Spreading the Visual Experience Love: Video Games + Film to AEC

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Transitioning High End Visual Experiences from Video Games and Film into the AEC Industry

In 1972, Atari released Pong and it took the world by storm. It was a simple game of two lines batting a dot back and forth on a screen. It was easy and it was fun. In no time, a highly competitive video game market emerged where publishers pushed technology to its limit as consumers demanded deeper and more realistic experiences. Video games have been evolving nonstop since the early days as publishers fight for the attention of consumers as they demand deeper and more engaging experiences. We’ve gone from Pong to Witcher 3: Wild Hunt at breakneck pace.










The same holds true for film, especially where animation is concerned. Audiences were amazed by the first animated shorts that appeared in 1899. Today, the breathtaking scenes and lifelike interplay between live action and animation have become so commonplace that we take them for granted.    

The immersive and realistic 3D visual experiences in video games and film have reached nearly lifelike quality. We’re seeing 4K becoming commonplace, with virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) on the verge of exploding. The average person now expects 3D photo-realistic environments from almost any media experience. Anything less is deemed unacceptable, harshly criticized, and ultimately fails financially.

Varying Expectations

So why is it that a AAA video game is so much more realistic and engaging than the interactive walkthrough of the next architectural masterpiece? How is it possible that a 3D walkthrough of a $500 million skyscraper can't compare with the visual experience we get watching a film for $12 or buying a game for $60? Why are consumer expectations higher than those of architects, engineers, and construction professionals?

Video games and movies are developed in a highly-competitive environment where publishers are placing bigger and bigger bets on each title. Graphics fidelity in video games is widely considered 10 years ahead of other industries. Today’s AAA titles, costing between $100 and $275 million to ship, are developed by huge teams of artists, designers, and technical staff. All work on their own pieces while a complex workflow allows them to check components in and out. Once approved, components can be added to the daily build. The game is Q/A’ed almost nonstop in order to provide the best product possible. Movies follow a similar methodology at a similar cost in time and resources.  For comparison, video games create a different type of immersion, one where the end result and purpose is linked to the overall experience. This differs greatly when compared to architecture, where the end result is an actual physical building. The experience of a walkthrough is just a means to the end for the duration of a build project.

 Blueprint example

While video games and film drive technologies like graphics, rendering, VR and AR forward, AEC tends to lag behind. Adoption in these industries combined with consumer adoption dictate the technology that makes its way into AEC. While experts create content, it is consumer purchasing that supports the software and hardware choices that game and film studios make. In AEC, the consumer isn’t particularly interested in buying software and hardware to view visualizations. The consumer is buying a building. Visualization technology is often an afterthought as it is merely there to facilitate the sale of a much more expensive item. As a result, the “core business of visualization has pretty much plateaued”.

This is about to change for the better.  

Advancing Visualization in the AEC Industry

The AEC industry is in the midst of an ongoing crisis: labor productivity has been stagnant and potentially declining over the past decades. Continuing on with a business-as-usual approach is no longer an option. VR, AR, and related technologies, such as building information modeling (BIM) and improved visualizations, will likely be the solution to the industry’s problems.

They (VR/AR) have the capacity to improve design visualization and presentation, reduce project risk and waste, speed up project timelines, and more, which will undoubtedly increase project efficiency and ROI. The value is clear and tangible, but in order to secure industry buy-in on a wide scale and realize their full potential, these technologies need to become more accessible and practical in an AEC context.

Umbra AEC building rendering

AEC companies that adopt new visualization technology can get out in front of their competitors by developing more compelling pitches for new business. Companies that are among the first to develop more immersive visualizations will raise the bar for everyone and move the industry forward.

Learn how easy it is to get started with Umbra, how our customers have developed stunning AEC visualizations, and how you can provide your customers with the same level of compelling visual experience they have come to expect from blockbuster video games and movies.



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