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SIGGRAPH 2017—The Year of the Game Engine & Low-Level Graphics API

Associate Editor Akiko Ashley was at SIGGRAPH 2017 this year and covered the top-level events, sessions, and presentations. This first report focuses on the “theme” elements apparent at this year’s computer graphics conference and exhibition.

SIGGRAPH 2017 in Los Angeles set a new tone for the industry as the evolution of technical, creative, & new avenues of content creation were explored. This was definitely the year of the game engine and how it is driving low-level GPU technology for VR/AR/MR and expanding in new markets creating a cross platform universe.

It is hard to judge SIGGRAPH from the size of the Exhibit Hall as Vendors have opted to rent their own rooms in the Convention Center or rent space close by to do their demos. This allows them more freedom to get the users to focus on what they are saying without the distraction of the loud Exhibits show floor. So anyone who says the Exhibits Hall was small did not explore the vendor’s demo rooms.

01 – Chaos Group room outside of the show floor where they did demos. Image: Copyright Akiko Ashley for Architosh. All rights reserved.

The Unreal Engine was displayed in almost every Emerging Technology booth. It was used for artistic purposes to create a variety of art forms or there were demos of UE4 being used to create interactive games/experiences, medical purposes, or an interview with a TV personality. UE4 had no limits for what it could be used for. VR was the main focus for the Unreal Engine at SIGGRAPH. Marc Petit, the General Manager for Unreal Engine stated, that Architectural Visualization was a big market in Europe and he believed it would be adapted in the U.S. market in the near future. We saw this last year from the

VR was the main focus for the Unreal Engine at SIGGRAPH. Marc Petit, the General Manager for Unreal Engine stated that Architectural Visualization was a big market in Europe and he believed it would be adapted in the U.S. market in the near future. We saw this last year from the NVIDIA headquarters design presentation. The NVIDIA headquarters designed by Hao Ko from Gensler used Virtual Reality (VR) as an essential part of the design process. You could explore the design with a touch of the mouse button, walking through the entire design in real time using the NVIDIA Quadro card technology. At the Unreal User Group at SIGGRAPH this year, Epic announced Datasmith, a private beta designed to help artists and designers simplify the process of importing data into the Unreal Engine from over 20 CAD/DCC sources, including Autodesk 3DsMax. Abvent also made an announcement at the User Group that Twinmotion 2018 will be powered by the latest Unreal Engine technology.

This is big news because for the first time this interactive renderer will be available on the Mac running native on Mac hardware. ArchiCAD users can use it easily and efficiently. Chaos Group announced VRay for Unreal at the User Group. You can bring VRay content from other DCC’s into the real time engine editor, render real time directly into the game editor, and export from the real time editor for use in another DCC. Epic is creating a cross platform universe for all creators.

02 – Marc Petit, Unreal Engine, GM Manager talking about how the Unreal Engine is being used for the architectural visualization market. Image: Copyright, Akiko Ashley for Architosh. All rights reserved.)

Architectural tools aren’t just used in real world design, so you must explore the idea of VR & AR content and how these worlds will need architects to create real living spaces that respond to real world physics. Emerging Technologies had several demonstrations of how architectural design professionals are building entire cities as the backdrop to characters or creating real time interactive spaces for people to socialize in.

Unity showed off a spectacular CG short film called “Adam” using Cinemachine, (a unified procedural camera system) and Timeline designed to give you control of your scene. I watched as the presenter Adam Myhill, Head of Cinematics for Unity Technologies, showed me the film and made editorial changes in real time to individual elements on the fly…you could do these edits to control individual elements within Unity to get exactly what you want. These changes only change the specific layers you want to edit, for example, you could change the character and the background remains unchanged…allowing complete control over individual elements giving the filmmaker control of their film in ways you can’t do in other editing programs. Architecturally I can see this being used for visualization. How many times have you had a client want to change something that requires you to take so many steps backward to get to that design change, destroying everything else in the process? This will allow you control of elements individually so you can work faster and more efficiently without losing other data.

03 – Adam Myhill, Head of Cinematics at Unity Technologies demonstrating the editing capabilities of Unity in Real Time to individual elements for the short film “Adam.” (Image: Copyright Akiko Ashley for Architosh. All rights reserved.)

Unreal Engine and Unity are the leaders of the Game Engine market and both are bringing new sets of tools for Architects, Interior Designers and Visualization Artists that can embed client and designer in the same space to interact in a way that gives both a better understanding of their needs. Each Game Engine offers a different approach but both deliver high-quality solutions that both run on the Mac. Imagine what you will be able to do with the iMac Pro.

next page: Looking at the Story Around Low-Level Graphics APIs

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