I recently had the great pleasure of giving a talk to a group of students at Elstree, an establishment that offers a creative and technological emphasis and is a great alternative to studying GCSE’s and A levels at school.
The talk (entitled “An introduction to Architectural Visualization”) was a broad overview of what I think is the essence of Arch-Viz and what it means to me. Overall I found it a very rewarding and challenging experience. It made me stop and really think about what I do day in day out and think about how I feel about it. It really brought home and emphasized the understanding that as an architectural visualizer then in theory at least I am an architectural photographer. The link between arch-viz and photography is paramount and therefore an excellent understanding of photography is essential
I would like to thank Clare Deacon and Curtis LeBlanc for their kindness and hospitality.
The whole talk was filmed and and an edited version will be available.
Last spring we had a job come into our studio at River that turned out to be one of the most stressful and hectic jobs I have ever worked on. It was a series of renders for one of the most valuable retail areas in the world. In the words of it’s website, “20 Times Square sits right on the Bowtie at Duffy Square, at the epicenter of Manhattan’s most hyperactive retail district”. This is serious retail space, the whole store rents for millions of dollars a year, it has one of the largest LED screens in the world at 18,000 sq ft,and we had but a few short weeks to turn around what turned out to be 20 renders, no pressure then….
Times Square was more or less a building site with work going on everywhere so photography was not really an option for most of the images. So to add to our workload many of the renders had to be all CG. All CG environments are always tough and not least in architectural visualization. The next obstacle we had, was that when presented with some early draft renders it became apparent that the client did not like the design of the building! Normally this would have been resolved between the client and the architect but there was no time. The only option we had was to ask the client what they wanted to see, go away and for want of a better word, design it! Between us we came up with a concept that seemed to work and had some grounding in the real world. This is how the corner of the building went form being square to round.
With this accomplished we were able to crack on with the task in hand. This meant creating full 3D store interiors for a number of different retailers including Victoria’s Secret, GoPro, NFL, and Lego. As well as these specific brands we also had to devise a “kit of parts” as it became known. In essence we made generic stores that we could then manipulate the renders of in post to become more or less any clothing or tech retailer we needed to provide. To do all this we had 3 teams of modellers to work on different model sets and with the help of well researched reference images and guidance form the client we were able to create some good quality models in a relatively short time.
We rendered the images in Corona and with all the usual passes loaded everything into PhotoShop CC for the post work. This is where the images come to life and the direction of the client is realised. Our brief was quite simple in essence, we had to show the life and dynamism of Times Square, one of the busiest, most vibrant urban areas anywhere – whilst focusing on a shop! This is why we chose to have wet looking roads, to get more colour on the floor, to add more vibrancy. For the people we went out into London’s West End to photograph shoppers to endevour to match the lighting, socio-economic class, and of course they needed shopping bags in their hands!
Here are some of renders we created. You can scroll through them here or click an image for a higher resolution gallery. ***images are temporarily unavailable – they will return!”
It’s too long since I posted so I need to rewind a little. This last year I have been working with River Film, there have been many exciting projects including 6 Bevis Marks, One World Trade Centre, 240 Blackfriars and Battersea Power Station to name but a few.
So starting at the beginning, 6 Bevis Marks is an exciting new development in the heart of the City of London next to the Gherkin. The innovative design by Fletcher Priest Architects features two upper level roof terraces with the higher of the two protected by an ETFE canopy. At the time of writing the canopy has just been put in place and the banner image is in place. I mentioned in my last post that I was working on the images, here is a link to the gallery on the official website.
It’s been a while since I posted so what’s been happening? Following on from delivering a much admired interior floorplate image of Abu Dhabi’s Capital Gate by RMJM I was invited to assist River Film with their 6 Bevis Marks project. That was about 6 weeks ago and I am still there project managing the production of the still images. The Capital Gate image is not in the public domain an therefore cannot be shown yet. The image was so well received River were invited to work on other projects on the strength of it.
Once again Martin form Bouncing Light has been working with Miller Hare, this time on their Manhattan West project for Brookfield. The scheme has such a cool address … 33rd Street & Ninth Avenue, New York.
Two high profile marketing images were produced featuring CG buildings and landscaping montaged into a backplate created from supplied photography. Even CG New York traffic was created making the project a lot of fun. The images are not yet released but will be available here on the Brookfield site.
One of the projects worked on with Miller Hare (for Brookfield and Great Portland Estates) was 100 Bishopsgate, one of a cluster of new skyscrapers reshaping London’s skyline. This wide ranging project incorporated a large set of still renders and animation shots.
The still renders included ground level as well as helicopter shots. Virtual cameras were matched to the backplate images enabling us seamlessly composite in renders of the 3D model.The images can be seen here on the Wood’s Bagot website.
The animation work also combined street level shots and helicopter footage. Aerial sequences of London were filmed and tracked to lock 3D cameras to the movement of the real camera. With this done we could then render out sequences of the 3D model that would match the movement of the filmed footage. From there it’s just the not so small matter if making it it fit seamlessly in! The finished film was made by River Film London can be seen here.
Ground level shots of the plaza involved green screen footage of actors and a digital set. A highly specialized robotic camera capable of reproducing the exact same movement was used. First we filmed a pass with many tracking markers but no actors and then the final pass without tracking markers and with the actors. The footage with the markers is then used to camera track to. This creates a virtual camera we can then use to render out the digital backdrop to put our actors into! The finished shots can be seen here.
A fully automated camera would replicate the same shot as many times as was needed – a lot!
This was really interesting job, and a real challenge too! Our brief was to create a series of generic looking landscape renderings of the English countryside, to be used as part of a website to explain new EU legislation. The client was Freeman Christie and although the original site has now changed you can see examples of how the images ended up here.
The thing I liked about this was creating a large landscape rendering and overcoming the technical issues that arose. The scene was about 22 square miles and as anyone who is experienced with 3DS Max will know, this can be a headache. All the vegetation and trees were geometry and all proxied using Vray. For the ground texture I created seven different texture maps and they were all incorporated in a Vray blend material and controlled with opacity maps to create the fields.
In a similar vein, i.e. using opacity maps, greyscale images were used to control the distribution of all trees and riverbank vegetation. This way the scene can be populated relatively easily on a large scale – although you do need to be careful as it still requires a lot of memory and time! There are over 76,000 shrubs in the hedgerows alone and that’s without any trees or the vegetation by the river!
Each 3D render was rendered on the old Core 2 Duo quad core 2.4 ghz processors with 8GB of ram.
Hot on the heels of the Riverwalk House planning application came Stanton Williams’ bid for Eaton Manor Olympic site.
For this they approached Flic Digital (where I started in 3D!) to produce a fully CG animated film. The animation demonstrated the transition of the site from the existing to:
the Olympic phase
the Paralympic phase
the legacy phase
The key was simplicity and clarity, not being too showy! I headed up just two of us as we planned, designed, modelled and rendered our way to an animation success, and as a quick look on Stanton Williams’ website will show, they got the job!
I must mention my extremely talented sidekick of the time – Oliver Osborne who went on to work for Norman Foster and Partners. His help was invaluable in meeting such a tight deadline.
I was very proud, in just two weeks we gave the client exactly what they wanted, this was a great feeling!
Sadly we are not allowed to show you the animation as it was not created for public viewing and the Olympic authority are extremely strict about what is released into the public domain. You can see a testimonial from Alan Stanton here.
I had to write about this one, it’s one of my favorites and was real fun to do!
It was designed as a postcard to send out to clients when Flic was moving premises.
A competition was held in a primary school to come up with a concept and out of this came an image of a van driving from one location to another.
This made me immediately think of Monopoly and I saw the image in my head right away.
I set about mocking up a shot photographing a real Monopoly board and soon realised how tricky this sort of photography was. This just didn’t work so I was going to have to design the shot with the computer….time to make some assets.
Every good 3D artist knows you need good reference material to do a good job and with my subject right outside I had no excuse!
From here I set about modelling the the familiar sight around Shoreditch that was the Flic van. It was the first time I had modelled a vehicle and I was pretty pleased with the result. I was a physical model maker before getting into 3D and basically been making things my whole life so it fell into place quite naturally…..
With van made I built some little Monopoly houses, the board, dice etc and then did the texturing. The board needed a map 7000 pixels square due to the close up nature of the image.
With all the assets ready I set about the final composition of my shot… there were a few iterations before settling on a view that worked.
And here is the finished image.. a fully CG scene, all asset modelling, lighting, texturing, composition done by myself!
A whole series of I think eight images went into this successful planning application to turn an old fire station near to Baker Street into a hotel. David Archer always strives for the best results possible and he really pushed on this one! I am glad he did, the result was images I am still proud of today.
Take this one for example….here is a before and after.
The backplate was stitched from nine different images by Keith Collie and getting CG cameras to match this was a nightmare. With close involvement from David Archer we were able to get to it right to produce exactly what he wanted.
These three photo montages were created for a successful planning application by Stanton Williams architects. The first with photography supplied by the client and the two river shots done in house. I remember having to wait quite some time for the sun to go down enough for the dusk shot!
Architectural Visualization: 3D rendering of Images to illustrate architecture and design