Nurulize unveils Atom View and Nu Design
VR software developer Nurulize has unveiled Atom View, an innovative new tool for editing and streaming volumetric data, and Nu Design, a collaborative toolkit for previsualising scenes in VR.
Designed to enable users to generate VR environments faster and with higher fidelity than conventional workflows, the technology netted Nurulize the Grand Prize at Nvidia’s VR Content Showcase earlier this year.
Both Atom View and Nu Design went on show at Siggraph 2017 last week, and are currently in beta.
Atom View: reuse even complex VFX assets in VR
A “cutting-edge tool for volumetric data processing, colour management and delivery”, Atom View accepts volumetric data from pretty much any source, then streams it in real time to standard game engines.
It ingests data generated via photogrammetry, LIDAR, or other methods of 3D scanning, and converts it into a renderable form via “a GPU-based filling algorithm without the need for normals or ordered data”.
The software also supports volumetric geometry data generated by standard offline renderers, and camera-based volumetric data exported using the OpenEXR 2.0 deep image format.
Updated: Nurulize tells us that as well as the .fls, .e57 and .ptx scan data formats, Atom View can ingest point clouds in .ply format, or as Alembic .abc, V-Ray .vrmesh or RenderMan .ptc files.
According to Nurulize, that makes it possible to use assets originally created for VFX work directly in VR, without having to rebuild them manually in DCC software.
As evidence, the demo video above shows an animated alien creature with 8K UDIM texture maps and a static scene with “billions of polys”, both rendered as volumetrics and imported into Atom View.
Includes non-destructive point and colour editing toolsets
Given the nature of the data it’s working with – it’s essentially a point cloud renderer – Atom View doesn’t have a conventional 3D toolset, but it does include an Outliner, plus point and colour editing toolsets.
The point editing toolset includes a 2D viewer, which converts 3D scan data to a 360×180 viewing format, then enables the user to manipulate it using a brush-based workflow.
The system can be seen in action at 02:25 in the video above.
The colour toolset features a set of non-destructive, GPU-accelerated tools for adjusting visual properties like gamma and exposure, and applying looks and colour space transforms.
It supports OpenColorIO, up to 32-bit float data, and the sRGB and Rec. 709 (HDTV) colour spaces.
Stream to game engines like Unreal Engine using the ‘MPEG of VR’
Data can then be exported to Nu Design – about which, more later – or Unreal Engine as an Atom View Cache: a “streamable format that allows instant loading of data from disk or cloud locations”.
Nurulize pithily describes the AVC format as “the future JPG/MPEG of VR”, claiming that Atom View can generate real-time content “in just a few steps” while game engines need “multiple rounds of optimization”.
The firm also aims to support streaming to Unity in future.
Nu Design: a collaborative VR-based previs and virtual cinematography tool
There’s no demo video available for Nu Design, but Nurulize describes it as a virtual space in which users can “collaboratively assess and mark up 3D environments”.
Up to eight users can view a scene simultaneously via VR headsets, enabling directors and art staff to “rapidly iterate and sketch out shots in a whole new approach to pre-production and pre-visualisation”.
As well as navigation and camera controls, the software provides users with storyboarding and measurement tools, plus a “smartboard”, which seems to be for collaborative note-taking.
Backed by leading VFX artists and technology firms
Both products come with testimonials from some well-known artists, with Blur Studio VFX supervisor Kevin Margo noting that the technology “promises fewer creative compromises” than existing VR workflows.
Nvidia could also see the potential of the technology, awarding Nurulize the $30,000 Grand Prize at the VR Content Showcase at this year’s GPU Technology Conference.
Atom View is currently in use on “numerous” VR films and commercials, including an upcoming Ridley Scott-produced Alien project directed by Nurulize creative director David Karlak.
Pricing and availability
Both Atom View and Nu Design are currently in closed beta with a commercial release planned for “later this year”. Nurulize hasn’t posted any details of system requirements or pricing yet.
If you have an HTC Vive headset, you can register for the closed beta of Nu Design via Nurulize’s website. Augmented Reality-compatible versions of both tools are also in development