When you see an advert for a car, and it’s being driven through some spectacular scenery- a mountain range, across a desert or along an ocean road- you might think about what an amazing experience taking part in that shoot would have been, being paid to drive beautiful cars in beautiful places.
But in reality most of these glossy images don’t leave the confines of a computer, on a desk, in a non-descript office. Because the car is not really in the mountains. In some cases it’s not even a photo of the car superimposed onto a background. It’s a computer generated image that a designer has created in a photo realistic rendering software package, such as Autodesk’s VRED or Dassault’s 3DEXCITE.
These days, the graphics used in video games are also of an incredibly high quality. Games are created in graphic engines such as Unity or Unreal engine. The use of graphics engines by games developers, along with additional technology such as motion capture, allow developers to create incredibly sharp graphics that feed such interactive and immersive experiences. For example, gaming engines can offer better design software capabilities, for efficient 3D real-time rendering, simulation, gesture control and virtual environments.
Models can be created from scratch in these programmes, but mainly at a basic shapes level, so to get the high level of detail and quality required, an external asset is usually needed to build on. Which is why for those working in design it would be so much easier if they could use existing 3D CAD assets (that already have a high level of detail in them). When putting the finishing touches to models, being able to adapt existing CAD models and engineering data would save a lot of time and effort.
Theorem have developed a solution, the Visualization Pipeline, that enables existing 3D CAD assets, such as CATIA V5,NX, Creo and JT (amongst others) to be imported, optimised, and then outputted into formats such as VRED, 3DEXCITE, MAYA, ALIAS, or FBX for use in Unity.
The Visualization Pipeline is a server-based technology that quickly and automatically processes all CAD and visualization data. It has been developed as a result of Theorem’s vast knowledge of the best way to get 3D data from one format to another. Theorem have been translating data between CAD and visualisation formats for many years, so this was a logical step forward.
When using a programme such as VRED, Unity or Unreal Engine, the details that make the graphics look realistic are important. The colours, finishes, materials etc. are the differences between making images look photo realistic, or obviously computer generated. When the models are loaded into the new formats from the pipeline, they are transferred across with a full product structure and materials table that designers can work from, in a matter of minutes. This means that users don’t have to keep referring back to the original CAD, as all of the information they need is carried through when imported.
By automating the process so that it only takes minutes, using the Visualization Pipeline makes sharing digital assets and collaboration between internal departments, or even in an external supply chain, much easier and way more efficient.