It’s always interesting to see how CityEngine can help studios complete new projects. I caught up with Simon Röjder, the Managing Director of Swedish arch viz studio, Studio01, to get the inside scoop. Studio1 have some great projects to their credit. They are unrivalled in Sweden for their unique ways of using game technology in visualisation work, which enables them to produce an amazing level of interactivity in their 3D-visualisations. Impressive stuff. Here’s the low down on CityEngine…
There's always been a need, or at least a wish, for good looking and realistic outdoor scenes and cityscapes within the visualisation industry. While there are many ways of randomly generating this sort of content, there aren't that many working solutions available that still give the creator a good control of everything, without demanding too much manual input. This meant that visualisation has only been available or possible for the most prestigious or well-funded projects out there. With CityEngine, it's now possible to get much larger portion of projects than before.
What project did you first use CityEngine on?
We first used CityEngine on a project commissioned by the owners of the buss-transit system in Karlstad, Karlstadbuss. They wanted us to visualise the upcoming changes in their transit-system, which would require us to create a basic model of the entire city in varying detail included animated buses, cars, living trees etc. Since the city covers a fairly large area and is populated by roughly 80,000 people, producing this with 'manual labour' and traditional methods would have meant that:
a) we'd need a large budget and quite a lot of time or
b) our client would have to be satisfied with a very simplified model and a fairly low level of detail
How did CityEngine help? How many people did it take to make it happen?
With CityEngine the whole project was a lot easier, and we were able to do it all within just two weeks and include quite a lot of detail. (You can see this in the images.) We used two people on the project, one programmer and one of our artists, aided by some art direction and the usual shouting and banter about deadlines etc. from the boss (yours truly). It’s worth noting that this work included camera-flights, buss-animation and storyboarding, so quite a lot of work.
In terms of learning CityEngine, did you find it difficult, what was your experience?
Naturally, we did quite a bit of testing and prototyping before we 'went live' with our client. With new 3D-software there's always hick-ups and odd formatting issues. Initially, it required a bit of programming work to set up our own rule-sets with custom content and assets, but once that’s done it's all a breeze.
On the whole, we were impressed with how fast we could get it up to speed and working within our art-pipeline. What struck us, once we got going, was how easy and fast it was to use. You can literally paint a city, with branching streets and buildings popping up in a natural manner, while simultaneously being able to go into tiny details and specifics as needed.
Will you be using CityEngine on future projects?
We’ve already initiated a couple of projects, one using the model of Karlstad that’s already built and adding more detail. The other project is with an engineering company who are looking for some good looking surroundings for a future power plant.
I’d like to end with saying it's an awesome tool which I'm sure can help a lot of artists who are struggling with large scenes, cityscapes and the like. If I had the opportunity, I'd love to stop Procedural from selling this software, simply because we'd like to keep it for ourselves.
To find out more about Studio01, check out their website.
You can also try out CityEngine with a free evaluation, just get in touch.