I am currently using another rendering product.

1. Although the other product claims to operate with the XP operating system, it requires turning off the graphics accelerator in sketchup. This slows system down and is a pain. Does AV operate in XP with no problems or limits?

2. The other product does not have a luminous surface material option. Fluorescents are modeled as multiple point sources, a difficult solution and the results are not great. Does AV have a real luminous surface option?

3. The other product  does not really have a translucent surface material, again making fluorescents difficult to model. Does AV have a real translucent surface that will allow light from source behind to transmit through?

4. Does AV allow updating its file when the SU model is changed, without closing AV or SU?

5. Does AV calculate secondary reflections, light reflected from a mirror onto another surface for example?

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1. Although the other product claims to operate with the XP operating system, it requires turning off the graphics accelerator in sketchup. This slows system down and is a pain. Does AV operate in XP with no problems or limits?

We have not had any problems where we had to turn off the graphics accelerator. You should download ArielVision, load it into SketchUp and just click render. (Even with no other changes you should get a rendering.) This should make sure there are no OpenGL problems.

Just a quick download, install, and rendering to test this will not require that you start learning the product (yet)

2. The other product does not have a luminous surface material option. Fluorescents are modeled as multiple point sources, a difficult solution and the results are not great. Does AV have a real luminous surface option?

ArielVision can make surfaces illuminative and then treats the entire surface as a light. It then randomly (once per pass) grabs points on the surface as light sources. This works well, but you may need 20 passes or more to get a reasonable rendering. (Multiple passes are a "feature" of ArielVision. As you let it render for additional passes the rendering gets better and better. For instance, Indirect Lighting (#5 below) works by illuminating with the main lights in pass 1, then illuminating with the main lights some more, and also including the indirect lighting in pass 2, each pass refines the illumination. Usually we get a pretty good rendering in 20 passes. But some situations will require more - 100, or even 1,000 passes (e.g. cove lighting, blurry reflection, etc. which can require more rendering passes)

In this quick example, I made the square face on the right wall luminous (with a quick right click edit), and rendered it for 1 pass.After one pass, it works well as a light - but has sharp shadows because only one point on the light source was used to make the shadows.

Here is the same model after 20 passes. The shadows are softer.

(Also notice on the second pass light from the face is reflected off the far wall and illuminates the wall with the light on it)

After 100 passes (3 minutes rendering time), the shadows are even softer.

These single light source example are somewhat extreme. When there are more lights in the model, the model will look better - even after only 20 passes.

4. Does AV allow updating its file when the SU model is changed, without closing AV or SU?

You can make changes in your model, or to the rendering settings, and restart the rendering. You do not need to restart SketchUp and the part of ArielVision in SketchUp (Settings, etc.) However the renderer will automatically be restarted when you re-render the model. (You cannot change the model and then continue the rendering passes - you have to start the rendering over again)

5. Does AV calculate secondary reflections, light reflected from a mirror onto another surface for example?

ArielVision does do indirect lighting. That is that it treats illuminated surfaces as an additional light sources.

A good way to see this effect is to place a divider in the room, so light can only get past by reflecting off the back wall.

Here I have placed a divider in the room, and placed a narrow-beam spotlight on the side wall shining towards the back wall.

SketchUp Model:

Rendering without indirect light:

(Only the beam itself is illuminated)

Rendering with indirect light enabled:

(Note the shadows of the bench are from the reflected beam, not from the light itself)

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