Early last week, Chris Williams and Jeremy Luchini from Lagoa demoed their euphoniously named Lagoa web-based platform for 3D visualization and rendering. Add “collaboration” to that thumbnail description. The webinar was recorded and is now available to you at the other end of today’s Check it Out link. Let’s run through some of the Lagoa basics before we get to that.
You use Lagoa to produce high-quality, photorealistic images for creative projects, prototyping and marketing. It is completely web-based. All you need to use Lagoa is your everyday workstation, a browser like Chrome or Firefox and at least a 1-megabit Internet connection. It requires no special application to download and install.
“Workstation,” by the way, can be as modest as a regular old notebook. Lagoa does not require a brawny graphics accelerator or CPU. For example, I accessed the Lagoa application and fiddled with it some using a three-year old MacBook Pro running Safari. Lagoa scales for tablets like the iPad, but it’s best to do your work on something bigger.
A single designer or a collaborative team comprising a mob of designers, technicians, marketing/PR, supply chain partners, clients and end users can use Lagoa at your discretion. You sign up for the service in a couple of minutes. Pricing ranges from a complimentary limited account through individual level ($50/month) up to a virtually unlimited enterprise contract. An API (application programming interface) account is available for those who really want to get down with Lagoa.
Lagoa deploys using a familiar desktop metaphor, and it appears to have all the tools for constructing a scene, rotating images and so forth you’d expect from a renderer. You can easily apply new materials, change lighting, modify backgrounds, set resolutions and so on in a straightforward manner. In short, there appears to be no exotic interface or steep learning curve to surmount. Upload your file and go.
Now, the video: Everything you’ll see in this one-hour broadcast was recorded as it happened in our GoToMeeting. There are just a handful of slides. Editing of the raw footage was minimal; it mostly was getting rid of amenities and similar useless dreck. Models for rendering were preloaded by Lagoa. My connection was a home office Wi-Fi to Verizon to GoToMeeting, which was similar to what the presenters used.
The first thing that should grab you watching this video is the speed and power of the cloud. What you have to work with here is real-time 3D editing. Lighting, materials, colors, texturing and camera perspectives effectively change right away.
Materials and lighting quality are impressive. Lagoa uses a progressive path-tracing rendering engine that leverages physically based, measured materials. The engine, for lack of a better phrase, understands how materials naturally change depending on lighting and viewing angle. Material libraries, developed by Lagoa, include the usual suspects like metal and paints. But they can also include finely textured cloth and volumetric stuff like tinted glass. For a couple of hundred bucks, Lagoa can scan in and reproduce your unique material if you need it.
Another power of the cloud that Lagoa offers cannot be seen in a traditional sense or felt on your workstation: Background rendering. Once you like a scene, however you define that, you can send it off for rendering in the background. You can concurrently keep editing your model or begin a new project. You can have a few renderings cooking in the background if you want. You can dip into your project folders to keep an eye on what’s going on or log off and come back later to see results.
Collaboration on Lagoa is multifaceted. It can be public so that, say, your end users can adjust colors or materials. You can invite people into private sessions and have multiple editors working on a model in real time simultaneously. And that’s not a hand-off. While two people cannot edit the same attribute at the same time, they can work on the same part.
The Lagoa 3D visualization and rendering service is the beginning of what is envisioned as a cloud-based applications suite extending from concept through engineering and on up through manufacturing, sales and support. For those with occasional rendering needs or who are tired of constantly updating software and workstations, Lagoa appears to provide a cost-effective and efficient platform that could be what you need to untether yourself from costly applications and workstations. Hit today’s Check it Out link to see Lagoa in action. Later, sign up for the free limited account to give Lagoa a test drive and see for yourself.
Thanks, Pal. – Lockwood
Anthony J. Lockwood
Editor at Large, Desktop Engineering