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Look closer – that’s the power of real-time 3D for AEC

March 12, 2019 in Industry | 5 min. read

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In March, we had our first webinar for AEC (Architecture, Engineering, and Construction), allowing audiences to see how to beautify models to make their pitches really stand out. Read on to catch the highlights.

By bringing 3D models straight into Unity, you can add textures and lighting, or even create a video for people to “walk through” your model. Now, any stakeholder can clearly visualize a drawing plan and see how the space will appear, collaborate to approve designs faster, identify potential flaws, and make the right design decisions rather than discovering them downstream.

The webinar, hosted by Unity experts Dan Prochazka, Mike Geig, and Kieran Colenutt:

  • Provides a step-by-step tour of a state-of-the-art demo project, built and rendered completely in Unity
  • Explains how to create similar lifelike environments using our High-Definition Render Pipeline (HDRP)
  • Shows you how to collaborate and iterate faster by testing materials, lighting, and planar/glass reflections

Watch the on-demand webinar

Accelerating the BIM workflow

Dan, our Product Manager for AEC, kicked off the webinar describing how all components of the design, build and operate lifecycle benefit from real-time 3D. The current ways of designing can be inefficient and can lead to downstream problems that can be extremely costly. There’s a huge need for high-quality, photorealistic, and interactive architectural presentations that enable you to configure, iterate and test quickly, so you can get faster buy-ins and approvals that ultimately win more bids.

For example, in the design phase, architectural firms need to bring their visions to life in order to sell their ideas, rather than just relying on 2D drawings or rendered still images. Engineering firms need to visualize unique, service-based situations and be able to easily collaborate in order to find solutions for common industry problems. For Construction, job sites are extremely complicated and have many moving parts. For all of the above cases, real-time 3D can eliminate those problems earlier in the life cycle, and can be used to replace expensive physical mockups with virtual environments.

Here are the main ways that real-time 3D is transforming the AEC industry:

  • Design and data visualizations
  • Simple, immersive XR experiences
  • Training and safety scenarios

Let’s play a little game

We shared side-by-side images with attendees and asked them which image was a real photo of our London office and which image was rendered in Unity.

Can you tell which is which?

Watch the webinar to see if you guessed right.

Real-time 3D modeling in an office environment

Mike and Kieran from our Evangelism team walked attendees through the demo project of our London office, a 3ds Max-to-Unity workflow created by the agency Oneiros and design/build firm M Moser Associates.

Starting with basic modeling of elements such as walls and floors, you can continually develop detail in Unity, and ultimately build an environment that looks physically accurate and reacts appropriately to lighting and effects. Since Unity is a real-time development platform, you’re able to see the results of your changes right away. If we were to try and do the same thing in 3ds Max or Revit, many of the changes would require “re-bakes” or a recalculation of the results, which can make iteration time much slower and less dynamic.

Interactive materials, shaders, and lighting effects

Everything you see in this project actually uses the same High-Definition Render Pipeline (HDRP) Lit shader. So if you’re viewing the carpet, walls, or even glass, it’s all the same. In the webinar, we go into detail about how easy it was to make changes in real-time, like the color of a chair or cycling-through different floor materials.

We also discuss the effects of how light penetrates surfaces and makes it look very lifelike. Another interesting material option comes in the form of how Unity handles refraction. For example, with glass omnipresent in the scene, you can change the transparency, coloring effects, and shading – all in real-time.

To further show the power of real-time 3D, we highlighted some real-world effects such as day-to-night changes in lighting and the appearance of rain on the exterior glass. That’s only fitting since the office is in London.

Rounding out this section, we discussed several other light features, such as interior spotlights in the kitchen area that demonstrated lighting interactivity, intensity, and effects within the immersive environment.

Real-time BIM data

In this section, viewers can see BIM data projected on various objects, which was the real data used when designing and building this space. Since BIM is usually embedded within a model from Revit or other BIM software, this capability in Unity lets anyone identify the supplier, materials, etc., for faster collaboration. Check out this blog post to learn more about the Unity-to-BIM workflow.

Did you see the Asset Store birds fly by?

For some people, building a complex scene can feel a little daunting. That’s why we wrapped up the demo with some time-saving tips and ready-made resources from the Asset Store, where you can easily find many scripts, audio clips, and even animated birds. Such assets save development time and also let you quickly add highly realistic features to your real-time demos. For example, check out the birds flying through the scene. They’re taken right from the Asset Store. It’s definitely worth checking out.

Recap and what’s next

Unity’s real-time 3D development platform is powering interactive visual experiences to accelerate the design, build and operate lifecycle for buildings and infrastructure. These tools are available today – if you’re interested in trying the package, including PiXYZ (for preparing and optimizing your BIM data), we can get you set up.

As well, keep your eyes out for upcoming webinars and reports, as well as BIM events like Autodesk University London that we’ll be participating on June 18-19 with some big announcements. Contact us to stay in the loop.

Watch the on-demand webinar


In the meantime, be sure to watch this on-demand webinar, so you can witness the full power of Unity for AEC. Please share any comments below – we read them all! In particular, we’d love to hear your feedback for making our product even more relevant for your business. Check out the AEC solutions page for more information.

March 12, 2019 in Industry | 5 min. read

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