Tutorial on the idiosyncrasies of the Instancing laboratory. Part 4A of 6
For Part 1 of 6 of my tutorial, please go to [ http://www.daz3d.com/forums/discussion/3637/ ]
For Part 2 of 6 of my tutorial, please go to [ http://www.daz3d.com/forums/discussion/3924/ ]
For Part 3 of 6 of my tutorial, please go to [ http://www.daz3d.com/forums/discussion/5270/ ]
For Rashad Carters Comprehensive Tutorial, please go to [ http://www.daz3d.com/forums/discussion/3381/ ]
In my tutorials ARDL means Advanced Replication and Distribution Lab. It should not be called the "Instancing Lab" [IL] because the MultiReplicate Tool also allows instancing but we don't call it the MultiInstancing Tool [MIT]! Instancing is a seperate NEW Bryce feature available in 4 different tools.
 Bryce MegaScenes.
Bryce MegaScenes are scenes which are so large that they become difficult or impossible to handle without special measures. I believe the ARDL [called the "Instancing Lab" by DAZ and most Bryce users] was developed for Bryce to allow us to better handle MegaScenes. Most MegaScenes require very many Terrains, Trees, Stones and other things to realize realistic worlds and ecosystems. That is i believe what most Brycers wanted and the tool is perfect for that purpose [ in my view - but i know there are bugs and memory issues ]. Before the advent of the ARDL, it was impossible to create those MegaScenes, except by using various tricks among which the use of Terrain Spikes for forrests of conniferous trees being perhaps the most well know. Please see Picture_55 which shows an old scene i made many years ago where i indulge in this trick.
It is ironical that for over a decade Bryce could not handle MegaScenes even though the software was promoted as the most intuitive and powerful tool to create our own vast and highly detailed worlds and then be able to navigate in them and render an infinite number of views with all kinds of atmospheric conditions, different camera angles, locations of sun, and so on and on. In reality that was never possible [at least not in a perfect physical and optical sense] and from a practical standpoint is still not possible today without special measures which have never been formalized, collected and published [ and it should be noted that no other 3D/4D program can do the ideal complete world either - so my statement should not be seen as a Bryce negative].
Great Bryce Artists who produce realistic scenes like David Brinnen and others, know this and therefore "cheat" by setting up scenes to look good from a limited number of views [many even resort to PhotoShop work so that their work ends up as hundreds of layers of matt paintings based on Bryce content - Michael Frank is perhaps the most famous exponent of this technique]. These magnificent works are not snapshots of a virtual Bryce World one could explore from any angle or distance. They impress due to the skill of the artist in overcoming the limitations of the software and superb stage management.
Therefore to create a true virtual 3D/4D world we need to develop new techniques. Fortunately with "True Instancing" and the ARDL ["IL" in popular Brycean perlance] as well as few other new tools, Bryce now brings us very close to realizing the elusive dream of creating true environments/ecosystems into which we can enter and take camera shots [both still and animation] in any direction without too many artificial settups. However in any advanced work - especially animation - we are always going to have to revert to age-old cinematographic tricks such as Compositing Plates [and many other tricks Brycers have employed for over a decade] to get our work done. So i am by no means suggesting we should devote all our energy toward any extremist/purist approach to the technical issues we face. I am only suggesting we can NOW AT LAST get much closer to a Bryce myth which was promoted when we first got inspired by the most magical new software that ever appeared.
There are 3 Work Stages we must understand and manage properly: (1) Creation and Editing, (2) Rendering, (3) Saving and Loading. We all know that Great Bryce Artists have often attempted to created MegaScenes that could be rendered but not saved and/or which were so huge that each editing step took many hours.
To get around all these problems and to allow us to make better and bigger scenes with more potential for universal camera angles [without needing to fiddle too much] we need to plan, plan, plan, plan, PLAN AHEAD! In this part of the tutorial and in the 2 following parts we will keep that in mind.
 First an experimental MegaScene with no artristic merrit. I created it to get some data and to learn how to proceed in the future, with the intent to create some MegaScenes hopefully with more artistic merrit. First i needed a BIG BRYCE TREE. Not big in size! I mean so big that it can't be edited without knowing some tricks. It is found it in the Object Library [Under Create -> Objects -> Bryce Trees] as "Flowering Shrub 1". Please see Picture_56. The size is 380,733 Polygons. I presume this count refers to the purple blossoms [actually small leaves] since the rest of it is made of MetaBalls. If you want to edit this Tree to make it smaller [smaller in the sense of computer demands] and also look nicer, then you should set "Segments" from 14 to 9 and "Branches per Segment" from 17 to 10 [in that order else Bryce will crash]. Please see Picture_57. Then you can safely change the type, number and distribution of leaves, otherwise Bryce will crash because there are too many branches. Picture_58 shows such a tree and i made the blossom material [actually leaves] automotive purple metal which i predicted would render better later in the environment i had in mind.
A large Terrain was then created with Rolling Hills. The Displacement Map Terrain has a resolution of 2048 x 2048, is 8,388,608 "Polygons" and the BU size is: X and Z = 8192.04 and Y = 293.519. I fine tuned the camera position and angle, sky and haze, etc. etc., at this point because it would become impossible to do so later. A suitable material was applied to the terrain and then using the ARDL i added about 5000 True Instances of the "Flowering Shrub 1". Please see Picture_59. I managed to add only 4913. That happened because some fell off the four corners of the Terrain. I used 5 brushes worth of 1000. It was rather slow to do and i was patient and did not want to induce a crash. It is important to understand that when the Windows Task Manager informs you: "Bryce is not responding" it does not mean Bryce is dead or has crashed. DONT CLICK ON ANYTHING AND PLEASE WAIT.
IMPORTANT NOTE. Do not move the mouse before, during and just after you click, else you will get many instances on top of each other. This takes some practice and you may have to adjust the responsiveness of the mouse [you may also develop some technique to keep your hand steady]. Even the slightest movement can create multiple instances. If randomization for rotation and scale are turned off, then you won't even know that they are there and you will end up with a file with too many useless instances!
When all the Trees were applied i confirmed that they were true instances [dotted wireframe lines]. Next i had to suffer 10 minutes per editing step! That included changing to bounding box display.
I could render, save and load the file. But editing was a real pain. I used the Windows Task Manager to determine when Bryce had finished each edit step. Bryce told me that i had 1,870,541,229 polygons. Please see Picture_60 for a larger view of this scene [this still only shows a small area and it took me an hour to be able to zoom out !!!] It was the largest file i had ever been able to create and use reliably. I repeatedly saved and loaded and edited this file and many varients of it for about a week. Perfectly stable and no crash! When i reloaded and changed the render format to square [800 x 800] it took nearly an hour before i could render it. The render was however very fast. So i understand that it is VERY SLOW to manage such files [even when they render quickly] and it is very important to plan ahead and set up everything that can be set up in advance.
 The next Project in this tutorial is to create A Fruit-Bearing Tree. That is an excuse to further explore the Tree Lab [TL] and the ARDL [IL]. The Tree Lab is flawed in that you can't create any New Tree Form within it using the option allegedly provided for that purpose: "Shape". Exceptions: You can enter the TL with a New Prototype [see procedure  below] or you can enter with the Default Tree and then settup ALL THE PARAMETERS from scratch !!!. A lot of work !!!. If you enter the TL with a Default Tree and select a new Tree Form [ referred to as "Shape" in the TL - which is wrong terminology ] you won't get a New Tree Form but a misshapen variant of the Default Tree [more or less pruned or deformed] and also some important parameters will not change as they should. That bug has been with Bryce since the TL first appeared. If you don't want to set ALL THE PARAMETERS from scratch [or you don't know what they all do or how they interact], Then do the following:
 Open the Create Pallette; Hold down the "Windows Key" + ALT and click on the Little Tree Object. Select from one of the files provided [they are .BTO Files - Bryce Tree Objects]. Please see Picture_61.
It takes some knowledge with these files before you know which one is best suited for the end result you have in mind [there are a large number of them !!!]. Most of these trees are much better than the trees you can create from the default tree. Having selected a .BTO file enter the Tree Lab. You will see that the parameters have changed now and you have a good template which you can edit to make your own unique tree. Now you can even use the Different Tree "Shape" options, and provided that the "Shape" you select is related to the master tree [species ?] selected when you entered the Tree Lab, you most likely will get some nice variations [for example conifers] without needing to do much work. Please see Picture_62 for an interesting Alien or Prehistoric Tree with curved branches. Picture_63 shows a Palm Tree and Picture_64 a reasonably good looking Pine Tree [ suitable for relatively close to mid distance conniferous forrest creation ]. You can make much better trees than the 3 examples i have shown you but this tutorial is not the place to go deeply into the Tree Lab.
 However for this tutorial [A Fruit BearingTree] we are going to Build the Tree from scratch !!!. The default tree will do for that purpose because we are going to strip it of all leaves and branches. Please see Picture_65 which shows the parameter settings you must use. Gravity setting is high and needs to be because this tree will be loaded with heavy tropical fruit! Picture_66 shows a render of the resulting trunk/branch structure. If you are an expert at this then you can do much better than i did. I am not good at making trees in Bryce but i never give up and try to learn and get better at it.
 Next we must make a piece of Fruit. For that kind of object MetaBalls [MB] are best. I did not aim for realism because this is only a technical project to give you some basic guidelines. You can make much better fruit than i make here. But i did not want to use simple Bryce Spheres. Another reason was, that i could convert MB Hull Models into meshes within Bryce and those can then be True Instances [which means i can have as many fruit as a i want and don't have to worry about memory]. Picture_67 Shows the MB arrangement and also the little "C" Button on the Attributes Stack you must click to convert the Hull into a Mesh. But we must do something else first.
 MBs are instances of a master within Bryce and each instance of this Master has a Matrix. Like all Bryce Native Instances they can't be additionally instanced like Meshes can and therefore they can't be randomly rotated in the ARDL [ please refer to my chart in Part 3 ]. MBs however don't take up much memory. I have files with 8000 of them used to create a single object !!!. The master is a procedural description of the influence-gradient-field of a single point which fortunately takes the matrix into account - therefore we can create not only with balls but also lenses and spindles and additionally use negative instances of balls, lenses and spindles. That is real cool !!!
But unfortunately we can't control the exponent so we must use many MBs to create some forms. When Bryce renders MBs it creates a perfectly smooth surface and also blends materials. To solve the Hull, Bryce makes many calculations so an object made of 8000 MBs takes a very long time to render even before Bryce takes render-time-consuming materials into account.
The Hull can be converted into a Mesh. The MB system uses an invisible cubic grid in world space. There is no control which allows you to change the size of this grid. But there is a work-around which can be used to create high resolution objects. Group the MB object of the Fruit and scale it up 800 percent. Be sure to do this at World Centre else Bryce may crash. We need a high resolution because of the spindle used to create the stem of the Fruit. The conversion takes a long time so please be patient. It can take an hour or more with very large MB objects. The mesh produced is not very good because it uses a primitive algorithm which has been around in computer graphics programming for many decades. The mesh is not optimized [and if it was, Bryce would take even longer calculating the object] and therefore you need to scale up your MB Object very much if you want to have a smooth surface. But beware, If you scale it up too much and your object has very many MBs and cavities - is very complex - Bryce will crash. 800% seems to work well for this Piece of Fruit.
 Picture_68 shows the Mesh object after conversion of the Hull. If we had not scaled it up by 800% it would be an un-useable mess. Now we need to scale it down to a suitable size and apply a suitable material. Mine ended up too big [ i should have scaled it smaller ] and i did not bother putting a good Material on it. Picture_69 shows the Piece of Fruit i made ready for instancing on the Tree. You will notice that i built it upside down. That is because it will be applied to the Tree with the Tree inverted. The ARDL only works downward on the Y axis. The Master Object must be made in the right orientation. Also we don't want our Fruit growing form the top of the branches.
 Picture_70 shows the Master Object and the Surface Object [The Tree inverted] and we are ready to go. From now on it is very simple and good fun. I have deleted the Ground Plane because it gets in the way. Picture_71 shows the Fruit applied but i must now give you some tips on how that was done.
Please go to Part 4B in this thread.