to use Composer: One is by opening the application itself, and the second is by launching from PhotoShop. I’ll first detail the process from within Composer.
The first step is to open the image that you want to place the RPC content into. Once the image is open, you will see a Horizon line placed across the image and a default RPC person placed onto the scene. From here you need to simply drag the horizon line to match the vanishing point of you scene. This ensures that any content that is dropped into the scene is inserted at the proper scale. With the horizon line placed, go back to the Place tan drop in your content. Using the minitool bar beneath the currently selected RPC content you can adjust the rotation, scaling, and position in the scene. The minitool bar flyout also allows you to affect the RPC Opacity, Brightness and Saturation as well as shadow position and opacity to ensure that the content matches as closely as possible to your rendering. All that’s left is to render the final image to an image format of your choice and you’re done!
Placing the Horizon Line
The second method gives you the same control as above but takes the process one step further. If you currently own PhotoShop 6 or higher the RPC Photoshop plugin will automatically be installed when you install Composer. With your image open in PhotoShop you simply go to File->Automate->Export to ArchVision composer. This loads the current image into Composer and the workflow is identical as before until you want to render out the final image. While that option exists, because Composer was launched from within PhotoShop, you can now access the Render to External Application option within the Render file menu. This renders your scene back to Photoshop, but gives you the added feature of having the RPC and RPC shadow rendered to separate PhotoShop layers. By having the RPC content rendered to separate layers you now have full control over the fine tuning of colors to match your scene as well as any post effects you may with to apply to them.
Layers in PhotoShop
ArchVision Composer is very easy to use and can be learned in a matter of minutes. The interface is fairly intuitive and overall the application works very well. For anyone that does not have access to an application that is already RPC enabled, or if you just simply want to add RPC to an already rendered image Composer is the tool for you. There were a couple of minor things that I would change, but all were pretty minor. I found that adjusting the sun position was more difficult than it should be because the minitool bar beneath the sample RPC could not be moved. In scenes where the sun does not create long shadows, it was difficult to judge if the sun position was correct as the minitool bar blocked the realtime update of the shadow. While the toolbar can be moved in all other cases it does not appear to be the case here. The other small annoyance I found while adjusting the shadow opacity within Composer. Unfortunately if the opacity is set too low you get a really odd rainbow colored shadow which makes it difficult to tell if the opacity setting is correct for the scene. The image renders as expected, but you need to render a few tests to confirm that the shadow opacity is right. I prefer to render the shadows at full opacity and then export to PhotoShop where I can control the opacity and color with more precision.
ArchVision Composer sells for $249 US and can be purchased directly from the ArchVision website: http://www.archvision.com
- Very Easy to use
- Intuitive Interface
- Small issues with shadow placement and shadow opacity
- Because you are working with a 2D image you have no control over RPC objects that may appear behind scene content. This can be fixed by editing in PhotoShop however.
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