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What are the system requirements for Esri CityEngine? Hardware & Software Recommendations

What are the system requirements for Esri CityEngine? Hardware & Software Recommendations

I get asked this question a lot, I’m not sure why people can’t find the relevant sections on the Esri website!  So here it is…

I also get asked what PCs I run CityEngine myself, so here goes my list:

Laptops

  • Asus Transformer Pro 3 (i5, 4GB RAM intel graphics card) – Works okay for small projects, I like using it for creating rule files ‘on the road’.  If you want bigger city models don’t use this.
  • Razer Blade 15″ – (i7 8th Gen, 16GB RAM, 1060 GTX Nvidia) This is a fantastic games PC but also practically a desktop replacement, a new purchase for me but good for most things I would throw at my desktop.

Desktop

  • Chillblast  (i7, 32GB RAM,1070 GTX Nvidia) It’s the RAM that makes this great really and has the edge over my new laptop.  Oh and I have 2 24inch screens attached.

Virtual

  • For a client I’ve been working with CityEngine installed on Amazon Workspaces alongside ArcGIS Pro this seems to work pretty well so far but I haven’t push the limits (yet)!

Accessories/Software?

  • ArcGIS Pro!  If you working with Esri software anyway this is essential you can use it to publish easily your 2D and 3D layers.  You can also use CityEngine to create Rule Paackages which can be used as advanced symbology in ArcGIS Pro.   Users who only have ArcGIS Pro can use CityEngine rule packages which gives you more options to share your hard work.
  • ArcGIS Online for those looking to publish quickly an seamlessly to the web geospatial 3D data/models created in CityEngine you need to be using this.  Obviously other platforms can be used, if you they can work with the CityEngine export formats.
  • I really recommend a 3DConnexion SpaceMouse (any of them) as well for navigating around all that 3D work.  It’s not a replacement for your regular mouse but does compliment it greatly.
  • SketchUp is still a must have for all those fiddly details, CityEngine+SketchUp are perfect companions applications
  • As to 3D software renders?  Well that depends on you!  Small models you could use the numerous render plugins for SketchUp.  But for reall professional stuff think SideFX Houdini which has a nice open source plugin called Palladio  which you can get here on github. I hear AutoDesk Maya and 3DS Max are good too.
  • For game engines you can’t ignore Unreal Studio as there is export functions in CityEngine now.  But don’t discount Unity for its wealth of help and support communities.

If you have any recommendations hardware or software comment on this article and I’ll add it to the list.

Procedural Amphitheatre

Procedural Amphitheatre

amphi_1

In a free hour (literally 1 hour), I created a CGA rule that creates a procedural amphitheatre.

It is full circle or circle segment based (0-360 degrees), has attributes for inner and outer radius.

 Additionally, I can drive:

  • Number of radial stairs
  • Number of levels
  • Number of sitting rows
  • Walkway width
  • ..

If you’re interested in reconstructions of historic or ancient cities: Contact us!

 

amphi_2

Sedbergh 3D meets CityEngine and LumenRT

Sedbergh 3D meets CityEngine and LumenRT

Sedbergh Demo Video Title

I’ve been busy this weekend making some of my old demo videos more ‘presentable’!  We (Garsdale Design Limited) purchased 3D Sedbergh off of CyberCity3D so that we had a test bed for 3D workflows and so we can go outside quickly and check the model ‘in the field’ as it were…

smart cities start with smart data

I personally wanted Sedbergh my home town in 3D as I’m quite frankly fed up of seeing cities get all the fun 3D data.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, forget smart cities, what about smart villages and towns?!

People really struggle with CityEngine and what it can do, this is understandable as CityEngine is a very versatile and technical software tool.   We often start with pretty imagery and nice 3D models but we embed intelligence, the underlying 2D GIS data we already knew about.   What we do (amongst other things) is create nice looking 3D basemaps and take your 2D data and make them attractive and importantly useful.

 

This Sedbergh model we’ve added some landuse data (polygons and points) these represent trees, Listed Building status and community buildings.   For planners and architects imagine visualising your plans for a site with this technology.   If you want to view and interact with a Sedbergh model (not quite the one on the video) you can do so here.

 

 

Downtown Miami meets CityEngine and LumenRT

Downtown Miami meets CityEngine and LumenRT

Downtown Miami Video title

Okay this is a relatively old model from the 3DPathFinder we did last year.   We’ve been looking at eefficientways of creating ‘higher end’ visualisations and one of the quicker routes is through LumenRT 2015.   This has direct integration with CityEngine and can you add some really nice touches, like real weather and animated traffic and people!

Okay this video is relatively boring but hey, it took less time than previous methods we have used.   LumenRT has a little bit of a learning curve when using with CityEngine, but we’ve had great support from them and the software seems to be kept up-to-date.   CityEngine is a niche product and it really is nice to see other people using and supporting it, thank you e-on software!

 

If you’re interested in this you might like the interactive webscene that was used as the base data for this., you can view this on Garsdale Design Limited’s ArcGIS Online site.

Once again our friends at CyberCity3d must be thanked for the data, and e-on Software  for LumenRT.

 

Auto-texturing in CityEngine & export to LumenRT

Auto-texturing in CityEngine & export to LumenRT

Update : Now with added video

Just a quick progress report:  The LumenRT stock rule files and textures with simple modifications can be used on other projects.   I’m using CyberCity3D’s

RealLondon3D data here which I’ve very quickly used a texturing rule file and then exported out to LumenRT.

ce_lumenrt_London_1
It’s fun to get to this quality of render in under 15 minutes…
ce_lumenrt_London_5
Some textures have not been as successful as others
ce_lumenrt_London_4
Night time effects can hide most mistakes…
ce_lumenrt_London_3
LumenRT comes with models and rule files that add real lighting effects
ce_lumenrt_London_2
I wish CItyEngine could handle terrains better….

Initial impressions on LumenRT 4 Studio + GeoDesign plugin

Initial impressions on LumenRT 4 Studio + GeoDesign plugin

renewal_rev4_LumenRT_002

On the week we’re all waiting (okay just me) for CityEngine 2013 I bought LumenRT Studio and GeoDesign plugin.  Why?  Well I like Lumion but the upgrade to the latest version would have been expensive and I was looking for proper CityEngine integration or at least an understanding of what I’m doing from a renderer.  Lumion is good at smaller models for architects (it still has a place here) but LumenRT seems geared to larger models like the ones I’m making.

Initial impressions are very good you still need to know CityEngine but LumenRT makes it quite easy to move from a basic model to something that’s nicely rendered and you can fly around.   The project I am working on at the moment is the biggest most detailed model I’ve ever done and LumenRT for the most part just copes.

renewal_rev4_LumenRT

I’ll probably do a bigger and better review when this project I’m working on is finished, in the meantime here are some nice screenshots I’ve made (apologies for the all night time shots, it helps cover a multitude of sins).

renewal_rev4_LumenRT_003

Modelling an Historic Arab City Centre in 3D using CityEngine – Revisited

Modelling an Historic Arab City Centre in 3D using CityEngine – Revisited

I’ve gone back to my rule file that tries to create a semi-realistic modern day historic Arabic city core,  Yes it does have satellite dishes this is not a historic recreation of a bygone era….

 

ce_arabic_white_project2
Checking out landuses, yes I know the mosque is oddly proportioned…

The rule file can take existing GIS data (for example landuses per plot) and colour them based loosely the LBCS Code and colour values .  The colours aren’t the greatest for 3D but there’s always a compromise.

ce_arabic_white_project
White is good…
ce_arabic_white_project1
A white model plus dusk as a time frame isn’t as successful as I had hoped…
ce_arabic_white_project3
Someone needs to get faster to render better looking trees than that…
ce_arabic_white_project4
My favourite view from the multi-storey car park…

CityEngine and Fossils?

CityEngine and Fossils?

So I’ve said before CityEngine is so much more than for Cities with that in mind I used CityEngine to export some Fossil 3D models to a webscene….

ce_fossils
This is getting out of hand…. (click on image to view in 3D on ArcGIS.com)

The 3 3d fossil models came from this new website http://www.3d-fossils.ac.uk/home.html which is an impressive project :

The GB3D Type Fossils Online project, funded by JISC, aims to develop a single database of the type specimens, held in British collections, of macrofossil species and subspecies found in the UK, including links to photographs (including ‘anaglyph’ stereo pairs) and a selection of 3D digital models.

I’ve been looking at new things outside of cities to model and display within ESRI’s WebGL webscene viewer so this was a perfect test.   To view this model you need a web browser that supports WebGL (currently Internet Explorer doesn’t) and a reasonable download speed…. you’ve been warned.

 Fossils from GB3D WebGL webscene