mudbox10Since Autodesk aquired the companies that brought us great visualization tools such as ImageModeler and MatchMover (REALVIZ, aquired May 2008) and Mudbox (Skymatter, aquired October 2007), we’ve waited to see how these products will truly be integrated into the Autodesk family and how they will be used by a new group of artists. Mudbox has had a huge buzz about it and was already being used by character modelers and concept artists, even before its shipping release. ImageModeler and MatchMover have been in a bit of limbo, though. Well, in August, Autodesk announced a great surprise! These software applications are being made available to 3ds Max and 3ds Max Design Subscription customers. From the looks of the details on the Subscription site, ImageModeler and MatchMover are free, however, Mudbox is available as a 6 month trial. Still pretty generous, if you ask me!

In addition to these tools, Autodesk also announced the availability of a Connection Extension for 3ds Max and 3ds Max Design that really opens up the visualization workflow for architectural projects that utilize models created with other 3d applications such as Autodesk Revit Architecture, Autodesk Inventor, and even Google SketchUp. This Extension includes a SKP (SketchUp) file translator that makes it a snap to bring in native SketchUp files, making it a breeze for projects that model in SketchUp from the beginning, and also making it easy to utilize the tons of free 3d content available in the 3d Warehouse on Google’s site.

image_modelerIf you’ve ever seen ImageModeler in action, you probably know how beneficial it could be for an architectural project. If you are doing a rennovation, TI, or as-built, ImageModeler is a dream. Check out these great examples of how ImageModeler can be used for architecture:

However, designers and architects may be wondering, “How could I use Mudbox or MatchMover? Aren’t those tools just for game designers or Hollywood effects?” Well, sure, they’re used for those sort of projects, but Mudbox can be used for all sorts of organic or detailed types of modeling. Its toolset is so powerful and flexible that it can be used to design a site, grading, topo, ponds, basins, roads, sidewalks, etc. in realtime. It’s not engineering software, of course, and can’t begin to do what Civil 3D can, but for a designer who just wants to be able to model or sculpt how they’d like their site to look to see how the building fits in with its surroundings, it’s an amazing tool and a big time saver.

What about MatchMover? If you’ve ever seen an animation produced by one of the top architectural visualization firms like Spine3D, Neoscape, or Uniform, you’ve seen tools like MatchMover in action. Matchmoving is a process that allows the computer to figure out how a real video camera moves through the real world. Once this data has been calculated, it can be applied to a virtual camera in your 3ds Max scene, so that the movement of the cameras match exactly. It is now possible for you to composite the real world video with the computer generated content (your proposed building, etc.) for a very convincing animation. Combining the real with the CG really makes things come alive and get your clients excited about your design. MatchMover was previously sold for as much as $1600! Thanks Autodesk! Be sure to log in to your Subscription center and start having a blast with these great tools!

Check out this great overview of MatchMover: