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Get to the point: PiXYZ 2019.2

December 5, 2019 in AEC | 6 min. read
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The 2019.2 releases of PiXYZ STUDIO and PiXYZ PLUGIN are now available for current subscribers and new customers and bring some important refinements as well as fundamentally new capabilities. As a result of these improvements, PiXYZ is now suited for a wider range of use cases and provides support for workflows that start with point clouds and native mesh data.

For those who may not be aware, PiXYZ is a Unity partner that provides best-in-class solutions to easily import and optimize large CAD, mesh and now point cloud models for creating real-time experiences in Unity. Unity customers ranging from individuals to enterprises use PiXYZ to prepare data from virtually any widely used design tool for real-time development.

The most notable change for 2019.2 is the ability to import point clouds into Unity using the PiXYZ PLUGIN for Unity. Improved support for point clouds also extends to PiXYZ STUDIO, which now can convert point clouds to proxy meshes. There’s much more to STUDIO 2019.2 though, with new tools that make it much easier to work with large models that are segmented into multiple scenes. PiXYZ has also expanded and improved the Decimate to Target algorithm to speed up the process of simplifying a model to a specified polygon count. As always, there is much more, please keep reading to learn more.

For more details, please refer to the updated documentation pages and What’s New pages for PiXYZ STUDIO and the PiXYZ PLUGIN.

Point the Way

PiXYZ PLUGIN for Unity can now import point clouds in the E57, PTX and PTS formats. While STUDIO has had this capability for some time, there was no way to bring this point cloud data into Unity. Now it’s as simple as directly importing the data from a compatible point cloud format, or by importing a native PiXYZ (.pxz) file from STUDIO that contains point clouds. Expanded import capability doesn’t end with point clouds, though. The PLUGIN can now also import glTF and GLB (glTF binary) files into Unity. In addition, imported FBX and OBJ files now retain vertex color information. Importing data from Autodesk VRED is also improved – it is now possible to export B-Rep geometry from VRED to use PiXYZ for tessellating data for use in Unity.

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Once data is in Unity, the PLUGIN offers more tools than ever to optimize for real-time, thanks to improvements in the Toolbox and Rule Engine. The Decimate to Target option previously available in STUDIO is now also available in the PLUGIN, and it uses a new algorithm that is faster and more efficient at decimating meshes to achieve a target percentage reduction. Point clouds can now be used to re-topologize and bake textures. Custom actions based upon user parameters can now be conditionally performed based upon ranges. When replacing existing objects, modifications to scale and rotation can now be preserved and automatically applies to the replacement geometry. In the Rule Engine, it’s now simpler to modify existing rule sets by inserting new rules. In another notable improvement, the Rule Engine is now available for use in runtime!

A number of other improvements are aimed at productivity and speed. Most of these are related to how files are imported both interactively and in headless mode. PiXYZ now generates fewer exceptions and improves exception handling. Default settings are set to better match best practices (e.g., the option to reorient faces is selected by default).

Efficiency at scale

The most significant changes to PiXYZ STUDIO are related to working with large, complex models. The new Isolate feature allows a user to select, visualize and process a subset of a larger model separately from the entire scene. This makes it much easier to divide up a complex model and to work on relevant pieces in parallel. Of course, what is divided usually needs to be reunited, and to support that STUDIO can now merge multiple PiXYZ (.pxz) files back into a complete scene. It’s also common for complex models to contain variant information, and STUDIO now supports the creation and editing of variants as well. Differences in position, visibility and material assignment for objects and instances can now be represented in variant scene states.

Improved workflow to isolate parts of a larger assembly

STUDIO 2019.2 also received a number of productivity improvements. Undo/Redo was introduced in 2019.1, and now in 2019.2, it’s been improved with a history panel, making it much easier to roll back or forward to a specific step in a sequence of operations. Another productivity enhancement is the new Orient from View feature, which allows a user to automatically detect and reorient visible (non-occluded) triangles facing away from the viewport camera.

Automatic orientation of triangles in a viewport

STUDIO also sees a number of improvements related to point clouds and mesh manipulation. Point cloud data can be very heavy and encompass a large volume, making it hard to work with. Using the new Voxelize Point Cloud feature, it’s simple to break a single point cloud into multiple pieces, making it much easier to work with. In addition, the Proxy Mesh Point Cloud feature can automatically create a proxy mesh from point cloud data. This capability promises to dramatically simplify certain industry workflows based on reality capture. As would be expected, the same Decimate to Target improvements implemented in the PLUGIN are also in STUDIO, to provide faster processing. The final mesh-related change for 2019.2 is an improved Remove Holes algorithm.

New point cloud workflows for voxelization and conversion to mesh<span style="font-size: 16px;">&nbsp;</span>

There are a few more import improvements to round out STUDIO 2019.2, which mirror improvements in the PLUGIN. Autodesk VRED models can now be imported into STUDIO, including B-Rep data. STUDIO now preserves vertex color information for objects imported from FBX and OBJ, and these vertex colors can be visualized in the viewport using the new Vertex Color override material. STUDIO also now features improvements to JT import (and export) as well as improved precision for importing CAD geometry by basing import on the units used in the source file.

Finally, STUDIO 2019.2 includes some changes to improve user productivity and convenience. It’s now easier than ever to create and edit Python scripts in the Scripting Editor thanks to several new features – search/replace, tab management, automatic reload of external scripts and the ability to see function parameters by hovering the pointer over that function. The user interface for the Inspector is also improved, with more easily readable information and easier access to occurrence prototypes.

PiXYZ Plugin 2019.2 is compatible with Unity 2018.3 and later. If you’re an existing PiXYZ subscriber to one of these products, all you need to do is download and install the latest version from the PiXYZ website. If you’re new to PiXYZ, then visit Unity’s PiXYZ page to request a free trial or to purchase a subscription.

December 5, 2019 in AEC | 6 min. read
Topics covered