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Hello,

After 3 months of hard work, I finally released this rendering service fully integrated to Mecabricks. I already introduced at bit of it in this post  during development and some of you may have already tried it during beta phase.

The rendering mode available directly in the workshop offers a range of settings to easily customise your render - Lighting, background, depth of field, compositing, etc. I will regularly add more options.

It is possible to render for free with some limitations and using some credits will unlock all the options. I made a page with a table to show what you can and cannot do. The idea behind this credit system is that I can maintain the free version. I designed and invested some money in a small rendering farm and I also have to pay for bandwidth and power. That said, it is more than affordable and price is calculated based on render time and node power. A HD image may cost about $0.25 and a 4K image about $1.00 depending on complexity. Small test images will be less than 1cent. This is also way faster to render than on your home computer. A 4K image that takes 3 hours on my iMac is easily done in 5 or 6 minutes. it is generally less than 1 minute for an HD image with all options activated.

Image below is a screenshot of the rendering mode interface in Mecabricks and the second picture has been set up in just a couple of minutes. For indication, rendering time was 1 minute 21 seconds (1800x1080 @200 samples) and calculated cost was $0.196

FJiUGnH.png

DhFnSCK.png

 

Edited by Scrubs

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I added a good amount of new options since I released the service a couple of weeks ago. Among others, it is now possible to use the HD minifigure parts I made last year. They are perfectly accurate and include molding marks.

The image below is raw from Mecabricks. No post-processing.

39832018682_c7be205b98_b.jpg

High Definition Minifigs by Nicolas Jarraud, on Flickr

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Another image from the Mecabricks render mode with a bit of all the options available - DoF, compositor, high resolution minifig, scratches, fingerprints, part randomization, background image, shadow catcher, etc. Took 12 minutes with 4 of the 6 nodes to render the 4K version.

38624434660_0b91b6f4d9_b.jpg

The Justice League Anniversary Party by Nicolas Jarraud, on Flickr

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Posted (edited)

I added a new function in Mecabricks so that you can render your own Blender files using the render farm, not just the one automatically generated in the workshop. This is great when you want to add none LEGO elements in the scene but still enjoy the power of distributed rendering. It took less than 9 minutes for the 4K version of this image.

41177520091_318416eaa8_b.jpg

Racing Yacht by Nicolas Jarraud, on Flickr

 

Edited by Scrubs

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Posted (edited)

Here's my opinion, for what it's worth: I'd agree that Mecabrick's rendering is by far the best out there, it nearly looks like it's there with real parts.

But I wouldn't use it. I've used Bluerender (fast, thus great for animation), POVRay (generally from Stud.io). I've *tried* Mecabricks several times, but I found it really, really awful to use. I come from the LDD like most people. I don't find Stud.io the most friendly either, in fact I'd find it unusable (so far) to build stuff from zero, but I found it usable enough to import stuff & mess with it before rendering. Mecabricks, sorry, even the basic fixing steps I haven't managed.

It's sad because, again, it has the best rendering, and it always has the latest parts. With the LDD you're stuck waiting for Lego to update the parts. You can add new parts to Stud.io but it's always a hack. And Stud.io has no tube bending & stuff.

I'm not coming with a solution, though. I think Mecabricks is so far from the LDD that I can't even imaging it coming close one day. But I can't imagine your rendering plugged directly to an LDD file either, without little things to fix. And well, perhaps some people find it usable enough. Perhaps when you come from a classic 3D editor it makes sense.

Oh, I'm also not a fan of the pay-to-render scheme, especially when I see I render a dozen drafts to get to the final one. I don't even think rendering should be done online anyway. From your POV it's great, because it protects your stuff (no piracy possible). But I also don't think there's much money around, in the MOCing world, as there's pretty much no commercial use for Lego renders, except for Lego itself.
Still, it does make sense. Stud.io's business model is around Bricklink - makes sense, but not there yet. Yours is around rendering - makes sense since it's what Mecabricks really does best.

Edited by anothergol

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Posted (edited)

And for what it is worth, I think that you don't understand anything to the 3D world (not just rendering)... It doesn't matter, lots of other people do :wink:

PS: I'd be happy to show you how to easily build with Mecabricks. That is super easy and it is used in schools around the world as a fun introduction to 3D and CAD for young kids.

A few examples:

 

Edited by Scrubs

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13 hours ago, anothergol said:

Here's my opinion, for what it's worth: I'd agree that Mecabrick's rendering is by far the best out there, it nearly looks like it's there with real parts.

But I wouldn't use it. I've used Bluerender (fast, thus great for animation), POVRay (generally from Stud.io). I've *tried* Mecabricks several times, but I found it really, really awful to use. I come from the LDD like most people. I don't find Stud.io the most friendly either, in fact I'd find it unusable (so far) to build stuff from zero, but I found it usable enough to import stuff & mess with it before rendering. Mecabricks, sorry, even the basic fixing steps I haven't managed.

It's sad because, again, it has the best rendering, and it always has the latest parts. With the LDD you're stuck waiting for Lego to update the parts. You can add new parts to Stud.io but it's always a hack. And Stud.io has no tube bending & stuff.

You can also build a model in LDD and then import it into Mecabricks. Maybe best of both worlds? :classic:

 

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Posted (edited)
5 hours ago, Scrubs said:

And for what it is worth, I think that you don't understand anything to the 3D world (not just rendering)... It doesn't matter, lots of other people do :wink:

 

 

Oh it's not that I don't understand, I've used 3DS4 and then 3DSMax a long time ago (more for animation than modelling though).

Things would be very different if the LDD didn't exist, but it does. Moving parts around is what you do the most, when you design a model. I've probably done it like over a million times. I just can't imagine doing that without autosnapping, & the LDD does it just perfectly. Stud.io does it ok, but Mecabricks doesn't do it at all (or you have to select a source & target, but well..)

I wouldn't critisize Blender for being overcomplex, because it's a generic tool, it has to do everything. But for a specific tool like a Lego designer, IMHO the #1 feature to have is autosnapping, since it's the thing you do the most, by far.

And yeah, perhaps as an introduction to CAD for kids, it makes sense. Not sure, though, because every editor has its specificities. I mean, having used 3DS hasn't much helped me struggling with Blender. Sure Blender is less friendly than 3DS anyway, but it's not just that. Even though I know some features must exist somewhere under some form because I've used them in 3DS, finding how & where is key, and what I had troubles with. And of course every shortcut is different. So I don't even believe myself in "an introduction to CAD" because 3D modellers are so complex that learning one hardly teaches you another.
Sure, for kids to learn the very basics, why not, but Minecraft probably already did that.

 

 

45 minutes ago, legolijntje said:

You can also build a model in LDD and then import it into Mecabricks. Maybe best of both worlds? :classic:

 

Yes as I wrote I've tried that. Right now I use Stud.io like that, & I find it easy enough for just that task (so far), but Mecabricks, even fixing/adapting the model (even just to add the parts that don't exist in the LDD yet), I hated it.

Edited by anothergol

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I see what you mean.

When I tried Mecabricks for the first time - years ago, I found it absolutely awful to use, because I was used to work with LDD. I couldn't figure out how to connect or move parts around (or even how to change their colour), and the parts library was quite small, so I quickly gave up, and never opened it again for months, or maybe even years. I believe it's when @Scrubs released the Blender template that I decided to give it another try. LDD was almost dead anyway, and the rendering possibilities were promising, so I tried Mecabricks again. The workshop had been improved, it was easier to use, and although I was still used to work with LDD, I didn't give up and learned to use it properly. Now, even if I'm still able to use LDD and I can easily switch from LDD to MB, I almost never open LDD anymore, and I became a big Mecabricks advocate.

I think the key is to not give up too easily, and be patient. :wink:

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7 hours ago, Leewan said:

I see what you mean.

When I tried Mecabricks for the first time - years ago, I found it absolutely awful to use, because I was used to work with LDD. I couldn't figure out how to connect or move parts around (or even how to change their colour), and the parts library was quite small, so I quickly gave up, and never opened it again for months, or maybe even years. I believe it's when @Scrubs released the Blender template that I decided to give it another try. LDD was almost dead anyway, and the rendering possibilities were promising, so I tried Mecabricks again. The workshop had been improved, it was easier to use, and although I was still used to work with LDD, I didn't give up and learned to use it properly. Now, even if I'm still able to use LDD and I can easily switch from LDD to MB, I almost never open LDD anymore, and I became a big Mecabricks advocate.

I think the key is to not give up too easily, and be patient. :wink:

 

Getting used to it is one thing, but how are you adding/connecting parts without autosnap, as fast as in the LDD?

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I will try to make a short screencast to show you how quick it is to build - Actually quicker in complex situations where LDD autosnap is lost and can not find the right connection.

I don't intend to convert you, as we definitely don't share the same approach for 3D, but at least show you that it can be powerful as long as you make the effort to dig into it.

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1 hour ago, Scrubs said:

I don't intend to convert you, as we definitely don't share the same approach for 3D,


Yes that's pretty much the problem, it means that Mecabricks will never get autosnap because you don't believe in it.

It's pretty rare when LDD's autosnap is lost, it's generally a matter of moving the camera around, and it's pretty fast at that too. What LDD is bad at, where it requires a lot of wasted time, it's when you need something aligned more precisely than its smallest moving unit, and you have to trick it. In that regard, Mecabricks or Stud.io are superior. But that's rare enough, and the ideal is to have both.

It's not about being "powerful", even though, as a programmer, the LDD amazes me, it's not the kind of tool in which I expected to see physics for bending wires & all. It's really about speed, and Lego isn't like 3D. In a 3D editor, if you want this cutout there, you just do it, you cut through the poly's, and you're done. With Lego, you've got to try dozens of arrangements of a lot of parts to get the best approximation, that's a lot of parts to snap together just to try out stuff that aren't even gonna be used in the final model.

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Posted (edited)

Ok, I don't think there is any point discussing with you, so before I stop, here are a few stats for what you think is destined to fail:

- 17,000 accounts (currently 1,000 new ones every month)

- 50 Million pieces in 80,000 models

- 12,000 renders made in 2 months

All of this done in my spare time for the benefit of the LEGO community.

By the way, do you know that this topic was about rendering and not a place to make a detailed list of why you dislike Mecabricks or don't believe in what I am proposing?

Edited by Scrubs

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Posted (edited)

@anothergol As a 3d pioneer and professor for animation/vfx, running my own business for over 20 years I just can say as a very experienced professional that Mecabricks is a brilliant and innovate LEGO tool very easy to use and extremely powerful because of the export and render features. Additionally it's a fantastic and creative start for teaching my students the principles of 3d and rendering. You want something for free and different. If you are not able to adapt to software for some personal reason or you just hate this amazing work (for no reason) then keep on working with LDD and Stud.io and feel happy with it. Issue solved. You are posting in a wrong thread. ;-)

Edited by Renderbricks

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Posted (edited)

Another image I am quite proud of. I made this one today exclusively with the rendering mode of Mecabricks. I added a lot of functions the last few months including custom lamps to light your scene with or without an HDR image as well as the possibility to subdivide specified meshes to smooth them. You will probably recognise a scene made from new Harry Potter set 75954. I made the 3D models for a good number of new elements belonging to this theme but I still have quite a few more to make.

43067766825_28931d48be_b.jpg

Hogwarts Great Hall by Nicolas Jarraud, on Flickr

Edited by Scrubs

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You're kidding right? That's not a render!?
Seriously though, that looks amazing! TLG should hire you :laugh:

I wanted to say here that if you had LDraw import support you would probably have a new regular 'customer'. Well, I just noticed you (finally) actually have LDraw import support! Since when? Couldn't you have notified me? :tongue:

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Thank you :classic:

Ldraw support has been added earlier this year. Not all part have been updated with conversion data but we are slowly getting there.

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12 hours ago, Scrubs said:

Another image I am quite proud of. I made this one today exclusively with the rendering mode of Mecabricks.

43067766825_28931d48be_b.jpg

Hogwarts Great Hall by Nicolas Jarraud, on Flickr

This is just incredible. In my opinion as close to photorealistic as it's possible to get.

I have only been use mecabricks for a short time so still have much to learn, but I have to say how impressed I am with the rendering system and how quick and straightforward it is to use.

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Thank you. I can still do better. Having designed the system I can see all the little inaccuracy that I could work on. But it is getting there :blush:

 

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On 8/12/2018 at 12:58 AM, Scrubs said:

Thank you. I can still do better. Having designed the system I can see all the little inaccuracy that I could work on. But it is getting there :blush:

 

I have stared at the picture for a long time, and the only details that gave it away for me were the flatness of the underside of the gray technic pins, and the evenness of which the brown window frames were pushed together. 

I have absolutely no idea of what else you can see. If you posted this in the rendering community I once frequented, then it would be picture of the month. Seriously!

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