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By Jeff Mottle

2016 the Year of VR: Stingray and LIVE Design

Just before the new year over 10,000 people descended on Las Vegas for the 22nd annual Autodesk University (AU) conference.  CGarchitect has been attending AU for quite a few years, but was fortunate this year to be heavily involved in the inaugural Design Visualization LIVE event.  The first annual gathering of the best and brightest people in the Design Visualization industry. For those of you who were not able to attend, many of the sessions were recorded and can be viewed online here.  This massively successful event-within-an-event drew professional visualization artists, architects and designers from all around the world. 

Autodesk LIVE Design was also debuted during the event - it is a vision for the future of connected software making it possible to understand every design digitally before anything is built physically.

Part of that future for Autodesk now includes brand new software called Stingray.  An application CGarchitect was able to get a hands on preview of Stingray being used with HTC Vive in what we think is one of the best and most immersive VR experiences we’ve tried yet - and we’ve tried almost all of them.  

Stingray is Autodesk’s foray into 3D gaming engines and real-time rendering software, made possible through the 2014 acquisition of Stockholm-based Bitsquid AB.  Stingray is integrated with 3ds Max, Maya, and Maya LT software and allows both novice and advanced artists to create visually stunning real-time experiences.

 On the AU exhibition floor, the constantly packed LIVE Design booth, featured two experiential pods that could only be described as the next best thing to a Star Trek holodeck.  

Within the 10 x 10 space, ceiling mounted sensors track the HTC Vive headset and the Vive controller, allowing users to not only experience the architectural space, by moving their head around, but also by walking around the space and pointing to interact with the environment.  

The AU experience enabled users to explore a penthouse apartment, large balcony, and pool area using Stingray’s real-time engine to render the scene in stereo to the headset.   Obviously within the confines of a 10x10 space, one runs out of walking room rather quickly, but a clever real-time implementation fades in a transparent wireframe wall into your view before you physically walk into the booth wall. You can then use the Vive controller to point to a new location within the space which teleports you there. The experience also showcases the power of VR as being more than just seeing the space, but being able to experience and make decisions in that space.  Things like changing furniture configurations, opening doors, finishes etc.   The one drawback of writing about VR is that you can never fully describe what it’s like to feel scale, which I think is what makes this particular implementation so powerful.  

From the videos included in this article, one could arguably critique the visual fidelity, however I was surprised at how little that played once you are actually immersed in the space.  You really do need to experience Autodesk Stingray in VR to really appreciate the power of this new tool.

The experiential component obviously plays a large part of the power of this tool, however you don’t get there without the upfront work of getting the model into Stringray, building the interactions and of course the finishes and lighting.  That is really where Stingray shines. Most of the game engine tools we have come to know within the architectural space were born out of the gaming industry.  As a result the workflows and paradigms are very foreign to what we have become accustomed to.  Autodesk’s goal with Stringray is to drastically improve upon this and build integrated workflows with the tools we use most, like 3ds Max and Revit.

Syncing with the subscription based structure that Autodesk has now fully moved to, Stringray can be accessed for only $240 USD/yr or $30 USD/mo.

Everything I’ve seen, experienced and read suggests 2016 could very well be the year of VR and Real-Time so I’m really excited to see what artists and designers accomplish with Stingray over the next year.

Click here to try a 30 day free trial of Stringray  And here to subscribe to 3ds Max for as little as $123 USD/mo


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Why does the imagery look like it's from 2003? Shouldn't we be past this already? People are rendering gorgeous short films out of unity and we're exited because Autodesk managed to finally figure out how to drag and drop stuff out of Revit?
Ditto that!
Why does the imagery look like it's from 2003? Shouldn't we be past this already? People are rendering gorgeous short films out of unity and we're exited because Autodesk managed to finally figure out how to drag and drop stuff out of Revit?
too weak ! i prefer lumion ! and better of all UE4 !
Definitely UE4! The graphics of Stingray seemed more like that of Lumion actually but not as good.
too weak ! i prefer lumion ! and better of all UE4 !
I am very interested in this move by Autodesk. The existence of Project Expo also resonates very strongly with what was said about Autodesk making Stingray accessible for design viz professionals. I strongly believe VR and AR are the near term future of design visualization, there is just no better way at present outside of physical construction to get a grip on spatial scale the way that these technologies allow.
It converts your materials to basic materials. There is still some setup involved on the Stingray side if you want your materials to look physically accurate. It also supports PBR-based maps (metallic, roughness, etc.)

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Stingray and LIVE Design at Autodesk 2015

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Jeff Mottle

Founder at CGarchitect

placeCalgary, CA