3D Arts Hardware: AMD Is Back!

Ryzen putting AMD back in Workstations

51gbGEc4sXL._SL1000_Well, when I heard that AMD’s new Ryzen CPUs (newegg and Amazon) were good, I thought great, I’ll take a look at that later. Just today, almost two months since launch, I finally got around to checking out lots of benchmarks (PC World, Tom’s Guide, ExtremeTec, ars Technica), and it turns out that AMD’s new processors are a lot more exciting than I expected. AMD CPUs have gone from a horrible mess that weren’t in any way competitive with Intel’s higher tier processors, to a game-changing-market-disrupting phenomenon.

AMD have finally caught up to Intel, something we haven’t seen in a decade. The Ryzen 7 1800x has been shown to outperform Intel’s beastly i7-6900k, albeit marginally, in Cinebench. Cinebench rouses shrugs from gamers, but to anyone that does lots of 3D rendering, or other heavy multi-threaded tasks, Cinebench is the main show of many processor reviews.

Let’s let that sink in. AMD’s R 7 1800x outperforms Intel’s 8-core $1000 + i7-6900K. At less than half the price of the Intel processor, this has the potential to completely change the market. Suddenly AMD processors are back in workstations, at a fraction of the cost of the equivalent Intel processor. Finally, there’s some real competition back in the processor market. Though if money is something you frequently burn, roll in, sleep on, or utilise to wipe away certain bodily wastes, then there is still Intel’s unrivaled i7-6950X.

 

Mid and entry level Ryzen perform well

 

On the lower end of the market the 6 core Ryzen 5 1600x compares favourably against the i5-7600k, thumping it in multi-core tasks, and while not quite as good in terms of gaming, and single-threaded tasks, holds its own well enough. Check out PC Worlds benchmarks. Even the 4 core R 5 1500X competes well against Intel’s i5s, and pushes up to the higher ground of i7s (PC Word, and Guru3D).

Unlike the previous line of FX chips, AMD isn’t attempting to cram more performance in by stuffing more cores on a chip. Their new Zen architecture is genuinely more efficient, and from the entry level, all the way to high-end gaming, and heavy multi-core tasks, AMD is back. Once again we have choice when it comes to purchasing processors. I never once suggested anyone any of AMD’s FX processor, but now I have no problem suggesting Ryzen CPUs.

 

Considering a new PC build for DAZ Studio?

 

For many artists using DAZ at the moment the focus is on getting high-end NVIDA GTX cards into their systems, so for those going in that direction, the entry level AMD Ryzen 5 processors might be a really good way to save a not inconsiderable chunk of money better spent on a better graphics card.

For those using 3Delight, CPU LuxRender, Corona, or getting setup for the upcoming CPU based PBR render in the next release of Lightwave, then AMD’s 1800x and 1700x are definitely worth considering as alternatives to the i7-7700K and their line of 2011-3 processors. Hopefully we’ll start to see some serious price drops from Intel as AMD starts winning back some of that market share that has eroded over the years spent in the wilderness.

If gaming performance is important then, i5s, and the quad core i7s offer the best gaming performance, while AMDs new processors are doing a respectable job at keeping pace, again see the benchmarks provide throughout.


Once You Know, You Newegg

Review – Refined Rigging: Clothing Case Studies

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Esha’s Refined Rigging: Clothing Case Studies is part of 3D Art Live’s webinar catalogue, which luckily for us, are now being released in DAZ 3D’s store. This is the first time I have picked up a product from them, and given my experience of the presentations and content, I have already gone back for more, picking up information products delivered by Arki and Esha.

What Brought Me to Refined Rigging?

For me, one of the most interesting parts of 3D is the modelling side, but I didn’t realise this until I wanted to make my own content for Genesis. There it was, this lofty and intimidating goal, but I knew I’d need to get into the nitty gritting of rigging, weight mapping, and morphing. Serious “too hard basket” stuff, but little by little I crept towards making wearables. My first experience was using the transfer tool to fit old Michael and Victoria 4 shoes and boots to Genesis. Still, I wasn’t ready for serious rigging, and did my best to avoid it by using cloth dynamics in other programs. Of course, dynamics is very slow and rigging gives us a lot more flexibility. It was clear I had to learn rigging to progress.

 

Notes on Other Handy DAZ Studio Rigging Material

 

tvtkrzs0Now I’m serious about rigging. I’m not hiding from it any more. First I turned to Blondie9999’s Rigging Original Figures and Advanced Rigging in DS4 Pro. These documents are fantastic, and I recommend them to anyone getting into rigging in DAZ Studio. Unfortunately they don’t cover general weight maps, which the current Genesis 3 (Victoria 7/ Michael 7) models use, but they do cover TriAx weight maps, used by Genesis/2 figures (which is technically more advanced, but more of a faff to work with). The information in both documents is still useful, and the sections on weight mapping are generally transferable to the “new system”.

One area Blondie’s documents don’t cover is creating JCMs (Joint controlled morphs). Well, they are mentioned in one document, but only in passing. I suspect that Blondie didn’t spend time talking about JCMs because of the comprehensive nature of TriAx weight maps. TriAx offers maps to control joint deformation for each axes, so three weight maps per joint, plus two extra to control bulge, such as muscle flexing. With this level of detail achievable with weight maps, the use of JCMs is bound to be greatly reduced.

tj7a2nwiThen along comes Victoria 7 and Genesis 3 figures, ditching TriAx, and utilising general weight maps. General weight maps are much easier to work with, but offer far less control, thus less detail. To overcome this limitation the Genesis 3 base figure relies heavily on JCMs to produce those realistic bends.

So, while Blondie’s documents don’t cover working with general weight maps and JCMs, they are still easy to recommend for anyone learning about rigging content and original figures. Advanced Rigging in DS4 Pro contains lots of great topics including geo-grafting. The information on weight mapping in these documents is still invaluable, and TriAx weight maps remain a viable option for those rigging original figures or working with Genesis/2. Similarly, for those that are working with TriAx, a working knowledge of creating and setting up JCMs is still valuable information.

An additional resource worth mentioning is The Comprehensive Guide to Rigging Tools in DAZ Studio by Thomas Windar. This document is boss (aka really good). It explains all the tools necessary for rigging TriAx and General weight figures and props. If you are new to rigging content, this document is worth grabbing. I found the section on the mystical Rigidity Groups useful and illuminating.

 

Esha’s Refined Rigging to The Rescue

 

Late last year I was creating content, primarily for personal use, for Victoria 7. When it came to rigging I encountered strange mesh deformations, most noticeably in a gasmask. I checked my weight maps, and as far as I could tell there was nothing there to cause the problem. I poked about on the forum and ended up starting a new thread, but I never got to the bottom of the problem. Eventually I put the content aside and decided to come back to it later… which I still have yet to do.

When I saw Esha’s Refined Rigging I had a feeling it would give some insight into the issues I’d had. A few minutes in, and behold, Esha was describing exactly what was causing my problem. It turns out that Victoria 7’s JCMs were transferring to my rigged props, causing unwanted deformations.

But it wasn’t just this vague hope that Esha would have some solutions to this problem that lead to me purchasing the tutorial. It was the fact that it covered weight mapping and creating mesh morph/JCMs for troublesome spots. These topics were of particular interest to me because I have been transferring old content to new figures and it was becoming apparent I needed help with pesky spots, like the groin. This tutorial came along at the perfect time.

Anyone that has used the transfer tool and auto fit between generations of figures has witnessed the horror it does to items like shorts and panties. The problems are also common in long pants that aren’t skin tight. The shorts I was working on at the time were a particular mess, so again, Esha’s Refined Rigging promised helpful insights, and again, it delivered.

Esha shows how to fix weight maps for those tough spots and create corrective morphs to replace the base JCMs (which spontaneously generate, even after being deleted). Esha used ZBrush for the tutorial, but I was able to easily apply the concepts in Lightwave. Esha also demonstrated how to use ERC freeze to set up complex morphs that apply when multiple joints are rotated. In this case it was having both thighs spread to the sides (splits).

These images show some of my journey from the horrors created by the transfer tool, though to a pretty decent looking morph I used as a JCM. For a long time I have known I need to learn how to do JCMs, but the documentation is hard to find, incomplete and vague. Esha’s tutorial did a great job of filling in the blanks and making the process easier to understand.

JCMs and custom weight maps bringing old content to Victoria 7

 

Some Issues

to find JCMs that are affecting a mesh the "show hidden" option must be enabled.As much as I found the material informative, and as much as it helped with current projects, I did have some issues with the provided information. It wasn’t quite exhaustive enough. That is the nature of video tutorials that have set times.

My first problem was finding which JCMs were affecting my mesh. In the tutorial Esha shows that they are found in the “Currently Used” tab in the properties menu. I clicked the tab and found nothing! I clicked around for way too long and eventually turned to Google, but unfortunately I found no info on why I couldn’t see them. Eventually I stumbled upon the “Show Hidden” option (after more clicking around). Why this wasn’t mentioned is beyond me. It is extremely important information.

The second problem was that I couldn’t find the section on how to hook up JCMs manually. I ran into an issue where DAZ Studio was not applying a JCM correctly and I wanted to hook it up manually to see if that resolved the problem. I skipped through the tutorial a number of times looking for the section, which I’m fairly sure is in there, but I couldn’t find it. Again I had to go back to Google, and luckily this time there was a solution. DAZ provides information about hooking up JCMs manually.  The information is for an older version, and things have slightly changed, but the process was basically the same.

Indeed, there was a maths error that was causing my morph to apply incorrectly as the thighs were rotated to the side, but the solution was as easy as dividing one number by another. Now my morph applies correctly ever time, and I’m much happier.

These points are minor. The first was frustrating and would have been resolved with a quick demonstration. The second one could have been remedied with a PDF transcript or perhaps a simple index of topics and the times they are discussed.

Why We Need Esha’s Refined Rigging

Overall I would highly recommend Refined Rigging to anyone that wants to make content or alterations to content for Genesis 3 based figures such as Victoria and Michael 7. JCMs play a huge roll in DAZ’s new figures, and it is a key concept to understand and control.

Esha’s presentation is concise and packed with information demonstrated with practical applications. This tutorial is perfect for anyone that wants to go deeper than using the auto-fit tool and fix those troublesome issues to make the best content and content refinements possible.

I also found it handy that the package came in standard definition and HD. As someone that has somewhat limited data budget, the standard definition was a valuable data saver.

What’s next?

In an upcoming post I’ll be filling in a few blanks I think would have been nice additions to Esha’s tutorial. I won’t be recreating or going over her key points, that would be rude, just filling in some blanks.

DigiSprawl Pulse Pistol Freebie

I’ve often considered giving away models I’ve created and used for little projects, but even when something is being given away it should be of a high standard. Often I’m happy just to make fun little do-dads to entertain myself or for one off projects (and aren’t really ready for broader use), but here’s something I wanted to share.

If you happen to be a fan of Farscape then this pistol might be familiar. I was recently binge watching the show and decided the item might be a fun project to get back in the saddle.

You can download the pulse pistol here. I hope to add more items in the future. As always feel free to contact me with questions, suggests etc.

The Post Apocalypse

I’ve always been a big fan of all things dystopian and post apocalyptic – even done a number of Fallout themed renders. Seeing products that fit this theme always gives me a little thrill of inspiration. Maybe one day I’ll even get around to rendering the panels for that post-apocalyptic comic I’ve got all storyboarded.

If the apocalypse is your bag check these out.

Post Apocalypse Bundle

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Rough Rider for Genesis 3 Female

In case Wastelander for Genesis 3 female is a little too much on the “skimpware” side Rough Rider might be the grungy alternative you’re looking for. There is also a G3M variant too.

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Dystopian Girl (G3F)
And then sometimes you just need more leather. I know I do.

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And because I can here are some of my own post apocalyptic renders. Given that these images are now between 3 and 4 years old now I’m itching to be back on my render rig.