Way back in the day, while I was finishing up my undergrad in architecture, I obtained an "unofficial" minor in Quake 2. After many hours of running through dark abadonded bases shooting at my studio mates, I began thinking: what if we put away the guns and used this to visualize our designs? I was told to shut up and guard the extra rocket ammo. Afew of us began experiementing. The tools at the time were very rudimentary - to say the least. Fast forward to 2003 and myself and some of my former battle buddies even started toying with the idea of creating a company to create architectural walkthroughs using Epic's Unreal engine. The graphics kept getting better and the tools easier to use, but licening the engine for commercial use made it prohibitive. We probably would have spent all of our time playing instead of working anyway. Fast forward again to today and we have a proliferation of great tools to create near-real quality renderings that you can actually walk through. I ran across Twinmotion over the weekend and was impressed by their videos. I have not yet had a chance to try it out, though.
Check out their aptly named blog, The Rendering Killer for more (Frame's modern house lives on!)
Jon Brouchoud at the Arch Virtual blog recently posted this beautiful walk through of the new Rutgers Business School building by Ten Arquitectos using the Unity game engine (see video below.) He also has some good tutorials and a downloadable kit for learning how to create these kind of walkthroughs with Unity and Revit. I have personally been working a lot with Unity and I find the engine to have the right balance of power, usability and cost (can't beat free! well, they upsell you for advanced tools, but still!) One of the paid features is the ability to publish your game (or walkthrough) to iOS or Android. Unfortunately, you have to navigate Apple's annoying provisioining labyrinth if you want to actually view it on iOS. But, if you or your intended audience have an Android device you can easily publish and freely distribute your walkthrough.
While not real-time quality, Brouchoud also has many great examples of using Second Life (yeah, remember SL?) to do design reviews. I like this very real example of seniors reviewing design options for their community space. Let just hope they don't wander out too far into SL, they may be shocked by what they find.
I am dissapointed to find VERY few examples from AEC customers using our very own Showcase offering for real-time rendering - from Revit sources or otherwise. Its not that the product is incapable. Far from it, if you check out their community, you will see some astounding examples from the engineering and industrial design space. To all you BIM-heads out there - is real-time rendering part of your arsenal for impressing clients and performing design reviews? If so, what tools and techniques are you using?