Video games and architectural models are about to form a long-awaited union. Epic Games and design software maker Autodesk are joining forces to help turn utilitarian digital building models used by architects and designers from blocky renderings to immersive spaces where viewers can get a sense of the dimensions of a room. and see how the light changes throughout the day. For both designers and the clients they are designing for, this could help make the architecture more agile and understandable.
This video game sensation could start showing up in architectural models in a matter of weeks. In November, the next version of Autodesk’s 3D modeling software, Revit, will include Twinmotion, the real-time visualization tool that uses Epic Games’ Unreal Engine to power its dynamic video game worlds.
The two companies behind this partnership have the potential to change the way the entire industry works. Epic Games is a key provider of game engine software that enables video games such as Fortnite have such high-fidelity virtual environments. Autodesk design software, including AutoCAD and Revit, is a mainstay of the architecture, engineering, and construction industries. It is used for everything from early design sketches to 3D models and construction documents used to build buildings. Together, the companies are creating architectural models as accessible and visually fluid as video games.
Integrating Twinmotion software into Revit essentially shortens the process of rendering models into high-resolution images, animations, and VR walkthroughs from hours to seconds. “If you want to see your design in VR, in Twinmotion you press the VR button,” says Epic Games VP Marc Petit. “If you want to share a tutorial in the cloud, you can.”
These video game tools have already become part of the way some architects work, but this partnership will greatly expand the number of designers with these kinds of visualization powers at their fingertips. Twinmotion commercial licenses typically cost $499. The tool will now be included for free as part of most Revit subscriptions. Making Twinmotion a companion part of Revit is something of a gateway drug to convince some designers to license Epic’s more powerful Unreal Engine.
Twinmotion is an easy-to-use way to add detail and dynamism to a static 3D model. Weather sliders can show how projects will look in snowy winter or spring. A library of background shapes can show what a space will look like with people walking, chatting, and moving around. Trees of adjustable height and maturity can be placed in place, and sidewalks can be placed next to a building like a paintbrush. All of this can basically happen in real time, at the click of a button.
If all of this sounds like unnecessary detail for a digital model of a building, consider that one of the main ways these images are used is to help show communities and clients what proposed development projects will look like. Realistic models that people can walk through digitally or view in the precise context of their neighborhoods are valuable methods of informing the public, according to Amy Bunszel, executive vice president of Autodesk.
“Not everyone comes with the same fluency and ability to understand a 2D [architectural] drawing,” says Bunszel. “So the need to have these very realistic representations helps end users and stakeholders, whether it’s a community trying to decide what the impact of this project that they’re funding is, or whether it’s an owner which tries to understand if I am getting the correct value. or the experience of the occupant.”
The tool also aims to improve the design process, giving architects the ability to quickly execute design concepts and visualize what a change in a model would look like when built on site, with all its variety of weather and light. , its orientation to neighboring buildings and the flow of people into and through the proposed space. “Iteration is really important in the early design phase,” says Bunszel.
The real-time nature of the software will also be of great help for a more balanced development. Clients and community members may ask a designer to show them what a building would look like one story lower or three higher, or how removing a parking lot could improve its integration into the surrounding neighborhood. Seeing those changes happen quickly can make community design more of an active conversation than a brilliant presentation.