easy rendering for Rhino in Windows
Flamingo nXt cannot be used to render outdoor scene with visible horizon because its HDR background and fog are buggy.
BUG 1: All HDR images bundled with Flamingo are grossly distorted when they are used as planar HDR background, regardless of projection (planar, cylindrical or spherical). Planar and spherical projections produce identical, grossly distorted background images.
BUG 2: When the HDR images are used as non-planar HDR backgrounds, there is no distortion, but the background has extremely low resolution - it is made of very large, jagged pixels.
BUG 3: The Fog Properties window is one of the five Post-processing effects windows. It is accessible from the Render window. The Fog Properties window is buggy. Its Bounds and Feathering do not work - they have no impact on the final image. Noise does not make noise; it merely pushes the fog away from the camera. Rhino crashed while I was experimenting with the fog.
The infinite ground plane produces unnatural, straight horizon. The horizon cannot be hidden with fog because Bounds does not work. Dense fog always extends infinitely in the vertical direction, so it hides not only the horizon, but the entire background.
BUG 4: If the Rhino window and the Flamingo help window overlap, their visibility is opposite to what it should be. When I click the Rhino window, its overlapping part is obscured by the Flamingo help window. When I click the Flamingo help window, its overlapping part is obscured by the Rhino window.
BUG 5: If the Rhino window fills up the entire computer screen, the Flamingo help window disappears when I double-click a topic inside the window. If the help window has disappeared, and I click the place where it was before, the help window re-disappears.
FLAW 1: I played with RenderWindow command to find out how much it helps to speed up the rendering process. I made simple model (two small polyhedra + ground plane + color gradient background) and I rendered the entire Perspective viewport in three passes. The rendering time was 2.60 seconds. Next I ran the RenderWindow command to render small window away from all objects. Only the ground plane and the background were visible in the window. The rendering time was about five seconds! I rendered more windows - the rendering time was always the same - about five seconds. I inserted big Flamingo tree and I rendered the entire Perspective viewport in three passes. The rendering time was 6.81 seconds. Last, I rendered windows using the RenderWindow command. The rendering time was in the range of 12 seconds to 25 seconds - the bigger the window, the shorter the rendering time.
FLAW 2: When I first used Flamingo nXt Control Panel, I clicked Materials tab, New material menu and several templates in the menu (New Solid Color Material, New Metal Material, New Glass Material, New Plastic Material...). These templates did not work - a file window appeared asking me to open a file. Eventually I clicked New Advanced Material template. This template did work - material editor window appeared and it worked well except that its sandpaper texture had frozen, greyed-out scale. I tried using the sandpaper texture several times. Sometimes its scale worked, sometimes it did not work. As soon as I clicked the New Advanced Material template, the other templates worked well and the scale of sandpaper texture also worked well.
FLAW 3: When I first used Flamingo nXt Control Panel, I clicked Environment tab, Background type, Solid Color. The solid color was blue and there was no way to change it. Next I changed the Background type to Two-Color Gradient, and then I changed it back to solid color. This time a blue horizontal bar appeared. When I clicked the bar, I could change the background color.
FLAW 4: Flamingo nXt Control Panel, Environment tab, Ground plane, assigns material to the ground plane, but it cannot assign solid color or color gradient to the ground plane.
FLAW 5: Flamingo help file says that the word "Fresnel" is pronounced (fray-NELL). In fact, it is pronounced differently: http://www.howjsay.com/index.php?word=fresnel&submit=Submit
FLAW 6: Flamingo help file does not describe saturation well. Saturation is a measure of the purity of color. The most saturated color is the purest color. It uses one wavelength, like the laser light.
FLAW 7: Flamingo nXt Control Panel > Lighting tab > Sky tab, displays HDR image but it does not display its name.
FLAW 8: The only way to re-start rendering is to close the rendering window and open it. It would be more convenient to re-start rendering from the rendering window.
FLAW 9: Flamingo is bundled with useful materials. For me, the most useful materials are materials representing the ground surface. These materials are hidden in a folder named 'Site.' I would have never guessed that the word 'Site' means ground.
I use Rhino 5.0 commercial version (2013-03-28), 64-bit), Bongo 2.0 beta (2013-2-8), Flamingo nXt (2012-12-6), Windows 8 Pro OEM 64-bit operating system, ThinkPad W530 laptop computer with Intel Core i7 3920XM processor, 32GB RAM, 512GB SSD, Quadro K2000M graphics card, 15,6 inch LCD (1920x1080).
I have found five more bugs in the Flamingo Control Panel, Environment tab:
BUG 7: I set Background type to image and projection to cylindrical. The vertical (Top/Bottom) widget is about 30 angle degrees off. As you can see in the first picture, the vertical position of the image is correct, and yet the widget indicates that there is large gap between the ground plane and the bottom edge of the image. The background image (clouds) was on external hard disk drive. When I closed Rhino, I could not turn off the drive safely because unknown program was still using the drive. It was probably part of Flamingo program still using the image.
BUG 8: You can see another bug in the same (first) picture. There is a horizontal slider at the bottom of the Flamingo Control Panel because part of the Panel is invisible. No matter how wide is the Flamingo Control Panel, part of the Panel (usually its right side) is invisible and the slider is always there. If the Panel is very wide, its center is empty, and yet part of the Panel is invisible. This bug is independent of Background type and projection (planar, cylindrical or spherical).
BUG 9: There is no difference between Two-Color Gradient and Three-Color Gradient of the Background type because the bottom color of the Three-Color Gradient is disabled - it never appears in the final rendition.
BUG 10: This bug is shown in the second picture. It is probably related to bug 8.
BUG 12: I made directional light using Rhino, turned off all Flamingo nXt lights (Sky, Lights and Sun), and I ran Bongo 2.0 render animation using Flamingo. Flamingo got stuck - it could not render anything. Flamingo also got stuck when I tried to render single image using Rhino Render command.
A few months ago I tried using Flamingo nXt for Bongo 2.0 render animation. It did not work because Flamingo was crashing Bongo. It is not crashing now, but it is much slower than Rhino render plugin and it produces randomly illuminated images shown below. These images are adjacent frames of animation.
More info about random illumination bug:
I went to Flamingo Control Panel, Lighting tab, Advanced tab. Sky was set to HDRi. Lights and Sun were turned off. I changed the Sky options several times, but the bug did not go away. Next I turned off the Sky and used spot light. Flamingo ignored the spot light. Finally, I turned Sun on. Sky and Lights were turned off. The random illumination bug disappeared.
About every second time I run Bongo 2.0, Flamingo nXt menu disappears and remains invisible until I run any Flamingo command. (Flamingo nXt is enabled and loaded all the time.)