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Rome Built in One Day with CityEngine - Screens

by Rainier on July 22, 2008 @ 11:02 a.m. PDT

At this year's SIGGRAPH a spectacular 3D recreation of ancient Rome (A.D. 320) will be revealed where revolutionary graphics technology has been applied to reconstruct the extremely detailed virtual urban environment using Procedural Inc.'s CityEngine.

Procedural Inc., an innovative software company located in Zurich, Switzerland, is home to the world’s foremost procedural modeling technology. With the CityEngine, Procedural Inc.’s graphics experts have created a radically different 3D application that allows the modeling of cities up to 10 times faster than previous solutions, making automatic digital city creation possible for professional users. This makes it a compelling tool for the production of video games, feature films and television series, architectural visualizations and applications for the emerging 3D internet, where consumers expect richer, higher quality digital content for their dollar.

“Cities are huge, richly detailed artifacts that are often required in digital productions, and modeling them with existing tools can take several man years,” says Pascal Müller, CEO of Procedural Inc. “The CityEngine addresses these previously unsolved modeling problems by offering several procedural modeling tools for generating large-scale urban layouts, as well as a unique shape grammar for the efficient creation of detailed building models. With these tools, users not only experience a faster modeling experience, but one which allows them to create cityscapes that have never been seen before.”

As the core of the CityEngine, the shape grammar has been designed specifically for rule-based production of architectural content at arbitrary levels of detail. The procedurally generated 3D buildings can be exported in various file formats, allowing for a flexible and simple integration into existing production pipelines. In addition, the underlying procedural approach ensures the reusability of designs and is well suited for collaborative work environments.

“The CityEngine is a perfect match for the Rome Reborn project,” says Bernard Frischer, director of Rome Reborn. “Our project involves the complete virtual reconstruction of the city at its zenith under Emperor Constantine, when it had about one million residents. To build by hand the corresponding 7,000 apartment buildings, family houses, public buildings and temples would have taken us forever; but CityEngine's power and flexibility made the process amazingly quick without sacrificing detail or quality. This allowed us to concentrate on modeling the unique monuments. The CityEngine also helps to quickly change the model as new scholarship or discoveries warrant.”

“After the Rome building designs had been specified in the CityEngine, generating and exporting the entire city model took exactly 1 hour and 55 minutes,” continues Müller. “Thus, Rome actually WAS built in one day… or, at least its digital counterpart was.”

The release of CityEngine also marks the official debut of Procedural Inc. Founder and CEO Pascal Müller was formerly a researcher at ETH Zurich, where he pioneered the field of procedural urban modeling (with his series of SIGGRAPH publications about procedural urban modeling), which led to the creation of CityEngine. In just six months, the Procedural engineering team under CTO Simon Schubiger transformed the research into a powerful industry application.

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