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Real-time and BIM tools: building a seamless archviz workflow

by Jun 26, 2021Case Studies0 comments

Architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) professionals have historically used a range of architectural software programmes to create architectural designs. ARCHICAD, Revit, SketchUp Pro, RIKCAD, and Rhino have long been a part of the architect workflow, and a flourishing ecosystem of BIM and CAD technologies has evolved over time.

Real-time technology is attracting an increasing number of AEC experts because to its interaction and super-fast rendering. It’s now possible to quickly convert the various file types created by several CAD design applications for use in a real-time engine.

This allows architects to utilize their favorite design tools in a seamless workflow that takes advantage of full interaction and immersion.

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Real-time features like the capacity to create VR experiences, present designs simply, and generate digital twins accelerate the architect’s workflow—and put new possibilities at their fingertips—when established CAD tools can freely interact with gaming engines.

Introducing Datasmith

Epic Games has taken up the cause of better, quicker, and more accurate CAD and BIM conversion to their real-time file formats, recognizing that real-time tools like Twinmotion and Unreal Engine may be game-changers for the AEC sector. As a consequence, you can In a seamless workflow, architects may utilize their favourite design tools alongside sophisticated real-time visualization.

Datasmith, a tool for converting BIM and CAD data into the Unreal Engine format, was published by Epic Games in 2018. Datasmith can convert sceneries from a number of different applications, including Revit, 3ds Max, SketchUp, SolidWorks, and Rhino, to mention a few.

You decide what to export, and Datasmith handles the conversion intelligently, preserving instances.

Best of all, if you make changes to your design in your software program later, simply re-export and click a button in Unreal Engine, and all of your changes will be reflected in the scene without the need to re-apply materials or other properties.

With the most current version of Datasmith, published less than two months ago, Epic has continued to add new converters and enhance existing ones based on user input.

VR experiences

New possibilities for creating immersive experiences emerge when BIM and CAD data is swiftly absorbed into the real-time engine. Virtual reality experiences are supported by Twinmotion and Unreal Engine, allowing for collaborative evaluation in interactive VR.

For example, Zaha Hadid Architects uses Unreal Engine as part of their design workflow, creating interactive VR walkthroughs for everything from initial drawings to final customer clearance. They’ve discovered that using this approach allows them to envision the client’s vision considerably more quickly and with less friction than before.

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Similarly, KA DesignWorks utilizes Twinmotion in conjunction with an HTC VIVE to take advantage of the software’s strong VR capabilities. These VR capabilities allowed the company to make adjustments to designs that would have gone unnoticed in 2D models on a recent project to revitalize an interesting building with amazing vistas of the Rocky Mountains.

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Keeping it simple: Twinmotion

Architects may not require all of the Unreal Engine’s features, which is why Twinmotion was created as a real-time rendering alternative. Twinmotion is meant to be as simple as possible, with a strong emphasis on appearance. The Royal Horticultural Society, for example, has utilized Twinmotion to create a virtual reality tour of a new 154-acre garden. allowing its designers to see the entire project before putting a single shovel in the earth

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Twinmotion offers one-click synchronization with Archicad, Revit, SketchUp Pro, RIKCAD, and Rhino, allowing architects to quickly transition from CAD to VR.

PLAN34, a design visualization business in the Netherlands, utilizes Twinmotion to showcase urban development concepts at stakeholder meetings, guiding them through the project in real-time and displaying drawings from various perspectives.

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The Twinmotion Presenter is used by PLAN34 when it wants to give a presentation for clients to explore on their own. This feature allows the studio to share individual projects with clients and stakeholders in a standalone viewer, as tiny executable files that can be viewed without having Twinmotion installed.

This is where Twinmotion truly shines—for projects that are all about visualisation and basic interaction, designers are discovering that with Twinmotion, they can build a collaborative design experience in a tenth of the time it used to take.

Unreal Engine is a superior alternative for people that want sophisticated or data-driven interactivity.

Data-driven 3D models

Unreal Engine, unlike previous renderers, allows for configurable logic. Data from object information or a database may be supplied into the engine to control materials, animation, object visibility, and pretty much anything else that can be controlled parametrically.

This capability lends itself to a number of interactive purposes, such as digital twins of buildings or even entire cities, in which a virtual counterpart of a physical object is used to monitor or manage the real-life structure using aspects such as the internet of things (IoT) data.

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IMERZA’s 3D-printed model of downtown Tampa, which combines projection mapping and real-time technology to show real-time data, provides a new approach to advertise real estate and analyze urban growth, is an innovative example of this.

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Training and learning options

According to a recent poll by CGarchitect, 43 percent of respondents who are presently testing rendering engines are using Unreal Engine, while 22 percent are using Twinmotion.

Many instructional materials are available to assist new users in learning how to utilize these tools, making them easily accessible to individuals who are interested in trying out real-time rendering for the first time.

The fundamentals of getting up and running in Twinmotion are covered in a three-part learning course, which includes a comprehensive overview of the user interface and tools, as well as how to import ARCHICAD, Revit, SketchUp, and FBX content; how to bring a Twinmotion project to life with materials, landscape, entourage, and lighting; and how to create images, movies, construction phase animations, and VR apps.

Beginners to Unreal Engine may get started with a variety of tutorials, including one that teaches how to export Revit models to Unreal Engine and another that covers all you need to know about building architectural exteriors with the toolset.

Dedication to visualization

With constant research and polls to determine what consumers want, Epic Games continues to push the boundaries of both conversion and rendering processes. Soft shadows and ray-traced reflections are now available in Unreal Engine, rivaling the best offline renderers. In terms of conversion software, Datasmith has been upgraded many times in the last two years and now supports more than 20 CAD programs.

So don’t be discouraged by sluggish conversions to classic offline renderers. Switch to real-time tools with ease, and you’ll have a faster, happier, and more productive workflow.

Real-time and BIM tools