By DE Editors
The EPIC Software Group, based in the Woodlands (Houston), TX, has gained a reputation over the past 20 years for being a major provider of high-quality animations and multimedia for Fortune 500 companies. EPIC uses a variety of 3D and 2D animation software, including Newtek’s LightWave 3D, Autodesk’s 3ds Max, Adobe Flash, and Google’s SketchUp.
Figure 1. With the help of Okino Computer Graphics’ PolyTrans|CAD, the EPIC Software Group was able to translate, process, and optimize huge 3D CAD files to create a virtual oil refinery, including an animated fly-through and a tour of each of the refinery units, as requested by its customer CB&I. Image courtesy EPIC Software and CB&I, all rights reserved
The company operates from a state-of-the-art production facility, filled with an incredible team of artists, animators, and programmers. EPIC has the experience, knowledge, and creativity to showcase industrial products and services, using all of the latest interactive technologies. But even with these resources, some challenges are problematic.
Overcoming a Bottleneck
"Two days before Christmas, a large engineering firm, CB&I, contracted with us to create a virtual oil refinery, including an animated fly-through and a tour of each of the refinery units. The refinery models CB&I provided to us were absolutely gargantuan AutoCAD models, in all their fine detail,” says Vic Cherubini, CEO of EPIC. “Problems began immediately with the size and composition of the CAD files. We could not open them, far less convert the files and do animations in 3ds Max without even our most powerful computer crashing. We needed to bring in external expert help and software that could tackle the conversion of these giant and cumbersome CAD files.”
Figure 2. PolyTrans|CAD helped the EPIC Software Group create photorealistic detail in its animation of the oil refinery. Image courtesy EPIC Software and CB&I, all rights reserved
Cherubini sent an email to Okino Computer Graphics’ CTO, Robert Lansdale, asking for help, knowing that Okino and Lansdale had focused on large CAD translation for the past 22 years. EPIC had been a core user of Okino’s PolyTrans|CAD and PolyTrans-for-3dsMax software for well over a decade.
Okino’s software is written to serve as a “stepping stone,” allowing massive CAD files to be imported, processed, and then heavily optimized before sending the data to downstream packages, such as Autodesk’s 3ds Max, for interactive scene layout, animation, and rendering. Impossible to render CAD datasets become manageable once they pass through Okino’s software and processes.
Lansdale took up the challenge and reviewed the entire oil refinery dataset. The final optimized conversion depended on analysis of the models, the file formats used, the available memory, and the degree of optimization required. He worked on the oil refinery for two days, getting to know the model and determining how to make it usable by the destination program.
“On Christmas Eve, I received the model fully optimized,” says Cherubini. “Not only could I quickly load it into 3ds Max, but it could be manipulated in real time, without any loss of detail or content from the original files. Robert also provided full instructions on how to repeat the process, as well as comments about the complexity and structure of the data for reference.
What did this cost EPIC? Only the fee required to upgrade to the newest Okino software release. Needless to say Okino has a customer for life. The quality of its software is matched only by its customer service.
What started as a seemingly impossible task ended up being a streamlined and highly optimized process through the use of Okino’s software, resulting in a project that came in on budget and on time. A dazzling interactive oil refinery presentation was provided to CB&I (Figures 1 and 2).
Overview of Okino Software
Now in its third decade of development, PolyTrans|CAD is used by production studios and professional 3D users to cross convert crack-free and render-perfect BREP solids CAD models (in native formats, not reverse-engineered secondary CAD formats), as well as all skinning and animation data, between 3ds Max, Maya, XSI, Lightwave, Cinema-4D, and all major downstream file formats, ranging from COLLADA to Wavefront OBJ.
With the help of PolyTrans|CAD, you can use your favorite multi-media packages to create product brochures, technical documentation, and presentation materials of CAD data. PolyTrans|CAD allows a wide variety of users (e.g., engineering, design, marketing, and support) and companies to easily exchange and re-use product data without rebuilding their 3D datasets.
PolyTrans|CAD can import data from a wide range of native CAD file formats, including ACIS SAT, Autodesk Inventor, AutoCAD, CATIA v4+5, DWG, DWF, IGES, JT Open, Parasolid, Pro/E, Rhino-3D, Solid Edge, SolidWorks, STEP, STL, XGL, U3D, VDA-FS, XGL, and X3D. In addition, dozens of complete and full implementations of all other major 3D DCC file formats are supported, such as 3ds Max, Maya, COLLADA, FBX, Lightwave, Softimage XSI, trueSpace, DirectX, OpenFlight, PDB, SketchUp, VRML, XAML, and X3D.
Data translation is a critical business for which Okino’s professional production customers demand perfect conversions, and as such, Okino has always guaranteed its data translation software. The software incorporates hundreds of work years of development and more than two decades of customer use, testing, and refinement, which has made PolyTrans a leading conversion system throughout the 3D software industry.