By Jodie Jo Jodidio
Hey all

I am struggling to learn how to use Studio in order to deal with quite complex Sketchup models, as I have discovered it seems to be the way to go in order to avoid lots of crashing and head scratching! I'm building models of towns and cities and it's all just too much for Sketchup to cope with.

Are instances in Maxwell and proxies in Sketchup basically the same thing? Is there a 'best' way to go about repeating complex geometry in Studio?

And then there's the additional option of using MXS references instead? I find it all very confusing as I'm fairly new to all this :roll:

Many thanks for your help
By JDHill
Instances are generated automatically, if the Output > Export > Use Instances option is enabled. An instance is always an instance of a mesh, and a mesh is created when faces are directly contained (meaning, are not actually in a child group/component) either in a group, or in a component definition. If, for example, you have a group which contains faces, and that group is copied around the model by including it in a component that is inserted many times, only one instance of the group will be exported as a mesh.

MXS References provide a way of inserting arbitrarily-complex geometry into a rendering, without ever putting it into the SketchUp model. Basically, you would open a SKP containing, say, a tree, set up its materials, and then export it to an MXS file. In another model, you can then insert a reference to this MXS file; in SketchUp, it will be represented using a set of bounding boxes to keep things light. When rendering, Maxwell will read the path to the MXS file, read the MXS file, and load it into the model, rendering what's contained in the MXS, instead of the bounding boxes you see in SketchUp. Copying an MXS reference in SketchUp does not result in a higher memory requirement, because further copies of a given MXS Reference are exported as instances of that reference. Another advantage to using MXS References is that you cannot alter them, except by actually editing the MXS in Studio; this means that all the materials they use are "baked in", which means that your material list in SketchUp can remain less cluttered.

Proxies (i.e. Output > Export > Proxies) refers to something else, and is (or should be) likely rarely used. Basically, there is a ruby script named proxy.rb (I think) floating around the web somewhere, which you can use to swap the the definition to which component instances point. The swapped-in definition just consists of a set of faces describing the bounding box of the real definition. The proxy instances are named specially (_proxy is appended), so when exporting, if the plugin finds such an instance, it substitutes an instance of the non-proxy geometry instead. The main point of using these is to lower the number of faces shown in SketchUp, and thereby speed up the viewport (and the viewport only, since the SKP still contains the full definitions); they do not change anything from Maxwell's perspective, in terms of speed or memory usage.

One last thing to remember is that it is not possible to render something that's not loaded into memory; where instances of meshes are basically free in terms of memory, it does take x-amount of memory to load and render each MXS that is referenced. This will generally not be an issue when working in Studio, or rendering directly to Maxwell Render from SketchUp, but it is certainly something to keep in mind when rendering in Maxwell FIRE.
By Jodie Jo Jodidio
Fantastic thanks for your lightning fast response :)

Ok, so I am putting the issue of proxies aside for now then and see that using MXS references is the way to go.

I'm not sure I understand how to export MXS files and then re reference them in a SKP model? I can see how to import MXS into Studio and I think it makes sense for me to save out the different buildings in my scenes that way and then import into Studio to arrange and render? Would it be easier to do so in SKP given that it's what I'm used to navigating? I've had huge problems with SKP crashing so figured my only way to manage these large files was though Studio instead.

Perhaps there's a tutorial which describes the process? I have a subscription to VLC which is completely invaluable to learning the programme. I still feel like my head is imploding with trying to suss it out but I guess perseverance is key!
By JDHill
What does the license info say when you click Plugins > Maxwell > About? If you have a Maxwell Render license, then you should have buttons in your Maxwell plugin menu & toolbar, for exporting & rendering MXS files in various ways (e.g. Export to Studio, Network Render, just plain Export MXS). They work with the Name/Folder values in the Scene Manager > Output tab.

There's no need to assemble things (meaning, multiple MXS files) in Studio, and it should usually be more flexible if you don't, since you can move references around in your SketchUp model.
By Jodie Jo Jodidio
Right - I understand at last. Yes I have Render License (Learning Edition) and knew that you could *export* to Studio / Network / MXS up until now but always assumed this was only to rearrange geometry and add materials in Studio.

Now I have noticed the *Insert MXS Reference* under Plugins Menu (usually I export to MXS via context click) so now I see where it is possible to be able to re-insert the MXS reference creating a bounding box in SKP. This makes things about a gazillion times easier, and also means I will still be able to apply materials in smaller SKP files and export/ reimport as I'm used to without having to get my head around Studio structure for now, that's a bit of a relief :)

I can find a bunch of tutorials on Proxies but havent found anything mentioning this functionality so far. The VLC series talks about the importance of exporting to Studio to arrange/ apply materials and also talks about Proxies but I seem to have missed the SKP MXS Ref functionality (or a step by step process of how to do it for a newbie like me)

Anyway I'm thrilled about this, hopefully it will be the key to fixing my struggles

Thanks :D
By JDHill
Working with Maxwell is primarily about working with MXS files; it is only in the very special case of the Standalone Maxwell for SketchUp plugin, where the sole method of rendering is to use Maxwell FIRE in the plugin, that MXS files don't come into the mix. When using the Render Suite, the intended role for Maxwell FIRE is only that of providing feedback while setting up the scene. Likewise, Studio also plays an entirely optional role, albeit a oftentimes valuable one, when dealing with a 32-bit only (and therefore memory-limited) host platform like SketchUp. All of which is basically to say, it is indeed good if you get familiar with working with MXS files, whether you export them using the Export to Studio, Export MXS, or the right-click > Maxwell > Export Selection > To Studio/MXS commands.

As far as tutorials specifically addressing MXS References, I don't think there are any video tutorials; use of the feature is described here, and it is also used in a webinar by Francois Verhoeven, available here. I don't know of any tutorials on using the Proxies feature; in fact, I don't currently know if/where you can even get that plugin.
By numerobis
Speaking about references... would it be possible to get a more precise proxy for them? It sometimes is really far off, not even the bounding box fits.
I'm now building my own when i have to see the correct position, but it would be helpful to get this automatically.
By JDHill
I think that if you see a problem like that, it should be due to the use of instances and geometry with lots of transformation (especially, say, mirroring via negative scaling) in the referenced MXS. At any rate, I'm not currently aware of anything specifically being done wrong by the plugin, and would recommend, when an issue like that is seen, to consider remaking the referenced MXS in a simplified form. If you have a particular MXS you'd be willing to have me take a look at, please provide it, and I'll take a look.
By Jodie Jo Jodidio
Well it all seems very obvious now thanks to your help but for a very long time I've been struggling to understand how to use the plugin and render suite with Sketchup.

I find the manual near impossible to follow in terms of learning the programme so have been using it more for reference than an actual step by step guide, hence missing the page on MXS references which clearly would have saved me a lot of pain if I'd managed to find it! The manual seems to describe functionality rather than provide process and method, so I think a tutorial series is crucial to be able to learn it from scratch.

Anyway, I've been following the VLC tutorial series led by Jason Maranto which is really great but doesn't mention referencing MXS back into Sketchup. He only describes Proxies and the use of MXS in Studio to cope with larger poly models. Perhaps the MXS feature for SKP wasn't developed by the time of that video series? Also he describes Proxies as being a feature of the Maxwell for Sketchup plugin that you've developed? I didn't download a separate plugin for it but it works for me anyway. ... orials.htm (Proxies vid is under Output settings)

And there's this video by Maxwell Render Labs:

Really hope someone can make one about MXS references and describe the difference in functionality to help others in my situation.

Many thanks
By JDHill
I believe we are currently working on some new tutorials, one of which will address MXS References (and you are correct, MXS References did not yet exist when those tutorials were done). Regarding proxies being a feature of the Maxwell plugin, the only thing that the Output > Export > Proxies switch does, is tell the plugin to assume that any component definition named with a trailing "_proxy" will have a corresponding definition, whose name is the same, but without the trailing "_proxy", and that the latter should be substituted when exporting MXS files. The Maxwell plugin does not know or care whether you generated such proxy definitions by hand, or by using the other "proxy.rb" plugin I mentioned.
By Corrigible
I guess this will be an appropiate location to ask another question the topic of Proxies, Instances or MXS Ref. Ever since i upgraded to Maxwell Render Suite two weeks ago, Maxwell appears not to render copies of MXS refs but only renders the original reference imported in fire and in Maxwell Render when exported

Before copies

After copies

Coping references worked all the time before i upgraded. Any idea what could be causing this?
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