Issue: Volume: 24 Issue: 2 (Feb 2001)

E&S Enhances Site Modeler

Earlier versions of the product had been restricted to a maximum of 50 acres per site. Now, according to the company, the limit is prescribed by the user's workstation and graphics card rather than by the software. Another major new feature allows the sharing of RapidSite models through a free viewer called Navigator. Any user running Windows NT/2000 with an approved OpenGL graphics card may use Navigator. Architects and engineers have the option of distributing a copy of the Navigator viewer along with any RapidSite models they might wish to share with clients or various approval agencies.

E&S also offers collaborative options through RapidSite's new import/export capability. The package can now import and export textured 3D models from or to any 3D modeling package capable of handling models in VRML format.

Additional new features are higher resolution terrain textures, with resolution as fine as 2.5 inches for modeling ground surfaces, and modeling enhancements including new algorithms for generating more accurate terrain. An auto-randomize function now allows for the quick placement of multiple copies of the same model such as a tree in such a way as to maintain the appearance of natural variation-a forest of trees, for example. And a new graphical path editing interface allows users to view path trajectories, easily reposition keyframes of walkthroughs and flythroughs, and adjust camera parameters.

Stantec Consultants in Salt Lake City, Utah, is currently using RapidSite for several projects. Senior associate planner Robert Scott says that among the new version features he likes is the increased ability to sharpen terrain resolution. "In fact, if we have any request [for future improvements]," he says, "it would be to sharpen the resolution even more." One of Scott's current projects is a plan for a 40-acre corporate center in the middle of a gravel pit, which he admits doesn't sound promising, but that is in fact logistically and aesthetically viable. "Most people can't visualize it," he says. "You can only do it with 3D. With RapidSite, we can put potential renters right there in the site and they can see how it will look."

RapidSite requires a Windows NT/2000 computer with an OpenGL graphics accelerator. The cost of the program is $2395. (Evans & Sutherland; -JD