View Full Version : is EIAS worthwhile for arch vis?

04 April 2006, 01:45 AM
I've recently departed the office life to work for myself. As I rarely use max other than means to use vray I was looking at EIAS as an alternative. I dont want to have to buy max just to use vray as its just too $$$

I'd like to know of any pros and cons if any, from the users here specifically for doing architectural images.


04 April 2006, 05:39 AM
Well...without trying to sound too overly biased.. I would say that EIAS is a great solution for architectural visualization. But instead of just saying that...why don't we take a little time to determine what features are good for doing architectural visualization.

If I were to make a list of requirements I would say:

1. The ability to handle large numbers of polygons and hard surface rendering.
2. A variety of shaders and material systems to recreate real world textures.
3. A robust rendering engine capable of a variety of rendering solutions, particularly caustics, Global Illumination, raytracing, HDRI, and high resolution output.
4. Compatibility and integration with other software for modeling.
5. Environmental simulators for vegetation, water, and clouds.
6. Placement tools for replicating objects simply and easily.
7. Rotoscoping tools.

You should realize that although EIAS does not have its own modeling solution anymore, there are a number of solutions that are in place or being put in place to handle your modeling needs. EIAS comes with Silo, a sub-d modeler, that is good with organic shapes. FormZ, a package that has worked with EIAS since the beginning, is known for its architectural modeling tools. With FBX and Transporter, which are included in EIAS, practically any model can be brought into EIAS. So whatever package you decide upon for modeling... you'll be fine. There are also internal modeling plugins that are available that can meet some of your basic needs.

How about you arch viz guys... (Ian) chime in anytime.

And oh.. from the forum leader's point of view, let's remember to restrict making comparisons with other software packages and simply focus on what EIAS can provide for this person. (Not that I've had any problems with you guys on that) But CG Talk does not particularly appreciate threads that can potentially turn into flame wars. So if you must make a comparison, do it from a purely academic and informational point of view.

04 April 2006, 08:46 AM

I work for an Arch Vis firm and we use FormZ and EIAS exclusively for our 3D needs. I'll just list a few of the pros for you relating to Arch Vis in EIAS.

1. The Global Illumination is blisteringly fast and excellent quality.
2. EIAS handles ridiculous polygon counts with ease (we're talking tens of millions here).
3. Camera (the EIAS render engine) produces fantastic images in a short space of time, this is mainly due to its exceptional anti-aliasing and Hybrid Phong-RT rendering.
4. Unlimited renderfarm licences. Yes, you heard me, there are no network rendering licences.
5. Great animation tools (the Function Curve Editor is a thing of wonder) and EIAS has built in scripting ability through Xpressionist, a plug-in that comes with EIAS.

Now for my two gripes about EI and Arch Viz (I'm going for balance here ;)
1. Even though Raytraced reflections and transparency are extra speedy, Raytraced soft shadows are not the fastest on the market (which is what we expect from EI!).
2. We don't have an RPC solution for 2.5d or 3.5d people instancing. Yet. However we manage with 2d or 3D people for our animations.

That said, the benefits hugely outweigh those gripes (that are more then made up for by the speed of other areas).

Take a peek at some of our selected work from over the years (including some questionable inclusions :) at

Also take a look here for some more EIAS Arch Vis images.

Finally, I met an EIAS user in a bar last week, and he had recently been forced to switch to the program and render engine you mentioned by his new job, he said to me that, the image quality they provide is simply not a patch on Camera. He had had a few though ;)


PS. Plus all the stuff that Brian said!

04 April 2006, 02:17 PM
I appreciate the response so far, and I've sent off for the demo to have a play with it.

Since I started 3d back in 87 ( yes I'm an old geezer ) I've always used acad for models and then dumped them into max for rendering. A couple of years ago I discovered sketchup and I only use acad for the rare occasion I cant use it. I jumped on the maxwell roller coaster when I saw they were going to support SU but its been far from satisfactory. That said it does produce a beautiful image if you have the time.

I didnt see the file types EIAS will import so I have to ask if it will import dwg or 3ds? Personally I hope it wil take dwg as I find its the best export from SU.

Ian, you have some nice images there mate, any idea how long it takes EIAS to churn out a exterior with GI?



ps prepare to be bombarded with more questions once the cd arrives.

ARRGH...just got a email form them saying they're not sending out the demo anymore...bugger.

04 April 2006, 03:32 PM
No demo!?

That sounds like a strange move on EITGs part...

Times? Well, with full GI I'm currently working on a project that is taking around 15mins to render. However, I have had Images take around 2 hours (every setting turned up to buggery). Of course, if you can see into the buildings you add time because you need internal lights/ shadows/ models etc.

This 15 min render is 4000px wide. It isn't a horrifically complex scene though. 500k Polys or so. Lots of glass n wood. Not much inside yet. Maybe I'll share it once it's done ;)

EI takes in both DXF and 3DS. We run DXFs through FormZ though. I know a couple of people that use SU/ EIAS combination and it works well for them. EIs strongest imports are FACT, 3DS and OBJ.

FACT is EI's native file format.
Hope that helps!

04 April 2006, 03:39 PM
cheers mate,

to quote from the email

We are temporarily suspending demo offers to those customers ordering new seats, due to some return issues with previous demos. Some spoil it for all. The link will be disabled soon.
We do plan to have a disabled downloadable demo on site, but I have no date
for this at this time.

They did offer me a discount on buying it for $595 but after the aggro with maxwell I'm a bit loathed to splash the dosh out on something I've never used.

Your times sound pretty good to me though so maybe I'll bite the bullet ( after some cheques come in )

04 April 2006, 03:52 PM
I just got off the phone with Phil Martin at EITG when I read this. Apparently people aren't taking the time to return the dongles once they've expired. I don't find this surprising considering that people can be considerably lazy. The dongles are programmed to expire after 30 days. Personally, I kinda thought something like this would happen. It was a good idea, though the complexity of it just made it impractical. So forces are being put into play to do something about this. Matt Hoffman has a recent disabled demo available for the Macintosh for download, but nothing on the PC. Phil and I will be pressing him to get that up and online as soon as possible.

In the meanwhile...if you're truly interested in purchasing a seat, the CGTalk community will be at your service. :) I'm sure we can answer your questions and we can provide you with screen shots and other sources to help you out.

04 April 2006, 04:05 PM
Also check out this thread.

There are a couple of links in there to some video tutorials I did for the Revolver plugin. It will at least give you a little exposure to the application.

More video tutorials are planned.

04 April 2006, 04:06 PM
Cheers for the info Brian.

I can understand why it is a problem for them. It's unusual the issue a dongle on a demo programme imho but that was why I thought they took your credit card details.

Unfortunately at the moment I only run windows but as my equipment is getting old I'm looking at swapping to mactel. I'm currently trying to convince myself to go for the macbook pro as I like the idea of being able to sit outside to keep an eye on the kids while still working. I have a renderboxx sitting here and my current boxx is the same spec so they'll be put into farm life once I sort out which way I'm heading.

04 April 2006, 04:09 PM
Well true.. those individuals not returning the dongle will be charged unfortunately. Well, not to worry. Stick around here for a while and you'll have plenty of reasons to join the club. :)

By the way, I've put Boot Camp on a Macbook Pro in order to run both OSX and Windows. Sweet! So if you wanted to, you could always get Apple Hardware, buy EITG with the duo dongle, and run it in Windows for the time being. Once the Mactel port is completed, you could always go back to Mac if you wanted to.

04 April 2006, 04:09 PM
I heard today that a local developer (the biggest in Manchester) call us the A-Team :) I'm sure the fact we use EIAS plays a huge part in that.

With reference to some people spoiling it for everyone, a while ago something similar happened with the education discount, some people abused it (used it for commercial work), so they stopped doing it (you now have to go through 3rd party retailers to get it).

I am curious, I thought they charged people for the dongle if they didn't return it..??

04 April 2006, 04:21 PM
And which member of the A-Team are you Ian? "Hannibal", "B.A. Baracus", "Faceman", or Murdock?

04 April 2006, 04:35 PM
I don't like the idea of being any of them...

Can I be a ghost buster?

04 April 2006, 04:36 PM
The boot camp thing was part of my reasoning behind going mactel. There are some circumstance where I have to run windows so the ability to do both is a huge bonus.

Is it the same price to get a duo dongle ?

As a side note a benchmark image was posted on the vray forum form a macbook pro running windows. The image came out in just over 5 mins which was atucally faster the my old dual opteron setup at my previous employer....:)

04 April 2006, 05:49 PM
There are lots of arhitectural guys using EIAS. I would say that it is very good for this. I currently use a combination FormZ, ArchiCad and Sketchup depending on the job for modeling and do everything else in EI.

Ei imports lots of file types, 3DS being one of them. DWG is not. When bringing the model into EI it converts it to it's native FACT format. You will usually see your model file size drop when this happens and there is no degradation. EI happily imports models from most packages with ease.

The thing I love about doing architectural work in EI is the mapped shadow quality is great and the renderer is super fast. Texture support is great as well for standard projections and easy to apply and understand. There are lots of tricks to get your scenes to render fast including cubic projection maps and camera mapping.

You can look to Onyx Tree for true 3d trees (polygon heavy) but they look fantastic and EI can handle just about any amount of polygons you throw at it.

I recommend aFractal for an unlimited number of texture possibilites as well as some of the built-in shaders.

04 April 2006, 06:41 PM
The boot camp thing was part of my reasoning behind going mactel. There are some circumstance where I have to run windows so the ability to do both is a huge bonus.

Is it the same price to get a duo dongle ?

As a side note a benchmark image was posted on the vray forum form a macbook pro running windows. The image came out in just over 5 mins which was atucally faster the my old dual opteron setup at my previous employer....:)

The only thing I'm aware of is older users who wanted duo capability had to upgrade their keys to the duo dongle for $50. I'm not certain if new seats come with the duo dongle automatically or not. I will check on that.

04 April 2006, 06:51 PM

I now have access to a Macintosh, save disabled, v6.5r1 demo that will allow you to examine the program for free. Unfortunately, there is no PC version available and none of the FBX functions are found in this demo. However, it could provide you with a lot of insite if you have access to a mac.

Email me at and I'll send you the ftp information.

04 April 2006, 08:52 PM
I confirmed with Phil Martin, if you purchase a seat of EIAS, the duo dongle is included. The $50 fee is only for older users wishing to upgrade their dongles to support both platforms. So the choice of operating system is totally up to you.

04 April 2006, 08:13 AM
I've recently departed the office life to work for myself. As I rarely use max other than means to use vray I was looking at EIAS as an alternative. I dont want to have to buy max just to use vray as its just too $$$

I'd like to know of any pros and cons if any, from the users here specifically for doing architectural images.


hi, are you patrick? remember the mies discussion on the maxwell forum?

anyway, i can really recommend EIAS if you need speed, quality and ease of use all together. all the points ian put in his message before are very valid and true. i'm used to work with a lot other 3d applications, too - they all have their advantages and disadvantages, but i would never like to be without EIAS.

apart all the very positive points already outlined (excellent antialiasing, fast rendering, great GI, etc.), the weaker points in my opinion are long scene setup times and no really good solution for area lights. as a bonus, there is implemented an excellent hardcoded light rig (called illuminators) which allows for fast occlusion-like renderings. the setup times tend to be long because test renderings are not using multiprocessing and there is no decent material preview. also, the texturing system is missing the flexibility found in other applications, so sometimes you have to do a lot of workarounds to get the desired results.

to put it simple: it's a great application for doing exteriors or product design, but more difficult to use for interiors.

my 2 eurocents

04 April 2006, 02:11 AM
yes it's me markus....cheers for your advice mate

04 April 2006, 10:39 PM
Hi Patrick,

I also think EI is pretty good for Architectural Viz. That is what eventually got me into it. You can see some of the stuff I did on my web site (of which much of it was done 7-10 years ago, before GI and all the cool new features... even before ray-tracing).

The reasons, most people have mentioned already... high poly count is huge... quick rendering time... great for HUGE stills... free unlimited render farm, etc. What initially sold me on it was that the UI seemed to make sense to me fairly quickly, and I was able to get better looking renderings out of it without having to get a PhD in its render settings.

I used DXF almost 100% of the time until my modeler, Concepts Unlimited, added FACT export directly. DXF really worked very well for me, and I ran it through a little external utility called Transporter (included with EIAS) to convert to FACT format. Just about everything on my site was done via DXF -> FACT. However, as others also mentioned, lots has changed, so there may be some better formats for you to go from SketchUp to EIAS. But, DXF should certainly work fine if the other formats don't give you some other advantages (for example, I now go direct FACT rather than DXF because FACT directly supports the polygon normals direction, where Transporter had to 'guess' for DXF. Though, I rarely had any problems with DXF... Transporter seemed to guess very well.)

The one possible downside over other apps that I can think of might be EI's Radiosity implementation if you intend on doing a lot of interior rendering and light studies. The Radiosity is useable, but not quite 'fully baked' (pardon the pun). I'd almost go as far to say it has a couple of bugs that can be quite irritating at best to work around (if possible). Now that EIAS has GI, you can probably simulate much interior lighting with it, but its still not a total replacement for Radiosity. That said, there has been some great stuff done with and without Radiosity. I just wouldn't say that it EI's strong-point.

Hope that helps,


04 April 2006, 01:38 PM
Well, lets take a look at these two GI methods: Monte Carlo and Radiosity.

Monte Carlo ray tracing is an exact rendering method. Radiosity is an approximate rendering method. They are view dependent and view independent respectively.

First lets look at the Monte Carlo Ray-Tracing method. EI uses this.

Very accurate.
Few controls so it's easy to use.
Doesn't produce artifacts (just noise).
Requires less ram.

Slow (except in EI).
Difficult to impose a quality (time) requirement.
Can't save and re-use solutions.

Radiosity/ Photon Mapping methods.

Fast (except in EI).
You can set a quality (time) requirement.
You can save and re-use the GI solution (although this depends on renderer).

Not as accurate.
Produces artifacts.
Lots of controls - it's hard to set up.
Requires more RAM.

Finally, I can only compare EI to the Maya renderers FG and RM and to Vray in Max as this is all I have had access too. Someone who knows more is welcome to correct any glaring errors!
There are several different types of Monte Carlo GI rendering (Path-Tracing being another), so the pros/cons may differ depending on the exact GI method used.


04 April 2006, 01:58 PM
Thanks again to all for their opinions. I'm really hoping EIAS will release a demo version for windows soon as I'd really like to try it in anger to make my mind up completely. If I had the cash spare I'd probably just take my chances and buy it but I just bought a new comp so I'm being a bit tight at the moment.

04 April 2006, 01:51 AM
I have to chime in for a quick sec.

EI is ideal for arch vis, it handles tons of polys quickly and has really nice render effects. Also, FormZ with EIAS is unstoppable. FormZ has .fac file output and is good for organizing files between the two.

04 April 2006, 07:47 AM
Hi Patrick!

I love eias makin arch viz, i use VW and export model trought DXF, u can get nice renders in an easy way in less time.

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