Included in MicroStation V8 are several visualization enhancements. Many were previously released for MicroStation/J through Bentley SELECTservices Online.
This is an easy-to-use technology that provides photo-realistic lighting solutions. It is an alternative to traditional radiosity solving, with significantly lower memory requirements. It is particularly well suited to visualizing very large designs. Particle tracing solutions are computed directly to disk, instead of in memory, allowing solutions to be generated for designs of virtually any size.
Like radiosity, particle tracing solutions are view independent. Once computed, you can quickly redisplay the design from any vantage point, making particle tracing very useful for creating animations and walkthroughs.
Particle tracing works by calculating the paths of light particles as they are emitted from light sources and are reflected and transmitted throughout the scene. When ray traced, these lighting solutions provide an unprecedented level of photorealism, combining reflections, refraction and other caustic lighting effects, such as light reflected by mirrors or focused through lenses.
Image ray traced with no particle tracing solution present, displays only specular highlights
Same image ray traced with a particle tracing solution present. Notice that the walls are more naturally illuminated by reflected as well as direct light. Notice in particular, the circle of light on the left wall above the table. This is caused by light reflecting from the silver tray (with decanter and glasses) on the table.
Ray tracing, radiosity, and particle tracing solutions are no longer cleared when you render a view with a non-photorealistic render mode such as Phong, or Smooth. Solutions remain active in memory until you close the DGN file, manually clear the solution with the Clear Solution button in the Render settings dialog box, or create a new solution. This means that, after rendering a view (or material preview), updating a rendered view (including accelerated view), or saving images to disk, you are still able to redisplay an existing solution (formerly known as a rendering database).
Since photo-realistic solutions are kept in memory, for these rendering modes you have the choice of Creating a New Solution or Displaying the Current Solution (if any). Additionally, particle tracing and radiosity rendering modes have a further option that lets you add to the current solution. That is, you can add more shots (radiosity) or particles (particle tracing).
When you select Ray Trace, Radiosity, or Particle Trace, as the Render Mode in the Render tool's dialog box, additional icons appear, which let you quickly select various actions, relevant to the selected render mode. As well, a Settings button lets you open the settings dialog box for the selected render mode, while a Clear Solution button lets you clear from memory, a currently loaded solution.
Render tool settings for Ray Trace, Radiosity and Particle Trace.
Significant enhancements have been made to the Material Editor, both in its interface and its workflow. These include consolidating all material settings into the main dialog box, and automatically updating the material without having to click Replace. Additionally, you can import materials from other material palettes.
Define Materials dialog box
You can apply material definitions to elements in references. If you try to apply a material to a reference element that already has a material assigned, the selected element remains unchanged. The material, however, still is applied to elements matching the selected element's color and level both in the master model and other references. When you apply material definitions from a master model to elements in a reference, the material applies only when rendering the master model. Neither the reference nor its material definitions are changed.
Using the Define Light tool, you can add a Sky Opening light, which can be used with ray tracing, radiosity, and particle tracing. This is not a true light in the traditional sense, but acts as a control when using Solar, Distant and Sky lights. A sky opening is used to generate more efficient solutions for indoor scenes lit with sky or sun light through an opening such as a skylight, window, or door. Processing time is reduced because testing for shadows is carried out in the directions of the sky openings, as opposed to testing the entire sky.
You place the Sky Opening the same way that you place an Area Light. That is, you first define a (polygonal) shape for the geometry. You then select Create in the Define Light tool, select the geometry, and then select the direction that the opening “shines” light. For example, an opening representing a window would point toward the inside of the room. That is, the direction the sunlight travels into the room.
When working with accelerated rendered views, changes made to lighting appear automatically, without having to manually refresh the view. For example, when you increase the Flashbulb Intensity in the Global Lighting dialog box, the effects take place on the screen as you are adjusting the dialog box settings.
In addition, when manipulating lights interactively, for example, targeting a light source, you see the effects of the changing light as you dynamically reposition the light source.
The Cell Scale setting (in the Define Light dialog box) controls the size of the construction light.
Graphical Define North provides an easy method to orient the DGN file for accurate rendering of solar lighting.
In the Global Lighting you can set the True North direction (degrees from x-axis). You can define the direction of North graphically or if you know it, you can key in the value relative to the x-axis.
When creating an animation script, you can apply motion blur — the effect of “blurring” objects as they move on the screen, giving them a smooth and more realistic appearance of motion.
You can display the current Solar Time and Date information while rendering a view. This lets you produce solar studies, for example, in which the time and date appear. A special cell, SLRTIM, is used to produce the time stamp. This cell contains enter data fields into which you place variables that are replaced with the required information during rendering. Added to this is a new setting for duration, Days, which lets you run a solar study over a number of days.
If QuickTime is installed (must be full install), the Save Panorama dialog box (Utilities > Image > Save Panorama) makes available the following options:
Image objects — (camera spins 360 degrees around the target): Sphere (altitude ranges from +90 to -90), Top Hemisphere (altitude ranges from 0 to 90), Cylinder (all views from a fixed altitude), and Custom (user sets the minimum and maximum altitude). In all cases, the camera spins 360 degrees around the target.
MicroStation V8 performs multi-pass antialiasing of smooth shaded radiosity and particle tracing solutions.
You can create predefined light sources that you may then select for use with the Define Light tool. Provided with MicroStation is "lightlist.dgn", a DGN file that contains a selection of predefined light sources. This file is installed in the "Workspace\system\cell" directory. The location of this, and any other DGN file containing predefined lights, is defined by the configuration variable MS_LIGHTLIST.
You can open the Global Lighting dialog box by clicking the Global button in the Define Light settings window.
The Global Lighting dialog box indicates when there is no Sunlight because the sun is below the horizon.
In the Animation Settings tool box, the first icon opens the Animation Producer dialog box, and the second icon opens the Animation KeyFrames dialog box.
Included in the many other enhancements to the visualization tools are the following:
Render All Objects — this setting is assumed on for radiosity and particle trace solutions, regardless of the actual setting.
View Cameras and stroking of elements — to ensure consistent stroking of elements for view-independent lighting solutions, cameras are temporarily disabled when generating the geometry for radiosity and particle trace solutions. They are re-enabled for display. This applies also to ray tracing when Render All Objects is enabled.
Storage of radiosity and particles tracing solutions — these are stored in a compressed form, using less disk space. Saving and loading of solutions displays a progress bar and can be aborted.
The v7 configuration variable MS_GRAPHICSACCELERATOR is not applicable to MicroStation V8.