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Monday, February 01, 2010

What Wrong with My Environment?!? - Autodesk Showcase

“One of the Internet's strengths is its ability to help consumers find the right needle in a digital haystack of data.”

Jared Sandberg

If you've been paying attention, I've not been as good about Sunday night blogging. This week is no exception. I spent my Saturday at Planes of Fame being a volunteer museum guide.

Planes of Fame's two P-51 Mustangs. They both flew Saturday.
There's nothing quite like the sound of a Merlin engine purring.
(click to enlarge)

Sunday, I hiked to the vernal pools in Murrieta, which only fill with water during the rains.

Unfortunately, due to teh conditions, we couldn't get much closer.
(Click to enlarge)

Needless to say, Sunday night, I was more about an early bedtime then a blog post. But, at last, here we go!

Today, I'm going to talk about environments in Autodesk Showcase.

Environments in Showcase are something I've not worked with for one reason and one reason only.

I've never gotten around to it. (I say this with a sheepish grin).

But twice last week, I was asked by two different users where to find environments, and how to bring them in.

Granted, this isn't the first time it's come up. But I finally told myself that I was going to take the opportunity to blog this information.

So first of all, what is an environment?

An environment is, essentially, the scenery behind your model. For example, if the P-51s in the picture above were the models I was showing, the hangar and airfield could be considered my environment.

The environment is made of a High Dynamic Range image (HDR), which can be either flat (called a backplate) or three dimensional (such as cylindrical or spherical).

An example of a car in an enviroment
(click to enlarge)

An example of the same car, showing the extents of it's environment.
(click to enlarge)

So now that we know WHAT an environment is, where can I get some.

There are some that are included with Showcase, and those can get you pretty far, but you also may reach a point where you'd like a few more options.

One thing is for sure, I don't have the complete, definitive list. But here's some places that I've either had recommended to me, or I've used personally.

Alias Design - Registration is free, and they have a nice selection of free environments that you can download. The environments are also free.

HDR Mill - They have a small free sample section, and you can purchase images from HDR Mill at fairly reasonable prices. I've used them before, and liked the results. If I was in the market for some new environments, I'd definitely consider them.

Dosch Design - One big disclaimer, I've not used this personally, so I don't feel I can truly recommend them. At about $150 USD for around 30 images. They're a bit rich for my blood, since I just haven't run into a place where I need that many environments. But that being said. I have seen them recommended consistently by several users, and several sites. So I went ahead and gave them a shout out.

With that being said, should I want to have an arsenal of environments at my disposal, I would be willing to try them, based on the recommendations I've received.

So there's where to get some environments. Importing them into Showcase is not that difficult, but there are always tricks.

Don't worry, I'm not going to abandon you. My next post will be taking an environment, and importing it into Showcase.

But for now, back to my Monday!

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