NPOWER Software - Advanced Modeling Plugins for 3DSMAX and RHINO

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MAN Diesel's Danish Designer and Artist, Morten Edvars: nPower 3d digital artist interview.
 
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Morten, thank you for joining us. MAN Diesel has always been an innovator, from building the first diesel engine ever in 1897, to creating and manufacturing some of today’s largest, most-powerful marine diesel engines. That same spirit of innovation and attention to detail shines through on your visualizations and renderings of MAN Diesel’s latest mechanical designs. Could you tell us something about your background and share with our readers how you found your way to working at MAN, producing such stunning technical images?

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After primary school, I did an apprenticeship as a commercial photographer, so the making of pictures for marketing use has always been a natural part of my work, one way or another. The first contact I had with computer-based drawing was in the mid-nineties at Copenhagen Polytechnic School, where I soon began to discover the fascination and power of 3D tools in the early versions of AutoCAD and 3d studio..

   
 

After my studies, I worked for different architectural companies,  ending up in working for some of the major Scandinavian and German firms specialized in architectural renderings.   In 2001, I moved business and began to work in the Aerospatiale industry at Airbus in Germany.  There,  for the first time, I was challenged with the difficulties of rendering manufacturing CAD data, often resulting in a very high poly count when taken into  3D programs like Maya.

   
 
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Morten, Can you give us a brief overview of the visualization process at MAN Diesel?

   
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Before arriving at MAN Diesel, 3D was mainly considered as an extra touch we could add to our brochures if needed, and often the technical designers did the 3D-rendering in their spare time so as not to waste valuable time needed on other tasks. The 3D work I present today would not have been possible without the enthusiasm, research and hard work of my colleagues.

   
 

In the marketing department at MAN Diesel, we have our own video production and publishing facility, and together with the departments for engineering and technical documentation, we are capable of doing almost anything needed in-house. When 3D is needed, most of the time we have a layout and together we make a time schedule depending on the size of the project. For larger video projects, we distribute the tasks among different designers into collecting 3D-data from the IMAN databases , animating, rendering and post-production.

   
 
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Morten, the renderings you produce at MAN Diesel are very detailed and ultra-complex. Can you give us some insight into some of your recent technical challenges and discuss how you solved the issues?

   
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The main challenge was definitely the amount of data you get when you tessellate large amounts of CAD solids with every nut and bolt included. In the past, before applications like nPower, this could not have been done without an enormous amount af manual clean-up, and very specialized and expensive applications like Deltagen. Another great help was provided by Chaosgroup who compiled a version of Vray for Maya 8.5 after I told them I was still using version 8.5.

   
 
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Morten, MAN Diesel produces over half of the largest marine diesel engines in the world and now, with its new “Green Ship of the Future” project, you must have some exciting new visualization projects in the works. Can you share any information about some of the current visualization projects that you and MAN Diesel are developing?

   
 

Yes, it’s correct that Green Ship of the Future is a flagship and frontrunner for the entire maritime industry. It is a Danish initiative with an international perspective. One of the main targets is to develop products that can significantly reduce emissions. 3D-visualisation is a very important tool for showing our customers what we are aiming at.

   

Another important event for us this year is our Asia Licence Days 2010 conference. At the moment, I am working on a logo animation, for what will be one of the most important events for MAN Diesel this year. The conference is taking place in South Korea and gathers all our licensees for a technical update where our top management will present the very latest developments within our industry.

 
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What type of CAD translation software have you used in the past and why did you choose Power Translators for your visualization workflow?

   
 

In my time at Airbus GmbH, we had some painstaking experiences in trying to convert CAD solids of 380 Airliner cabins using only 3dsmax and polytrans. Later, we started to use Deltagen for tessellating CAD solids into meshes, which was a time-consuming process but you had good visual control and some good cleanup tools in Deltagen. Later, the 3D-meshes were used for virtual-reality presentations or 3D work done in Maya or Lightwave.

   
 
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How much, if at all, has Power Translators Pro improved your visualization pipeline?

   
 

Enormously, although you might be able to load an entire two-stroke engine using the default import filters in Maya, there is no way that you could work on it for more than 10 minutes without bringing down the whole system. The nPower tool provides you with a set of tools that are easy to use and that takes away one of the bottlenecks (the other one is the rendering engine) of rendering large CAD datasets. It would not have been possible to make an entire two-stroke engine with our tight budget and in a decent quality without nPower.

 
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Morten, could you mention some advantages to using MAYA/nPower products in your workflow?

   
 

The first attempts to render a whole two-stroke engine was done by one of my colleages using 3dsMax and nPower, and this resulted in some pretty amazing images. Today, we are one step further because of the combination of nPower and MAYA, both being applications that are playing ball with high poly counts.

 
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Morten,your visualization work with MAN Diesel is an inspiration. Could you please tell us what illustrators, designers, studios, social ideas, writers or artists inspire your work?

   
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I have always been a big fan of the pioneers from Softroom and admire their abstract way of using 3D, despite their work contrasting greatly with my own. I have also been inspired by the design philosophy developed by the Bauhaus school, maybe because they were so far ahead of their time.

 
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Morten, what publications – web or print –would you recommend to our readers?

   
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MAN Diesel’s customer magazine, DieselFacts, of course! Depending on your business, I would gather inspiration from photos or magazines. Another great source, albeit a less prestigious one, would be to study other peoples’ work and then make something better yourself.

 
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Morten, quite obviously your work at MAN Diesel has been pushing the edge of CG and design visualization. What technological innovations are you looking at to drive the design and CG field at MAN Diesel into the next decade?

   
 

I believe that real-time rendering technologies will be more strongly presented in the future, but that this technology is far from ready yet and is too scattered into different applications and standards. At MAN Diesel, we have not embraced the idea of virtual photography like the automobile industry has done, and are also much more cost-conscious and not as dependent on selling our product by looks rather than performance. But that doesn’t mean that we don’t see any value in presenting a two-stroke engine in all its beauty on the cover of a magazine, not to mention that making studio-like photographs of engineering on our scale is simply not possible, so that’s where 3D visualizations have a big value for us.

 
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In what way could we improve Power Translators Pro?

   
 

Taking nPower for Maya into consideration, then I would say that adding materials to the models can be a bit painstaking, especially when you like to do this with the help of Hypergraph. Here, it would be nice if materials could be added just by selecting the parent nodes in the hierarchy.

 
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Name: Morten Edvars
Location: Denmark
Software: nPower
URL: MAN Diesel
   
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