Skip to main content

Creating Dense Urban Terrain with Models Generated in Esri CityEngine

Creating Dense Urban Terrain with Models Generated in Esri CityEngine


MetaVR and many of its customers use Esri® CityEngine to generate a 3D model comprised of a large number of geotypical buildings as a culture supplement to terrain built in Terrain Tools for Esri ArcGIS.

CityEngine is a standalone software product for rapidly creating procedural 3D urban models. CityEngine generates the models from building footprints and road vectors using Open Street Map (OSM) data, which are extruded and textured from OSM data using computer generated architecture (CGA) rule files. A single CGA rule file can be used to generate many 3D models using feature attribute information stored in the OSM data.

In a simple workflow, you can output an urban model of many geotypical buildings from CityEngine to FBX format or Collada’s DAE format (for converting the latter to FLT format in Presagis Creator), and then use MetaVR’s FBX or FLT model conversion utility to convert the model to MetaVR’s model format for rendering in Virtual Reality Scene Generator™ (VRSG™). (These utilities are delivered with VRSG.) Then you simply reference the urban model in a cultural feature file like any other model that you want VRSG to load on the terrain at runtime.

The following example shows use of CityEngine to generate culture for the terrain of Dubai, United Arab Emirates, resulting in a dense urban environment.

Using Terrain Tools and Esri CityEngine, MetaVR created an urban environment of more than 6,000 realistic 3D buildings in virtual Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

In the above example, 3D models of over 6,000 buildings in Dubai were extruded and textured in CityEngine from OSM data. The models were exported in the popular FBX file format, which were converted to MetaVR’s model format and rendered in VRSG. See the slide show above for a closer view of the resulting replica of Dubai.