Issue: Jun 2012

Ai exclusive interview: - Jérôme Bellocq, co-founder and VP Business Development at Lumiscaphe.

by Rob White

Lumiscaphe has over 11 years experience in the design of made-to-measure software technology, particularly in realistic, real-time 3D photographic rendering. The company just launched its Patchwork3D v5.2 version. Patchwork3D is the company’s flagship product. It integrates easily into the digital line and provides a collection of easy to use tools for manufacturing on demand films, interactive images and high definition images. The new version came with a number of improvements including the ability to create multilayer materials, creation of local environments, assigning multiple environments on individual surface or surface groups, the ability to assign null surfaces to sets of parts. This made it easier to manipulate in a cinematic sequence, and the addition of multi-cutting planes gave it more versatility in the study of product geometry and more.

Lumiscaphe says that the ultra-rapid computation of very high definition images and of animation of Patchwork3D enables direct integration of graphic elements with conventional communication tools. So the two modules of Patchwork3D increase productivity by separating the importing and optimizing of CAD models on the one hand and on the other, it exploits the fullest extent of the latest generation of graphic cards to provide a highly fluid interactive display with the highest degree of realism. Patchwork3D recognizes many CAD 3D formats. The Shaper module in Patchwork3D offers many tools for working on models – this includes the ability to reorient surfaces, modify their triangulation, group surfaces, move the pivot points or define the parameters for the unfolding of surfaces for the application. The software also allows for the creation of lighting environments that help make precise adjustments to lighting. The lighting preview is real-time which allows for designers to easily position various light sources. Patchword3D also allows the product being designed to be modified during project reviews which allows them to be personalized according to the markets they are aimed at. A multiple number of virtual prototypes can be made using the software tools.

Patchwork3D also comes with a built in ray tracing rendering engine. This rendering technique simulates reflection and refraction phenomena. Computed inter-reflections are superimposed with Patchword3D render without affecting the rendered quality of materials. Lumiscaphe’s other products include the P3D Anima Suite which is for products designed using Patchword3D animation. So using the Shaper module of Patchwork3D, designers can adjust the pivot of the main surfaces and create the kinematic chain linking the surfaces with which the animation is concerned. With the Matter module, various products can be selected and exported to be animated and then are loaded into P3D Anima Suite.

Another complementary tool to Patchword3D is the P3D Conf Builder that allows for a full product range to be edited. Several brand new mechanisms complete the functionalities of Patchword3D. What P3D Conf Builder offers designers is the notion of aspect parts which is the assembly of a set of dressed surfaces. Each surface is defined by a mesh with a set of UV texture coordinates. In the latter half of 2011, car-maker Renault chose P3D Conf Builder to display their vehicles in 3D and in real time in 500 sales points in France. The product configuration software solution P3D Conf Builder was therefore adapted to Renaults’s demands. Integrating the P3D Conf Builder solution into Renault’s digital design workflow allowed for the use of the models’ 3D databases to visualize product variants with a photorealistic quality in real time.

Lumiscaphe’s P3D Conf Explorer is the destination module of the configuration system for configuring user interface – the module exploits the information exported by Conf Builder. The object of P3D Conf Builder is to offer the user a configuration process in accordance with that defined in P3D Conf Builder which results in a photorealistic real-time 3D display. Users have the possibility with P3D Conf Explorer to define navigation constraints specific to their 3D scene. Lumiscaphe’s P3D Virtual Sight is an immersive viewing software that allows you to display and run your P3D scenes in real time on complex viewing devices. P3D Virtual Sight is compatible with the databases created in Patchwork3D. The display possibilities are numerous – single screen, two screen or three-screen with immersive cubic system, panorama-cylindrical projection surfaces and so on. P3D Virtual Sight has an interactive adjustment of the rendering configuration that allows the parameters of each display configuration to be saved.

Automotive Industries spoke to Jérôme Bellocq, co-founder and VP Business Development at Lumiscaphe.

AI: How has high end visualization technologies impacted automotive design?

Automotive design has for a long time been ahead of other industries design regarding needs of advanced visualization for good reasons. The looks of a car seem more important to a customer today than driving performance, comfort or even security, for a given car category. Given that developing a new car project is tremendously expensive, one can easily understand that tools that make it easier, faster and more thorough to help generate, validate and configure designs are a must for this industry. High-end visualization technologies help make more ambitious designs: risks are reduced by early stage digital mockup visualization, letting managers make choices without needing costly physical mockups. More designs can be chosen from, resulting in better overall car design for the customer.

AI: What are some of the recent breakthroughs made by Lumiscaphe in the field of visual computing technologies?

Our most interesting new development is our WebRender technology, closing our integrated line of software.

Traditionally, there used to be gaps between the design, marketing and sales departments.

You had a new design of a car reviewed with one software at the design department. Then when the marketing department wanted to make some renderings for brochures, they got the design data into another piece of software, made specific materials, assigned them to surfaces and rendered pictures. Then again, the sales department wanting to have a car configurator on the company's website got also the data, and redid the work, only adding more geometry and material options, working again with different tools, making potential new mistakes in material assignment and wasting time correcting them. Sometimes they even have to remodel missing parts because they cannot work directly with engineering data.

We at Lumiscaphe thrive to propose a complete and integrated process chain.

The designers and engineers have different data sets that are merged in Patchwork3D for design review or perceived quality in real-time. Review can also be done in Cave environments in full scale with tracking.
The color and trim department designers make materials for Patchwork3D and assign materials in it for reviewing, using the very same geometry data. When the project is advanced enough, configuration is also integrated, then validated by the shape designers and the color & trim designers. Because everything is already integrated, the marketing department just has to take existing Patchwork3D database to generated high quality, high resolution visuals. The last stage is the sales department, linked to the marketing, getting the job done ahead and using it with our WebRender technology to provide a dynamic website with active configuration, without having to work again on the data. If an option is added in the color and trim department, the change can be passed seamlessly up to the website within a minimum time frame.

AI: How has your Patchwork3D v5.2 version aided automotive designers ?

Patchwork3D v5.2 helps designers in different ways. Because Patchwork3D is high quality real-time rendering, designers can better show their ideas, convince their peers and managers. Thus they can spend more time on design itself.

Patchwork3D 5.2 is very fast and easy to use, with dedicated tools like the unfolding workshop to help designers work faster and better.

Also, because data can be directly passed along across various departments, it helps keep data faithful to the original idea, without interferences.

And because the original data can be used up to the website, it adds more value to the design itself, which does never have to be remodeled for any use. This is a real time and money saver.

AI: Please give us some examples of automotive companies that are using your software tools.

Renault is using the full range of our software line, using Patchwork3D for design purposes, color and matter choices, marketing visuals and configuration, locally at the car dealerships and over the internet. Subcontractors like Faurecia or Toyota Boshoku also use our products for design reviews and configuration for presentation to car makers.

AI: How does Lumiscaphe work with automotive firms to help customize solutions?

Talking about Renault, we developed a special software link with their PLM system, so that all the car configuration options can be directly imported in Conf Builder, discarding the risk of mistakes and making the work even faster. If a new option is added to the system, even the car configurator at the car dealerships (3D real-time on a multitouch screen) is updated automatically.

More generally speaking, we are very open to custom development as we want to be close to our customers. We find it is the best way to build a strong relationship that is mutually profitable. Quite a large part of our projects are tailored for very specific needs, relying on our existing workflow for best efficiency. We also develop tablet applications upon demand and make developments for very specific visualization hardware.

AI: Tell us a little about your company’s R&D and quality standards.

We have a very strict hiring and project managing policy. Nearly half of our development team has PhD, and the rest of the crew is just short of it. Making good software is a difficult task and we take it very seriously. This way, because some of our customers require very specialized and complex custom developments, our team is always up to the level to respond to their needs.

AI: Tell us about Lumiscaphe’s participation in events like Siggraph 2012 being held this August and your participation earlier this year in April at Laval 2012.

Laval Virtual is for us the main show for meeting and talking with our main customers, while we usually present new technologies and developments at the Siggraph.

Come and visit us at the Siggraph to see exciting new developments from Lumiscaphe !

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