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I am new to Blender and 3D graphics in general, and would like to know whether the software is the right choice for the following task: I would like to visualize position data coming from an external simulation (think many many cars driving around, possibly with lights) in real-time while adding lights and textures (e.g. a CAD model of a city, street lamps, etc.). At the same time, I would like to be able to zoom, pan, and rotate the view.

If possible, I also would like to eventually render the entire animation (maybe with higher quality effects, in this case position data can be extracted from a CSV, and the rendering does not have to be real-time).

The idea would be to be able to control the location of the cars and some of the parameters (e.g. the intensity of the car lights) from the external simulation. The scene would probably be created before directly in Blender (or just imported using compatible 3d-models). Ideally, the scene is embedded in an external graphical interface (e.g. a simplified 3d view that only allows to zoom and pan).

Is Blender the right software for this? If so, do you have any hints to get started (e.g. reads the section about Phython API, etc.).

Thank you very much, Fede

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  • $\begingroup$ So, maybe using the Blender Game Engine? Or maybe another game engine will work (Unity and Unreal are two free ones)? On eventually rendering, you would need to cache the data somewhere. $\endgroup$
    – Gliderman
    Jul 26, 2016 at 0:41

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The short answer is "yes."

The longer answer is "it depends on exactly how you want to do it."

If you can be a bit more specific about what kind of data you're wanting to import, that'd be really helpful. You can get just about anything you want into Blender, but it might be simpler to pre-process it with another application. Knowing what that is and where it comes from will help us to make some recommendations.

If you can be a bit more specific about your intended result, that'd be really helpful. Blender can do real-time 3D as well as feature-film-quality video... and anything in between. More information will make it easier to be more helpful.

As for the best place to start, I would NOT (perhaps surprisingly) recommend studying the Python API. It has a Python API. That's really about all you need to know. It can do anything Python can do, so technically you can literally do almost anything you want with Blender. You might even be able to write an Operating System with it... though I don't know how much help Blender would be in that process.

Generically, the best place to start would be the Blender Manual. Figure out what Blender does and how it does it. Then you will have a much better idea of whether or not you want to use it for your project.

Hope that helps!

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks. I envision having a visualization of cars driving around a city. The data produced by an external simulation would be a position, orientation, lights intensity and color of every car (think 100-200 cars). The data will be available via a middleware or some other inter-process communication at 25fps. This for the real-time. For the non real-time, the data could simply be stored in a CSV file as a time-series and read as necessary (there, if the rendering takes more than real-time is no problem). $\endgroup$
    – Fede
    Jul 26, 2016 at 7:17

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