RailClone 5 released - Banking, Support for Lights, Proxy Cache, and much more
RailClone was already the most powerful parametric modelling tool for 3ds Max, but with the latest update we’ve stepped it up a gear! With a wide range of innovative new features, RailClone 5 is now more optimised, more versatile, and more essential than ever before.
RailClone's advanced features for deforming geometry to follow a path, are just one of the many things that sets it apart from similar tools. In RailClone 5, this gets even more powerful with new banking controls that allow you to twist and corkscrew the geometry around the spline. You can control this by adding and editing visual gizmos to the spline exactly where you need them! No fiddly graphs - much more intuitive!
Did we say Parametric Modelling? RailClone has also found a place in the hearts of many archviz and VFX pipelines as an invaluable scene layout tool. With version 5, we’re pleased to announce that we’ve added several new features that significantly improve its potential for asset assembly. For example. until now RailClone was limited to distributing geometry, but not any longer! RailClone is now equally able to instance and distribute several types of non-geometrical objects, including lights and VDBs.
That’s not all, RailClone 5 now also supports distributing groups, so you can pre-compose a number of objects - geometry, lights, VDBs, ... whatever - and convert them to a group. Add the group to RailClone and they’ll behave just like a normal segment. It really doesn’t get much easier.
Scene optimization gets a significant boost in this release with a brand new caching system that allows you to bake a RailClone object. The cached object retains all of the features and efficiency of the regular RailClone object but will have far reduced compute times making loading and saving much faster. A second mode allows you to save the cache to an external file that keeps your scene file size light. You can also load the caches into another RailClone object, even in a different scene, for the easy and fast re-use of massive pre-computed assets.
In addition to these new features, RailClone 5 also includes significant improvements to markers, the ability to lock evenly divisions to odd or even values, drop-down parameter lists, improvements to clipping splines, more flexible options for limiting by materials IDs and much more.
We hope you agree that RailClone 5 is now more versatile than ever, with myriad uses for nearly every project. Check out the video above for an overview of what’s new, or read on for more details about RailClone 5’s headline features.
What’s new in RailClone 5?
Control deformation using intuitive banking controls
In RailClone 5, you now have more control than ever over deformation with the addition of banking controls. By simply adding easy-to-edit gizmos using the RC Spline modifier you can control the banking angle at any point along a spline. Just rotate a marker and the geometry twists, turns, and smoothly deforms to match.
For even greater control, the interpolation of the banking is controlled using a simple value that goes from linear at one end, to smooth at the other.
Banking can also be overridden per segment using settings added to the transform node, or disabled completely for specific generators for when you want to mix banking and non-banking geometry like in the rollercoaster example shown in the images above.
Want more control? Add multiple RC Spline markers and tell each generator to choose the one that they should use to combine completely different banking angles controlling separate objects on a single spline!
You can now distribute lights and groups
With the introduction of light scattering to Forest Pack 7, it was inevitable that people would want the same functionality in RailClone. In fact, it’s been one of the most popular requests since the previous version was released. We’re therefore delighted to announce that with the release of RailClone 5 distributing lights and other non-geometric object is now a reality.
In Corona and V-Ray, you can even use MultiTexture or RailClone Colour maps to randomise the colour of the lights. If you need to distribute hundreds or even thousands of lights in your scene, RailClone 5 is the perfect tool for the job.
Lights seldom exist without fittings, thankfully you can also now distribute groups that contain a mixture of meshes and non-geometric objects. In the scene above, for example, we used grouped lamppost and lights and then distributed them along the pavements using RailClone. The cars were done in exactly the same way.
Groups are added to segments in the same way as geometry, the only difference is that instead of clicking on them from the scene, you need to use the Select by Name method (H on the keyboard) to pick them.
(Note that V-Ray users will need version 5.2 or above to support light instancing)
Cache RailClone objects and speed up workflows
Once you've finished working on a RailClone object you might not need to update it for a while, but if it’s a complex graph, rebuilds can still slow down your file operations. To fix that we’ve introduced several caching options that bake the geometry without losing any of the instancing power and advanced effects that you would if you converted it to an editable poly object or exploded it to native instances.
There are two modes. The first caches the RailClone object and saves the results directly into the scene. This will cut down on calculation times but will add to the size of the file. You can see the size in the Display rollout.
The second option saves the cache to an external file. Not only does that remove the calculation time, but it does so without adding to the size of the scene file. Perhaps even more usefully, this mode also allows you to load the same cache multiple times should you want to re-use the object in the scene. You can even create a cache and load it into a completely different scene, using RailClone as a simple asset loader.
New Evenly Modes
RailClone allows you to distribute objects at regularly spaced intervals along the spline, but what if you only wanted an even number of objects? What about an odd number? This is now possible by changing the Adaptive Evenly mode to one of three options, either Odd, Even, or Any.
Use drop-down lists instead of Numeric Parameters
One of RailClone’s strengths is its ability to export parameters to the Modify panel so that users can make changes without needing to open and understand the graphs. Until now though one important UI component has been missing - drop-down lists.
RailClone 5 adds this invaluable parameter type so that users are able to choose from a limited set of terms, each of which has a predefined value. It can be used for selecting geometry, changing materials, turning on and off elements, in fact pretty much any attribute of a graph that takes a numeric input.
To create a drop-down list, add a Numeric node and choose Selector mode. Click on edit and add a list of entries along with their associated numerical value.
This feature makes it far easier to create graphs that can be easily used by others, or for those that simply want to make it easier and faster to modify styles for their own personal use.
Markers and clipping Improvements
As well as new banking controls, the existing markers features have seen some big improvements. For a start, markers can now be used to control many Generator parameters when using Extend X/Y Size to area mode. Where multiple markers are found on a spline, the value is taken from the first marker found.
The following parameters can be controlled with Markers when Extend X/Y Size to Area is enabled:
- X Offset
- Y Offset
- Z Offset
- X Rotation
- Cap Holes
- For No Slice
- Clipping Z Rotation
- X Evenly Distance
- X Evenly Count
- X Evenly Adjust
- X Evenly Justify
- X Evenly Adaptive
- X Evenly Adaptive Mode
- X Evenly Extend
- X Evenly Reverse
- X Evenly Mode
- Y Evenly Distance
- Y Evenly Count
- Y Evenly Adjust
- Y Evenly Justify
- Y Evenly Adaptive
- Y Evenly Adaptive Mode
- Y Evenly Extend
- Y Evenly Reverse
- Y Evenly Mode
- Padding Top
- Padding Bottom
Thanks to this feature, in the example above, it was possible to use a marker assigned to each clipping spline to define the number of window divisions, the proportions, and the sash type using marker data.
Talking of clipping, we’ve changed the way that composed segments and nested generators are handled when used with booleans. In RailClone 4, individual segments would be removed if they fell outside the clipping spline. This meant that you couldn’t generate an object using a clipping spline and then translate or rotate it outside of that spline without parts being removed. In RailClone 5 the whole nested object can now be retained!
As you can see, this is very handy for sliding doors, sash windows, and many other styles - including the shutters shown in the example above.
Limit by Material ID lists
RailClone has always been able to use material IDs assigned to the spline to decide when and where geometry is created, but until now you were limited to a single ID value. In RailClone 5, the ID list is now a text input so that you can create a comma-separated list of IDs, or define a range, or both.
Lots of other feature enhancements and usability improvements
There’s plenty more to get excited about including the ability to remove segment limits, force instancing mode for segments when you need the most optimised objects, improved tangent alignment on curved splines, the ability to use new section count variables in expressions, plus many more fixes and minor improvements. See the full list in the release notes.
Where to download?
If you've heard enough and you can’t wait to give it a try, RailClone 5 is available right now from your User Panel. Just visit the My Products section to download
If your maintenance has expired, don’t worry it can be renewed for another year with no penalty for lapsed plans.
Never tried RailClone?
If you’ve yet to discover the benefits of RailClone, then there's never been a better time. You can try the Lite version free of charge, even commercially. Just visit the product page or use the button below to download the installer. When you're ready to upgrade for the full experience, you can purchase RailClone Pro from our online store.