UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site Goes Interactive with LightWave 3D and Unity

Artists virtually reconstruct the Villa Tugendhat, a 1930s architectural icon and UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site in the Czech Republic, for viewing on desktop and mobile devices

Posted: Tue 24 Feb 2015

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Constructed in 1930, The Villa of Greta and Fritz Tugendhat in Brno, Czech Republic, is a pioneering monument to modern European architecture and a designated UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site. Now the freestanding, three-story villa, which is a must-see structure for anyone interested in architectural marvels, can be viewed in real time on desktops and mobile devices via immersive visualizations created by InterMoca, in conjunction with the Museum of the City of Brno.

Over the course of two years, and as time allowed, the digital artists at InterMoca worked to reconstruct the Tugendhat virtual villa, using LightWave 3D and a variety of tools, including WTools3D’s LWCAD. The goal was to create high-quality models with very small footprints for real-time applications capable of running on 1GB, 2012 smart devices.

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The workflow required the team to obtain proper source information on-site before modeling, texturing, and pre-lighting the objects in LightWave before building the interactivity within the Unity game engine, where the shaders, textures, compressions, and so forth are applied.

The team obtained additional resources and size reference information inside the villa and used a Canon 7D and GoPro to capture a large number of reference photographs and video. Photos were also used for textures; however, the restrictions in the game engine required all the texturing to be simple layers and two UVs, which were exported to Unity using the LightWave FBX Exporter.

“Getting assets into Unity is simply not an issue because of the strong FBX interchange tools in LightWave 2015. No hassles, no worries, it just works,” explains Robert Greenyer of InterMoca. “The LightWave UV tools within Modeler also made it easier for the artists—this kind of work requires really well laid out UVs,” he adds.

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In LightWave Modeler, before moving assets to LightWave Layout, the artists were able to achieve exact architectural measurements. And, since Modeler uses real-world scale units, the artists were assured that what they built would fit into the virtual environment.

The most important LightWave features for this project, according to Greenyer, were those used to generate the HDRI color maps. LightWave’s Viewport Preview Renderer (VPR) was used extensively by the group to create photo-matching scenes, which included base textures and baked HDRI color lightmaps in GLSL shading mode to match the actual photography.

Designing for mobile platforms was challenging: The artists had to be constantly aware of polygon count, texture size, and rendering challenges of mobile devices as compared to desktop machines. In the future, InterMoca hopes to further immerse viewers with a version for the Oculus Rift or Galaxy Note 4-based headset.

The visualization is available at http://intermoca.com/store/index.php.

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The LightWave Advantage

Created by artists for artists, LightWave 3D is award-winning software that offers an end-to-end production pipeline for artists and designers to model, animate, capture, retarget, render, and input and output to 3D.

Some of the many new features of LightWave 2015 include advanced Bullet Constraints, Importance Sampling, Match Perspective, Genoma 2 character rigging system, Edge Rendering, and 64-bit support.

LightWave 2015 also includes new enhancements to the Viewport Preview Renderer (VPR) and introduces additional new features and improvements such as Interactive Dynamic Parenting, Textured Falloffs in Modeler, Fiber FX, GoZ multi-tool and Unity 5 support, and more. It also supports the latest interchange formats such as Alembic 1.5 and FBX 2015.

Artists are invited to test drive the software by downloading a free full-feature 30-day trial version of LightWave 2015 at www.lightwave3d.com/try_lightwave.

Pricing and Availability

LightWave 2015 is currently shipping and is priced at $995 USD (full license); $495 USD (upgrade). Educational pricing is also available. For more information about LightWave 3D software or the LightWave 3D Group, please visit www.lightwave3d.com.

LightWave has been used in the creation of CG and visual effects for leading feature films and television shows, including “The Walking Dead,” “Grey’s Anatomy”, “Maleficent,“ “NCIS: Los Angeles,“ “Muppets: Most Wanted,“ Defiance, “Skyfall,” “The Hunger Games,” “The Amazing Spider-Man,” “The Adventures of Tintin,” “Avatar,” “Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome,” “Fringe,” “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” and more.

Follow The LightWave 3D Group  at TwitterFacebookLinkedInGoogle+ or Pinterest. For the latest LightWave video tutorials and artists/studio profiles visit the Official LightWave 3D page on YouTube and Vimeo.

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