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REVIEW: Real-time rendering with Eyecad VR

Let’s take a look at this new offering from Digital Atom, Eyecad VR – the latest solution for real-time rendering

All image credit supplied by Eyecad VR

Introduction

If you’re on the lookout for a real time rendering solution then Eyecad VR is worth a look. Existing solutions in the market, such as Chaos Vantage, have made huge developments in recent years to bring hyper-realism to 3D scenes by making use of the hardware capabilities of GPU processors. The gap between traditional renderers and real-time rendering solutions is closing all the time. With the improvements to graphics cards and hardware generally we are seeing the real-time market open right up. Eyecad VR is one of the players in this exciting new market. Let’s take a look at their new free open beta version that has entered the market recently.

Target market

The first thing to note is that Eyecad VR has been created to enable 3d visualizers, interior designers and architects to produce renderings, videos and interactive experiences in a fraction of the time using a traditional renderer. The tools have been specifically designed and honed with physical spaces in mind – aka. Architectural visualization. If you’re looking for real-time tools for characters or some other discipline then this isn’t really set up you – it really is for architectural spaces primarily.

Focusing in a bit further on the target market they’re really trying to target those within the architectural industry that are not keen on a steep learning curve. The tools are set up with simple controls and it’s easy to get things up and running quickly. There are some more advanced tools for greater customization but the ethos behind the software and the associated implementation of that means that from the bottom up it is built for people with little or no understanding of 3D visualization.

This targeting will, I imagine, enable them to pick up customers quickly and easily. This type of approach reminds me of Google SketchUp where any person could pick up the software and create something that impressed their friends. Where they might struggle will be with the potential of losing customers as they get used to the tools and then pursue more advanced solutions.

outdoor scenes rendering modeling review cad 3d visualization
Create amazing outdoor scenes using the built in vegetation models.

User interface

The tools are simple and effective and this is made visible throughout the whole interface. It is straight forward and easy to navigate. Within the interface you’ll find pre-sets for lighting and materials making it a breeze to create realistic looking spaces in no time at all. More of a review of the materials below.

One of the big positives about the Eyecad VR interface is how it maximizes the view of your scene. When you’re editing your scene, you don’t want the settings getting in the way and Eyecad VR have delivered on that.

Beyond the basic tools and the easy to use pre-sets there are also tools for greater customization including editing reflection and height maps for materials, UV mapping tools and camera settings such as aperture and focal length. In essence, the user interface makes it easy to get good results quickly but then also provides a number of tools enabling you to take things to the next level.

eyecad car model render 3d sections sportscar
Eyecad VR can also be used for other types of scenes, with a car being a classic example.

Materials

Moving onto the materials that Eyecad VR provide out of the box, it really is quite extensive. With 600 Physically Based Rendering (PBR) materials perfectly set up for the purposes of real-time rendering you’ll find pretty much everything you need to transform your scenes from grey boxes to fully finished spaces. You’ve obviously got all your standard brick, glass and wood amongst others but you’ve also got ones like fur and water which give you greater flexibility when applying materials to your scene.

And if you were thinking that these drag and drop materials are only that then you’ll be surprised to know that for each preset material you will get access to all the texture maps associated with it. That means you can drill deep into a material and fine-tune its parameters including reflections, refractions and normal maps. And all this is updated, in the viewport, in real-time!

Another nice feature about the materials is that you can take the presets, optimize them, and then save them as new shaders for use later.

3D models

Having had a look at materials and lighting let’s have a look at what Eyecad VR’s offering of model assets is. You can obviously bring all the scene assets that you need in from your original 3D model but it’s nice to have the option to ‘dress’ your scene within your real-time engine itself. This also ensures that the models you’re using are fully optimized for real-time rendering.

Eyecad VR provide over 2,000 ready-made 3D models. That’s quite a lot! This includes things like furniture for kitting out your interior scenes, and vegetation for getting your outdoor spaces up to scratch.

I think the best thing about Eyecad VR’s 3D models though is that some of them are animated! This will add another level of realism and dynamism to your scenes. You’ll find this type of functionality for the people and cars where all you have to do is set the start and end points before letting Eyecad VR do the rest.

Speed

One of the biggest considerations with any real-time rendering engine is the speed at which it renders. There is no use having an engine that can’t handle your scenes – making advertising it as real-time absolutely pointless.

Still images are rendered quickly, mostly within a few seconds. If you’re used to any traditional ray-traced CPU renderer then you’ll be amazed at how quickly it can generate good results. If you’ve become accustomed to GPU renderers and seeing your results in real-time then the speed of Eyecad VR will be no surprise to you. It’s the same story for videos where scenes are rendered in a matter of minutes.

Obviously, the results you’ll get will depend hugely upon your hardware so let’s take a look at that now.

living room rendering modeling furniture architecture
Lighting and materials can be set up quickly and easily.

Hardware

As Eyecad VR is in public beta it’s necessary to have either a Nvidia RTX 2000 or 3000 series video card. It will work with the GTX 1000 series but Eyecad VR are clear in their advertising that this series might not work as well as you might hope it too. They’re definitely trying to manage expectations there! If you’re keen on getting great results from a real time renderer then get the better graphics card.

In summary

On the whole Eyecad VR is a strong contender in the real-time renderer market. The fact that it has extra out of the box features such as materials and models really help it to be a complete offering. It is currently in open beta so it is completely free to try. This is a great time to take a look at this exciting new offering and to be part of helping to shape what this software might look like in the coming years.

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