Occasionally, OpticStudio's on-screen rendering may be incompatible with one of your graphics settings. This may cause analysis windows to display as empty black or white fields. Usually, this results when the computer trying to run OpticStudio does not have an advanced graphics card, or if the card is configured incorrectly. This article will discuss and list fixes and workarounds to those problems.
Authored By Erin Elliott
OpticStudio uses GPU-accelerated graphics using Directx 11 for all on-screen renderings. (See "Setting up OpticStudio to use an advanced graphics card" for advice on configuring your graphics card as the primary for OpticStudio.)
In some cases, you might find that the graphics windows in OpticStudio display as black, blank, or as a white background with no data. We cannot guarantee that a card without DirectX 11 or a card with old drivers will work satisfactorily. But we provide some workarounds for those situations below.
Step 1: Find your graphics card and check for a graphics driver conflict
If your analysis windows display as blank, like in the images below, then the first step should be to investigate what graphics card you have.
This section helps you identify the graphics adapter(s) in the system to see if there are any conflicting display drivers. Quite a few applications install third-party virtual graphics drivers in Windows to perform certain functions, sometimes called "Mirror Drivers". Unfortunately some of these also intercept OpticStudio's graphics output, causing the above issue.
1. Right click the Start Menu icon, and select "Device Manager".
2. Once you have the Device Manager open, click on the arrow next to Display adapters. Your available graphics cards will be listed.
3. Check if the card is correctly installed, and take the next steps:
- The example machine above has both a built-in Intel and NVidia graphics card, and no mirror drivers. If you see ONLY Intel, AMD, or NVIDIA and nothing else, move to step 2 to verify DirectX compatibility.
- If you see ONLY a "Standard VGA graphics Adapter, or "Microsoft Basic Display driver", then this is likely the cause of your issue as these drivers do not typically properly support the 3D output OpticStudio needs. Stop this article, and contact the manufacturer of your computer to get help identifying and installing your video card's drivers. If installing the correct drivers does not fix this problem, then come back to this article.
- If you see any brands other than Intel, AMD, or Nvidia listed in the Display Adapter category, this is likely a conflicting mirror driver.
Examples of mirroring drivers include: Remote control software such as "CA IT CLIENT Manager", DameWare, LogMeIn, UltraVNC, TightVNC, Radmin, RemotePC, and Windows Live Mesh Display Driver, and other third-party software such as JAWS, Window-Eyes, and the monitoring software LanSchool (example below)
To disable these third-party devices, right-click the device in question, and select "Disable Device" per the figure below. If disabling the third-party devices does not resolve your issue, move on to step 2 of this article.
Important Note: Some mirror drivers are used by company IT departments for remote control of company owned machines. Disabling them will stop the remote software from working. Check with your IT department if you are unsure if you need this devices before disabling them.
Step 2: Check that your card supports DirectX 11
Using our example above, a search for “NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti specs” finds an NVIDIA website with the specifications for the card.
We find that this card does support DirectX 11 and above.
Not all websites list the DirectX level for the card, so you might want to check multiple sites before you conclude that your card doesn’t support DirectX 11.
If your card does NOT support DirectX 11, you can disable the DirectX 11 option. See Fix #2 in this article for instructions.
Fix # 1: Setting OpticStudio to use an advanced graphics card
If you found you have more than one graphics card, such as an Intel and AMD / Nvidia card. This setup is common in laptops. You can change from the built in card (typically Intel), to the dedicated card (Nvidia or AMD). These dedicated cards typically support 3D rendering better and have better drivers. For instructions on how to configure Windows and OpticStudio to correctly use the card, see the Knowledgebase article: "Setting OpticStudio to use an advanced graphics card". Also covered in that article is updating graphics card drivers, which can also fix this issue.
Fix # 2: Disable DirectX11
Generally you want Directx11 enabled if your system supports it. The problem may simply be that the graphics card on your system doesn’t support DirectX 11. If that’s the case, you can fix the graphics windows by disabling the DirectX 11 option.
Go to the Setup tab in OpticStudio and choose Project Preferences:
Under the Graphics option, uncheck the box next to "Use DirectX 11": If you are using OpticStudio 16.5 or newer, there are 2 Directx 11 checkboxes. Disable them both.
Close and re-launch OpticStudio, and look at any graphics window (such as 3D Layout) to see if the graphics now display correctly.
If the windows are still black, continue on to the fixes given below.
Fix # 3: Disable modern graphics
The latest versions of OpticStudio allow you to disable the modern graphics requirements entirely. Note: a side effect of this setting is that the "Shaded Model" and 3D Shaded Model" buttons will be unavailable in OpticStudio, as they depend on advanced graphics support. This is a permanent fix in cases where the graphics hardware or drivers do not support the requirements, or as a temporary fix while troubleshooting the graphics card. If this is the only thing that fixes this issue, move to the "Getting Help" section of this page to get help from Zemax support.
Under the Setup tab, click on Project Preferences. Select “Graphics” and then find the line at the center right that says “Disable Modern Graphics.” From the drop-down, choose “All Plots.” Then save the Project Preferences. If you don’t see the “Disable Modern Graphics” option, skip ahead to Fix # 4.)
Close and re-launch OpticStudio, and open any graphics window (such as 3D Layout) to see if the graphics now display correctly.
Fix # 4: Enable classic view
If you’re running an older version of OpticStudio, the “Disable Modern Graphics” option may not be present. In that case, you can still work around the problem by enabling plots in “Classic View.” This is a permanent fix in cases where the graphics hardware or drivers do not support the requirements. This solution can also be used as a temporary fix while troubleshooting the graphics card. If this is the only thing that fixes this issue, move to the "Getting Help" section of this page to get help from Zemax support.
Under the Setup tab, click on Project Preferences. Select “Graphics” and find the line at the lower left that says “Enable Classic View.” Check the box. Then save the Project Preferences.
Close and re-launch OpticStudio, and open any graphics window (such as 3D Layout).
The “Graphics” tab will still display a black window:
But the “Classic” tab will now show the correct plot:
If you have carefully worked through all the fixes above and the graphics windows are still black, or if you have further questions about the issue, please e-mail us at email@example.com.
Please attach to or include in your e-mail:
1. A screen shot of your Project Preferences...Graphics settings.
2. A screen shot of your “Graph” tab on the 3D Layout plot.
3. A screen shot of the “Classic” tab in the 3D Layout plot.
4. A screen shot of the "Display Adapters" in Device Manager from Step One of this article.
5. The Zemax System Diagnostics log (found in Help...System Diagnostic) - To obtain this, click the "Save Output" button, as pictured below. Attach the resulting ZemaxGraphicsinfo.txt to your support request.
6. Your license key number from Help...About OpticStudio
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