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Joel (Offline)
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Default C3D Forum Etiquette: Attach, Educate, Evangelize - 10.07.2018, 08:52

Recently Misoversaturated has added lots of eye-opening posts that effectively explain and demonstrate new features, like the restored Falcon caustics. His examples inspired this post.

C3D is arguably the best software for a beginner to rapidly learn 3D CG and produce professional results, but it has to balance its power with complexity. It is hard and time-consuming to find the right combination of numerous settings to get a desired effect. We all do many trial-and-error iterations, even for simple scenes where we are experimenting, to try out a new feature. This is especially true for a complete beginner, someone with zero 3D experience, just the kind of customer Martin needs to attract. Keep in mind how essential this forum is in promoting and sustaining the development of C3D.

I suggest we do one thing differently, which would require almost no additional effort but could accelerate the learning process for all C3D users, from beginner to expert:


Make this the default habit when posting to the forum.

It’s fast, simple, and easy to right-click a .jas file icon and choose “Compress.” This instantly creates a .zip file which can be attached to a forum post as readily as a JPEG.

This is a great forum, where people quickly answer questions and generously offer tips. But sometimes the advice is still hard to understand by someone with less experience.

I’m only referring to a simple test scene posted to the General or Tutorial sub-forums, not a massively complex illustration commissioned by a client, or a final high-res work of art posted to the Gallery. Something that isolates a feature in its simplest form, not to make a pretty picture but to clearly illustrate a concept. For example, a new material, maybe with caustics. Suppose you do a number of variations, and gradually fine-tune it. Maybe you have success and want to share it. Maybe you have frustration and want to get help. Either way, others can download the file and see exactly what is happening. If it’s good, save it for reference or as a template. If it’s bad, fix it and respond with feedback.

At present, the convention is to sometimes attach a file later on, but only if requested. This unnecessarily lengthens the time required to make progress. If the file is already attached, anyone in any time zone around the world can get to it immediately. Or anytime in the future. Both the original poster and subsequent forum reader can benefit. There is no downside to this, because it only adds a link, easily ignored if you don’t want the file. Better yet, there is a cumulative advantage when a downloaded file is tweaked, then attached to a subsequent reply on the thread. One after another, posters can contribute to and improve upon the thread topic. It’s a hands-on creative process.

The “Decorated Pig” thread is a perfect example. When the new materials node system was introduced nine years ago, hundreds of great materials were posted. The nodes were powerful, but not intuitive, especially the math functions. But analyzing them in downloaded Pig.jas files made them comprehensible, and amenable to further experimentation. You could quickly review Pig pics, and if you liked a particular material you could try it out and mess around with the nodes. Make a good one, share it.

There are many features in Version 7 that I don’t get, starting with Physically-Based Rendering materials. And I don’t even do animation, so there’s all of that. And, thanks to Martin, there are continuously-added features via beta versions. There are some files in the Help menu, but imagine building a shared library of tutorial files and templates, kind of like how people contribute to Wikipedia. What a great resource. Individually or collectively we could save, sort, archive, and adapt hundreds or thousands of them and make them easy to retrieve. One limitation of the forum is the dearth of animations, due to size constraints. Maybe post a relatively compact .jas animation file that does a single motion, just to show how to do it.

Several of us have requested a text node in the Materials Node Editor. A related idea is how to integrate some explanatory text or pictures with a .jas file. Of course, that’s what folders do, but it would be neat if there was a C3D menu item for typing or pasting a block of text. I guess that’s a Want List item.

Attached is the basic Pig.jas file from the Help menu with a useful extra transparency gradient, adapted from a 2014 Frank Beckmann post. You get the idea. Look at forum posts, many with attached pictures, and consider how many would be much better if they included a link to the file. Not most of them, but a lot. Text + picture + file > text + picture > text.

This all started with Misoversaturated’s beautiful caustics experiments in the 7.3 beta 2 thread. I would like a caustics file, to simplify, test-render at lower resolution, and inspect all the settings for lights, camera, Falcon, materials, whatever. Learn what works, save a template, maybe post a file with different settings.

Phase Two: WikiCheetiah.
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Last edited by Joel : 10.07.2018 at 08:57.
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Hasdrubal (Offline)
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Default 10.07.2018, 23:39

Sorry, to say so, but it's asked a bit much. Lots of people in here give a lot of their time to answer questions, especially frank and misoversaturated. As you say, sometimes it's done with pictures (often gifs to explain something step by step), sometimes with a jas-files, sometimes text only. Or a link to something else.

And whatever advice someone gives, if he devotes 5 minutes of his time to your problem or 5 hours: It's usually not his and always just pure friendliness that they answer at all. You know, it's not their job to help others, to teach or to solve those problems. And it's not their job to promote Cheetah. They act out of generosity.

Well, this is just my personal take and my humble opinion, but to me it sounds rude to ask for more. Especially as nobody has to wait very long to get his questions answered.

Ok, to get into 3d you have to learn the first steps. They are more or less the same for everybody. But to understand this stuff you have to work for yourself, to test, to experiment, to curse, and most importantly to fail. Otherwise you will never learn to create but just to copy.

My two cents, keep the change.
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misoversaturated (Offline)
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Default 11.07.2018, 10:00

Hi Joel,

thank you for your due reminder concerning file attachments and also for appreciating my work

I agree that it would be be beneficial if every pic posted on the forum was accompanied by the corresponding file and often I already stick to that rule.
But there are cases when that's difficult or impossible.
Taking your example of my caustic explorations, it all started with a very simple scene consisting of a ground plane, a glass cube and a skylight.
I made several test renders with varying settings of the caustic filter, then posted the results, including a file, in the Cheetah3D 7.3 Beta 1 thread, here.
Then I continued playing around with that file, making more renders, varying the cube objects, but without saving every step.
That's basically my way of doing Cheetah stuff, keeping files open for days while tweaking and rendering and saving only iterations where I see a major improvement.
So when I look back later and decide to post a render to the forum a corresponding file may not exist.
That's why the following renders in this thread and the 7.3 beta 2 thread don't have each the file attached, though I've just added two that I found on my disk.

Another problem is posed by materials with image textures.
You mentioned the Decorated Pig Thread which was a huge success because it was mainly about procedural materials which are easy to share.
Image textures on the other hand nearly always exceed the file size constraints of the forum, so they need to be hosted elsewhere.
Textures from the web are likely not free for distribution but need links.
Now all these cloud services and freebie providers tend to overhaul their sites every couple years and in the process all the links normally get destroyed.
That happened to my (and everyone else's) dropbox links some time ago and Frank Beckmann has reported somewhere that the screencast links to his old videos are soon to expire.

So in those cases I normally decide not to provide files except someone asks, then I would try to recreate something, provide the links or else.

Originally Posted by Joel View Post
I would like a caustics file, to simplify, test-render at lower resolution, and inspect all the settings for lights, camera, Falcon, materials, whatever.

If you point me to the image you have in mind I'll gladly put something together

MacBookPro Retina 2.3 GHz i7 16 GB Ram nVidia 750M / OS 10.9.5 / Cheetah3D 7.3 beta / Blender 2.79 / LuxRender 1.6 / PS CS4
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podperson (Offline)
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Default 15.07.2018, 21:39

One of the annoyances with this forum is you need to zip your jas files to post them. This extra step is itself a little deterrent. Martin is using off-the-shelf forum software which isn't smart enough to do the zipping on the server-side. I think the simplest option would be to explicitly allow jas files to be posted with some reasonable size limit.

I'd love it if C3D stored the jas file in the render history (at least up to a certain size threshold).

Anyway, I think that the problem with ALL your suggestions is that they increase the burden on people either asking questions or responding to questions. In practice this is a recipe for lower participation. To the extent that these things could be made easier (e.g. if you could post a question from inside C3D and it automatically upload the relevant render and .jas file) it would be great, but that's not going to happen.

Learn 3D with Cheetah 3D 6 | Master List of C3D Tutorials | Master List of Scripts (please post omissions to the threads) | Decorated Pig | Blog
MacBook Pro 2.8GHz (4 core) 16GB RAM | Mac Pro 3.2GHz (4 core) 24GB RAM nVidia 1070 | Cheetah 3d 7.x | OS X 10.12.x
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