I’m as excited as a kid in a candy store – because last Monday my new (old) HP Z600 Workstation has arrived! Built and sold to the government in the summer of 2009 for roughly $5000 (give or take a grand), it came to me via an eBay auction for $171 plus postage some seven years later.
Equipped with two Intel Xeon 5560 processors, no hard drive, 4GB of RAM and only a COA sticker for Windows Vista, I had a little bit of work to do to get it all going:
get a USB keyboard
get a power cord
get a graphics card
perhaps grab some more RAM
find a network cable
download a copy of Windows Vista (not easy to find in 2016)
I wanted to use this machine for 3D rendering in both Carrara and DAZ Studio, so for the latter I decided to buy an NVIDIA GTX 970 graphics card. I had to do a few internal modifications to the machine to make it work – but work it does, and it was a lot of fun to get this rig going.
Mac Users will be familiar with the above dialogue. If you have DAZ Studio, Install Manager and/or Carrara installed, this thing shows up several times during your working day:
when you start your computer
when you launch Install Manager
when you launch DAZ Studio
when you launch Carrara
Should this drive you crazy, then read on – because there is indeed a solution to this! It has to do with a bit of command line hacking and location scouting. But if you’re clever enough to figure out such complex 3D applications, the following steps will seem like a walk in the park to you.
The following steps worked for me on OS X El Capitan 10.11.6, DAZ Studio 4.9 and Carrara 8.5 Pro.
Carrara’s Realistic Sky produces some pretty decent clouds. I’m particularly fond of the Cirrus clouds. The manual suggests that they can be animated too, but I didn’t really know how to do it. Thanks to a tip from Mark Bremmer I was put on the right track.
Here’s how to do it:
In the Scene tab, setup a realistic sky to your desire. Configure the clouds as you like on one or more of those cloud layers at the bottom. Pay close attention to the little Animation box and give your clouds a particular direction and speed.
The default is about 3mph, but at that speed cloud movement is hardly noticeable. The maximum we can set here is something like 153mph. Let’s use that. The transformation slider lets us choose how much the clouds will change their appearances. Click OK to leave the sky editor.
Still in the scene tab, notice a box called Cloud Animation. It’s set to 0 seconds by default. Leave it like that and set your first keyframe on the timeline.
Now move your timeline forward to the end position of your animation, say to 10 seconds. Add the same value into the Clouds Animation box and set another keyframe. That’s more or less it. Move the playhead and see the Clouds Animation value update – that’s an indication that Carrara will now animate your clouds.
Note that even with 150mph, the movement is extremely subtle. In the video above I had to speed up my animation by 500% to get this result.
It happens to me time and time again: I want to select an object in a busy scene, move it from a far away view, and it turns out I’m actually moving something else – perhaps the ground plane, or vital objects in the background.
Wouldn’t it be nice to lock objects that you never want to move in Carrara? Lucky for us – there is such an option! It’s done using the Constraints Tab (under Motion).
First select the object you want to be come “immovable”. You can even select several objects by holding SHIFT. Do this either in the scene or in the scene hierarchy.
Now head over to Motion and examine the Constraints drop down menu.
Set your object(s) to Full and they can’t be moved anymore. Easy as that!
Constraints are quite powerful as you can see from the various options in the drop down. Some of the interesting ones are:
2D Plane: allows you to move the object in only two directions
Axis: allows movement along a single axis
Ball Joint: specify how far rotation is allowed along any given axis (used in rigging, for example so that a door can only open so far in one direction)
Carrara can provide realistic sunlight and moonlight as ambient light sources. To use either of them we need to set the scene’s atmosphere for those to come to life. Here’s how to do that.
From a default scene that comes with a distant light, select the scene itself, and under the Atmosphere properties, choose either Sky or Realistic Sky (the default is none, which won’t work with sunlight or moonlight).
Now select the light in your scene and change it from Distant Light to either Sun Light or Moon Light. Notice the light object in your scene change and display either a sun or moon symbol next to that big arrow. Drag it around to position it.
To edit its properties, head back to Scene – Atmosphere – Edit. There are a lot of options to play around with here. I’ve explained more about them in this article, including how to show the sun and the moon in your scene.
I’m configuring a new Mac Mini 2012 specifically for all my 3D ventures this year. As such I’m installing all my favourite (and annoying) 3D apps fresh from scratch. Being a futuristic kind of guy I’m using “the best operating system ever” (yeah, right!) OS X Yosemite.
Over the last 7 years I’ve installed Carrara more times than I can count and in every version of OS X and Windows that I can remember, and it’s never given me any trouble – neither when installed manually or via the DAZ Install Manager.
Until today, when I’ve received the following message in OS X Yosemite: “The application cannot get the administrator access right”. Thank you, Yosemite!
What does that even mean? I thought my user account HAS admin privileges.
Turns out they’re just not administrative enough. The solution to this awkward puzzle is to login as root for the initial launch of Carrara. Which leads us to the next adventure:
You want to make a quick change to a 3rd party vertex object in Carrara, head over to the Modelling Room, but all your favourite tools are greyed out. What’s going on?
Carrara has a feature called Protect Topology, and there’s a good chance it’s switched on for items you bought from a marketplace. It’s there so that you can’t accidentally deform a sleeve of a t-shirt or worse. Here’s how to switch it off so you can edit 3rd party vertex objects as if they were your own.
First, make sure that you select the correct item in the Properties Panel. In this example I’m using the Brodie 6 Casual T-Shirt.
Once loaded into the scene you’ll find a hierarchy of items. The first two aren’t going to open in the Modelling Room at all (Tshirt_BC and Tshirt_Brodie in my example). This is where Carrara is different from other apps. The third item (Actor) is the one you want to select. Sometimes it’ll be called Model. It’s the “real” object, just before the first bone item starts.
When in doubt, keep an eye on the little wrench icon in the top left corner: when it turns white you can edit this object. If not, keep looking.
Enter the Modelling Room by clicking either one of the wrench icons: the left one lets you edit your object inside the Assemble Room, and the right one switches to the Modelling Room and shows you the item on its own.
You may receive the above message, telling you that the object is protected. You can switch it off in which case it will never come back, and therein lies the problem – because in a couple of months you’ll have forgotten all about the Protect Geometry feature. Click OK and notice that none of your editing tools are active:
To unprotect the geometry and make our object editable, head over to View and untick Protect Geometry. Now all your tools are back and you can go to work on this object.
Some objects may not be Vertex Objects and open with more or less a blank screen in the Modelling Room, the only option being Convert to Other Modeler. This is also available from the edit menu in case you’d like to use vertex tools with a primitive or a spline model.
Converting – when available – will turn your object into a Vertex Object, no matter what it was before. Doing so will change your geometry though.
Carrara lets you turn any object in your scene into a Soft Body object with the help of a Soft Body Modifier. To create a waking flag we need to use a combination of two modifiers: one that makes the object a “soft body”, and one that attaches it to something else, such as a flag pole.
Here’s how to do it in Carrara 8.5.
The objects in my scene are:
a thin cylinder for the flag pole
a grid (or squished up cube) as the flag
optional: to create some wind I’m also using a Directional Force, but that’s more of a fine-tune
All our work is happening in the Assemble Room.
Select the flag, head over to Modifiers and add a Soft Body modifier. This is where you can setup the physical properties of your object, such as stiffness, how it reacts to air flow, how much internal surface pressure it has, and if you would like it to collide with itself in case it folds.
The values here are largely self-explanatory and require a bit of experimentation. Notice that nothing appears to happen if you change any of these. To see your object take on the new properties of this modifier, click on the Simulate Physics icon at the top left (the “bone in a dotted circle with an arrow” button).
As soon as you click it Carrara will go to work with all physics calculations in your scene. It will render an animation which is governed by the duration you’ve set with the little yellow arrow icon in the timeline (not the actual animation duration). By default this is set to 4 seconds. If you want to see what happens beyond this, simply move that little yellow triangle in your timeline, then hit Simulate Physics again.
The flag is not attached to anything yet, so it will either stay in place, drop to the floor, or if you’ve already added a directional force it may drift away outside your scene. To attach it to the flag pole we need to add another modifier, this time it’s a Soft Body Attach Modifier.
With it we’ll tell Carrara which other object our flag is attached to. In the first box, select your Flag Pole Cylinder. In the second box (edit) you’ll open a kind of paint mode. This will let you select which vertices you’d like to attach. In our case, we only want the points closest to the pole to be attached to the pole. Red points are selected, white points are unselected.
Selection can be a bit tricky: I’ve not managed to find a way to change the size of the paint selection brush – I’m sure there is one, but I find it easier to select too many at first, and then choose the little minus icon and unselect what I don’t need.
Notice the three new icons in the top left corner: those are “select points” (plus), “deselect points” (minus), and “we’re done here” (tick icon). When you’re done, select Simulate Physics again to see your result.
To render one particular image, simply drag the animation playhead to a desired position and select render. You can also render the entire animation of course.
The quality of physics relies on the amount of points your object has: the more points, the more accurate the waving will be, but at the same time the longer it will take Carrara to calculate the effect. Especially with cloth type objects, increase the tessellation for better results.