Architectural Rendering Revisited

Discussion in 'Design and Graphics' started by helavagal, Jan 3, 2010.

  1. helavagal macrumors newbie

    Oct 1, 2008
    I would like to start this discussion again since it has been a year or so since it was last discussed.

    I am working for an architect would like to take their projects to the next level and start to render them photo-realistically. They would also like to do small animations with people walking and cars moving. Some of their clients also have photos of their site and/or would like to remodel their current building, but would like to see it in real time before they spend the money on the project itself. I am currently running Revit 2010 and Architecture 2010, but I would really appreciate your input as to what programs are out there that would be the best "package" or set of programs that could get me to what the guys are wanting to do. I have thought about Maxwell Render, but was curious about the other programs including those from Autodesk (3DS Max or Maya).

    Any input would be GREATLY appreciated!!

    I should add that I just recently purchased the 17" MacBook Pro and have the 24" iMacs in the office. Not sure if that helps :)
  2. WSU-Architect macrumors member

    Jul 14, 2008
    This is a very complicated question. How big is the firm you are working for? Just one partner, or many? Do you have a large budget or small? Do you have a large amount of time to learn high end software, or do you need a relatively simple solution that can produce slightly lower quality results? Do you need final images quickly or can time be sacrificed for quality (biased vs. unbiased render engines)?

    That being said, if you have the time, patience, and budget, 3D Studio Max is the industry standard and can do everything you want and more. It has its downsides of course, being ridiculously expensive in my opinion (larger firms can afford it easily however), and again, in my opinion, extremely difficult to get a full grasp of. Most large firms who produce renders/animations that make your jaw drop use Max in house or send out projects to Max specialists who do the work for them. It can produce amazing results (see the work of Peter Guthrie).

    Some easier solutions are the obvious SketchUP with a proper rendering engine (using Vray the results can be stunning), or Rhinoceros, which I personally prefer, used with Vray as well. Both of these programs are, in my opinion, infinitely more user friendly than Max, and in the case of Rhino, its capabilities in most areas match and in some exceed those of Max. Both of these options are also far less expensive than Max.

    I have never been a fan of Maya personally. I also dislike Modo and Form Z, but that's mostly because of my own lack of knowledge on how they work.

    I'd be happy to go into more detail if you like.
  3. heehee macrumors 68020


    Jul 31, 2006
    Same country as Santa Claus
  4. lucidmedia macrumors 6502a

    Oct 13, 2008
    Wellington, New Zealand
    I agree that 3D Studio Max is the industry standard for this kind of work.

    Are you buying this for a firm, or freelancing?

    "Back in the day" I worked in a lab with twenty $30,000 SGI workstations each running $30,000 copies of Alias/Wavefront/Maya (plus yearly fees of course!). A $3,500 investment is nothing for an architectural firm. Much cheaper than AutoCad I believe...

    At current arch. rendering freelancing rates, however, I could see that it would take a long time for you to recoup your investment...

    of course, the funny thing about 3DSMax is that -- despite the cost -- every high-school kid who is into computers seems to have a working copy... :p
  5. marvin*1*2 macrumors member


    Jun 19, 2007
    oh, rhino sounds nice, looks nice, too, and the 'infinitely more user friendly than max' part sounds very intriguing...if only it would run on macs :( you know how it performs on virtualbox or parallels or would you recommend this running in bootcamp only?
    or is there an equivalent to rhino for mac?

    I've tested maya2010 on SL and it's plain unusable, stalls for several seconds on every second action you do... they seem to not really be serious about supporting this platform?

    EDIT: and what are your experiences with Cinema4D? that works on mac, no?
  6. adamchase macrumors member

    Oct 9, 2006
    I'm currently study architecture and do freelance 3d work to help pay for my education. I have done a few architectural jobs here and there and use Cinema4d and have been for a number of year. It super user friendly and has an easier learning curve then 3D Studio Max. Having previous knowledge in 3d has been helping me impress a few of my teachers so its a nice benefit that im already proficient in that area.
  7. helavagal thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 1, 2008
    Sorry it took so long to get back.

    I am researching this for a small architectural company. Two architects and 2 drafters myself included. Money matters to a point, but they want to produce as close to photo-realistic as they can. Speed usually does not matter, but the faster the better. i would like to have something that is user friendly, but I am not afraid to learn a new program. They would also like to do "movie" presentations so the quality there needs to be good too.

    I was kind of looking at Maxwell Render a year ago, but since it has been a year, i was really wondering if there was something better now. And user friendly would definitely be great just for the speed of putting models together, but the architects I think are truly looking more for quality.

    Can you post some of your renderings here so that I can see the differences between the platforms, please? That would be awesome!!
  8. LeviG macrumors 65816

    Nov 6, 2006
    Norfolk, UK
    ok I'm going to play a little bit of a devils advocate and maybe put another option forward :D

    Have you considered building a relationship with a company or person that specialises in rendering products/architecture etc and then outsourcing the animation and the imagery to them?

    What happens is that the clients does all the development work and then when they require better quality images for presenting to clients or at exhibitions they send out the files to have the renderings or animations etc produced.

    The benefits to the client are that this allows them to continue working in their areas of expertise while still offering the rendering as an option to their client (with a markup usually - so money for nothing :)) where necessary. They don't have to learn new software, they don't have to buy any new software or any additional hardware for rendering (animations can take days to complete and would tie up the computer during that time). They can also continue with other work while the renderings are being outsourced etc

    Another way of looking at it is this way. It will realistically cost you atleast £4000 (inc VAT) to get software and hardware specifically for the purpose of rendering if you still want to be able to use your current hardware for you architecture work during rendering. To get the best out of 3ds max (for example) its going to take you several months, learning how it works, lighting, materials etc - do you have enough spare time for that?
    If you were to outsource you could offer the service almost immediately with no additional outlay, it's also tax deductible at least in the UK.

    Now I'm not going to say this is the best option but it may be worth considering if you only need renderings on a more occasional basis.

    [disclaimer] this is what I do freelance but primarily in product design (same principles though)[/disclaimer]
  9. thebrain74 macrumors regular

    Feb 25, 2006
    about the rhino: Mac issue. There is a work in progress build (Wenatachee) aka pre-beta release for Mac. I would only recommend it for the barest of uses. By the time it becomes a real product for Mac it may be viable but at the current moment, I would not use it for any serious work

    I have used Rhino in Mac, windows 7 (bootcamp), and win7 in parallels for my work as an Architecture student. Rhino in Win7 bootcamp is far and away the best way to use it. I only use the Mac version if I forgot to do some tiny little thing in Windows (because I don't want to reboot) like add a line, or measure something. I used Rhino in parallels and it was unusable. While I am sure it would have ran better if I had given it more memory (I gave it a gig), but at that point I am limited my Mac what is the point of using it in the first place. My workflow includes Rhino, AutoCAD, occasionally 3DS Max, Illustrator, photoshop,etc. I run the former 3 in windows and the latter two in Mac. It is not an ideal workflow, but it gets the most out of my hardware (and allows maximum time in Mac OS)

    in short I feel that Rhino is only usable in Windows
  10. jrichie macrumors regular

    Feb 4, 2003
    why don't you use the software you have got to produce the renders.

    Revit 2010 can do some good stuff these days.....

    Anything more, send it out, seeing as you are a small company.

    Save money, get the most out of what you have. To achieve high quality photorealistic renders takes a lot of learning, time and resources which is all money.

    Most clients are more than happy with 'average' renders and I have seen companies with poor renders get the work, as it is the portfolio of built work in the end of the day that matters!

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