For architects, visualisation has always been the primary method for representing and communicating their ideas. In the 1990’s, the architecture discipline was revolutionised with the introduction of computers and CAD software. This radically changed the mainstream architectural process including methods of visualisation and presentation.
What once involved sketches, water colour and hand drawings, quickly evolved into computational 3D models that could be viewed from any angle, enhancing the understanding of a design before it was built.
Since the introduction of CAD, software capability has grown and with it so too has the industry’s proficiency with computers.
Today, most architects can produce static rendered images to present and communicate a vision to clients. This, coupled with the emergence of platforms such as Pinterest and Instagram means architecture imagery and inspiration is more accessible than ever. Clients are becoming more involved in the design process and architects are constantly searching for more efficient and engaging processes to execute their projects.
Real-time rendering is nothing new in the creative world and most people are actually very familiar with what it looks like.
If you’ve ever played a video game, then you’ve experienced real-time rendering.
So what is real-time rendering? Essentially, it’s exactly what it sounds like. Graphic frames are rendered at a speed that makes it seem as though it’s being generated in real-time. It uses the same techniques applied in any traditional rendering process -modelling, material application, lighting, and animation. However, it replaces the traditional rendering engine with one that’s able to quickly render in real-time.
Where traditional render engines can take minutes or hours to generate a single frame, real-time engines are able to render a frame almost instantly. The appeal here is that the final result can be experienced immediately without waiting minutes or hours for a single frame.
In most projects the architect and client are engaged in a continuous cycle of design iterations and feedback. With a static image, there are obvious limitations in the information that can be expressed, often requiring a significant amount of back and fourth.
With traditional rendering software this back and fourth becomes a time consuming process. This is because a great deal of time is spent setting up a scene for this single static image. Making sure the lights are in the correct place, checking texture mapping, adjusting the focal length. All of these can only be checked through rendering a test image. This might take 3 or 4 minutes per test. That may not seem like a long time but when the scene needs to be checked 10-20 times, it really adds up.
By using real-time rendering, the architect is no longer constrained by the traditional time-consuming visualisation workflow.
They can review designs themselves or with a client, almost instantly.
While there may always be a need for traditional methods of achieving ‘photo-realistic’ renders, implementing real-time rendering into a design process enables faster design of iterations and more seamless communication between the architect and client.
From a client’s perspective, a static image is often not the most effective way to express a design or the client’s vision. The issue here is not in the quality of the static image or it’s lack of detail it is the inability to explore the design from different angles. Instead the client is forced to imagine how the design looks from an everyday non-cinematic perspective and is unable to explore the entire design.
Real-time rendering remedies this by allowing the client to explore the entire design from whatever view they wish – reviewing things like materiality, colours, lighting and shading throughout the day. The dynamic real-time experience allows the client to respond and confidently critique the design in a more informed and timely way, ultimately saving them time and also money with a reduced number of iteration rounds required.
Using real-time rendering technology, an architect is able to build an interactive world around the project site. The interactive environment can be used to test concepts until it becomes a fully resolved and considered design. The beauty in real-time visualisation is that the design output shifts from a static object to a dynamic environment unlocking representation avenues such a weather, day to night cycles, traffic and pedestrians, all in one render. The architect and the client both benefit greatly from a more dynamic visual process.
Although introducing real time software into a design process is an upfront investment, the advantages of real-time rendering make it a worthwhile. As with CAD software, Rhino, Photoshop and so many others, the techniques and skills associated with real-time rendering will eventually become a necessity, not a luxury, to execute projects more efficiently and to deliver the best experience to clients.
If you’d like to learn more about how Voxell can help with the design, resource consent, or delivery of your property development projects, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org