Design Visualization

First Look Review: REALVIZ VTour

20 Jun, 2006 By: Ron LaFon

Create photorealistic 3D environments from digital images.

Pros: Easy to use; numerous options; fairly fast and responsive.
Cons: None significant.
Price: $580


VTour from REALVIZ helps users create photorealistic 3D environments from 2D pictures or panoramas. VTour draws on the technology from two other REALVIZ products, Stitcher and ImageModeler.

To begin, VTour requires an image or panorama file for operation. For still images, VTour supports image files of any size in a number of industry-standard file formats, such as JPG, TIF, PNG and PSD. It also supports panorama files in several different configurations: full sphere images (360x180 degrees), full cylindrical images (360 degrees) and cubical images, plus spherical, cylindrical and cubical QuickTime VR movies.

With REALVIZ Vtour, you can create photorealistic 3D virtual tours from digital photographs.

Once you bring in an image or panorama file, VTour creates 3D scenes such as interiors or urban areas using polygonal photo-textured primitives. You then apply polygons to the sections that you want to be part of your final project. You can extrude, bevel and manipulate the polygons to fit a wide range of real-world surfaces, then apply textures as needed. The program works quickly, with the primary time factor being how complex your model is. VTour is easy to use and learn and has a clean user interface. You can export or publish your project as a 3D movie or as an interactive application that can be viewed and manipulated using 3D viewers such as the Spi-V3d viewer, which is based on Shockwave. This viewer is included in the downloadable demo version of the software (user registration required).

VTour was developed for use in a wide range of applications, including virtual walkthroughs inside buildings and monuments, 3D simulation, virtual reality, urban planning and video games. VTour is also well-suited for creating virtual sets for film and television. Used in conjunction with other products such as StoryViz, REALVIZ's 3D previz and storyboarding software, VTour lets users create photorealistic backdrops for previsualization projects.

The minimum system requirements for REALVIZ VTour include an Intel Pentium IV 1GHz system or equivalent, running Microsoft Windows XP or 2000 with Service Pack 2 installed. The system needs to have at least 512MB of RAM, 400MB of free hard disk space and an OpenGL-compatible graphics card with at least 64MB of onboard RAM. Although these are the minimum requirements, better performance will be available on systems that have faster CPUs and more RAM.

VTour is currently available in English for the Windows platform ($580); a Macintosh version is expected this summer. Go to the REALVIZ Web site for more information on the company's family of products and demo versions of VTour and other applications. REALVIZ also has a series of online tutorials for VTour that consist of a number of short video clips that give you an idea as to how the application works and what the various stages are for creating a finished VTour project. You can replay each step of the tutorial as needed.

About the Author: Ron LaFon

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