Architectural Visualization

Typically architectural visualizations are useful during two stages of a construction project. During the design phase, to assist in the design process, by providing accurate feedback on the visual impact of design decisions and facilitating client approval, and later, during the construction phase, as suitable materials for marketing and promotion of the developments, particularly useful when selling ‘off plan’ is envisaged by a developer.

Architectural visualization has changed much over recent years. Once the preserve of fine artists, who generally had an architectural background themselves, working on hand drawn measured perspectives, overlaid with water colour. Today it is now firmly in the realm of computer graphics, with many of the same techniques employed, as are used in the film industry, in the creation of special effects, sci-fi characters, cartoon animation or to recreate scenes that would require the building of expensive sets. At ADG we can recreate dimensionally accurate scenes of any size and complexity.

How Architectural Visualizations are produced

The process of visualizing a building is fundamentally a two stage process. In the first stage, information from building plans, in paper or CAD format, is used to generate a 3D computer model. With regard to images that are fully computer generated, the entire background scene will also need to be modelled. In the second stage, materials and lighting are specified. With the advent of much faster computers and advances in software, it has become possible to calculate the subtle lighting effects, caused by light bouncing off surfaces referred to as ‘Global illumination’, the irregular patterns created by light being diffracted through liquids, simulating the effects of light reflected off suspended particles such as dust, and many other surface effects, add to that, camera effects such as depth of field and motion blur, all these tools had given the modern day visualizer the means to create a degree of realism the traditional perspective artist could only dream of.

What we need from you

If you are interested to have Architectural Visualizations prepared, please send us, by email or post, drawings of your project, along with an indication of the number of images you require and information regarding the location and view direction of the camera. Photographs of the site are also very useful to us, please send these if they are available.

We are amongst the most competitive service available, so donít hesitate to request a free, no obligation quote.

On acceptance of our quotation, we will proceed with building the 3D model. Once the basic massing of the model is established we will send you a draft image, so you can comment on and approve the angle of view for still images, or agree the camera path for an architectural flythrough. We will then proceed to texture the model, adjust the lighting and add the necessary accessories, such as people and cars, which add to the sense of realism. We will then provide further draft images for your approval, initially in low resolution. Once the draft have been adjusted to your satisfaction, we will run the final high resolution images, which can be downloaded direct from our web site, or hard copy images can be posted to you if required, for a small additional fee.

Architectural Flythroughs

As an alternative to still images, and facilitated by advances in rendering software and computer hardware, it is becoming increasingly popular to produce animated video footage of proposed building projects. These are commonly referred to as video flythroughs or video walkthroughs, as they are capable of realistically visualizing the experience of flying or walking through the development in real time. Scenes are typically rendered with full ‘Global illumination’ and scene extras, such as people and cars may be animated as well. In the USA and Middle East, it is now established practice to use architectural flythroughs for all major building projects, as the preferred means of conveying design information and assisting with sales marketing.

Creating Architectural Flythroughs

The initial steps in creating an animated video are similar to that of still rendering. The building and its environment is modelled in the computer, materials are attached and the lighting configured. Additional steps involve establishing a camera path, denoting the motion of the camera around the development. The camera target may also need to be animated, to ensure the camera is looking in the right direction, throughout the duration of the flythrough. The final rendered video is actually a sequence of stills. Animation prepared for playback on a computer is typically run at 30 frames per second, alternatively, interlaced output can be prepared for playback on PAL or NTSC equipment, frame rates for these formats are run at 25 and 29.97 frames per second respectively.

Why would I use Architectural Flythroughs?

As clients expectations are increasing, the production of Architectural flythroughs is rapidly becoming a necessity, and no longer the preserve of the high value, prestige projects, however coupled with the trend towards the use of BIM modelling by design teams, and off shore rendering facilities, their production is fortunately becoming ever more affordable, even for the smallest of projects. Undoubtedly they offer the building client unparalleled means of experience the building before large financial commitments are undertaken, and likewise for investors and prospective purchasers. In addition they can play a significant role in supporting planning applications and appeals.

Photomontage and Verified Views

As an alternative to fully modelled CG Images, it is often cost effective to combine an existing photograph of the site with the computer generated model. With regard a complex street scene, this has the benefit of avoiding the need to accurately model surrounding buildings, thereby bringing down the cost of the work. In many instances, this method may also be the preferred by planning departments, where the view point can be verified, the scene is undoubtedly an accurate reflection of the visual impact of the final development, and there is less risk that individual background features could be mistakenly misrepresented, giving a misleading impression. With skilled manipulation of the computer generated model, a near perfect match can be achieved between the photograph and the CG output rendering the final visualization nearly indistinguishable from a photograph of the actual finished development.

Typically to generate a photomontage, a site photograph is taken from the chosen angle, and the location of the camera noted. In addition, site survey information is required. In many cases, this may already be available, such that suitable features visible in the photograph can be mapped in space, in relationship to the computer generated model of the proposed development. The location of the surrounding features are entered into the computer, to enable the visualization software to accurately pinpoint the camera position and focal length. The model is then rendered with lighting carefully matched to the actual daylight conditions in the photograph.

Although not commonly employed for Architectural visualization projects, it is equally possible to combine video footage of the site with the CG model of the building. The computer calculates the camera position for every frame, based on the input of co-ordinate data for known features in the live video footage, features which the computer tracks throughout the video sequence. Likewise it is possible to composite live action sequences on top of computer generated video. This method might be appropriate where it was desired to introduce an actual person into the presentation material, to accompany the viewer around the building.

Shadow Studies

Often a requirement of planning authorities, concerned about overshadowing of adjacent properties. They are produced by scale modelling the site and itís immediate environs in a computer, and rending views using software that has an inbuilt daylight system capable of replicating the movement of the sun throughout the year. The output will graphically illustrate the amount of overshadowing at any given time, of any given year. A series of views at different times of the year, and at different times of day, is generally needed to give an overview of the anticipated shadowing effect of the development.