A recent independent survey of more than 2000 architectural visualization professionals revealed an intriguing trend. More than 20% of these designers and architects are using real-time rendering as part of their presentation workflows right now, with another 40% trying it out for adoption.
What’s going on here? The answer lies in the convergence of the real-time rendering technology originally intended for games, and the needs of architects to produce fully-polished views and animations more quickly. As CPUs and GPUs gained power and abilities, and tools like Unreal Engine introduced photoreal rendering in real time, we’ve seen the inevitable use of real-time rendering for architectural presentation.
Review Design at the Speed of Thought
You’ve spent days lighting your model and applying just the right materials, only to be slowed down by long render times. In the end, you’re left with just a handful of finished renderings to show your client. Wouldn’t it be great if your client could see finished renderings from any vantage point at will? That’s where real-time rendering comes in.
When multiple stakeholders can review a rendered design in real time, they gain an understanding of the structure more quickly. They can request changes and update the design right then and there, cutting down on the number of iterations and reducing review time from weeks to hours.
With the real-time renderer in Unreal Engine, clients can take a self-guided tour of the rendered model, visiting every space at will. While your clients can already take a tour like this with a wireframe or preview inside a creation package like Revit or 3ds Max, touring a fully rendered scene provides an experience a lot more like being there. With real-time rendering, materials and shadows are shown as they’ll look with the actual lighting, along with details not visible in a wireframe. The building can even be shown fully rendered from any angle at different times of day to get a feel for how changing sunlight will affect the materials and lighting, both inside and out.
And with the ready availability of virtual reality headsets, many firms are starting to offer clients the ability to explore a design with VR output directly from Unreal Engine. This method of design exploration offers the same degree of freedom to explore, but as a fully immersive, stereoscopic experience.
Use Storytelling to Sell Design
How will the building’s unique features make the occupants feel when living or working inside it? How will passersby react when walking by it? A presentation that tells a story gives viewers the opportunity to experience the structure in a way that still renderings or even a fly-through can’t.
Perhaps you’ve wanted to create video stories in the past, but were hindered by the restrictions of time or budget. With real-time rendering, the time to produce such content is reduced by 10x or more, putting these exciting types of presentations within the reach of those who previously could only provide clients with a few stills and a single fly-through video. And as for costs, Unreal Engine is currently free.
Enter Unreal Studio
While you might be intrigued by this new twist in the world of architectural visualization, you might also be put off by the idea of having to learn yet another software package to take advantage of it. Understanding these concerns, the makers of Unreal Engine introduced a suite of tools called Unreal Studio especially for CAD users.
Unreal Studio provides these key components to help you get started with real-time rendering:
- Datasmith—A suite of export/import plug-ins to quickly convert your native CAD data into Unreal Engine’s format without loss of fidelity. Production-proven by thousands of customers, Datasmith efficiently transfers CAD data from over 20 CAD sources including Autodesk 3ds Max.
- Learning Tools—A series of bite-sized, step-by-step tutorials focused on architectural visualization, from data preparation to final presentation. Learn at your own pace and apply what you’ve learned to your own projects.
- Assets—Allegorithmic Substances for common architecture and design materials, plus industry-specific templates to quickly create immersive design experiences.
- Support—One-to-one ticketed support and a monitored discussion board for tips, ideas, and community.
Unreal Studio was designed with you in mind, to get you started with real-time rendering for better, faster architectural presentations. They’ve even put together a short video that shows how Unreal Studio’s components work together to pave the way for you.
Unreal Studio is currently in free beta. Sign up now, and get started on your journey to the real-time rendering revolution!