The ARCH


Now Available! Architectural Beginners Kit 2 for Architecture and Design Projects Build in Unity3D

Check out Architectural Beginners Kit 2!  If you’re not a programmer, this is a must-have toolkit for architecture and design visualization projects built with Unity3D.

Here’s a video showing the kit in action: http://vimeo.com/17939173

Here’s a demo build: http://archvirtual.com/ABK2.html

Here’s where you can purchase the kit for $45:  http://bit.ly/fx4TPQ

Here’s what the kit includes:

Click to Look: instead of having to lock and unlock the mouse to click buttons, this kit now includes a ‘click to look’ setup, where the scene doesn’t move unless you want it to.

Scene Switch: Load several models, and let visitors switch between them.  For example, you might load several iterations or options for a design project you’re working on.  Visitors will now be able to simply click a button to switch between them.

Waypoints: Set up various waypoints in your scene, and enable visitors to access those locations just by clicking a button.  For example, you might have waypoints set up for the Lobby, Offices, Cafeteria, etc. so visitors can quickly access those areas without wandering through the model trying to find it.

View Switching: The default mouselook view is great, but sometimes those traditional Plan, Section or Elevation views are helpful to understand the design.  With this feature, you can set up those views, and enable visitors to your project to switch between them.

Quality Toggle: You never know what kind of computer your visitors are using.  With Quality Settings toggle, they can adjust it to suit their own computer’s performance.  If they’re on a netbook, they can toggle it way down to ‘Fastest’ – which won’t look as great, but it won’t lag as much.  If they’re on a super fast machine, they can enjoy the highest possible quality settings.

Detailed Tutorial Documentation: As with the previous kit, the tutorial documentation is just as valuable as the prefab elements themselves.  You can drag and drop the prefabs into your scene, or you can dig deeper, learn how they work, and customize them to suit your project’s specific requirements.

We hope you enjoy the new Kit!  We’re already brainstorming the next kit, and welcome any suggestions for specific features you would like to see included.  Send us a note at info (at) archvirtual.com if you have any questions.

unity3d prefab tutorial documentation kit

Architectural Beginner’s Kit 1 is available here: http://archvirtual.com/?p=2950



Introducing the Architectural Beginner’s Kit for Unity3d: Prefab Resources and Tutorial for Architecture and Design Visualization Projects

This site has moved to www.archvirtual.com

No doubt about it, Unity3D is a game changer for realtime, online architectural visualization.  Illustrations, animations and renderings are great, but online realtime 3D is better, and no other platform comes even remotely close to providing the level of flexibility, sophistication and ease of use that Unity offers.  Import your Revit model, publish the file to your website, and walk through the design in realtime from within your browser.  Its a killer app for architectural visualization, and best of all, its free.

You can download it HERE and start importing your models right away.  But if you’re an architect or designer with limited experience, even the simplest functions like doors, lights and cameras can be time consuming to master.  To help speed up your learning curve, we developed an ‘Architectural Beginner’s Kit’ designed specifically for architects and designers getting started with Unity3d.

This kit combines detailed tutorial documentation within a Unity package that contains some simple prefab items you can put to use right away.    You can drag and drop these items into your scene, but you also read the documentation to understand how they work, and how you might customize them to suit your project’s specific requirements.  Check out this preview build, showing off some of the kit’s elements.

This kit is only intended to serve as a beginner’s guide, to help get your architecture or design visualization project started with some very simple elements.  Some of the prefab elements included may be immediately useful in your projects, while others may require additional customization to suite your project’s specific needs.

Here are the elements you will receive with this kit:

  • Switch between lighting scenarios
    • Users click a button on the User Interface to switch tagged lights on and off
    • Example Use Case: Turn on or off different lighting scenarios – daytime, nighttime, etc.
  • Camera / Player Options
    • First Person Player – prefab and documentation describing how to setup a ‘player’ for your model, that visitors will use to explore the design
    • Click and Orbit Camera – allows visitor to click a button on the interface to get a distant, orbiting view of the design
  • Materials Changer –  2 setup options
    • Select an object, then click on different texture options displayed on the user interface.
    • Click on object -> Material Changes – multiple-clicks on the same object cycles through all textures
  • Doors
    • Door automatically opens whenever visitor approaches it – automatically closes when visitor leaves
    • 2 Door Types
      • hinged door – rotates 90 degrees
      • sliding door – slides X distance right or left
  • Crosshair setup
    • interaction with the design
    • Reticle setup – for highlighting objects
We’re really excited to make this kit available, and are already started on the next phase – which will include more advanced functionality.  If you have any questions, bug reports, or requests for functionality to include in future releases, please email info (at) archvirtual.com  Stay tuned!
The kit is available for $45.00, and can be downloaded here:

Unity3d architectural beginners kit



Realtime Architectural Visualization with Unity3D
October 22, 2010, 4:26 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , ,

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This site has moved to www.archvirtual.com

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The list of demos and samples of architectural visualization with Unity3D can be found here: http://archvirtual.com/?p=2832



The Future is Here: Full-Scale Architectural Model from Revit Imported into a Virtual World

For more information, visit the ARCH Network.

It happened exactly 1 year, to the day I first contacted Jani Pirkola former project manager of the Realxtend team. I heard rumors late in 2007 that they had goals to accelerate the development of the ‘opensim‘ platform, and one of their priorities was 3D model imports. The conversation continued until a few weeks ago, when I received an e-mail from Jules Vos, founder of Visibuild, a company he founded aimed at leveraging and improving the capabilities of Realxtend, specifically targeting his efforts at architecture and the built environment.

He asked for an exported file from one of my Revit models, and the next day he sent me a log-in and password to the Visibuild sim where the model was hosted.  Needless to say, after all these years of waiting, I was skeptical, yet hopeful. I logged in, and there I was – standing on the front porch of our client’s soon-to-be new home we had designed!  It was exactly as I had left it during my last Save As!  This was a dream come true, that had been 10 years in the making.  I was absolutely blown away.  My Revit model was virtual!  Here it is shortly after import:

Before long I had the model populated with tables, chairs, sofa, stove, a Jenn-Air appliances, Kohler fixtures and more – all imported from Google’s 3D Warehouse, most of which are exact or near-perfect matches to the ones specified.  Google’s 3d warehouse is very extensive, and carries one of the largest collection of free 3d models available.  Thanks to Peter Quirk for the Sketchup import tutorial!



I left parts of the design out of the imported mesh that we were still designing, and was able to enjoy the best of both worlds by building those pieces with primitive objects using the in-world building tools.  This way, I could make immediate use of the model as a collaboration tool with our clients by testing, for example, ceiling options in the living room, and trying out an alternate arrangement of the porch and entry area.  There is no limitation to the size of primitive objects here (the limit is 10 meters in Second Life), so it becomes much easier to model without always having to bandage the model to work around size limitations.

The client’s first reaction after seeing a teaser was “I want more!” so I think we can safely say the value of a virtual model was immediately evident.

Even a quick proof-of-concept study of imported buildings that surrounded a project site in Manhattan was fruitful.  When almost any model format can be imported, it feels like the whole world has opened up – and the possibilities are truly without limit.

The combined 3-part effect of being able to import contextual structures shared by others and import professionally built CAD or BIM-derived models and model bits and pieces using the familiar in-world building tools is a pretty astonishing new opportunity.  Of course there are still kinks to be ironed out, and some parts of the work-flow that would benefit from further optimization, but that’s where Visibuild’s value becomes most apparent.  They have the capability of streamlining that process for you, and serving as a one-stop service and hosting environment  for architects, urban planners, realtors, city governments and anyone else with a vested interest interest in architecture and the built environment.

 

Another key feature of this environment is the dynamic shade and shadows.  You need a decent graphics card to experience it, but its nice to know that the feature is available when you’re ready for it.  One common complaint for architects exploring the use of Second Life in professional practice was the plasticness of the builds, and the inability to convey the way light and shadow will effect the architecture.  The code for dynamic shadows has been available for some time now, but has yet to be implemented in any of the newest viewer releases. This is surely a key fundamental to an architect’s concern in design development, and experiencing a building without light and shade doesn’t as accurately reflect the experience you will get in real life.

Since most modern architectural software automatically generates 3D models anyway, the gap between your model and a virtual environment is no longer treacherous or time consuming – but relatively simple (or cost effective if you’d rather have someone else import it for you).  If you already model in SketchUp, for example – you’re only a few clicks away from enjoying the benefits of experiencing the model virtually and inviting others to experience it with you in realtime.  The bottom line is, most architects utilize 3D models at some point in the design development process anyway.  With Visibuild, you’re just one ‘save as’ away from leveraging the value of that model, and enjoying all of the many benefits a virtual environment affords.

These are some of the qualities of this environment I find most powerful:

  • The capacity to import 3D Models from just about any industry standard 3D package
  • Its accessible – there is very little mystery around how this works, and it isn’t terribly complicated or expensive.
  • It is built on an open source platform, and with a little experimentation you can roll up your sleeves and tinker with it.  You still have the option of hiring others to get everything set up for you.  The choice is yours.
  • User-generated content.  I can’t modify the imported mesh in-world, but I can leave off parts of the build that aren’t finalized and use the simple in-world building tools to test ideas on the fly.
  • Multi-user.  I can create an account for each of my clients and project stakeholders (builders, subs, etc.)  We can all occupy the building at the same time, from our own computers, wherever we happen to be in the world.  I can also customize their accounts ahead of time – so their avatars look good, and they appear right at the front door.
  • Realtime.  Unlike an prescriptive illustration or animation, you get to choose how, when and where your avatar moves.  This is much closer to the way people actually experience architecture.
  • Collaborative.  Multiple users can work together on a single group of objects to explore ideas – this capability is at the heart of what Studio Wikitecture is exploring.
  • Shade and Shadows, and the ability to cycle through any day/night setting and customize the sky to whatever settings you like
  • The incorporation of avatars.  I think this provides an enhanced sense of immersion and a feeling of actually being in the space.

This is truly a defining moment in the story of virtual worlds and architecture!

I’ll be working with Jules and the Visibuild team in the months ahead to help out with some exciting new projects, so if you’re interested in being an early adopter and want to be a part of the private beta, you can find contact information on the Visibuild website here: http://visibuild3d.com


Dynamic Shadows in Second Life
June 11, 2008, 12:38 pm
Filed under: Torley Linden, windlight | Tags: , , , , , ,

[update: over at NWN, this post includes an explanation of how to get dynamic shadows running on your machine, as well as some ideas regarding the potential troubles and opportunities associated with dynamic shadows]

I noticed this over on Torley’s blog. Dynamic shade and shadow in Second Life would certainly do a LOT for architectural visualization! No word yet on when we’ll get a First Look, but I hope it won’t be long!