The next blockbuster motion picture or video game may have an impact on the way tomorrow’s vehicles are designed in the studio, according to the experts at Autodesk (www.autodesk.com). Using technology gained from its recent acquisition of Skymatter, whose founders all worked on films including The Lord of the Rings and then went on to develop Mudbox 3D modeling software (www.mudbox3d.com), Autodesk plans to allow sculptors to articulate shapes and proportions digitally for improved efficiency and accuracy. “We’re looking into workflows right now to demonstrate the parallels in technologies used in gaming and motion pictures and how those can be used, especially in sculpting, to develop a sketch book that can be articulated in 3D,” says Thomas Heermann, product line manager-manufacturing solutions division at Autodesk.
Mudbox enables sculptors to use 3D layering, asymmetrical mirroring and texture-baking tools in one software package. “We want to get sculptors into 3D very early, but we also want to make it easy to use; not requiring them to have the knowledge of a math modeler,” Heermann says. Using the tools to more effectively visualize initial ideas, sculptors will be able to produce fewer, but more accurate, clay models.
Autodesk is also looking into developing 3D programs that can better simulate the properties of materials used on vehicle interiors, with a focus on allowing designers to test whether a certain material is better suited for certain applications than another before contracting for prototypes to be constructed. The company is studying the ability to use bidirectional reflectance distribution function and high dynamic ranging imaging technologies—both of which have been used extensively in movie animation and video gaming—for digital material validation. “We’re looking to see how we can mimic a real-world material in the digital world, getting down to even looking at the perceived quality of a piece—looking at the gaps and imperfections on overlapping surfaces, making sure the gap is not too wide,” Heermann says. Autodesk isn’t willing to predict when it will have these capabilities available for automotive customers, but remains confident it will be able to take interior material development into the digital world, right down to the individual fiber.—KMK