Cedeon Design

Virtual Reality for Architecture can be cheaper than you think

Posted by Cedeon Design. Categories: Blog.

You would think, judging by the number of buzz words in ‘Real time virtual reality architectural visualisation’ that as soon as you uttered the words aloud your wallet would vaporize all cash within, but surprisingly generating such content does not have to involve emptying the safe or dancing with overpriced 3D software thanks to some cool forward thinking business models.

Technological Convergence

It’s fantastic when technologies converge in general, let alone when its two pillars of awesomeness – Real time Architectural Visualisation & Virtual Reality.  Thanks to great companies like Epic Games Inc. who are helping to bring game engine driven architectural visualisation to the mainstream with their awesome Unreal Engine 4, pioneering visualisers (such as *I* :p) get V.R. tacked on at practically no extra effort.

And with Unreal Engine 4.12 bringing V.R. editing into the fold – I can now prance around my room acting like a virtual architectural god, building worlds.  It’s really an amazing time to be a visualizer.

A surprisingly low barrier to entry

A little while ago Epic Games reduced the barrier to entry for Architectural Visualisation in general with their, (i think great )’we succeed when you succeed’ payment model which effectively gets you up and running with their engine for free.  Combine that with the growing competitiveness of Free software like Blender, which we’ve been able ( & glad ) to use in production since 2012 since to the introduction of their Cycles renderer, and you have a recipe for low cost V.R. imagery.

It seems only yesterday we were cowering, daunted by the oligopolistic shadow of companies like Autodesk.  Ahh what a joy it is to be free again to compete as a small company!  We <3 you.

2016- the HMD Headset wars begin

Consumer version H.M.D (Head Mounted Displays) such as the Oculus Rift & HTC Vive were launched this year with healthy competition from the start, which is good news for us.  The hardware is still fairly pricey  but thats not where I’m going with this post – It’s the software that entices me.

Almost 1 year after I got my hands on a developer Oculus Rift DK2 I gleefully received my HTC Vive.  Not long after that I got to work extending Dalai Felinto’s Blender Add-on to add support for the Headset, and a week later I had succeeded.

We didn’t hang around introducing V.R. into our work-flow and I personally learned a lot about V.R. during the programming process – skills that have since translated into improvement in my general work as a visualizer.

Putting it together.

With the transition to game engines for Architectural Visualisation you get the benefit of realtime rendering which means your whole virtual environment is instantly interactive (walking around) rather than having to render still images from a bad looking model sitting in a 3d design application.  Effectively you’re then one step away (strapping on a HMD) from V.R.  Think where we would be if we still had to use Vray to render a stereo panoramic image on the CPU and the headache of re-renders or trying to do post production in 2D imagery software on a  stereo panoramic.  I’m sure glad game engines became a viable option for Architectural Visualisation just before V.R… its a match made in heaven.