Team Occa – Beauty and Analysis

Systems & Tools 16 January 2015 | 4.51pm

Our focus at Team Occa this week has been improving the visual quality of our models and adding embedded analysis. We want to create an experience in Oculus with stunning visual beauty while remaining efficient enough to avoid lag and subsequent user discomfort. We want our clients to be excited to explore their projects in Oculus, and be impressed by the quality of the models and scene. The embedded analysis provides opportunities to calculate environmental effects on-the-fly within the virtual world, providing a unique connection between the user and engineering analysis.

We’ve had a few different projects where we’re trying to apply these ideas this week, including:

  • Project P (a confidential client project, displaying and navigating a large industrial facility in the Oculus)
  • Project Sun Face (a development project to embed glare calculations to assess the blinding effect of the sun reflecting off buildings)
  • Project RevitToUnity (finalising our tool that allows users to import Revit data into Unity by making it more user friendly)


Andrew and Ash made considerable progress on Project P this week, by finally managing to export the overly large and cumbersome model from Microstation and Autodesk and drag and drop it into Unity. Their previous attempts to open the project from a Navisworks export mostly failed, with results such as the file not opening at all, or opening poorly rendered with surfaces missing.

From this (Navisworks FBX):

Navisworks FBX Export

To this! (Microstation Collada):

Microstation Collada Export

Project P benefited tremendously with the addition of a Skybox and a simple water texture as the ground. By placing the model in an understandable (and visually impressive) 3D space, people navigating the model find it much easier to orientate themselves. The water texture as the ground has the added benefit of allowing the viewer to see another angle of the structure by way of the reflection; and the stunning background really makes the model stand out and brings an air of completeness to the viewer.

Skybox and Water
Skybox and Water texture

The rest of the Project P design team visited to preview the model in Oculus and were simply blown away by the visualisation of the design, and the ability to navigate through the picturesque beauty.

Testing out Project P
Testing out Project P

The project is still underway, as only recently a solution has been provided to the problem of adding dimension to wire framed models which could not be opened in unity.

Meanwhile, Tara and Michael finalised some work on project RevitToUnity to make a more user friendly experience in the Unity Editor and tidy up the runtime GUI. The Revit Data Tagging Tool, Tag Group Tool, Search Tool and Delete tool (more details in the previous blog) have all been combined into one master tool. This makes for a more user friendly experience, and the simplified tool is much easier to use with new projects.

Simplified Revit Data Tool
Simplified Revit Data Tool

Following this, Tara and Michael began work on a new project, ‘Sun Face’. This project involves visualising the effect of the sun reflecting off a building and the veiling effect it can cause on a person’s vision, as well as calculating and displaying the Veiling Luminance in a way that is easy for the client to interpret. This effect is especially problematic in the cases where the reflection shines into the eyes of motorists or train drivers, which can cause potentially dangerous situations. Therefore, the situation must be effectively communicated to stakeholders so that they are willing to pursue engineering solutions to mitigate these problems before the building is built. We have been exploring different ways of embedding the glare calculation and visualising the veiling effect. The lens flare and bloom effects displayed in the following picture are heading in the right direction, but adjustments are planned to perfect the visualisation.

Reflected Glare
An example of reflected glare

To communicate the actual value of Veiling Luminance for a given observer location, we have set up a progress bar as shown in the following picture. The bar changes colour from green to red as it approaches the ‘max’ value, showing where the accepted limit of brightness is.

Early stage dynamic luminance calculation
Early stage dynamic luminance calculation

Making models aesthetically pleasing, simple to interact with, and effective at communicating ideas are all ways in which we aim to ‘beautify’ our models. Doing this adds value by making our models more intuitive, and a more natural experience for the client.

Tara Morgan

Melbourne, Australia

“I am a Monash University student with a fascination with the future, and the possibilities for technology. ”

View all posts by: Tara Morgan