By Ryan O'Donohoe

Last week, some of our visualisation team travelled to Venice, Italy for State of Art Academy’s 10th birthday celebrations - codename #ADX.

Here, Ryan, our fresh-faced AV intern tells us his highlights from his first EVER work trip. We all remember ours - don’t we?

Epic Games

The event’s main partner this year was Epic Games, which meant that a lot of the presentations featured elements of Epic Games’ Unreal Engine, and there was a huge conversation around ‘the future’ and how realtime will play a pivotal role in our industry.

Alex Coulombe (Architect turned XR-chitect) from Agile Lens, explained how he uses various Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality tools to not just view the final product but in the design process itself. Alex made a good point that simply reviewing 3D creations after they had been made was counter-intuitive and that it made more sense for VR and AR to be a part of the process from the very start! 

Real-time Ray Tracing

At the Game Developers Conference last year, Ray Tracing in real time was huge news, however, it was limited by the expensive hardware needed to run it.

Carlos Cristerna from Neoscape’s RadLab demonstrated how easy it is now, by real-time rendering a ray-traced animation of 425 Park Avenue on a laptop. The work he showed was lovely, and had lots of potential but also showed that we’re not ready to give up V-Ray & Corona just yet!

Building a future with AI

For me, one of the most interesting things to come from the conference was Andrew Maximov’s talk on Promethean AI. Maximov is a Game industry veteran and talked passionately about how Artificial Intelligence will help us all, (note - not replace us all) in removing the mundane tasks and giving us more time to concentrate on the all-important creative.

It’s currently in very early alpha but has some incredible implications for many industries, including our own. 

Andrew demonstrated current features including being able to scan, categorise and intelligently organise entire libraries of models. You can also simply ask Promethean to decorate a room with ambiguous phrases such as “a messy kids room from the 80s”, and quickly populate a space with furniture and dressing related to it. Wow!

A few other noteworthy nuggets of learning were - Zoan revealing that they gave their entire team a solid 3 months of unreal training(!), Bloom Realities lovely images of the future of urban air mobility for Lilium, insanely detailed normal maps of banana’s from Friendly Shade, and plenty of references as always to the work of Hugh Ferriss.

Let’s Party!

And last but not least, I couldn’t write this without mentioning the ADX party which took place in a huge Italian villa. Here, we enjoyed typical Italian hospitality - mountains of delicious food and more spritz than you can shake a render node at whilst we watched mesmerising traditional Poi fire dance - a first for me!

Interesting speakers, networking and an (Epic!) cake - what’s not to like?!

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