By Luca Vidotto, Online Marketing Expert, CL3VER
Architects and designers nowadays make large use of 3D visualization for mainly two reasons: internal reviews and to sell projects.
No longer limited to niche experts working on huge projects, photo-realistic 3D renderings and videos are now used by a wide range of professionals on projects of all sizes. The evolution of the technology has made rendering and video a must for AEC professionals.
We are now seeing an evolution of this market opening up a wider range of options that allows the creation of immersive experiences to present architectural projects. These experiences add a layer of interactivity to the 3D environment, enabling the user to interact with the building, navigate freely around the model, evaluate alternatives and influence the environment in real-time. Dedicated 3D engines like CL3VER or game engines like Unreal are already being used for this purpose.
Real-time interaction creates an incredibly powerful experience for the client or stakeholder, enabling them to engage with the visualisation from every angle. Instead of a prescribed view or route, real-time visualisation enables the client to interact with the model in their own way and to choose which elements to focus on, literally bringing the project to life. Architects can communicate their designs much more vividly, involving clients more closely and enabling them to play a more positive part in the design process.
Architecture firms decide for each project independently the best way to visualize it, depending on several factors such as the client needs and wants, resources, deadlines and complexity. To present an architectural project with interactive 3D they have two options: 1) use software programs originally designed for computer game developers; 2) adopt new dedicated technologies.
3D GAME ENGINES
Well established game engines like Unity and Unreal are get- ting a bit of traction in the niche market of Architecture. These software engines have been created for developers to develop 3D games to be played on consoles and desktop devices.
Since they’re dedicated to developers, they’re not an easy to use tool for architects. The main problems of adopting this technology are: the supported formats, the need of scripting to add interactivity and the difficulties when needing to share the results.
3D assets for games are usually created in Autodesk 3ds Max, Maya or blender, among others, so the game engine workflow integrates with this modelling software. Instead an architect designs using dedicated software such as Autodesk Revit or Trimble SketchUp, requiring a conversion of the original model to a supported 3D format implying a potential loss of detail within the model.
Developers know how to program, so creating interactivity inside a 3D game is what they see everyday. But architects are not developers and they’re not meant to be. So if an architecture company decides to create an interactive presentation using a game engine, it’s usually obliged to hire developers for it, or assign the project to a freelancer or an agency at an extra cost for the company.
Finally, when the project is ready its distribution can be a painful process. Sharing huge files that only run on powerful machines and deploying to WebGL for browser viewing is still complicated and requires resources for scene optimization.
DEDICATED REAL-TIME 3D PLATFORMS FOR ARCHVIZ
Few platforms are now available in the market offering a dedicated visualization and collaboration tool for Architecture.
Revizto for example is a dedicated solution for architecture but based on the game engine Unity. They have improved the Unity engine by working on two fronts. First the 3D format compatibility, by allowing the direct integration with main software dedicated to architecture. Second the interactivity by offering a set of different ways to navigate the 3D environment without the need for programming.
CL3VER instead is a proprietary platform completely dedicated and developed for the AEC market. It integrates with the main modeling software used in architecture, such as Autodesk Revit, 3ds Max, SketchUp among others, that can also coexist in the same 3D environment. This is a dedicated feature that fits the architectural workflow where different modeling software is used to develop the same project.
Knowing that architects and designers are not developers, CL3VER offers an interface to create UI elements and animations and connect them together without programming,
Distribution of a project/s is another aspect that CL3VER handles automatically. In fact the platform is based on WebGL so the interactive 3D presentations created with this app are available directly in the browser with no need for specific powerful hardware or plug-ins. Also projects are shared via a link making it easy to share and collaborate with stakeholders.
Real-time 3D visualization is clearly the new trend for architects and designers to present their projects. They add a clear value for end users by immersing them in a realistic environment in a way that engages and impresses the user. In addition to that they’re the next compulsory step for VR, but that’s a topic for another article.
Luca Vidotto is an Online Marketing expert. During the last three years he gained deep knowledge in the 3D software industry working as marketing director at CL3VER, the online cloud-based authoring and publishing platform for creating real-time 3D content from existing CAD models.
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