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Viability of Architectural Visualization on Android/iOS powered devices using Unreal Engine

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    #16
    I want to share some of my experience in this field. About 8 years of my professional experience is dedicated to creating virtual scale models - interactive real-time applications for real-estate market. Some of this time was spend on visualization and for majority of the projects, both visualization and real-time application were produced.

    One of the things you have to keep in mind all the time is - what is the purpose of your final product? I've seen this happening many times, when both client and developer don't truly understand the end purpose of the product. There is a huge difference in approach and process if what you are building is going to facilitate technical communication or you are there to create emotional response. From my experience, real-time applications shine in technical communication. They help discussion to progress between real-estate developers and investors. There is very little space for emotions at this stage. Visual quality is not so important, it's nice to have, it might attract some clients but what matter in the end of the day is dexterity - your ability to build and modify application really fast. We are talking about just few weeks for everything. By everything I mean - getting reference materials, modelling, getting content into engine, coding and testing. The only way you can do this is by having very efficient pipeline, which is focused on maximizing - amount of work not done. There is no time to make new materials, not time to animate characters, not time to optimize existing models, not time to nicely unwrap everything. In my honest opinion, I don't see UE4 as a good basis for such pipeline, unless you spend a considerable amount of time and money into building custom tools for your artists. Simple things like assigning proper UE4 material just on a basis of 3dsmax or maya material should be automated. Your actors - birds, pedestrians, cars and similar animated props, have to be universal and automated - you won't have time to sit and draw walking or driving path for each of your actors. If you have to use lightmaps because of performance or some other reasons - do it outside, there are many ways how it can be done much faster and in automated way using 3dsmax or maya instead of using UE4 for this.
    The reason why this is important - minimizing cost. Before you say - "I have reach clients" I can tell you that even if you work for client from UAE and Saudi Arabia, cost will be one of the reasons for them to get back to you for another project. This have nothing to do with your competition either, trust me most of the clients who want a Crysis 3 quality real-time application of Burj Dubai - never did this kind of project before. This might sound discouraging but this is a business where you produce products to help with communication, this is not an art installation and aesthetic beauty means very little outside of group of your peers.

    For emotional impact it's better to go with good CG, it's easier to produce, much easier to convey your message exactly, production cycle is much shorter and there are plenty of studios which can do it really well. The only show stopper I would see is if client is planning to go throw many iterations of the design, but again, this is suppose to happen on previous steps of development. Emotional materials are the last stage - when client starts marketing to the end users, not when they are still deciding how many floors this shopping mall is going to have.


    So to answer OP question - I don't really see a good reason to have a high quality AAA kind of content in architectural application in the first place, regardless on which platform it is running. If you are happen to be in such a niche market then your tools of choice would be something like RT products and not game development engines.
    Otherwise my concern would be not a technology but amount of time you have to spend to build good extremely low poly version of the model which you could actually run decently on smartphone. From there, choice of engine is rather irrelevant as long as it has an efficient native implementation.
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      #17
      Originally posted by srmojuze View Post
      Can those streaming solutions cache the data onto the iPad? That would solve the "PC-Quality ArchiViz on tablet" issue.

      Other than that if the infrastructure and server reliability is good enough, cloud gaming, app streaming etc. could really give tablets "PC-Quality" abilities.

      Currently cloud in general is great... except when it (that particular service you really need) is down.
      You can't cache data from those app streaming solutions the way it works right now because they are just a video streaming being sent to your device. And it's all about interactivity here, so the user input on the tablet/smartphone must travel to the server (where your unreal app is being rendered) and come back to your device as a video streaming so fast that you couldn't tell that the application is not installed and running in your device (caching the video would cause huge delay). If you are going to stream any kind of video that has no interactions, it makes more sense to upload it on Youtube or something...

      A possible solution would be a kind of "shared render" where the client would be helped by the server to render the application for you on a asynchronous way. But there is no solution like on the market. Maybe in the future..

      Originally posted by Nicolas3D View Post
      Unfortunately streaming capability is not good at the moment, so I honestly will avoid that solution for now.

      The new MSI with the 980GTX will probably be my choice in the near future, it looks like finally there is a laptop capable of running VR properly
      I think it can be used right now in some controlled situations... Like if you know that it will be running on a server not too far from the client and that the client itself has a good and stable Internet connection...

      Originally posted by BoredEngineer View Post
      I want to share some of my experience in this field. (...) From there, choice of engine is rather irrelevant as long as it has an efficient native implementation.
      Really interesting positions, man... Thanks for sharing that!
      Last edited by rabellogp; 09-23-2015, 01:37 PM.
      Guilherme Rabello Co-founder, Sureale
      Artstation | Behance | Youtube | Instagram

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        #18
        Originally posted by rabellogp View Post
        You can't cache data from those app streaming solutions the way it works right now because they are just a video streaming being sent to your device. And it's all about interactivity here, so the user input on the tablet/smartphone must travel to the server (where your unreal app is being rendered) and come back to your device as a video streaming so fast that you couldn't tell that the application is not installed and running in your device (caching the video would cause huge delay). If you are going to stream any kind of video that has no interactions, it makes more sense to upload it on Youtube or something...

        A possible solution would be a kind of "shared render" where the client would be helped by the server to render the application for you on a asynchronous way. But there is no solution like on the market. Maybe in the future..
        Ah yes. The "killer streaming app" for graphics could be if the mobile/tablet app can cache certain "portions" for non-connected viewing. For example, 360degree viewing from a fixed position of each room (or "camera point"). Then cache some interactive pathways ("rails") moving from one portion to another.

        One would say at this point why not just make a video.

        However, if the "killer streaming app" for mobile/tablet could do "standard" cloud streaming for 100% interactivity, and cache the "offline" portions as above, then that would deliver extremely high quality graphics on mobile/tablet without us poor developers having to take high-end stuff and make it "mobile-friendly" - a process I'm sure many of us feel is like taking a peacock and compressing it into a pigeon (OK, weird analogy).

        Anyways, in the above "killer streaming app" proposal what the offline caching would do is basically liase with the server to respond to certain interactivity and cache those video portions including 360 degree video which as YouTube shows is quite feasible.

        So let's say the property sales team, if they have good WiFi or 3G/4G/5G they could present the full deal in all its glory, but if there are connectivity issues or if they are going somewhere remote they would have "preloaded" the cached portions of the ArchiViz.

        At the home office/ headquarters the development team would iterate and update the "back-end" and roll that out accordingly to the sales team in the field.

        This could be a best-of-both-worlds kinda thing.

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          #19
          Confusion regarding the place of UE in Arch-Viz is getting deeper and deeper without any apparent reason. Let me share what was I thinking when I first diverted my attention towards the UE. It was the capability to render 4K videos on my current machine without the constraint of frame rate and length of video. I am still a part of great team working for esteemed studios worldwide and can safely say that UE is not considered as a part production pipeline but rather considered as an extension with varied uses like – VR, RT and fast solution for videos.

          @Boredengineer suggest the use of UE in technical communication as irrelevant, I think the same. AutoCAD, Revit and 3ds Max/Vary is the way to go here because of technical aspects and involvement of Architects and draftsman but this all is considered as phase one in development. In second phase things get much interested as interior designers and marketing guys jumps in. Then comes the round of test renders and changes. Here again traditional tools shines, but to a certain extent only. After finalizing the designs and all, if you have this file converted to UE (Conversion into unreal is not that time consuming if it’s been done for windows platform) with close to Vray quality then changing the materials and textures becomes a breeze, not to say real-time movement of interior and exterior space, video render in minutes (4K quality). This gives a tremendous boost to marketing team.

          Concept of rich clients – UE can target clients with limited budget as well as big firms without money constraint equally. It becomes especially useful to small players in Arch-Viz who wants to create videos of their small 2BHK – 3BHK flats/spaces because rendering 2K videos in Vray with decent quality is not an easy task and the prices are exorbitant.
          Raghu
          http://rag3dviz.com
          HDRI Lighting Tutorial
          Basic UVW Workflow Tutorial

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