By Nick Harris

Augmented, virtual and now real-time reality technologies have become the most talked topics about over the last few years for anyone involved with industrial design. The move to a model centric design and delivery workflow is making it increasingly easy for building or product designers to produce high quality, realistic visualisations of their projects. The obvious next step is to make those visualisations interactive and give the client the ability to understand the design from a perspective that makes sense to them. However, taking this next step into reality technologies can be complex and there is still limited support for creating immersive environments in the core design products such as Inventor and Revit.

Once again though Autodesk is ahead of the game and it has struck up a partnership with Unity 3D, one of the gaming industries most widely used real time engines. Since its launch in 2005, it has become the choice for many professionals working in the creative industries for developing 2D and 3D games, as well as simulations for multiple game and computer platforms.  If you are a gamer you may be familiar with titles created with Unity like Temple Run and Assassin’s Creed Identity which are visually rich, 3D action games.

Over the last year Autodesk and Unity have been working together to improve the existing integration between Autodesk’s core media and entertainment products, 3ds max and Maya and the Unity game engine. Now they have turned their collective focus to more industry segments, specifically automotive, architecture, engineering and construction.


Architectural design of Unity’s London office made with Unity and Autodesk 3ds Max – Autodesk Area

Recently Autodesk announced the following planned or launched integrations with products in each of its AEC, automotive and entertainment media channels:

Revit: Users can turn Revit models into an immersive experience with one click, helping architects virtually understand, explore and share their designs with various project stakeholders. By interacting with a 3D model, users can identify and correct design errors in a digital environment, before construction begins. This can help save both time and money – valuable resources when undertaking a construction project.

VRED: The integration between Unity and VRED connects the automotive ecosystem and helps automotive professionals make better decisions, faster and accelerate time-to-market. The integration will enable extended capabilities and efficient workflows, leveraging the re-use of high-fidelity VRED data for downstream interactive applications like Marketing, Point-of-Sales and immersive training environments.

Shotgun: Autodesk and Unity are working on an integrated solution that will make it easier for teams using Unity in film, television and gaming to more easily manage multiple asset types (Alembic, USD, FBX, etc.) with Shotgun. Artists will no longer worry about managing files; they are free to focus on their creative work. Animators and modelers will be able to work in the context of a sequence and get real-time feedback on changes in lighting, camera location, or asset selection. Tracking the resulting analytics will provide supervisors with a more accurate evaluation of artist management, helping deliver a better product.

The premise of all these integrations is a connected workflow between the design software and the Unity editing environment which means that changes are quickly reflected in the production output. The intention is that the interoperability barriers are removed from using reality techniques for optioneering using an immersive interactive environment.  Unsurprisingly Forge, Autodesk’s cloud development platform, sits at the centre of this data centric approach to producing visualisation deliverables. The foundation is already in place for anyone with an interest in connecting models hosted in one of Autodesk’s cloud services to start working with Unity. I recommend that you unleash your inner geek and watch this video recorded at the Autodesk developer conference towards the end of last year. It provides an interesting insight into the work that is going into connecting Autodesk and Unity’s technologies.

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