The ARCH


New Build and Upcoming Events in Unity3D / jibe

This site has moved to

www.archvirtual.com

 

Tomorrow (Dec. 2nd), I’ll be joining Kyle Gomboy from ReactionGrid and Anders Gronstedt from Gronstedt Group for their ‘Train for Success‘ meeting.  We will be meeting at the new space I recently finished for the Gronstedt Group – built with Unity3D, and published to ReactionGrid’s ‘jibe’ platform for multi-user access.  You can access the build HERE.

“This meeting will be held in our brand new virtual world developed by 3-D developer and architect extraordinaire Jon Brouchoud in Reaction Grid’s industry-leading, web-based, Jibe platform. Developed with red-hot game engine, Unity3D, this 3-D virtual world can be accessed in any standard browser (no big software download needed, just a small plug-in) and in a few months it will be available on the iPad, iPhone, Android and other mobile devices. Join us for a demonstration of the platform, which can be hosted securely by the client behind the firewall and offers a realistic and beautiful visual experience. Note that this meeting is not held in Second Life, just click on this link to access (it will prompt you to download the Unity plug in):http://jibemicro.reactiongrid.com/Gronstedtgroup/Gronstedt.html

Then on Friday, (Dec. 3rd), I’ll be giving a presentation titled, “Design Methods and Strategies for Creating Effective Virtual Spaces.”  Please check back Friday morning for the exact time.

 

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Video Tutorials: How to Import Revit into Unity3D
November 29, 2010, 7:03 pm
Filed under: Unity3d | Tags: , , , , ,

This site has moved towww.archvirtual.com

This is a 2 part video tutorial series, providing an overview of the process involved with importing architectural models into Unity3d.  In this case, we’re using Revit Architecture 2009, but the process is relatively universal, and can be applied to just about any architectural CAD or BIM software.  After importing your model, try out our Architectural Beginner’s Kit, which enables you to quickly add operable doors, lights, material changers, orbiting cameras and more.  If you need some help, or would rather not tackle this on your own, I can also be brought in as a consultant to help with your project.



Using Unity3D to Access Second Life and OpenSim on the Web
November 29, 2010, 3:19 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , ,

This site has moved to www.archvirtual.com

 

A few weeks ago, I was given a demo of a project called ‘Canvas,’ by former Linden Lab manager Chris Collins (Tipodean Technologies).  After clicking a url he gave me and logging in, I was suddenly standing on Architecture Island (in Second Life) – yet I was in a web browser, seeing SL through the lens of  Unity-built viewer.  Surrounding the 3D view were various javascript widgets that Chris tells me can be customized – “there’s nothing stopping you from really going crazy with these.”  Imagine a custom Studio Wikitecture viewer with voting and commenting built into the window, instead of flipping back and forth between SL and the web.

I logged into SL through the standard viewer, and used that avatar to rez a prim – which then showed up within the Unity-built browser viewer.

This is an exciting step toward integrating the ‘worlds’ of Second Life and OpenSim with the power and sophistication of Unity3D.   Whereas Unity is superior in almost every way for creating the actual 3D online environment, its a bit lonely, and it doesn’t feature any ‘in-world’ modeling tools out-of-the-box (although it could be used to build that).  Its more like working in CAD or Photoshop, and I miss glancing up at the mini-map to see who’s nearby.  I’m always half-expecting a friend to fly in next to me, but Unity unity is an application, not a world (although it can be used to build one).

Seeing this glimpse of a potential future is very exciting, insofar as it can be seen as an eventual bridge between the sophistication and power of Unity with the world and social graphs of Second Life and OpenSim.

 



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



Welcome to my home: first attempts at using Unity3D for architectural visualization

Cross posted from The ARCH Network main site!  http://www.archvirtual.com

unity2
Chez Keystone! Come on in…(plugin required).

This isn’t multi-user (yet), and navigation might take some getting used to, but this is an Autodesk Revit ‘as-built’ model of my home, imported into the Unity game development platform I wrote about last week.  If I make a change in Revit and save it, the Unity build dynamically updates. With the exception of the trees, this is pretty much a raw output from Revit without any optimization (which is why it looks so crude). If I spent a few hours on it, I could add dynamic lighting and even import lightmaps to really enhance the model.   I can also export it to Nintendo Wii, iPhone or a variety of other platforms if I really wanted to, but at this point, I don’t have the necessity or resources to do so.

I should add a disclaimer that we didn’t design this house, but we are planning a green make-over in several stages in the months and years ahead, so we’ve been using this model to test master plan ideas.  I haven’t built or enabled access to the interior spaces, but I will soon.   This is just a starting point for design exploration, so even though I don’t have much to demo yet, I wanted to share some of my initial progress and publish updates with more thoughts on what I’ve learned about using Unity in professional practice.

unity1

What I like most about Unity so far is the ability to quickly and easily embed the virtual model on a web browser, or to a stand-alone .exe application if need be.  This makes it much easier to share design ideas with long distance clients that might not have the time or patience to deal with a registration process, large client downloads and orientation of larger virtual worlds.  Once they get the hang of using their mouse and arrow keys, just about anyone, even on lower end machines, can be walking around inside of a design concept within a few seconds.

When the time comes to add additional details and entourage, I simply save most raw file-types in their native format to the Assets folder of the project.  Unity then automatically finds updates if I change the model in its native application (Maya, 3DS Max, Photoshop, etc.).   What I find doubly enticing about this work-flow is that I can transition my assets into any platform I choose without being locked into a proprietary format.  For example, if/when Second Life enables mesh imports, I should be able to take these same raw assets and use them in SL, or Blue Mars, or on whichever platform I wish – without having to rebuild everything from scratch.  I will then be able to choose which virtual platform is most appropriate for the project’s requirements.

I also like the fact that the indie version of Unity is free to download and use.  Plus, its relatively easy to learn – much easier than any other 3D app I’ve worked with.  Also, there is a rapidly growing community of Unity users and support forums to find answers to just about any question you have, and lots of in-depth tutorials to help you get started.

With several companies building MMO’s or virtual worlds on Unity, it probably won’t be long before I can drop this model into a virtual world for multi-user, and avatar-based experiences.  However, I don’t think we will see realtime, in-world building tools in Unity the way we have in Second Life, or OpenSim.  Unity wasn’t designed or intended to be used that way.  I also think that any Unity worlds that do surface will likely be smaller, niche communities.  For those reasons and more,  I really don’t see Unity as any threat or comparison to Second Life or OpenSim.  However, for online, realtime, virtual architectural visualization, Unity is definitely a platform worth exploring.

Be sure to check out this thread in the Unity forum about architectural visualization in Unity: http://forum.unity3d.com/viewtopic.php?t=33684&highlight=architectural

Also, check out a recent post by epredator on his Life at the Feeding Edge blog regarding the combined application of Unity, OpenSim, Evolver and Smartfox to create the next generation of virtual worlds.