Maxwell Fire provides interactive rendering within the SketchUp user-interface. Its functionality is contained in the Maxwell Fire window:
This window may be opened or closed using the Maxwell Fire menu item or toolbar button:
The operation of Maxwell Fire in the plugin has been kept as simple as possible. To use Maxwell Fire, simply use the toolbar or menu to open the Maxwell Fire window:
By default, the scene will immediately be transferred to Maxwell Fire and its rendering begun, so the links shown above may only be visible for a short time. To access them at any time, use the small “left arrow” button near the top right of the window. This automatic starting of Maxwell Fire may be disabled using the Start Maxwell Fire option. The panel at the top of the window contains several different buttons, some appearing only in specific plugin builds. When Maxwell Fire is active and rendering, it appears like this:
In the main group, at center, there are five buttons:
|Stop & Go||When Maxwell Fire is disabled, this button is yellow, and reads Fire. Clicking it in this state will perform an export if necessary, and begin rendering the scene in Maxwell Fire. If, on the other hand, Maxwell Fire is currently rendering, this button is red, and reads Stop. Clicking it in this state will disable Maxwell Fire. To completely unload Maxwell Fire and its data from memory, close the Maxwell Fire window.|
Usually, it is desirable to have Maxwell Fire updated whenever something changes in the scene. However, when a final image is being rendered, it is desirable that inadvertent actions, for example, scrolling in the SketchUp viewport, be ignored, so that the rendering is not interrupted. This may be done by enabling the Lock button; when the rendering is locked, you can even proceed with working on the model, though it is important to understand that when rendering is subsequently unlocked, all changes made in the interim will be pushed into the scene, and rendering will be begun again.
|Re-export Scene||This button is only shown after the scene has initially been exported. Clicking it will cause the data currently in memory to be released, and a new export will be performed. It is necessary to do this when objects have been moved, material assignments changed, or UV coordinates modified.|
This button is used to save the current image to disk. It is only shown when an image exists. Maxwell Fire supports saving images in 8-bit RGB formats only. The format written is determined by the file extension specified, which can be any one of the following:
If no extension is specified, the image will be saved as .png.
Shows the Engine Settings window, which is used to control various Maxwell Fire settings.
Additionally, another group of smaller buttons appears near the top right of the window. Their functions are as follows:
|Actual Size/Fit to Window|
This button toggles the Maxwell Fire image display between showing the rendered image at its actual size, and fitting it to the current size of the display area of the window.
This shows and hides the Maxwell Links panel, which contains useful shortcuts to information on using the plugin (i.e. help, tutorials, etc).
This button toggles the visibility of the Maxwell Fire window’s upper and lower heads up display panels.
As mentioned above, toggling the Fire button at top-left causes the model to be exported from SketchUp into the Maxwell format. Once this process is complete, rendering will begin. Rendering progress and status messages are shown in the progress bar at the bottom of the window; if errors are encountered, a button will be shown to the right of the progress bar:
In this case, the error was caused deliberately by changing the Environment type to None, when there were no emitters in the scene. Clicking the error report button, we see what the render engine is reporting:
The engine will resume rendering once the error is corrected, though in some cases, it may be necessary to re-export the data. To do this, click the Re-export Scene button.
Maxwell Fire Settings
Clicking the Settings (gear) button pops up the Settings window:
These settings roughly correspond to the similar settings found in Maxwell Render:
|SL||Sets the sampling level at which rendering will be stopped.|
|Threads||Sets the number of threads which will be used by the render engine, where zero means auto-detect.|
|Max. Res.||800x800||1920x1080||Sets the actual size of the largest dimension of the rendered image. The aspect ratio of the output is determined by the aspect ratio of the Output Resolution of the currently-rendering camera.|
|Extensions||Globally enables & disables render-time effects such as Maxwell Grass, Sea, and Volumetric.|
|Engine||Allows you to specify whether rendering be done using Maxwell Render's Draft or Production render engine. While both engines are entirely unbiased, and will eventually converge to produce the same image, they use very different calculation strategies, which are suited to very different purposes.|
The Engine setting is only available in licensed installations; unlicensed installations are restricted to using the Draft engine.
|Draft||This is the default engine used by Maxwell Fire. It gives a basic idea of the final image as soon as possible, and also updates very frequently, in order to provide responsive real-time feedback.|
|Production||While the Draft engine is very good for real-time work, it will not, in fact, render a finished image faster than the Production engine, in many cases. This is especially true in situations which involve more complex light interactions: caustics and indirect lighting, heavy depth-of-field, etc.|
Not all types of changes can be handled in real time; currently, there are two different classes of scene alteration:
|Physical||This class includes changes to geometry (topology or location), assignment of materials, alteration of UV coordinates, etc.|
|Conceptual||This class includes changes to materials, cameras, environment, output settings, and so on.|
Conceptual changes are accomplished in real time, and therefore, do not require the model to be re-transferred. Physical changes do. So, for example, changing the color of a material, the position or exposure of a camera, or the time of day are all things which will be reflected in real time in Maxwell Fire. Painting a face with a new material, or moving/deleting a component, on the other hand, are not handled in real time, and require that the scene be re-exported.
MXS Files & Memory (RS)
Whenever the Maxwell Fire window is opened, and the model has been exported, the MXS-writing functions of the plugin will behave slightly differently than normal; rather than performing a full model export, they will use the data currently held in the Maxwell Fire scene. This data will also remain in memory for as long as the Maxwell Fire window is opened, or until a different model is opened in SketchUp.
This is done both in the interest of saving time (it takes much less time to write an MXS file from existing data than it does to transfer the entire SketchUp model), and to ensure that what you see in the Maxwell Fire window is what you will see in your MXS file. If you wish to perform a full export, or to free the memory currently being used by Maxwell Fire, simply close the Maxwell Fire window.
The determination of whether to use cached data, or to perform a full export, is made using the MXS Cache Policy option.
Following are some things to keep in mind when using Maxwell Fire.
SketchUp's 2-Point Perspective camera mode is not supported in Maxwell Fire, due to SketchUp API limitations. However, this is not likely much of an issue, since Maxwell Fire allows you to pre-visualize the effects of Maxwell's own Shift Lens feature.
It is worth noting that there are actually two instances of Maxwell Fire used in the plugin: one for rendering models, and one for rendering material previews. Since they can both be active at the same time, it will be necessary to set the Threads parameters for each (Maxwell Fire, material preview) in order to achieve your desired performance. If you are on a single- or dual-core machine, it may be desirable to disable automatic preview refresh.
Page:SketchUp Maxwell Fire (Maxwell Render V3 Documentation)
Page:SketchUp Maxwell Fire (Maxwell Render V2 Documentation)
Page:SketchUp - Maxwell Fire (Maxwell Render V4 Documentation)
Page:SketchUp User Interface (Maxwell Render V2 Documentation)
Page:SketchUp User Interface (Maxwell Render V3 Documentation)
Page:SketchUp - User Interface (Maxwell Render V4 Documentation)
Page:SketchUp Menu and Toolbar (Maxwell Render V2 Documentation)
Page:SketchUp Scene Manager (Maxwell Render V2 Documentation)
Page:SketchUp Menu and Toolbar (Maxwell Render V3 Documentation)
Page:SketchUp Scene Manager (Maxwell Render V3 Documentation)
Page:SketchUp - Scene Manager (Maxwell Render V4 Documentation)
Page:SketchUp - Menu and Toolbar (Maxwell Render V4 Documentation)
Page:SketchUp Environment (Maxwell Render V2 Documentation)
Page:SketchUp Environment (Maxwell Render V3 Documentation)
Page:SketchUp - Environment (Maxwell Render V4 Documentation)