posted on February 12, 2014 |
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Let's say you are a design engineer in Pittsburgh working on a new product launch. One morning the marketing team in Chicago asks you to render the new product for a brochure. You dutifully open your model in your rendering software and select your materials, colors, lighting and camera. Then you close all active processes except for rendering and go for a coffee while your computer cranks through its cycles.
You are happy with the rendered images, so you send a few .jpg files to the marketing team and turn your mind back to the day's design work.
But the marketers want to change the way it looks. In fact, they have 6 more ideas for you to run. So you send .jpg after .jpg. And there goes your day. This sort of experience could leave a designer wondering why, even in 2014, does publishing and collaborating on 3D content have to be so hard.
Enter Lagoa. They've harnessed the power of Amazon cloud services to deliver a faster rendering experience. And they've developed a web-only interface with collaborative features so that you can gather faster and more accurate feedback in real time, saving lots of iterations.
Lagoa is a native cloud application
Most "cloud" applications have a local client to speed the workflow. Not so with Lagoa
has been built ground up for the cloud, so instead, users access the application and storage via a standard web browser (it's not so great with IE). There is no software to download.
There are downsides to cloud-only solutions. In this case it means users have to upload all of the files they plan to use in their scenes. This does require a bit of planning and can take a little time. And of course, users will need access to a reliable Internet connection.
Once the files are uploaded, however, users can harness the power of the Amazon hosted processors to compute renderings much faster than on a local PC. So if your design cycle includes decisions on product visuals, then the overhead of uploading is well worth the time. Lagoa accepts native file formats (CATIA, SolidWorks, PTC Creo, and Autodesk) along with neutral file formats STEP and IGES.
The Lagoa UI presents the expected controls for materials, textures and lighting. When it comes to materials Lagoa has introduced a new approach they call their optically accurate materials engine. Rather than having the same 50 sliders for every material, Lagoa provides controls that are optically accurate to each specific material. The goal behind this approach is to reduce the time it takes to get to a high quality image.
Native Cloud means easy Collaboration
Sure there are downsides to using the Cloud, like hosting intellectual property residing outside the company's firewall. But the return is huge when it comes to collaboration. A native cloud app like Lagoa means that your co-collaborators only need a browser to access the scenes you create.
So rather than sending .jpg after .jpg, you just send them a link to the scene you've created.
Then you can grant them camera-only control, or allow them to fully edit the scene. When you collaborate real-time on materials, colors and lighting, Lagoa presents a co-collaboration experience that is akin to Google-docs. This is an excellent way to speed feedback from internal marketing people or customers on visual design elements.
Taking it a step further, Lagoa has developed an API that allows customers to embed Lagoa real-time rendering scenes on their web sites. This represents the state-of-the-art in customer collaboration, allowing end-users to customize their own materials and colors. I tried this out with some shoe models, and it was a pretty slick.
How Lagoa is going to market
Like many cloud-based software solutions, Lagoa offers a free version that includes 2 hours of computing time per month. According to Chris Williams, VP Sales and Marketing, "It's amazing how much rendering people can squeeze into 2 hours when they have access to cloud-based processing." The free version has 20,000 registered users. The paid version is $50 per month and has no limits on the number of rendering hours. Higher priced packages offer more processing power and more collaborative features like unlimited concurrent rendering.
Lagoa's first commercial release of the cloud-based solution was in April 2013 and their first customer was Louis Vuitton. The consumer goods industry is a natural fit for a high powered rendering engine. Other top target markets are Beauty, Fashion, Architecture and Entertainment.
To learn more about Lagoa's real-time cloud based rendering and collaboration, view the recorded Webinar, or sign up for a free account.