Issue: Volume: 28 Issue: 1 (Jan 2005)


Game developers spend years writing and perfecting code for game engines so players can see the fantastic worlds they create in rich, full detail in a real-time environment. Why shouldn’t architects, designers, and film effects producers use the same technology? Most do not have the time or cash that it takes to develop such engines. Cubicspace, in partnership with Turbo Squid, has produced a plug-in engine for Discreet’s 3ds max and Autodesk’s Viz that could revolutionize how designers work and how they present their creations.

Rtre is a 3D rendering program that enables developers to explore scenes instantly, no matter how complex, in either stylized renderings or with textures and radiosity. Rtre renders millions of polygons per second and supports DirectX and OpenGL. The program launches and works inside Viz and 3ds max (Versions 4 through 6), so there is no need to export files. You can output directly from Rtre as either still images (up to 65,000x65,000 pixels), AVI movies, or real-time presentations with the use of the Rtre Publisher. Rtre also supports Stereographics’ CrystalEyes3 glasses for stereoscopic rendering.

Rtre helps designers create 3D representations that clients can walk through and view from any angle.

The easy installation included Rtre, Rtre Texture Manager (a program that defines the rendering and edge styles by object, rather than by the entire viewport), Rtre Publisher, and Thunder RT (for adding sound to a scene). Most of the tools-Rtre Controls and Rtre Lighting-are located in the Utilities panel.

To use Rtre, you simply open the scene you wish to view, right-click on the View name, and then select Views/ Extended/Rtre 3D View, and the view is placed into Rtre’s real-time engine control. At first you will only see white, Rtre’s default background color. To view your scene, you must access Rtre Controls and click Add All; your scene should appear fully textured and ready for real-time navigation via the mouse or arrow keys.

Vertex lighting and Radiosity are fully supported in Rtre, as are Lightscape setups.

One nice feature is Rtre’s ability to create real-time visualizations of stylized renderings. With the Rtre View open, right-clicking on the top area of the View opens a drop-down menu, providing access to rendering and edge styles. Here, you can set the rendering style to shaded, texture, and pencil and the edge rendering style to wireframe, sketch, and silhouette. By combining and experimenting with these rendering styles, you can create some great-looking images.

Rtre Publisher enables you to create your own interface for presentations you send to clients. Rtre Publisher includes in the presentation file a stand-alone player, giving designers and architects a platform for displaying their work and saving their clients from the hassle of purchasing or downloading software. You also can create your own guided tours by mastering the flight controls, recording your movement through a scene in real time, and then delivering an AVI movie with a sound track. In either case, simply burn your file on a disc, and it’s showtime.

Designers who need or want to see their creations quickly and from multiple angles without having to wait for lengthy renderings will value Rtre. For designers who want the client to walk through a design, while looking at it from every angle, Rtre is a dream come true. Architects, set and stage lighting designers, filmmakers, and special effects producers will appreciate the previsualization power Rtre provides.

Animated objects not only can be added to scenes, but also can be triggered by events and actions-such as pushing a button-in the real-time environment. You can animate doors, windows, elevators, and vehicles, as well as lighting effects for added realism. Another feature, 3D Positional Sound, generates sound effects relative to the users and the emitting object. Perhaps one of Rtre’s greatest features for architects, it offers full support of ArchSoft RPC files.

If there is any one thing about Rtre that I found dissatisfying it is the supporting documentation. The tutorials weren’t terribly helpful, and I would have liked more information on applying Triggers and Sounds. Thankfully, the program proved simple enough to figure out; with a little experimentation and mouse-clicking, I’m certain I would be able to work through virtually any challenge.

I have only scratched the surface of what Rtre enables professionals to do. But Rtre is clearly a fantastic tool that designers will find invaluable for creating powerful presentations of their work.

Doug King, a contributing editor based in Dallas, develops animated projects for his company, Day III Productions.

TurboSquid www.turbosquid.com
Price: $1695
Minimum System Requirements: an Intel Pentium III processor, Microsoft Windows 2000 or XP, 512MB of RAM, and a 64MB AGP Graphics card supporting OpenGL