Navisworks and VR Rendering
Most designers utilize Autodesk Navisworks to visualize and interact with their design before they commit to construction. The digital mockup functionality of Autodesk Navisworks allows us to experience our largest designs with real-time fly-through and walk-through capabilities. But, sometimes the flat “computer screen” interaction is not enough. We want to actually step into our design and experience it as if we were actually standing in the digital environment we created.
With the impressive advent of Virtual Reality this is now possible. If you have the time and budget to commit to the project, you can utilize the advanced software supplied by Autodesk to load your Navisworks design into VR. You could purchase a sophisticated and expensive VR rig complete with motion tracking controllers, a VR headset, and a beast of a computer to run it all. But what if you don’t have the time or money to commit to the VR experience? Don’t worry. Navisworks offers a simple method to visualize your design in VR without missing a deadline or breaking the bank.
Navisworks now allows you to render your design to a Stereo Panorama. If that term is new to you don’t worry. A Stereo Panorama is simply two spherical renders positioned slightly apart. One sphere is dedicated to your left eye, and the other is dedicated to your right eye. When you view this image through the proper optical headset, the effect makes your brain think you are viewing the design as if you’re actually standing in the model.
Figure 1: A Stereo Panorama – Dedicated Rendering for Each Eye
Creating a Stereo Panorama with Autodesk Navisworks
To generate a Stereo Panorama with Navisworks is actually fairly simple. You simply utilize the Render in Cloud command on the Render tab. This will activate the cloud rendering dialog where you can define the type of render you want.
Figure 2: Render in Cloud Command
Steps for Generating a Stereo Panorama:
- Navigate to the desired position in one of your Navisworks scenes.
- Start the Render in Cloud command located on the Render tab.
- In the Render in Cloud dialog…
- Set 3D View to Current View
- Set Output Type to Stereo Panorama
- Set Render Quility to Final
- Set Exposure to Advanced
- Set the Width to the Maximum Value
- Check the Email me option
- Click Start Rendering
- Open the resulting render on Rendering.360.autodesk.com
- The Render on this page has a link to access the image on your smartphone.
Note: This process does cost you some Cloud Credits but the result is really worth it.
Viewing a Stereo Panorama – Google Cardboard
You don’t need an expensive VR rig to view these amazing stereo panoramas. You only need to acquire a simple inexpensive Google Cardboard viewer. The stereo panorama is viewed on your smartphone and your smartphone is inserted into the Google Cardboard viewer. You can use an android or apple device, it works on both.
The Google Cardboard viewer and your smartphone, allow you see your Navisworks design in clear 3D, as if you were inside the model. The pan and tilt capabilities of your smartphone allow you to move and turn your head allowing you to view the 3D scene in every direction.
You might be thinking that there is no way a smartphone and some cardboard goggles can deliver a virtual reality experience, but you will be pleasantly surprised when you try it for yourself. To convey the quality and immersiveness of this experience in a simple blogpost is almost impossible. But I will admit to being slack jawed the first time I stuck my face in this viewer and looked at one of my layout designs. To actually (virtually) stand amongst the models I arranged and designed was a truly amazing experience.
Figure 3: Google Cardboard
Sharing your VR Experience
The Stereo Panorama can be downloaded or accesses via link from Rendering.360.autodesk.com. If you need to share your VR experience, all you have to do is simply email the link to your customer or collaborators.
Figure 4: Links to your stereo panorama can be easily shared with anyone.
Conclusion – What Are You Waiting For?
The VR experience is much easier and affordable to have than you think. So Grab yourself a Google Cardboard viewer and get to rendering on the cloud.
I have included a few links to stereo panoramas that I have created. Enjoy!