Remote Access Plotting

It is possible to connect in via Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) to remotely send plots to the Design Studio plotter.

These plots will then be left beside the plotter for collection – if they are not claimed by the end of the day they will be taken to the pickup point on the ground floor of building 11 for you to collect.

Note: this system will struggle with everybody printing as usual – please be sensible about your plotting needs – and timing for deadlines.

This lightweight VDI does not have all the applications on it so you should prepare the files you need as PDF files. Please ensure your PDF files are:

  • Correctly sized pages and artwork – at real world dimensions
  • Suitable resolution images
  • For large, complex, multi-layered PDFs consider clicking the ADVANCED – PRINT AS IMAGE option to avoid errors in processing.
  • Crop marks are very useful
  • Spellcheck, etc.

These are the paper types available on the plotter for A2/A1/A0

  • Standard Paper : Coated Paper (120 GSM) – £1.00 / £2.00 / £4.00 (Q1)
  • Premium Heavyweight Paper (180 GSM) – £1.50 / £3.00 / £6.00 (Q3)
  • Polyester Film (tracing paper)  (90 GSM) – £2.00 / £4.00 / £8.00 (Q4)
  • Wallpaper Non Woven Paper (130 GSM) –  £2.00 / £4.00 / £8.00 (Q5)
  • Fine Linen paper  (130 GSM) –  £2.00 / £4.00 / £8.00 (Q6)

Connecting to the VDI

From your own machine visit the following site:

studentdesktop.gre.ac.uk

And choose VMware Horizon HTML Access (you could also connect via the VMware Horizon Client if you have it installed already)

Accept the terms of use and login with your University ID in the form of ab1234c@gre.ac.uk

You will then see a number of VDIs to connect to; choose

VDI – School of Design.

After a few moments you will be logged into this virtual machine within your browser window

Sending your Plots

Locate the PDF files you have prepared for printing

Note: the Uni OneDrive does not yet connect direct to this VDI so you would need to access files via the browser version of OneDrive (or use Google drive, or any other browser based file share)

Once you have your files, open them in Acrobat Reader by right clicking and selecting Open With > Acrobat Reader DC. (Say NO if asked to make Acrobat Reader reader the default, and allow)

(Just double clicking the PDF will open the file with MS Edge which is more tricky to plot correctly from)

Once you have your file open in Acrobat Reader choose FILE – PRINT and pick the printer queue you want to send to:

For the regular paper plots (120gsm / £2.00 per A1) choose:

\\GSM-RPS\STANDARD-PLOT-DST-CW7001_Q1

Then specify size by selecting PAGE SETUP and picking the size from the drop-down

Choose the size you want and then OK back to the main print page where you can see a preview indicating how your file will fit on the page. (You can choose FIT to scale to the page size but it is better if your document is correctly sized)

When you are happy then click print to submit the PDF.

After a few moments you will see a pop-up confirmation window that gives the price you will be charged (due to the way the area of plot is calculated the figure is not a round figure)

If the figure looks right then click CONFIRM. You will receive a message if there is not enough money in your account and the plot will not go through; you would need to send again after you have topped up your account.

You can monitor the progress of the plot by visiting this address in the browser window of the VDI session:

172.16112.21

Once the file disappears from here it is in the plotter’s internal queue

You can top up your print credit online by visiting the printcredit page – note this link will ONLY work from a browser INSIDE the virtual desktop environment, it will not work from your regular browser

Within Chrome in the virtual desktop visit

printcredit.gre.ac.uk

and follow the instructions

Collecting your Plots

The plot collection point is downstairs in the foyer; the roll cages.

Plots unclaimed from the plot area tables will be brought down at the end of the day and left in the roll cages on the ground floor.

Please exercise sensible queuing / fetching when picking up.

Remote Access PC – Direct Access

The machines in the School that have been cordoned off for social distancing reasons have instead been made available to access directly from your machine at home. In this situation you take over the machine and have access to the power and software resources on it from your own Mac, PC or Chromebook – with the hard work being carried out by the Uni machine rather than your own machine – which is just a conduit to it.

To set yourself up for direct access you should first download and install the client software for your Mac, PC or Chromebook (the following example shows procedure for Mac).

–Service status 23.09.20:
Some applications are still installing to these machines

Installation

Visit : studentdesktop.gre.ac.uk and click the link for Install VMware Horizon Client (use this link, not via Microsoft Store)

You will see a list of the clients for different platforms; choose Go To Downloads next to your machine platform and Download Now to get the installer.

The process for installing VMware varies according to device but for a Mac you would just drag it across to your Applications folder then launch it from there.

Connect to a Uni Machine

Create a new connection to the Uni with the address studentdesktop.gre.ac.uk and hit Connect

And then login with your Uni id in the format ab1234c@gre.ac.uk

You will then see two “pools” which represent the remote machines in the first floor computer area:

  • GM-DST : these are the machines in the first floor studios.
    You can plot from these machines and they include ArcGIS / NetFab
  • GM-L2001 : this is the teaching lab on the second floor.
    If a class requires the remote machines you may be logged off.
    ArcGIS / NetFab is NOT installed in 2001.

Double click to choose the pool you want to take a machine from and you will be logged in and connected to it.

It is worth trying this out so you can become accustomed to the setup – it can be a little disorientating at first having Windows in a window and hopping between your own OS (the host) and the remote one.

Notes

You cannot use USB devices directly through the remote access – but you can use your Uni OneDrive space to transfer files.

You cannot copy and past between the host and the remote OS

When you join the pool you will be allocated an available machine at random – there is no way to choose a particular machine

You can find out which machine you have – and the hardware it us running – by pressing the Windows key and typing MSINFO followed by enter

These machines will be available any time – but 2001 may sometimes need them for timetabled classes.

If you leave the machine for two hours it will automatically log you out.

If you don’t explicitly log out of the Windows session and instead just quit VMware you are still logged in (for two hours)

Please logout / signout from the remote machine rather than quitting the VMware application – otherwise you are tying that machine up for another two hours

Vray for Rhino Need to Know

Chaos group who produce Vray have some excellent tutorials on the fundamentals of rendering with Vray for Rhino.

If you are intending to do Vray based rendering in Rhino then their introduction for architects is ESSENTIAL viewing, and perhaps the most useful 10 minutes you will spend this year

Other tutorials are available from their site

https://www.chaosgroup.com/vray/rhino/tutorial-videos

Distributed Rendering for Vray Rhino and Vray Sketchup

Vray Swarm is a “zero effort” distributed rendering system which enables all connected machines to participate in rendering images created in Vray for Sketchup or Vray for Rhino.  Simply put, instead of rendering with one machine Swarm allows users to utilise 20,30,40… machines to speed up the render by that factor. The machines in the first floor studios are configured to be nodes in Swarm renders – whether logged in or not – with no noticeable affect on the machines that are loaning out their processing power.

Note: as there is a time lag in the system slicing up the render and sending each chunk (or bucket) out to the Swarm nodes there is not so much advantage in using it for smaller renders; enable Swarm for larger jobs only.

Enabling Vray Swarm for render is simply a case of enabling the Swam button in the Vray Asset Editor

[For Rhino check that Vray is set to the default renderer via Render – Current Renderer – Vray for Rhino]

Under the settings cog make sure:

  • Renderer is set to PROGRESSIVE
  • Swarm is ON
  • Cap CPU usage: if clicked this means your own machine will use only one of its own CPU cores for the render so that your machine will be more responsive for running other applications (but potentially a slower render)

 

 

 

Vray For Maya 2018 (PC)

V-Ray 3.6 for Maya 2018 is now available for the Stockwell Street PCs (first floor studios and 2001 lab).

The Vray plugin does not load automatically with Maya; it needs to be specifically selected in the Maya plugin manager:

In Maya select

Windows > Settings / Preferences > Plug-in Manager

Type vray into the search box to narrow down the list of available plugins then click load and autoload for both vrayformaya.mll and xgenVray.py and close the dialogue window

Now Vray will be available as a renderer for Maya (alongside Arnold, Maya); select

Windows > Rendering Editors > Render Settings

select V-Ray from the Render Using drop down

The current renderer is now set as Vray – and an additional Vray toolbar will be available.  In that is a button to switch on the Vray Frame Buffer; click this to open the the Vray render windows plus associated render buttons etc.

 

 

 

Missing Plotter and Printer Fix

If you cannot see the printer you need you can manually add it…

A print queue bug may stop the correct printers showing up on your PC automatically. You can either logout and restart the machine, or alternatively perform the following steps allow you to re-add any missing printers / plotters

Click the WINDOWS button and type GM-PS-N then hit enter

This will give you a list of lots of printers – type “DST” in the search box in the upper right hand corner to narrow this down to our printers

From this list double click the printer you need; this will reinstall it to your machine.

If you need the MFD A3/A4 laser printer then type in “MFD” in the search box (instead of MFD) and double click to install the printers “GM-MFD-STU” and GM-MFD-STU-COLOUR :

Design Studios :: Need to Know

Here are some tips / solutions / workarounds / that will be very useful for studio users.

  • PCs : No Logon Servers Available – Cannot log on OR no internet when returning to sleeping machine.

Solution: RESTART THE MACHINE

There is a network glitch in Stockwell Street and the Maritime Campus where network cards sometimes do not wake up from power save.  The only way a student can fix this is a restart

[hr]

  • Plot queue (or queues) not showing in the drop down list

Solution: Add the plot queue(s) manually using the following steps

Click the Windows Start Button in the bottom left hand corner:

start-button

start-button

in the Search box type

\\GM-PS-N

This will bring up a big list of plotters and printers.
In the top right hand search box type

DST

This filters the list just to the printers and plotters in our print area.

plotter-list

plotter-list

Identify the plotter you want from the list and double click to install it. It is then available to print to from any application.

STANDARD-PLOT-DST-CW700-Q1 :: A2/A1/A0 Standard Paper
PREMIUM-PLOT-DST-CW700-Q3 :: A2/A1/A0 240GSM MATT paper
PTYPE4-PLOT-DST-CW700-Q4 :: A2/A1/A0 Tracing Paper
PTYPE5-PLOT-DST-CW700-Q5 :: A2/A1/A0 Textured Paper
PTYPE6-PLOT-DST-CW700-Q6 :: A2/A1/A0 Satin Semi-gloss Paper
PLOT-DST-T1300 :: Sheet Feed Plotter

[hr]

  • PDF Documents print blank pages on the MFD printer

Solution: Flatten the PDF by clicking the ADVANCED tab and ticking the Print as Image option

print-as-image

Often PDF files with lots of layers created with Adobe Photoshop will not be understood properly by the MFD printer.  Print as Image will flatten the whole file down so it is simpler to process – it does not affect the quality of the print.

[hr]

  • iMac Keychain Access nags on logon

Solution: Click UPDATE KEYCHAIN (the MIDDLE) option when it asks what to do 

filevaultpwrecover4

If you have changed your Uni password this may conflict with the iMac’s password management system when you have previously logged into a machine with your old password.

[hr]

 

  • Large Screen wheelable Screens not showing anything

Solution: 

CHECK screen is on – press upwards the joystick under the screen in the middle.

CHECK input is set to HDMI1- use the joystick to select HDMI1

CHECK the PC is powered on – the small square PC is mounted to the back; if it is on the power button will be glowing.

If all else fails restart the PC by Pressing and holding down the power button to force a restart.

[hr]

 

  • Connect to the Larger Scanner / Shared Area (S: drive) from a Mac

    Solution: Once logged on to a Mac you can manually connect to the shared area

The large scanner will save scans to the SCANS folder on the S drive.  This appears automatically on a PC.  If you are on a Mac you can manually connect by selecting 

GO” in the top menu, then choosing 

CONNECT TO SERVER

(or press CMD-K)

this opens a dialogue window – in server address type “gm-stu-shr1”

connect-to-server

 

The S drive will now open – the scans will be in the folder “SCANS”

[hr]

 

 

Oce Colorwave 700 Plotter

We have a new large format / large volume plotter: an Oce Colorwave 700

colorwave700

This machine replaces the HP DesignJet T7100 Plotter.  It is a much faster and higher quality plotter and it allows for printing on various media types.  PRICES HAVE NOT CHANGED

Please note we will be testing and trying out different media types initially – please feel free to give feedback and suggestions on which media you like or would like to see.

To start off with we shall be offering the following media:

Paper Type Queue Name  A2/A1/A0   Roll
Standard
Top Color Paper 120gsm
.
 
STANDARD-PLOT-DST-CW700-Q1 £1 / £2 / £4 R1 + 2
Premium
Top Color Paper 200 gsm
.
PREMIUM-PLOT-DST-CW700-Q3 £2 / £4 / £8 R3
Tracing
Inkjet Tracing Paper 90gsm
.
PTYPE4-PLOT-DST-CW700-Q4 £1 / £2 / £4 R4
Wallpaper
Wallpaper Non-woven 120gsm
.
PTYPE5-PLOT-DST-CW700-Q5 £2 / £4 / £8 R5
Photo Paper
Instant Dry Photo Paper – Satin
.
PTYPE6-PLOT-DST-CW700-Q6 £2 / £4 / £8 R6

You can plot from the Macs – but currently only to the Standard and Premium queues.

We shall leave samples of media types pinned up around the S11 Print area for you to have a look at.

Rendering Good Practice

Rendering, like printing, is one of those tasks that always takes far longer than you expect.  While it is important to have good quality, sharp final images simply dragging all the sliders up to maximum quality is likely to have little visible difference but will significantly increase the time taken – and also the likelihood of the machine crashing altogether.

Think about what you are rendering – turn off layers / objects that you won’t see; there’s no point having complex hinges included in a distant perspective for example.  Similarly, thousands of trees with dense branches,etc are going to kill a render as each twig needs shadow calculations etc. Consider adding people / foliage / rain / etc in Photoshop

For render sizes; the following is a list of image resolutions that will fill A3/A2/A1 sizes:

150 DPI (Sensible)

A3 – 2480 x 1753

A2 – 3507 x 2480

A1 – 4966 x 3507

200 DPI (Ambitious)

A3 – 3307 x 2338

A2 – 4677 x 3307

A1 – 6622 x 4677

300 DPI (At your own risk)

A3 – 4960 x 3507

A2 – 7015 x 4960

A1 – 9933 x 7015

 

Quick Render Speedup / Memory troubleshoot tips

  1. Reduce resolution of final image
  2. Lower the quality of the final render; there are some presets that can be loaded from the top of the Vray Options window:
    General – Preview / Very Low / Low / Medium etc
    (Start low and work up if the image quality is not adequate)
  3. Override materials (see below): Global Switches 

Troubleshooting Rendering / Memory Crashes

Often you can solve problems with render times and crashing jobs by being less pushy with your final images sizes.  Try at least rendering a lower resolution, and if you must then work your way higher.

Vray Settings : Rhino / Vray

The following are recommendations from Chaos; the developers of Vray, for reducing excessive memory usage in Vray for Rhino and Sketchup

  • Geometry – scenes with lots of objects and/or triangle counts require more memory to render. There are several ways to reduce this amount:
    • Adjust the raycaster params in the System rollout (reduce Max. levels , increase Min. leaf size , increase Face/level coefficient , or adjust the Dynamic memory limit.
  • Image buffer – large output resolutions require a significant amount of RAM to store the final image. There are several ways to reduce this amount:
    • Use the Render to V-Ray raw image file option and then use the V-Ray raw image file viewer to convert the resulting file to a different format (see below)
    • Render the image in several different sections and stitch the pieces in Photoshop
  • Image samplers (AA) – the image sampling algorithms of V-Ray require some amount of RAM to hold all the data for the sampled image. This amount can be quite large, depending on the chosen bucket size and sampling rate. To reduce that amount:
    • Reduce the bucket size.
    • Switch to a different image sampler – for example, the Adaptive DMC sampler uses less RAM than the Adaptive subdivision sampler.
  • Global illumination caches – irradiance maps, photon maps and light maps all require additional memory to store them. Each of these has different methods for controlling its memory usage: Rhino scene – Rhino itself stores a lot of information about the scene. V-Ray has no control over that memory, but you can adjust the quality of render meshes to reduce it.
    • For the irradiance map – the memory depends on the number of samples in the map; you can reduce this number by using lower Min/Max rate , and more loose threshold values (higher Colour threshold , higher Normal threshold , lower Distance threshold ).
    • For the photon map – the memory depends on the number of photons stored. You can reduce this number by reducing the Diffuse subdivs for the lights, or by increasing the Max. density .
    • For the light map – increase the Sample size .

Lose the Materials

Lots of materials can add to the complexity and RAM requirements – even if you haven’t explicitly used any materials you might find some imported models might have had them attached.  You can override any materials with a plain colour quite easily in the VRay options window.

  • In the Vray options dialogue box, expand the GLOBAL SWITCHES section
    vrayoverridematerials
  • Tick Override materials
  • Click Override colour and select a colour to use for everything (white or light grey is good)
  • this will eliminate any material related errors / overheads that the file may have had.
  • NOTE: if there is a material that you still really need then you can make an exception for it by going to the Material Editor and for that material Options turn off “Can be Overridden”

 

[divider]

Don’t render to Image Buffer – render straight to a VRimg file

This is a big RAM saver; it means you are rendering directly to a file on your hard drive rather than into RAM. The advantage of this method is that the rendered chunks will be streamed to a file (in vrimg file format) and will then released from memory once saved so preventing out of memory errors common to large resolution renders.  If you have to render large resolution images then this technique is very useful.

 

To make use of this option  IN VRAY FOR RHINO AND SKETCHUP

  • In the Vray options dialogue box, expand the OUTPUT sectionvrimg
  • Below Render Output
    • Tick Save Output
    • Save your file – AS VRay-Raw Image File (VRIMG extension)
    • Tick Render to VRImage
    • Set VFB Mode as No Memory
  • Render your model – you’ll see a big red cross in the render window rather than the real image (i.e it isn’t using any memory trying to display the model)
  • When the render is finished then it needs to be converted from Vrimg format to OpenEXR format :  There is a tool for doing this in
     

    •  Start > All Programs > ChaosGroup > V-Ray Advanced for 3ds Max > Tools > VRImg to OpenEXR Converter.
      vrimg-convert
    • Select your VRimg file via the INPUT FILE button > Convert > select a destination for the EXR file
  • Open this EXR file in Photoshop
  • It is quite likely that the file appears lighter than expected – this is due to differences in gamma settings of Vray.  This can be easily altered in Photoshop:
    • Image > Adjustments > Exposure and set Gamma corrections to 0.4545

[divider]To make use of this technique IN 3D STUDIO 

  • Disable all Frame Buffers (Max and V-Ray)
  • browse to the V-Ray:: Frame Buffer rollout in the Render Scene dialog
  • enable Render to V-Ray raw image format and select a folder and filename where to save the output to.
  • When render is done converted the file from vrimg format to OpenEXR format :  There is a tool for doing this in
    •  Start > All Programs > ChaosGroup > V-Ray Advanced for 3ds Max > Tools > VRImg to OpenEXR Converter.
  • Open this EXR file in Photoshop

 

 

Render Farm Provision

We have a BOXX Technologies Render Pro machine – essentially a simple, mini render farm in a box.

RenderPRO-Final

This machine is a 10 core Intel Dual Xeon E5-2660v2 2.2GHz processor and 32GB Ram.  It does nothing else but process render jobs from 3DS Max / Vray / Blender.  

It is part of the Vray for Sketchup / Rhino distributed render system; see

Distributed Rendering for Vray Rhino and Vray Sketchup

But it may also be reserved for single high processing tasks such as Mandelbrot, Blender CPU render, etc.