CAD Center creates Tokyo-sized digital twins with Twinmotion and Unreal Engine

We’ve seen a lot of activity lately around digital twins, where live data is fed to a 3D model for real-time updates within the 3D scene itself. The creation of digital twins is a large-scale project, but many companies around the globe are busily tackling some or all of the components needed to pull together such a project. 

CAD Center is a Tokyo-based company that specializes in video, still images, interactive content, VR content, and simulators based on 3D CG technology. Since 1987, CAD Center has been visualizing cities in new and exciting ways, and this year is no exception—CAD Center is currently using Twinmotion and Unreal Engine to build 3D cities for digital twins and urban planning.

We spoke with CAD Center to learn more about the company’s current projects, and their plans for the future.

Please tell us about the large-scale project showing the city of Osaka.

The project showing the city of Osaka is not for a specific client, but for aerial photography and visualization of urban spaces. This project can be used by any organization that handles urban planning. Similar projects are in progress for Tokyo and Yokohama.

We mainly used Twinmotion for the Osaka project, and Unreal Engine for the Tokyo project. We have been using Unreal Engine for about six years, and Twinmotion since the release of Twinmotion 2018. Both are extremely useful for quickly visualizing scenes where there are a huge number of models.
We are creating visualizations for promoting real estate as well, so we are testing visualization using real-time technology.

You have generated very large 3D models of Osaka and Tokyo. How were you able to do this? Did you use clever tricks for geometry, texturing, lighting, etc.?

The models themselves were created with 3ds Max. We created terrains and building structures as base shapes based on survey data, maps, and aerial photographs. Each building that could be a landmark was customized. Other building structures used general-purpose textures in order to reduce load.

Also, we created masks that could be used for windows and reflective objects. This made realistic visualization possible.

For your YouTube videos, you have some projects that are an entire city, and some which are one intersection with dozens of people. Please tell us about the intersection projects. How did you generate the crowds?

For those YouTube videos, we made a precise model of a specific area of Shibuya, Tokyo, and we used Twinmotion to represent pedestrians. With Twinmotion we can place foliage, people, and automobiles quickly and correctly, resulting in rich visuals and realistic representations. Since we can check the visualization soon after model data is generated, we start to use it at the early stage of our creation flow.
By providing urban data in a specific area, it becomes possible to visualize all the information relevant to that location, such as information on people flow or simulations of autonomous driving.

What are your favorite features of Unreal Engine and Twinmotion?

Since Twinmotion provides a large amount of assets, we can check visuals very quickly. Also, you don’t need technical knowledge to operate Twinmotion, and it runs smoothly. 

After visualization, Unreal Engine and Twinmotion make it possible for the project to be further developed as content. So both are quite dependable for visualization and development.

What does the future hold for CAD Center?

CAD Center currently supports the promotion of urban DX [digital transformation] by creating urban data and providing services related to digital twins and smart cities. For such projects, visualization is an important factor, and so we believe the use of Twinmotion and Unreal Engine is indispensable.

The purpose of our operation is to construct and provide visualization environments by creating and developing images, interactive content, VR content, and simulators based on 3DCG technology. We will keep on developing real-time visualization that is useful for the purpose.

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