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November 30 2016

Lumion 7 live webinar - Dec 1st

Michael Brightman, avid Lumion user, SketchUp expert, author and owner at Brightman Designs will be hosting a webinar, so you can “Maximize Lumion 7″. You can join his live demo, starting at 11 am US Mountain Standard Time, tomorrow - December 1st.

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Michael will take you on a tour of the new features in Lumion 7 and show you how to get the most out of them. Some of the feature highlights include foliage, weathering, enhanced transparency, new light objects and a lot more too.

You will also have a chance to ask questions after the demo.

When: Thursday, December 1, 11.00 - 12:00 USA Mountain Standard Time

HowClick Here

There’s no need to register, just put the date & time into your diary and join for free by clicking the above link.

Enjoy!

November 11 2016

Architects react to Lumion 7

Lumion 7 was released on November 1st and has been met with great enthusiasm! In this blog you can find some of the things that have been said and some ways Lumion 7 is already being used in practice.

“This is a very surprising and worthwhile update. Perhaps the greatest leap Lumion has made in a new release ever”
H. Hute on the Lumion Forum

“Open Street Map alone is worth the upgrade”
V. Duy on Facebook

“The light strips are amazing. I have been waiting for years for that. I also love the weathering and foliage upgrades. I can’t wait to start using this. I have to say this is even more than I was expecting and I am very happy with this upgrade”
Johnny O - Lumion Forum

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Above: Image made in just a few minutes using the weathering effect

The best new features according to architects

What are the best new features? It depends on who you ask! We asked some bigger architecture firms and they listed the following top features:

  1. Area Light and Line Light
  2. Transparent Materials
  3. OpenStreetMap

When you look at the Lumion forum and Social Media you see a lot of love out there for the new Weathered materials and Foliage features.

We also asked Lumion testers for their opinions. They had the opportunity to try everything months before the release providing them with a different perspective. The testers saw Weathering as one of the most powerful new tools because the feature allows anyone to quickly create ‘aged’ materials that would normally require a lot of extra work in Photoshop. They also expressed that the ability to add weathered materials imparts a sense of realism to a scene.

What can you do with Lumion 7?

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Above: Turn low quality trees from the Sketchup library in to great looking trees in Lumion 7

One simple trick in Lumion 7 is to use a model of a tree that has really low quality leaves in SketchUp and turn it, with one click, into a realistic looking tree. Very often a model from Sketchup includes 'billboards’ instead of actual leaves. When you import such a model into Lumion, you can apply the new foliage material to the billboard and Lumion will replace it with good looking leaves. Lumion 7 allows you to configure things like leave type, size and density too.

Above: Add realism to your existing projects

The new weathering feature is a really quick and useful tool to add detail to materials. For example concrete has a very specific visual appearance on corners or sharp edges. Another example is to use weathering to add a bit of color variation and surface smoothness to a sidewalk, to give it a more realistic feel. This is because real world materials are never perfectly uniform or pristine. Adding a bit of variation and detail makes materials much more pleasing to the eye.

Above: Turn simple modeled shapes into foliage

Maybe you’ve already made some models in Sketchup for example, and perhaps the hedges are simple shapes with a leaves texture applied to them. In Lumion 7 you can now simply apply the new foliage material and in an instant your simple shapes are transformed into foliage. The beauty of this feature is that it works on any shape, so you can simply draw the rough shapes you require and Lumion will transform them into foliage for you.

Above: Put your building on the map

A really great way for any animation is to show where a site is located on the map. This creates context for your design and allows the viewer to orientate themselves. For example a keen Lumion customer and renowned visualization artist, 3D Cordoba, very successfully uses a camera flying down from the sky in many movies. In Lumion 7 this effect is easy to achieve because you can add a 3D map to your rendering with a simple click.

Above: Create lamp shades and curtains

In Lumion 7 you can now easily create transparent and opaque fabrics. With the transparency setting in the materials menu, you can easily create semi-opaque materials like curtains and lamp shades. You will also find the new waxiness feature under the same menu, which not only simulates materials like plastics and marble but it also allows you to add “shine-through” lighting to materials like curtains.

Above: Simulate the effect of cove lighting

The new light strips and area lights provide a new palette of possibilities. For example you can put LED strips behind a TV or behind wall paneling. It’s also very useful to simulate the effect of cove lighting on the ceiling or a wall.

Above: Paint with light

If you really want to create the perfect image, you can now add area lights to places where light seems to be missing. For example you would normally expect some light to bounce off a colorful floor and sunlight to shine through a window, so you can now place area lighting on the floor and on windows to act as perfectly positioned light sources. Read more.

Above: Populate your scenes with an expanded entourage

The content library in Lumion 7 has been expanded with an extra 769 new models. Many of them are high quality models from Evermotion. These models have a high resolution geometry and they use specialized materials which accurately depict things like metallic surfaces and surface smoothness. The models included were specially chosen based on feedback from existing Lumion customers. You can check out the full list of models in Lumion here.  

Read more about Lumion 7 here.

November 8 2016

Weathered and Aged Materials in Lumion 7

Until now, making material look weathered or aged required an artist to paint textures by hand. Lumion 7 makes this painstaking process a relic of the past. Now, you can create imperfections, impart authenticity, and age materials with a simple click of the mouse.

Remove the look and feel of computer graphics by adding rust to steel, wear and tear on wood, or dirt and moss on stones. The resulting realism makes materials look like they’ve always been there, adding an aesthetically appealing depth of authenticity. 

This blog shows some of the things you can do with the impressive new weathering feature in Lumion.

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Above: Fence rendered in Lumion 7 with rusting (aged iron) added.

You can use it on almost any material to impart a sense of authenticity to it. Fake things suddenly seem real. Materials with a CG look become believable.

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Above: Subtle use of ageing (weathering effect ) applied to leather sofa

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Above: Extreme ageing (weathering effect ) applied to the same leather sofa model, with different coloring

The tutorial below demonstrates how easy it is to adjust the weathering settings and produce striking changes to the materials.

Above: Tutorial explaining how to adjust weathering settings

There are two main ways to apply weathering and ageing in Lumion. The above tutorial shows how to use the weathering slider under the weathering tab in the materials editor. 

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Above: Ageing effect on stone statue

The second way to apply the weathering effect is even simpler than the first. Just choose from one of the presets in the Aged category under the Nature tab in the materials editor. The tutorial below shows you how to find and use this.

Above: Tutorial explains Aged material presets 

The image below shows the weathering effect applied to a wooden table. You can achieve this easily, either using an aged wood preset or by applying a dark wood material to the table and then adjsting the weathering slider. The aged effect imparts a new quality to the material and makes the table look like it belongs where it is. It also removes the CG feel of the table, making it look more authentic and believable.

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For more information about Lumion 7 features read more here.

June 17 2016

10 Tips for making a great movie in Lumion

Making a movie in Lumion is not a big challenge, as the basic tutorials on the Lumion website show. But how do you make a really great movie?

The two people in the Lumion team who make the Lumion promo films have compiled their top 10 tips, which fall into 3 broad categories:

  • Camera work and movie structure
  • Artistic effects 
  • Attention to detail 


Above: Film by 3D Cordoba,  shows almost all of the features of an excellent Lumion film

Camera work and movie structure

1. Use slow camera movements

Allow the viewer to get a good look at what you are trying to show by slowing down the camera movements. Move past the objects you want to show closely enough and slowly enough that they can be appreciated. Simply taking two shots very close to each other in Lumion to make a single clip can be very effective.

2. Use multiple clips

Make short clips instead of one long movie, each one starting and finishing at carefully chosen points in your model. This allows you to show more of your model and to focus on the point you want to emphasize. Structure the clips in a sequence that tells the story you want to tell. Avoid making long complicated fly-throughs in one long clip. This almost never works. It’s better to make choices.

3. Move camera in one direction in each clip

Move the camera in a single direction in each clip.  This lets the viewer appreciate what they are seeing. Whether the camera moves up, down or around the design is a choice that’s up to you. But whichever direction you choose for each clip, a deliberate, single-direction, slow movement is usually the way to go. The camera direction in adjacent clips should flow naturally and when done right can create a ‘wow’ effect. Sudden direction changes don’t usually work.

Above: Film by Shinsaku Hidaka, winner of the 2015 Lumion Japan Competition. The focus here is using techniques for artistic purposes.

Artistic effects

4. Use animated effects … carefully

Use animations like cloud or sun position, to achieve a beautiful sky, a sunset effect or shadows that sweep across surfaces. These create great visual effects but they need to be slow, otherwise they will distract attention away from the design itself.

5. Use volume lighting and lens flare … carefully!

Lighting is always important. Great scenes in Lumion usually have good lighting. Sometimes volume lighting works but needs to be used very subtley. Adding the lens-flare effect is an equally nice artistic touch but be sure to avoid big blobs of light on the screen… unless that is specifically what you are looking for!

6. Use the analogue color lab or color correction

The analogue color lab or the color correction effect in Lumion. These provide a palette to give your movie its own individual color tone, which can be quite persuasive in creating a particular mood. It also works well in subtle combination with the vignette effect.

Above: Movie by  Kristijan Tavcar shows creative use of Lumion’s effects like animated depth-of-field and animated sun for sweeping shadows 

Attention to detail

7. Use a little bit of motion blur

Motion blur as the curious effect of tricking your brain into believing that a movie has a higher frame rate than the real frame rate. This means that small amounts of motion blur makes your movies more comfortable to watch.

8. Fade in and fade-out for main movie and between clips

It’s important to think about the beginning and end of your movie, as well transitions between clips. Careful choice of fade-in/out transitions can be very helpful with this.

Above: IKM animation of Pittsburgh ballet theatre shows great use of camera work, music and Lumion effects.

9. Pick the right music and sound effects

Music matters. It sets the mood. Be sure to pick music which fits the story that you want to tell. Get the timing of your music to match changes in the imagery of the animation, in this way, the images and music work together to emphasize impact. Sound effects from within Lumion like tweeting birds, traffic on roads or people chatting can be added as objects in your scene too.

10. Reflections

Reflections are crucial. Use Speedray reflections always and use reflection planes on selected important surfaces. Reflection planes need to be used sparingly because they use a lot of computer resources and rendering takes longer. They produce very accurate reflections, which are very important for mirrors, glass and large water surfaces. Speedray reflections can be turned on always because they are less demanding of your computer and don’t have a large effect on render time.

Above: Moscow high-rise complex by Sergey Skuratov Architects showing excellent reflections, camera work and well-timed/well-suited music

If you didn’t get a chance to do so, look at each of the excellent films above taken from the Lumion showcase and made by customers of Lumion. Look critically at them and you’ll see a lot of the themes mentioned of above. You’ll also notice the artistic flair that comes with talent …. and practice!

Read more… ‘5 Tips to improve still image renders from Lumion’

May 26 2016

Tip: 5 Steps to great renders from Lumion

Your 3D model is ready, you’ve imported it into Lumion and now you want to make it look great. All Lumion’s functionality is invitingly at your fingertips but what next? This blog gives you step-by-step hints of what to do.

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Lumion is intuitive and the functionality is easy to apply but what do you want to communicate artistically and how do you achieve that in Lumion? 

Building an artistically compelling still image or animation in Lumion requires a vision of what you want to achieve: What emotions do you want to convey? Are you going for light & colorful, grey & bleak or something else? Should the images look realistic or sketchy? Which parts of the building are you trying to emphasize?

Here are 5 tips, including extra hints, from Alexander of the Lumion team. He plays a leading artistic role in creating Lumion promo videos as well as in programming Lumion. It’s fair to say he has a special flair for making compelling images and animations.

1. Find the best point (or points) of view in your scene

  • Still shots should be balanced by at least one composition rule. There are many rules you can use but the more the better.
  • The camera height should for much of the time during an animation, be set at human eye level. The camera angle shouldn’t be too wide so as to avoid perspective distortion.
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2. Set up the lighting

  • Find the best position for the sun to attract maximum attention to the parts of the building that you want to highlight. Use the sun study effect, if you want to accurately simulate the sun location at a particular location, time and date. 
  • Add Interior and mood lighting, even if it is a day shot, this communicates in a subtle way that the building is being used. You can also use volumetric lighting for extra atmosphere.
  • Balance the shadow brightness and coloring depending on situation, in outdoor shadows always a bit more blue.
  • Avoid high contrast in non-important areas otherwise these high contrast areas can sometimes direct attention to the wrong points in your design.
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3. Make your materials look good

  • Always enable SpeedRay reflections and put reflection planes on big flat surfaces.
  • Glossiness of the floor and ceiling always should be tweaked after applying materials, more often extra reflectivity is better than less reflectivity.
  • Do not use simple digital colors, like plain green, red, blue, purple, yellow. It looks ugly and it’s always better to find natural, more realistic, “flat” colors.
  • Sometimes it is better to replace diffuse texture with plain color (using top slider in material editor) and also use bumps but without maximal intensity.
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4. Adding effects

  • Use color correction, especially the first slider, as it adds dark shadows where necessary.
  • Add a little bit of chromatic aberration and a very tiny value of fish-eye for a small optical imperfection.
  • Add Hyperlight for still images. When doing this use an intensity higher than 100%.
  • To make the picture a bit ‘flat’ like print on paper, use the sharpness effect and put the slider on minimum, sometimes it helps.
  • Depth-of-Field (DOF) is really useful for narrow camera angles, but better to not use it with the wide ones.
  • Always put reflection on water.
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5. Extra details - every single shot needs it!

  • Furniture, for interiors and exteriors is very important. Select and add objects from the Lumion object library. Place some in empty spaces.
  • Cars are good for border areas of a picture. Try to avoid having cars in the center of the composition.
  • People are important but try to place them such that they do not dominate the picture. Their faces should not be too visible. Using silhouettes from the library is a good way to achieve neutrality.
  • Trees and plants are very good for picture borders and background.
  • The background is super important, even if it’s blurred, the feeling of a real city or forest adds a lot to the feeling of a real building. For example birds can be a nice detail to make the sky look more natural.
  • Try using blurred clouds (softness slider), or disable cloud completely, clear sky is very good if you need extra attention on the building itself.
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