Architectural visualization is a very old practice that has been used even in ancient Egypt. However, this term today is used to describe technology-aided representations of structures. During its existence, architectural visualization has changed many times, however, the changes have been drastic during the 21st century, aided by technological development.
Since architecture visualization is slowly becoming a must and there are more and more professionals using real-time rendering, we are able to recognize new trends emerging aided by new technology. One of the latest trends that appeared in 2019 is integration, and not just any kind, but of various new technologies that can improve previous workflows within the visualization process.
This is what we are going to discuss today and why the many opportunities for integration carry so much relevance in the world of architectural visualization.
Every architectural firm or a freelance professional rely on different CAD software solutions in their work. Not only that, but they also have different compatibility for their solutions, even if they are using the same one, different professionals have different workflows and processes they utilize to do their work.
On the other hand, there is also a different kind of output that professionals can choose. Even though professional visualizers understand that they need to improve their videos and stills constantly, they still have a lot of options available and ways they can do this. Are they supposed to produce complete VR experiences or rely on real-time rendering to speed up and enhance videos?
Some might benefit from making their whole design process a VR experience, but should they use it to finish the final imagery or work on their clay models? Is there a way for integrating new technologies that would allow the adjustment of every step to offer an even better service to customers?
We’ve just explored a couple of options and possible scenarios and it is already clear that it would simply be impossible to create a program that would be able to suit every possible workflow. Even if such a program existed, it would have to be very expensive, complex, and it would require a lot of resources to work properly.
This is why the industry and established professionals in the field have turned their focus towards the integration of other solutions within their processes and adding new workflows whenever necessary. The fundamental tool used for rendering in real time is the engine which is powering a certain piece of software.
For example, Epic Games has the Unreal Engine that stands above the rest when it comes to architectural rendering. The reason why it’s better the most is that it has great photorealism potential with real-time speed going from 30 frames per second and up to 90 frames per second.
Unreal Studio is the gateway to this engine and it is a completely free tool suite which has a Datasmith plugin used for importing all the necessary CAD data.
Unreal Studio comes equipped with a lot of out-of-the-box real-time tools but the Unreal Engine is a completely open platform that offers a lot of integration possibilities.
For example, in the case of Mindesk, the tool allows sculpting features that can be used for virtual reality model building and is currently being developed to allow Unreal Engine integration with all the lighting solutions and material options.
This is a typical example of innovative integrations that are going to bring the new era in architecture design and visualization. These kinds of applications will allow architects to work solely with hand motions in a completely stereoscopic 3D environment, where they can sculpt photorealistic models.
Another example of real-time rendering integration with Unreal Engine is Twinmotion. Twinmotion is a software that has always had a prototyping tool that allows architects to do real-time prototyping in a completely intuitive environment on a user-friendly interface.
However, they recently started working on bridge-ing it with the Unreal Engine, as this will improve the level of output quality with realistic lighting tools and physical materials. This potential integration will drastically change the level of quality and open up many options for designers that they haven’t had before.
V-Ray is currently probably the most popular renderer used for Sketchup, Rhino, Maya, and 3D Max, and they are also entering the real-time rendering game and following up on the trend. The developers Chaos Group has announced that they are working on developing V-Ray that will work on Unreal Engine and create a direct bridge between these platforms.
When all the design options from V-Ray get integrated within the Unreal Engine, all the lights, materials, and effects will be converted into real-time equals, while at the same time retaining a constant connection to all the originals. Simply put, it means that it will be possible to create maximum-quality renders while using the Unreal Editor only.
Unreal Engine is completely scriptable with Python and this was a clear opportunity for real-time professionals to start building brand new tools that would help improve and speed up their process of visualization. The group Theia Interactive are one of the first voices of virtual reality real-time rendering and they just released Optim.
Optim is a large number of Python scripts which add new functionalities to Datasmith plugin and more importantly, it automates a lot of the optimization tasks which are repetitive and constantly pop out when architectural data is imported.
These integration opportunities and efforts will break down many barriers concerning virtual reality, immersion, customer experience, and interactive design.
All the design workflows that were previously used can remain intact with an added bonus of all the benefits of real-time rendering. Stay tuned with Unreal Studio and try out some of the tools that are already available to tighten your workflow.