San Francisco-based Imagination Technologies (IMG.L) has released a new revolutionary new app for the Trimble SketchUp community called Visualizer for SketchUp. At its core Visualizer for SketchUp relies on Imagination’s highly optimized PowerVR Ray Tracing software to produce photorealistic images in real-time.
Works Like Your iPhone Camera Inside SketchUp
Visualizer presents itself like your iPhone’s camera inside of SketchUp. As the user works, the image in the Visualizer updates in real-time and provides instant visual feedback for the design progress. Just like your real smartphone camera, when the user is ready and likes the image a shutter button is pressed and an instant picture is can then be stored, shared with others or used in a client presentation.
Visualizer shows an instantly rendered photographic version of whatever is visible in your SketchUp viewport. Hit the shutter button to grab an image. Auto Exposure, Auto Focus are always available but just like your smartphone camera you can drag a control to focus on certain parts and there is also a Focus Blur function to draw attention to key details within an image.
Designed for SketchUp
SketchUp is a unique and easy to use 3D platform for architects, engineers, designers, educators and the construction industry. With over 30 million total users and several million active users every week, SketchUp is the most widely used 3D modeling software in the world today.
Visualizer for SketchUp takes an approach to creating photorealistic images from 3D models that is akin to the way SketchUp users expect software to work—with directness and simplicity. “We were inspired by how SketchUp had taken a traditionally complex process of making 3D forms and made it accessible and fun for creative people everywhere to express their ideas,” said James McCombe, General Manager of the Visualizer Group at Imagination. “With a similar philosophy, we aimed to take complex graphics technology yet make it ‘just work’ so as to bring the joy of photography to those same creative people without getting in their way.”
Visualizer for SketchUp takes a different approach. With an intuitive and minimal interface, anyone can produce great results within minutes. Visualizer uses interface elements that are already familiar to most users from their smart phone cameras. Visualizer infers material properties directly from the information already provided in the SketchUp model without any alteration. To control focus and exposure, users can just drag an exposure and focus point around on the image and the picture updates in real-time. When the user is happy with the image, they simply click the shutter button and a photo is instantly captured. Just like SketchUp, Visualizer is designed with laptops in mind.
John Bacus, Director of SketchUp product management at Trimble, says: “Visualizer sits in a great place for SketchUp users. While we don’t see it as a replacement for high-end renderers, now there’s a simple, easy way to turn out quick, photoreal images from SketchUp. I can think of a few million SketchUp users who are going to smile the first time they try Visualizer.”
Availability and Pricing
Visualizer for SketchUp is available for both Mac OS X and Windows and is designed for both versions of SketchUp (Pro and Maker). A free seven day trial is available here. Visualizer for SketchUp costs 19.99.USD. To learn more go here.
This is a remarkably fresh approach to a plugin application within SketchUp and the smartphone and photography metaphor appears to have driven this app’s user-interface, and more importantly, user-experience (UX) beautifully. We have written about Imagination Technologies several times. The company originated as another talented British fabless chip design company and Apple was a major investor, holding nearly 10 percent of the company. When they acquired Caustic Graphics Imagination came into possession of OpenRL, a new proposed standard aiming to unify raytracing applications for software developers, which at the time of our writing back in 2011, had to program “to the metal” or accept hardware limitations around GPU vendors. In contrast OpenRL works across platforms and utilizes all OpenCL-based GPUs.