Clara.io: Introducing 40 New Improvements and Features.

To celebrate reaching 85,000 registered users, we are introducing a ton of new features!

- Ben Houston

Over 85,000 artists and creators have registered for Clara.io, the online 3D modeling and rendering tool, since its introduction in August 2013, and returning editors now average over 71 minutes per user session (a 100% increase since April 2014!)

To celebrate we are releasing over 40 improvements to your online 3D modeling & rendering experience:

Faster and Reduced Memory Usage

  • We have sped up mesh loading in Clara.io by 50% for large meshes.
  • We have reduced memory usage by 50% in Clara.io for large scenes.
  • We have improved our binary file format to make it 20% smaller on average via a new custom compression algorithm.
  • Thanks to a lot of database optimization, your scenes page, https://clara.io/scenes, now loads 5x times faster than it previously did.

Usability improvements

  • Merge Scenes. An often requested feature. From the “File > Merge scenes...” menu you can select other scenes of yours and merge them into the current scene. This allows for really easy construction of complex scenes using reusable components in your library. As you grow your personal library of scenes in Clara.io you can tag your scenes and search via tags in the Merge Scene dialog.
  • Restore Scenes from the Trash. A simple feature but very useful when you need it.

Viewer Improvements

  • We've improved how our WebGL viewer works. We now display both a preview image and a loading progress bar until the interactive 3D model is loaded, and then we fade it in. This leads to a much better user experience for our embeds.
  • You can set custom preview images for the player if you do not want to use the default V-Ray rendering. Use the Thumbnail image property on the Player plug of the Scene node.
  • Our WebGL embed now automatically switches to FXAA when WebGL's built-in anti-aliasing (FSAA) isn’t available. This leads to much higher quality experience on most mobile devices.
  • Improved centering of 3D objects for orbit when using custom cameras.
  • When dealing with div-embeds, the touch control buttons are now optionally displayed.
  • We have exposed mouse events, pre-load and post-load events to our div-embeds to enable customized interactivity.
  • Significantly reduced size of the JavaScript that runs the div-embed (even with these new features), means that interactive 3D configurators using Clara.io load fast.
  • We have released a GitHub repository of online Clara.io 3D configurator code examples that you can use as templates for your own projects.

Together this enables the creation of interactive 3D configurators like this Apple Watch configurator:

Model library

Import and Export improvements

  • Imports now start instantly upon upload, even on complex scenes, where previously it could take upwards of 15 seconds for an import to start.
  • More robust FBX, Collada, OBJ import and export.
  • Imports from FBX, Collada and OBJ complete 2x faster than previously.
  • Multiple UV maps in FBX and Collada are now imported and exported properly. Previous to this update, we were only supporting a single UV channel.
  • Multiple skins are supported in FBX imports, previously only a single skin per FBX file was supported.
  • Most VRayMtl parameters are now exported to FBX, Collada and OBJ file formats.
  • We have increased the robustness of our MTL importer. It now will produce useful results when dealing with malformed MTLs.
  • We have greatly improved our Three.JS support. We now preserve mesh vertex colors, vertex normals, and multiple UVs sets properly. We also save these into Three.JS properly on exports. We also prettify our Three.JS exports so that they no longer contain all the information on a single line.
  • All exports, ThreeJS, FBX, OBJ, and Collada, now include the image files used by the scene’s materials.
  • We have more informative import and export progress messages, especially for FBX, Collada and OBJ formats.

Lighting & Real-Time Rendering

  • Linear workflows have been adopted in both the real-time WebGL viewport and in V-Ray by default. This means that textures are gamma corrected into linear space, all rendering calculations are in linear space, and the resulting output is gamma corrected for display. This leads to more realistic results.
  • All lights now allow for either no falloff, linear falloff, and exponential falloff (via adjusting the falloff parameter to 0, 1, or 2 respectively) in addition to light distance attenuation (which if set to 0, means no distance-based attenuation.) These settings look correct in both V-Ray and in WebGL. Using exponential falloff (instead of linear or no falloff) can lead to increased realism.
  • Simplified visibility. The visibility of a mesh or light now controls if that light or mesh is active in both WebGL and in V-Ray. There is no longer a “renderable” property on objects.
  • We now support Area lights in the WebGL viewport.
  • You can now adjust lighting parameters while maintaining 50 fps in WebGL, previously adjusting lighting parameters would significantly reduce the update rate in WebGL to less than 8 fps.

Materials

  • You can now assign materials to meshes in the editor via Drag-and-Drop from either the public Material Library tab or your Material nodes in your scene graph.
  • Normals maps in the Standard material now render in V-Ray properly, previously only bump maps were supported.
  • Importing from the material library is now robust in the presence of cubemaps.
  • Simplified Phong material, removed unnecessary factors for Specular and Diffuse, instead just use the Specular Color and Diffuse Color to modulate the texture color if needed.
  • Removed support for Lambert materials, just use Phong with black for the Specular Color if you want a Lambertian reflection model.

Texture and UVs

  • UV Map now supports viewport gizmos for Spherical, Cylindrical, Box, and Plane mapping types. You can grab, transform and rotate these gizmos in the viewport to adjust your chosen UV mapping. This makes editing your UVs a lot more intuitive.
  • Copy/Move UV channel operator. You can now copy or move UVs from one channel to another.
  • Ability to delete Material IDs, via the “Delete All” checkbox on the Material ID operator.
  • Improved support for TGA and TIFF images.
  • Images now offer the ability to modify offset/repeat/wrap types. These parameters are supported in WebGL and V-Ray rendering. For now this requires a web browser refresh to take effect.
  • You can now specify the brightness, contrast and gain offset for each of your Images. Currently this only works in WebGL. For now this requires a web browser refresh to take effect.
  • You can now specify the WebGL texture filtering style for minification, magnification as well as whether you want mipmaps or not. For now this requires a web browser refresh to take effect.
  • New UV and texturing tutorials here: https://clara.io/learn/tutorials/texturing-videos

V-Ray Rendering

  • We have greatly simplified V-Ray parameters both on the V-Ray renderer as well as on the VRay material type. This should lead to better results with less time spent fiddling on unimportant parameters.
  • We have also increased maximum render time per frame from 3 hrs to 24 hrs for paying Clara.io users. This allowed one of our users to render out a beautiful 12,000 x 12,000 image for their clients.

And this is only part of everything we have been working on lately. We ave got a number of really big announcements coming in the next little while so stay tuned. :)

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