essential presentation tools1 May, 2003 By: AIA ,H. Edward Goldberg
Each year for the last three years, I've covered the progress of multimedia options for architects and engineers. My latest list of recommended products to assist digital presentation covers three capabilities increasingly in demand: real-time speed, interface ease, and portability. Architects, designers, and engineers want to create digital presentations instantly. Clients, no longer willing to pay high fees for flybys, want to interactively investigate projects. The ability to interact with the computer in a more natural manner is great-and portability opens new doors.
When this program entered the market three years ago, it set a new standard for ease of use and capability. Still one of the easiest 3D
ARCHITECTURAL DESKTOP 2004
Because Architectural Desktop's modeling capability is so sophisticated and because it includes so many of the important rendering, lighting, and animation features, purchasing a separate full copy of VIZ 4 seems superfluous. You no longer need two software products to produce construction documents along with photorealistic visualizations and animations.
144 (0)20 7947 3499
Cubicspace rtre is a Windows-based real-time photorealistic-rendering program provided as a suite of plug-ins and stand-alone tools for
Established digital presentation methods for architects, which require several hours or days to generate an image, prevent late updates and tie up system resources. At the other end of the scale, virtual reality systems offer instant images but produce unsatisfactory quality and require powerful, expensive, and proprietary systems.
Cubicspace rtre combines the best of both methods. Able to render multimillion-polygon-textured scenes in fractions of a second to produce photorealistic images, rtre achieves superior rendering quality in real time on desktop and laptop Windows PCs. Other rendering styles include shaded, wire frame, transparent, hidden-line, silhouette, cartoon style, hard and soft line sketching, and pencil fill.
Cubicspace rtre lets you navigate scenes freely at 30 frames per second, the standard speed for smooth animation. You navigate via the keyboard and mouse, with full six degrees of freedom and real-time walk-through capabilities. rtre interactive visualizations also benefit from 3D positional sound using technology from Sensaura.
You can publish scenes to a royalty-free stand-alone program file that runs without VIZ, max, or rtre. Thus, clients without technical experience can view your models. Note that rtre is not compatible with the VIZ rendering module included in Autodesk Architectural Desktop 2004 because that module does not accept max plug-ins.
Though still in its infancy, the new tablet PC (available from many manufacturers) offers a glimpse of a new future for design presentation. All tablet PCs are based on Microsoft's Windows XP Tablet Edition (sold only with the new hardware), which recognizes handwriting and converts it to text. Using screen and stylus technology pioneered by Wacom, you can draw on screen as though on paper. These features, and portability, should make tablet PCs a hit. A drawback right now is the relatively low processor power of these units. Most are in the Pentium III 866MHz to 1GHz ranges. Toshiba is the only manufacturer with a Pentium III 1.33GHz tablet, but faster processors are necessary for sophisticated paint and multimedia programs.
SKETCH BOOK PRO
Given the current state of Tablet PC technology, the Wacom Cintiq remains the best option for digital drawing. Though the Tablet PC uses the same screen technology, my 180 Cintiq 18 SX ($3,500) uses the 2GHz power of my desktop (it also comes in a 150 size for $1,900). It may be expensive, but my Cintiq has greatly increased my productivity and helped me create better presentations.
AND THERE'S MORE. . .
More good software is available for interactive presentations, but for lack of space I'll mention only some. Please test-drive the demo versions at the vendor Web sites:
- Eon Reality's Eon Raptor (949.460.2000).
- Informatix's Piranesi (144 (0)1223 363014).
- Right Hemisphere's Deep Exploration (818.557.0003).
- Tornado Technologies' AEC/VIZ (514.879.9692).
About the Author: H. Edward Goldberg
In her easy-to-follow, friendly style, long-time Cadalyst contributing editor Lynn Allen guides you through a new feature or time-saving trick in every episode of her popular AutoCAD Video Tips. Subscribe to the free Cadalyst Video Picks newsletter, and we'll notify you every time a new video tip is published. All exclusively from Cadalyst!