Immersive Visualizations and Virtual Reality Without Breaking the Bank

IMAGINiT Technologies

Immersive visualizations based on virtual reality technologies can help clients understand building designs more clearly, provide the information needed to visually analyze the environmental impact of projects, generate enthusiasm about new initiatives, and more. 

As with many technology-based solutions, virtual reality can be a large investment in money and time. But, it doesn’t have to be. It’s possible for companies to get started with virtual reality in a cost-effective way. We’ll explore the different options and paths forward in this blog post.

Using Revit for Immersive Visualizations
For teams familiar with Revit, the good news is that it’s possible to create immersive visualizations with a minimal amount of effort. It’s easy to quickly create low quality renderings and test them before finalizing them. It’s also easy to share interactive renderings with clients by sharing a link. 
The disadvantages of using Revit for virtual reality are that the rendering quality is fairly low, there are no live updates between Revit and the cloud, and processing time can be long. It is possible, however, to continue working while rendering is processing.

Immersive Visualization on Mobile Devices: An Inexpensive Approach

  1. When rendering a visualization from Revit and pushing it to the cloud, select the stereopanorama option.
  2. Generate a QR code from Autodesk Cloud and share it with clients.
  3. Provide clients with an inexpensive stereoscopic viewer like Google Cardboard.
  4. When clients scan the QR code with a mobile device, it will link the Revit stereopanorama to their phone or tablet and they can view it with Google Cardboard.

Creating a Better Context for Immersive Visualizations with Twinmotion
Real-time rendering engines like Twinmotion allow users to create high quality immersive visualizations. It’s important to recognize, however, that Twinmotion works hand-in-hand with design modeling programs. Revit is still needed to create 3D designs. Those are pushed into Twinmotion and then users build context for the immersive visualization within Twinmotion.

Twinmotion includes a Revit plugin. While it doesn’t eliminate Revit from the virtual reality workflow, it offers an easier way to get better results. Once a Revit design is imported into Twinmotion, users can customize materials and colors, add static or animated people, modify the time of day, change the geolocation which affects the direction of the sun, add or paint in vegetation, adjust weather and season settings, and more. The added realism improves the immersive experience for viewers. 

When a team is finished creating the immersive experience in Twinmotion, it takes just one click to generate the virtual reality. This can be viewed on a computer with a supported headset. It can also be pushed to the cloud and shared with others. 

Although Twinmotion does require higher end graphics cards and computer hardware, it is still a budget-friendly solution for developing immersive experiences and the learning curve is short for new users. 

More Advanced Options for Virtual Reality and Immersive Visualizations
For organizations that are looking for higher quality, more customized immersive visualizations than Twinmotion can provide, it’s possible to author more detailed 3D models and assets in Autodesk 3ds Max which is part of the AEC Collection. These can be used with gaming engines like Unreal and Unity. 

It’s important to note, however, that gaming engines are difficult to learn and usually have complex workflows. Most companies that want to use Unreal or Unity will outsource their VR work to a firm that specializes in those tools or hire a game developer on staff. 

When it comes to immersive visualizations, the sky’s the limit. Some organizations decide to take an incremental approach to exploring this medium for client and project communication, starting with a less expensive and complex approach and then expanding later into more sophisticated tools. IMAGINiT has extensive experience helping clients with virtual reality using Autodesk solutions, Twinmotion, and more. If you’d like to explore what’s possible, contact us

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