3D Modeling and Design

Gert van Maren introduces CityEngine and shows you can quickly and easily create complex 3D simulations from your existing 2D GIS data.

Jul 11th, 2011

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00:01Flying and driving around 3D virtual cities can not only be fun, like we did earlier…

00:05…but also incredibly valuable when it's applied to understanding and designing our world.

00:10However, the challenges have been in creating the 3D data. It takes time to build 3D simulations.

00:17We're going to show you some new approaches and techniques to address these challenges…

00:21…and create a whole new environment for 3D geodesign and simulation.

00:26Please welcome our 3D product manager, Gert van Maren.

00:34Thanks, John. With the 10 release, ArcGIS became a complete system for 3D GIS.

00:40And the response has been very positive. The number-one comment we got from you as users, though, was…

00:47…We would love to go 3D, but we only have 2D data. How can we create great 3D data?

00:54Well, let me show you how. As Jack mentioned earlier, we've acquired Procedural, maker of CityEngine…

01:01…and this offer allows you to take your GIS data, apply Procedural rules, and generate high-quality 3D content.

01:10Here we have CityEngine with building footprints coming from ArcGIS and attributes such as building height.

01:20Now I can select all my building footprints and apply a rule to generate 3D buildings.

01:27Now a rule is basically a script file that tells the software how to generate 3D content based on your GIS data.

01:35Now in this case, it's just a simple extrusion, and we're applying generic random textures.

01:41If, however, you have more information available in your GIS about your buildings, such as number of floors…

01:49…floor height, or roof type, the system can take that information and improve the quality of the 3D models.

02:00Now you can edit your data by either editing attributes in ArcGIS or changing the rules in CityEngine.

02:09So here, for example, I can change the roof type, and I can also generate a higher level of detail for this specific building if needed.

02:22And if you already have existing 3D models for your buildings, you can easily integrate these as well into the city scene.

02:39I can also drag in street centerlines and apply a street rule to generate 3D streets.

02:48And in this case, I'm using the width attribute in the GIS data to derive the width of the 3D streets.

02:56You can really model your city the way you want it based on your GIS data.

03:02But not only can we create 3D content, with this software, we can design in 3D as well.

03:10Let's have a look here at this empty area in the middle of my city.

03:14I have parcel data with attributes such as maximum building height, setbacks, and offsets…

03:20…and I can apply a residential urban planning rule to generate 3D massing models that reflect the planning regulations.

03:30And I can then further fine-tune my design by changing the rules.

03:36So for example, I can change the distance to the parcel boundary, I can enable my setbacks…

03:44…and I can change the setback distance. And you saw that the model was updated instantly.

03:52So one great feature of CityEngine is that it supports so-called styles.

03:59And styles are sets of predefined rule parameters that make it very easy to change between different design proposals…

04:07…or to improve the quality of your design.

04:14So in this case, you see that we improved the façade quality of these 3D massing models.

04:21Now finally, to finish off my design, I need to add a street.

04:28So I can very simply draw a street, and you will notice that the rule is automatically applied.

04:39And then I need to change the width of my street to make it fit in between the buildings…

04:44…and then I want to make it actually not a street but a footpath, so I apply a footpath rule.

04:52Now you'll notice that I drew my footpath straight across this main street, so what I now very simply and easily can do…

05:00…I can drag it up, and you'll notice that CityEngine automatically creates a bridge in this location.

05:15Now once you're finished modeling your city, you can bring it back into ArcGIS for further analyses…

05:21…or export it out to high-end simulation engines.

05:25And over the coming months, we will further integrate the capabilities of CityEngine into the ArcGIS platform.

05:31And this will enable anybody that needs high-quality 3D content, such as urban planners, facility managers…

05:38…architects, users in the defense and simulation industry, to easily create and design in 3D.

05:47This truly is amazing technology created by a great team in Switzerland. It is exciting.

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Dear Gert Van Maren,

I want to use CityEngine but have some questions. Can I have your email address to be in contact with you?


Jul 19th, 2012. 3:44:28 AM


We will be working on ArcGIS integration over the coming months. The first step will be the upcoming release of CityEngine (2011.1). This release will be much more GIS friendly and is due out mid September 2011. The 2012 release of CityEngine will have even tighter integration with ArcGIS.

Gert van Maren


Aug 8th, 2011. 3:47:57 PM

the city engine is very good, and the modeling is very easy,
but how can it intergrate with ArcGIS?Looking forward!


Aug 4th, 2011. 7:30:19 AM

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