Archviz with Lumen, Unreal Engine
Is Lumen worth?
Unreal Engine with dynamic lighting system Lumen is the huge potential for Archviz industries, but how far it can be, how good the Lumen can be produce?
To showcase the potential of the Lumen method we have a small case studies-what we are using for ours workshop, the Mediterranean house.
Overview of the scenes
The signature design of Mediterranean's architecture is in the overall feeling of the scenes, from the red tile roof to the off-white wall, the flooring with nature stone to the white window and door, some plant pot... we are start from there.
But we want something different, what if we blending it with the tropical style, with little bit tropical feeling?
Then we blending it with tropical landscape, plant, tree, rattan furniture with the walnut wood finishing... and overall feeling, it is the mediterranean's house in blending with tropical feeling. The house is where we can taken breath after full working week, just lay-down on the sun chair beside the pool and absolutely doing nothing-"the-art-of-doing-nothing".
The final result:
Preparing for the scenes
In order to preparing the scenes get ready for import to Unreal Engine, from 3dsmax we clean out the scenes first, get rid of any plant, tree, furniture and lighting. Just only model of the house and the ground.
Checking the quality of the model such as the mesh is in clean or if in there have any of the issue. Naming it with rename object in 3dsmax for easy to organize later.
Noted: the 3dsmax model must be in chamfer all the edge-this is base on the real-life feeling, keeping it without sharp edge.
Preparing the new level for the scenes in Unreal Engine-preparing for the lighting and environment. We go with very basic setting for the scenes with direction light for sun, skylight, sky atmospheric, high fog, volumetric cloud and post processing.
Noted: When everything ready, export the model in FBX format directly to the root folder of the Unreal Engine-by this way the model will automatically import into Unreal Engine scenes.
We used the FBX exporter script in order to export the scenes to Unreal Engine.
Develop the scenes in Unreal Engine
We setting up this scenes for use with Lumen, therefore everything in this scenes we build with Lumen-from material to the lighting.
Noted: the behavior of the Lumen method and Path Tracer method is different, from the behavior of lighting to behavior of the material. Therefor from beginning we must be making decision which one we will use, then develop everything surrounding those method.
It doesn't mean Lumen method is better than Path Tracer, it's depending on what is the result we are happy with. In this case, we are happy with the result, feeling come from Lumen.
After setup basic material for the scenes, we setup for the landscaping of the scenes. Why? We go with the big thing first, such as the house and the landscape-this step will give the general feeling of the scene, from the general we will go further with the detail later, such as the furniture, small decoration stuff...
- Adjustment lighting, in this step, first thing first are the making decision how the scenes will be look like, it is the moment of the summer, or it is in the winter season... In this case we choose the feeling of the summer day, the feeling of the vacation season, with the soften sunlight at the morning or in the golden hour.
- Overall it is the softness in touch, the sun painting on the scenes with softness in lighting and softness in shadow, we tried to find the balance spot. To achieves these result, it is required the combination between everything in the environment setup, the direction light, sky light, sky atmospheric, high fog, volumetric cloud and most important is the post processing.
Noted: The symphony between each element in environment setup will provide the finalize feeling of the scenes.
From general to detail
After finishing setup lighting for general feeling of the scenes, next step is taking care on the detail.
In general, Mediterranean house are being in used for several years but the house in good maintenance, such as the grass are cutting well, the plant and tree are in taking care in good as well...Therefor the overall look is being in used but still in good quality and well done maintenance.
- The detail are in the material, how stone flooring will be look like, how the pool deck will be look different than the indoor deck. The nature stone after being in used for several of years, some part will going ti be polished but some part will stay in rough, the wooden pool deck close to the wet area will have some part look little bit wet...etc.
- The detail are in landscape, plant and tree material, adjustment the color and feeling of the material. In reality the leaf is not completely solid, light can go through the leaf when we seeing it under the sun, we tried to achieves that effect with the transparent in material of the leaf. Overall of the landscape is in lush green and which green is the lush are the one we tried to achieves.
- The detail are in the furniture and decoration, making some chaos will provide the feeling of human-living in there. Careful with this part, if it too much it will be completely chaos and look like abandoned house, but if it too little it will be not enough and will look like the fake moment. We tried to be balance.
Capture the scenes
Next step we setup the camera to capture the scenes. This is the moment Lumen is showing up it's powerful, everything in scene capture in real-time, easy to making the adjustment to be achieves result as we heading to. Rotating the sun, making different angle of the lighting, making different time of the day...Its quick, easy, full control.
For the camera setting we usually going with the full frame DSLR sensor, long in focal length-min in focal length is 50 mm. For close-up shot we using f/1.8 to f/2.8, normal shot we use f/3.6 to f/5.4 some special part we use f/8.4 to not blurring too much.
Go long with focal length, for external shot we want it till-shift with archviz that is the reason why we usually using long in focal length. In additional, long in focal length provide good quality of depth, the bokeh effect better than short in focal length. Therefor go long with focal length and put camera far away of the objective-it help to provide good depth and feeling like capture by real camera.
Always capture objective with 3 layer, foreground, midground and background. By keeping to capture with 3 layer it will provide the good depth for the cut.
Camera shaking, this is depending on the feeling what we wanna achieve. In this case we want the feeling of human-capture his/her home by hand, without any gimbal or any support equipment of filmmaker. We want it feel like home, and it a record of daily life in there.
Noted: each cut we taking control the exposure in the camera setting, by changing the f/ number and as well as exposure of camera. For example with f/1.8 we decrease the exposure number and with f/ 5.4 we increase exposure number, to find the balance spot. The balance result is dark part not too dark and shining part not too shiny, sometime it cant be perfect balance, still have some part look like over exposure-that is the real-life happen. For capturing the whole house, the lighting are not providing all area the same amount, some plant under shadow part will getting dark than the plant are in under the sun, the off-white wall are shining than the brown wood, sometime we have to deal with it.
200 mm f/5.4
135 mm f/3.6
We heading up to nature feeling in the result as much as possible, therefore the post production we just want it in soft touch on the exposure and color grading.
After rendering out all cut, we put it together in premiere and making some adjustment to find the final result in balance as much as possible. Adding background music, the music in the background are the final missing piece of whole picture. "Look and feel" it is from eyes to ears, we tried to keep it in general as much as possible but also tried to deliver the feeling of the whole scenes, the place, the mood.
After that we exporting it out in the video with H.264 format, in this part we taking care on which platform we will using to be publish our content, because each platform it has it own capability for storing media content. In this case we going to publish it on multi platform of social media and also on ours website. Therefore the video bit rate must be in adaptive with each platform. For example with higher bit rate export the video quality is better but the file size is also reach up, for social media platform such as linkedin, facebook, youtube... its always compressing our media file before it publish on these platform, if the file size is to large after compressing the videos totally a craff.
Is Lumen worth? It worth
It is amazing and huge potential for future
All-day-waiting for couple of 2D image to rendering out and after that all-night-long in post processing 2D image. It is sound like the stories of 90s century when the internet start to conquer the world. Skip that part, go further to ours Era where the real-time method like Unreal Engine is saving time-consuming in render, not just a 2D image, it is in video too, and also provide good-enough quality for archviz. Saving time is saving resource saving the cost and also help the process even faster without as much as possible wasting time for...just waiting.
So for answer the question is lumen worth? The answer is it worth, better than that it is amazing.
However if it for develop a 2D image and even videos have plenty of software out there can do the same thing, provide the same quality, saving the same time...so why the Unreal Engine with lumen are matter?
Develop the 2D image or videos it is now just a part of the possibility of developing project, of marketing, of building the selling point. After that providing the 2D image or videos, what is the next part, next step? Can we packing up whole scene and publish it to the web with walk-in scene? Visit it on the web browsers in fully 3D environment and even can interact with it...
Unreal Engine can provide those next step. Bringing the immersive experiences never before to customers, helping the developer build their own unique selling point and even more. Today, we living in the life-time with the "horse-power" come from technology, it is pushing our life out side the box, pushing the boundaries even further. Alongside of growth waving of technology Unreal Engine taking step forward to be the pioneer in surfer-who willing to surf on the next wave of this Era. We choose to be a part of these wave.
Many thank to get this far with us, stay in turn, see you soon with the next chapter.