Technical interview of Bloom Unit (plug in for SketchUp) and Iray (developed by Nvidia)

Learn in-depth details of Bloom Unit and Iray.


Technical interview of Bloom Unit (plug in for SketchUp) and Iray

We interviewed Mr. Chris Blewitt (Director/Partner of migenius – parent company of Bloom Unit). The extracts are as follows.

Welcome Chris. Kindly let us in detail what is Iray?

Iray, developed by Nvidia, is the core rendering engine inside Bloom Unit and benefits tremendously from the continuous leading-edge testing and feature development by the world’s largest and most advanced graphics company. Nvidia uses Iray as its central test bed as it optimises the combined processing power of both its GPU hardware and CUDA based software platform.

What are the best features of Iray?

Definitely first and foremost is Iray’s unmatched processing speed in producing physically accurate and photographic quality output. And augmenting this performance is the industry leading and real-time AI denoising integration.

Another important feature is Iray’s ability to provide both Local GPU and seamless Cloud based processing options. The cloud feature is particularly valuable, as this provides seamless access to powerful GPU server systems for users with low powered laptop or tablet client devices.

Next on the list of features would be Iray’s physically accurate lighting simulation system providing precise and critical visual feedback for both designers and end-clients which is further enhanced by its real-time and interactive lighting analysis tools, providing real-world and continuously updated full screen lighting measurement values. Iray’s lighting system is further supplemented by the utilisation of the full range of Industry standard IES file format data in conjunction with the ability to readily define accurate light source area size, shape and colour temperature.

Another important feature is the full support of the powerful MDL material definition standard, which is now an open source standard that was also originally developed by Nvidia within Iray.

How Bloom Unit is different from other rendering plugins?

Bloom Unit uniquely offers its users the option of either processing scenes using their locally installed GPU or, for both mac users and those with standard laptop or tablet devices, there is also the option of seamlessly connecting to powerful cloud-based GPU servers for even faster image processing. And Bloom Unit is the only SketchUp plug-in providing real-time photoreal and interactive rendering while you construct, edit or review any part of your SketchUp model.

Bloom Unit also enables ‘Caustic Sampling’, a feature that is not available in almost every other SketchUp rendering plug-in. Caustic Sampling helps in producing true photographic quality imagery with full and accurate simulation of real-world light transport functions such as physical based refraction, specular reflection, TIR (or Total Internal Reflection), sub-surface scattering and diffuse transmission.

Bloom Unit plug in for SketchUp

Bloom Unit provides a wide range of lighting configuration tools, including the ability to create articulated/aimable light fixtures/luminaires. In addition, Bloom Unit also provides fully interactive lighting analysis features that allows lighting and interior designers to evaluate the precise combination of lamp source colour temperatures and luminaire distributions with their finish selections using the illuminance/Luminance measurement functions.

Other unique features of Bloom Unit in providing both greater accuracy and artistic control over the image production process are the White Balance and Depth of Field functions, available in the Bloom Unit viewport menu. And Bloom Unit also uniquely features an inbuilt library of over 5,000 high detail Laubwerk vegetation ‘proxy’ models (only available with the cloud processing option).

Why only SketchUp?

We chose to create our first Iray based plug-in for SketchUp nearly 8 years ago, due to SketchUp’s relatively low cost and rapidly growing popularity with small to mid-size design and construction related businesses. But since then we also have released similar function plug-in products for other content creation/CAD packages such as Rhino and Onshape along with limited/custom release versions for Revit, ArchiCAD, 3DS Max, Maya, Unity and Unreal Engine.

Please explain production pipeline of Bloom Unit and SketchUp.

After installing Bloom Unit (there is a free 10-hour trial period available), you open up your SketchUp model.

Then at any point, you can simply click a single menu button to seamlessly start a Bloom Unit rendering session (using either your locally installed Nvidia GPU or uploading your scene data to a dedicated cloud processing resource).

Shortly after, a separate Bloom Unit view-port window will open, displaying a continuous stream of photo-real and production quality images of your current model as viewed by your SketchUp camera.  You can move and resize this view-port as needed.

Then any edits you make to your model will be updated, within seconds and in full photographic detail, and displayed inside the Bloom Unit viewport. This feature allow users to endlessly experiment with their design choices including changing furniture arrangements, finish selections, luminaire placement, daylight conditions or landscaping elements, with real-time feedback and without the need for separate test renders.

And when you want to save your output, this can be done either automatically using the ‘Autosave’ function or you can manually save your images using the ‘Save Image’ button in the Bloom Unit viewport menu.

Which technology developments are unique to Bloom Unit and Iray?

Much of the many unique technology capabilities of Bloom Unit and Iray have already been listed in the answers provided earlier. But I would like to add from the feedback we have already received from many of our users stating that the unique speed, quality and capability provided by Bloom Unit enables both designers and stakeholders to smoothly explore and share in the detailed design process with a confidence that is simply not possible from any other visualisation solution, irrespective of the CAD or content creation package used.

Let us know some of the major production credentials which used Bloom Unit.

As our role is limited to providing technical support and not production support, we have little knowledge of the projects that our users undertake and in the cases where we do become aware of any project detail, we are bound by our confidentiality requirements. However we have won all 3 of the Lighting Design awards that Bloom Unit has been submitted for and also the same product platforms used in Bloom Unit are also powering major applications for many of our clients including Amazon, Timex, Honda, Tetra-Pak, Fluid Inc, Floorplanner, Oldcastle, Takemoto and Log Log (Japan) to name just a few.

How are you integrating AI and Deep Learning in Bloom Unit?

Bloom Unit already utilises Nvidia’s Optix AI Accelerated Denoiser function and will soon integrate elements of Optix’s AI Accelerated rendering pipeline using RTX Tensor cores in cloud server systems.

Are you also providing solutions in the field of AR & VR?

Yes definitely, Bloom Unit already provides high speed processing of 360 Spherical and Cylindrical VR output. And with a recent release of BloomUnit, we also provide the ability to process Stereo 360 VR output as combined vertical and horizontal configured output files in a single pass. In addition, we are also working with a client partner in placing furniture elements within 360 Augmented Reality environments, which we hope to make available in a future Bloom Unit release.

Bloom Unit Stereo 360 VR output

What new updates can we expect in upcoming version of Bloom Unit?

There are many updates coming through to upcoming versions of Bloom Unit, these include:

  • Full Integration of the Medular/MDL Material Definition System.
  • Significant processing algorithm improvements.
  • Adding support for RTX hardware acceleration.
  • Next generation AI denoising support.

The Virtual Assist thanks Mr. Chris Blewitt for sharing such in-depth technical details with us. We are looking forward to see more amazing features in Bloom Unit and Iray.


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