I've followed the development of PV360 since before it was released, and as a Hypershot/Keyshot user I much prefer this direct style of rendering. Prior to 2011 PV360 was a separate application, but as of 2011 it runs in the window and replaces PhotoWorks. So now it's out maybe it is time to review it? (Disclaimer - this is a "directed" post!).
Firstly, it is very clear to me now that SolidWorks with integrated Photoview is most definitely a 64 bit system. I have tried running it on a 32 bit workstation but frequently run out of memory when before under the standalone version I could render OK. I had the same issue with PhotoWorks in recent releases.
During beta I hated the preview window, as did most others, but having used it now both in integrated and preview window mode I can see the need for it as part of an integrated solution. I still prefer integrated rendering but I get tired of resizing my main modelling window to speed things along. We are supposed to do set ups with realView and OpenGL but the reality is when you render you want to render - especially those of us that come from the new order rendering solutions like Keyshot.
Rendering an integated preview on a 27" HD+ display takes a hit on the preview times!
In the standalone version this was never an issue as I would resize the window as needed, and the interface was so uncluttered than I could focus on the render.
Setting up decals, textures, etc via the appearances system is OK. Not that slick, just OK. I understand that hierarchy system and it all makes sense but the responsiveness of the system could be better - and I have no doubt it will be honed as time goes on.
The question for me is integrated or standalone. I see benefits in both, but for my kind of work I see more benefits in a standalone, slicker rendering system. Which is probably why I use Keyshot to do 90% of the renderings I do. Maybe this is what SW needs. A button on the menu bar for render, that (optionally) closes SolidWorks and opens PhotoView just like you do with Keyshot, and Maxwell. I close SW to do renders becuase I am on 32 bit. When my new 64 bit 16GB RAM monster comes I'll leave SW open all day just for the hell of it!
For stills standalone works better for me. For animations, well that is a whole new area, but a rapidly growing one (for me). I have dabbled with SW animations and yes you can do it and make it work, but it is hard work. I recently had a medium sized animation project to do - I normally sub these out - and I used it as a test bed for animation software. I tried in SW but it took too long. I tried in Cinema 4D, LightWave and Modo and it all worked OK but there is a lot of interface to learn there, and I really do miss the immediacy of the preview rendering (OK Modo has this but not really for animation set ups). What I did it in was HyperMove. Now let me start by saying I'm no great fan of HyperMove. I won't buy it as it is over priced and the rendering is going to demand some serious GPU kit, but the interface is damn good. Very easy to get into, very easy to understand.
But what I decided we needed was a system that reads SolidWorks files, brings in all the assembly constraints I have time consumingly set up, and handles physical interactions. In other words - SolidWorks.
So IF PV360 returned to a standalone option. IF it could read the assembly constraints. IF I could set up everything in it that affects the render (decals, camera paths etc). IF it had robust and easy to use hard body animation tools I can see no need to use other systems. Like I said. If.
Until that utopean time, I am upgrading to Keyshot Pro to get the turntable animation and more than likely buying into Modo 501 (whenever it is let out). But what I really want is Keyshot rendering, PhotoView face selection and link to SW, HyperMove animation set up.