The wealthy principality of Monaco was rich in 3D visualisation as this year’s Imagina event got underway in the Mediterranean sunshine. By Stephen Holmes.
The rearranged exhibition hall was much more concentrated on the key themes of architecture and landscape visualisation at this year’s show held at the Grimaldi Forum, Monaco.
There are fewer more attractive venues for a trade show to take place. As one of the largest European visualisation and simulation conferences of the year, some of the biggest players from the industry were present, along with a cast of veteran visualisation gurus.
High profile speakers included leading French architect and urban designer Jean Nouvel, and some of the digital artists behind this year’s cinematic blockbuster Avatar.
There were a lot of new exhibitors showing their wares, with fresh-faced graduates launching their own real-time rendering software alongside new products from new companies.
There was a strong French contingent among the exhibitors, with the likes of Dassault Systèmes and The French National Geographic Institute (IGN) providing the biggest stands and a number of the speakers.
For the second year running, Imagina 2010 was host to a specialised Digital City and Territory Village for local authorities, towns, local governments and regions, mainly populated by French and Swiss cities keen to show off the progress they had made using the latest technology to digitally map their streets, buildings and landscape.
The introduction of the 3D Ethics Charter was met with royal approval as HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco made an appearance to launch the shared ‘operating manual’ defining the context, aims and criteria for the use and representation of 3D data.
The document was signed by a varied group of primarily French speaking nations (the French National Geographic Institute (l’Institut géographique national), the Republic and Canton of Geneva, the Swiss Society of Engineers, and the Quebec Order of Surveyors to name but a few) all pledging to use only good-quality, recent, reliable, official information in any territorial representations produced by public authorities.
The entire event was finished with the annual Imagina Awards Ceremony, which rewarded and celebrated some of the stand-out 3D visualisation work that had gone on over the previous 12 months. Winners in the architecture and urbanism categories included Alex Roman (www.thirdseventh.com) for Best Technical Animation; Artefactory (www.arte-factory.com), winner of Best Communication Film for its interior and exterior visualisations of the living spaces of the house-sized Wally Hermes Yachts; and the State of Geneva and HEPIA (University of Applied Sciences Western) were rewarded for their model of the city with the prize for Best Territory Model.
A few of the most eye-catching technologies at the show included:
Renamed at last year’s show from IMAGTP, Enodo had an announcement of more technical prowess at this year’s show. Its adapted hi-end video-game technology, Cryengine, was shown in its third release, with realistic real time visualisation. For use in industrial simulation, urban planning, transportation or serious games, the detail left the crowd astounded at the realism of natural world effects such as grasslands, leaves and flowing water.
The CAD software colossus gave us some interesting news about its further movement into the architecture and construction market with the launch at the end of this year of Catia Architecture. Eric Piccuezzu, Dassault Systèmes Architecture and Construction Industry Leader, said: “The market is not waiting for a new Revit, it is looking for collaborative platforms that will help it increase its productivity.” Adding: “We consider it will be a breakthrough.” (See page four for more on the announcement of Catia Architecture).
The French company, specialised in transforming Earth observation images into real-time 3D fly-throughs and visualisation, unveiled its latest plug-in used to develop customised 3D visualisation interfaces and integrate 3D real time display in GIS applications.
3D formed a big part of this year’s show, with this company’s glasses-free monitors grabbing a lot of attention, as well as its specially developed plug-ins for architectural and visualisation software, including Autodesk 3ds Max. www.3dtvsolutions.com
Noomeo was one of several new companies at the show this year. Although not ideal for large-scale building and construction work, its newly developed ultra-portable 3D scanner has several dedicated industrial applications based on a photographic technology that allows total autonomy of movement.
The shared stand between the graphics card giant and the maker of photorealistic rendering technology was awash with visitors wearing Nvidia’s 3D glasses to check out 3D design on the assembled monitors. However, what caught our eye was the abilities of iRay for interactive rendering, the seamless working of its cloud computing power, and the technology to have interactive renders beamed to an iPhone via a new application Nvidia is developing.
A new release of the 3D visualisation software developer’s Patchwork product was on show. Version four offers full 64-bit integration, HDRi format as support for HDR environments, and a group of new rendering modes for different textures and surfaces.