CHAOS – HIGH-QUALITY SCENE EXPLORATION IN REAL-TIME
Chaos develops 3D visualisation technology for architecture, engineering, construction, media and entertainment, product design and manufacturing, creating intuitive and powerful workflows for participants across the entire design spectrum.
Today, the company is the result of the coming together of three companies; Enscape, Chaos and Cylindo. Enscape merged with Chaos in 2022, followed by the acquisition of Cylindo later the same year. All three companies are now known under the Chaos brand, with the Enscape and Cylindo products remaining under their own names.
The company’s product portfolio includes V-Ray, a physically based renderer honoured with an Academy Award and an Engineering Emmy; Enscape, a design-focused real-time rendering and virtual reality plugin used by the AEC industry; Corona, a high-performance photorealistic rendering engine; and Cylindo, a 3D furniture product visualisation platform for e-commerce.
Chaos is now one of the largest global 3D visualisation companies and has more than 700 employees and offices in Karlsruhe, Germany; London, UK; New York, Los Angeles, Boston, USA; Sofia, Bulgaria; Copenhagen, Denmark; Bitola, Skopje, North Macedonia; Prague, Czechia; Seoul, South Korea; Tokyo, Japan. For more information, visit chaos.com, enscape3d.com and cylindo.com.
Interview with Roderick Bates, Director & Corporate Development at Chaos.
Easy Engineering: What’s the news about new products?
Roderick Bates: On the 11th July, Chaos announced its acquisition of Italian software developer AXYZ design, a leading developer of 3D/4D animation software designed to add realistic people and crowds to architectural visualisations. This acquisition provides foundational technology for growing our ecosystem of real-time visualisation tools and photorealistic renderers. In the near-term horizon it will expand our 3D asset libraries, helping align the entourage in our customer’s visualisations with the diversity required for projects being designed around the world.
Used by architecture, planning and design powerhouses like HOK and Gensler, AXYZ’s anima 5 software is one of the fastest ways to bring dynamic 3D/4D people into a visualisation. Featuring over 2,500 scanned characters, anima helps designers add high-fidelity digital humans that walk, run, laugh and move to their scenes, giving projects a realistic quality that immerses viewers in a design. This is particularly important when people outside of the design profession review a project i.e. clients. Adding realistic, animated characters to a rendering brings images to life in a way that is truly immersive, creating the type of realism that bridges gaps in understanding. With tools for looping the behaviour of characters and artificial intelligence (AI) crowds, AXYZ anima software is the best way to bring believable movement into a visual project, and a fantastic addition to the Chaos portfolio.
Chaos recently released a significant upgrade to its Vantage 2 software, one of the most realistic real-time visualisation tools on the market. With nearly 20 major new features, Vantage 2 has become as powerful for VFX as it is for architectural visualisation, providing instant access to photorealistic animations, with the very real benefit of previsualisation and scene explorations before a scene is submitted for an expensive and time consuming final render.
Last but not least, is the launch of Chaos Corona 10 for 3ds Max and Cinema 4D, bringing more creative control to the Corona rendering tool, all while maintaining the software’s ease of use. Complex workflows such as applying custom decals to objects or making nuanced global edits, are now part of Corona 10. This latest release also allows users to control individual material channels affected by Corona Decal without changing key attributes. Tweaks to diffusion, displacement and “metalness” can all be easily blended into the underlying material for the refinement of different looks while keeping creative options open.
Roderick Bates, Director & Corporate Development at Chaos.
E.E: At what stage is the market where you are currently active?
R.B: The market currently reflects the drive to improve the workflows of architects and designers. This means researching technologies that can truly benefit the user experience by saving time while improving quality. A lot of opportunities to achieve both of these objectives exist in improving the workflow between various teams on a project. A key workflow for visualisation is the translation of real-time, design-oriented visualisations generated via Enscape, to the photorealistic visualisations generated using V-Ray. Each software has a very different user and we’ve been focused on improving the communication gap that can occur between the designer using Enscape and the visual artist using V-Ray. As an outcome of this work, we’ve created the Chaos Bridge, allowing architects to iterate on their designs in Enscape and then be able to share them seamlessly with the visualisation specialists, who can use the work already done in Enscape as a starting point for high-fidelity rendering using V-Ray. This sounds obvious, and it is, but presented a technical challenge. What we’ve been able to deliver is a workflow that allows for all stakeholders in the visualisation workflow to be on the same page, eliminating a significant amount of remodelling. This allows for both faster iterations and better communication of the design intent between the architect and visual artist.
E.E: What can you tell us about market trends?
R.B: Digital humans is an area receiving a lot of attention, with AI presenting new opportunities to better create life-like characters which avoid the “uncanny valley” effect – the discomfort experienced by people when viewing a digital character who is close to human, but not quite there. Architects are also pushing for more diverse and better virtual characters to bring their visualisations to life. Placing virtual characters into a visualisation that doesn’t match that anticipated by users, creates instant dissonance, pulling viewers out of the immersive experience designers are hoping to create. Chaos has responded to the need for more diverse, and better, human assets with the acquisition of AXYZ and its anima 5 software, mentioned previously.
We’re also seeing real-time rendering “come of age” like never before; not just in virtual production for visual effects, but also for architectural projects. The overall quality of real-time has come a long way thanks to advancements of hardware and software, and we’re happy to be playing a part in this evolution. A good example is our latest version of Enscape, which incorporates global illumination for more realistic lighting, and still is able to work in real-time for immersive architectural walkthroughs. While not quite at the level possible with V-Ray, the result is pretty close, and points to a future where realtime and photoreal merge.
E.E: What are the most innovative products marketed?
R.B: From our portfolio, it would have to be Chaos Vantage, our real-time ray tracing tool. With Vantage there are no time-consuming conversions. Users simply drag and drop their V-Ray scene into Vantage, which is then rendered in real-time. This enables them to bring visualisation directly into the design process in the same way that architects have been using Enscape for years. So now instead of having to send a scene off to render to know how it’s going to look, they can get a pretty clear idea instantly with Vantage. Needless to say, we see a huge benefit to the production workflows in the media and entertainment industries.
We are continuing to push the limits with the latest release of Chaos Vantage 2, which adds new capabilities for users to convey their designs, including the ability to toggle between different moods and variations within the scene states; visualising realistic vegetation moving in the wind and animated people interacting with their design, for example.
E.E: What estimations do you have for 2023?
R.B: We see a number of key growth opportunities for this year and next, and while AI is grabbing all the headlines, there is significant need for improved collaboration among design team members. This applies not just to visualisation workflows, but to other core aspects of building design, which is a key market for us. In addition, we know reducing the environmental impacts of buildings is an important part of the architectural design workflow. There is a tremendous opportunity to bring real-time technology and immersive visualisation to modelling and analysing the energy, daylight, and comfort performance of buildings.
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