As more and more visualization profiles are presented for real-time presentation and collaboration, we see another direction in this emerging region: integrating different technologies to serve different workflows.
Each company has different needs for compatibility with CAD programs. No one wants to learn a new process from scratch if they have been used for several months during the design process.
And then the output. While visualization professionals understand that they need to go beyond their usual photos and videos, there are many choices. Do they use real-time rendering only to speed up the videos they already offer, or do they want to start producing virtual reality experiences? Maybe they will benefit from using VR during the design process, but if they do, will they use it only for clay models or final images? Could they better serve their customers by providing real-time settings for finishes and furnishings?
Using so many choices, it is almost possible that one program will stop each process. Fortunately, many players in this exciting field are doing integration, giving users a wide variety of options.
The most basic tool for real-time rendering is the engine itself. In architectural rendering, Unreal Engine Epic Games has a real-time photorealistic capability of 30-90 fps (frames per second). Unreal Engine Gateway is a free set of tools from Unreal Studio that includes a Datasmith plugin for importing CAD data.
While Unreal Studio offers many real-time tools directly in the box, Unreal Engine is an open platform with many opportunities for integration. One example is Mindesk, who has designed models of sculpture buildings directly into virtual reality and works with Unreal Engine’s complete material and lighting solutions. In addition, even more CAD programs will work in the near future. This integration predicts a new design time when architects can work in full stereoscopic 3D, intuitively depicting a photorealistic model for manual motion only.
Twinmotion is another real-time player. Twinmotion has long been a real-time prototyping tool for user-friendly user interface architects, but has recently increased its play by providing a bridge to Unreal Engine. Architects can bring their design to Unreal with the help of physical materials and realistic lighting tools.
Chaos Group V-Ray, one of the most popular physics-based 3Ds, Max, Maya, Rhino and Sketchup, is another real-time player. The Chaos Group recently announced Unreal V-Ray to provide a direct pipeline between two platforms. When Unreal’s engine is imported with a V-Ray design, Unreal’s V-Ray turns its lights and materials into real-time equivalents, adding the premium it keeps in the smart communities of originals. This means that users can continue to work in Unreal Editor to create full-size radio transmitters.
If Unreal Engine is 100% scriptable in Python, real-time users have started to create their own tool to speed up their visualization process. Theia interactive, one of the first VR and AR real-time renders, has recently released Optim, Python scripts to add more features to the Datasmith plugin. Optim automates a number of repetitive optimization tasks that may occur when importing architectural data, such as creating LODs and grouping similar objects, reducing the time it takes to collect data, and giving more time to creativity.
All of this integration means VR barriers, interactive design and the surrounding customer experience, leaving you with exciting things in this exciting new field – you can largely keep your existing workflow healthy. The first step is to sign up for a free Unreal Studio beta. Try the Datasmith import tools, then see where you can work with your new tools. Real-time output can be much closer than you imagined!