January 2011 – November 2012
The Autodesk cloud rendering service started as a Labs project called Project Neon, and it evolved from the Labs team of project Showroom fame.
For the users, it was a simple add-in to install in Revit that allowed the current project to be uploaded and rendered on our server. The output image was then accessible through a simple web portal.
AutoCAD DWG files were also renderable by uploading them from the same web portal.
But the real revolution was something the users could not see. The rendering engine was a completely new component using a new technique that guaranteed not only higher global illumination quality, but also predictable and extremely fast rendering times.
Neon left Labs in September 2011 and is now a full service offered by Autodesk through their Autodesk 360 suite of cloud services.
My main focus at the beginning was to provide test scenes to improve quality of lighting, materials, and performance.
The new rendering engine was tested against hundreds of scenarios and compared to other images from 3ds Max or Revit to validate every aspect.
Also, I prepared separate tests to stress the new global illumination technique with extremely difficult lighting scenarios. The output was often amazing compared to other commercial renderings.
As the product evolved, I assumed a more managerial role, helping the team prioritize rendering and user interface features.
I became the liaison between users and the development team and provided customer support through the feedback site for the Autodesk cloud services.
Here are some rendering samples and other images illustrating the development process.
I also covered other roles, taking responsibility for the maintenance and update of the Revit Add-in installer, localization, and recruiting a small group of highly qualified users for close collaboration on new features.
To ensure our renderer competitiveness I spent a lot of time studying numerous renderers and rendering techniques. That was a fun task and definitely something that strengthened my rendering skills.
Autodesk University 2011
At AU 2011 I did a presentation of the service and the new renderer to customers. It was important to communicate them the different nature of the new engine and its strengths and advantages.
As many of the images and scenes we used internally were confidential, most of the images I’m using to illustrate this project come from that presentation. They are not the best or the largest, but they are the only one I can showcase.
Since the service is available, I invite you to visit the actual web site and try the sample files we provide. For Revit users, you should have a few free renderings too to try it with your own projects.
Another interesting page is the service Facebook page, where users share their images. Browse through the galleries to find the real gems. Be warned that the page might not be actively maintained as I was the one polishing it up.
Homestyler uses the rendering service too for stills and panoramas. From Homestyler you can position a camera and request a high quality rendering or a panorama.
In the Homestyler project page, I describe the tools I created for the rendering pipeline. One of those tools was also exporting the high quality version of the models for the cloud service photorealistic renderings.