My phone rang.
It was one of our regular clients.
I could sense the urgency in his voice.
Without beating around the bush, he asked me straight away,
Jamie, are you busy? I need your help! I need a visual created, and I need it quickly!
How long will it take?
Answering a question like this is not simple, as every project is unique. However, in this case, the project was relatively small, and luckily, we had the capacity to fit it in. We completed the 3D image on time, allowing our client to present his scheme the following week. While we were able to help out, the tight deadline made for a few frantic days. Our client and his client were over the moon with the results, but we couldn't help but feel that with more time, we could have delivered an even better outcome. Yet, we understand that in the fast-paced world of ArchVis, time is often a scarce resource and we strive to make the best use of the time available.
So, how long does it actually take to create a 3D visualisation?
Well, the short answer is . . . It depends!
Sorry for being vague, but allow me to explain the various factors that influence the duration of a project and give you an idea of the timeframes involved.
The factors that will affecting a project duration are outlined below:
Having all the design information upfront in a ready-to-share format is crucial for a quick turnaround. There's nothing more time-consuming than having to redo 3D work because the design keeps changing while we are developing the model. We understand that design development is a natural part of the process, but having a solid foundation from the start helps speed up the project.
When we talk about project size, we're not referring to the physical dimensions of the finished building. Instead, it's about the amount of work and time required on our part to create the 3D model, set up lighting, and develop textures/materials. Larger projects naturally demand more effort and time compared to smaller ones.
Level of Detail:
The level of detail required in a visualisation is another crucial factor. For example, an aerial view of a distribution centre may not need as much detail as a close-up image of a small-scale café where specific products on shelves and furniture details need to be visible. While the café may be physically smaller, it requires a significantly more detailed model to achieve the desired visual quality.
Number of Views/Camera Angles:
The number of views or camera angles needed doesn't necessarily mean double the work for each additional view. If the views focus on the same geometry within the model, the second view can be completed relatively quickly as a proportion of the 3D work is already completed. However, additional work is still required to make the second view visually appealing, both in the CAD model and during post-production. It's not just a matter of adding a second camera and hitting the render button.
Extent of 3D Modelling:
Once we know the number and positions of the required views, we can determine what needs to be modelled in 3D. The size and complexity of the model, as well as the required level of detail, will impact the amount of work involved, directly influencing the project's duration.
Textures and Materials:
Textures play a vital role in creating realistic visualisations. While we have extensive libraries and access to past projects, creating custom materials or textures specifically for a project takes time. For example, replicating aged brick and stonework for a barn conversion requires us to create digital versions of those materials from scratch.
Lighting considerations are important in terms of both creation and rendering time. Simpler lighting setups with fewer light sources render faster, but as we add more lights to a scene, the complexity of calculations increases, potentially extending rendering times. Complex landscape lighting and highly detailed outdoor elements also contribute to longer rendering times but enhance the realism of the final visualisation.
The number of projects already commissioned will impact the timeline. We work on projects in the order they are commissioned to ensure fairness to all our clients. If you have a 3D visualisation project coming up, please let us know in advance so that we can allocate the necessary time and avoid any disappointment.
Estimating an exact duration for a project is challenging due to varying factors. Typically, the time from accepting a quote to project initiation can range from 1-2 days to 1-2 weeks, depending on our existing workload. Regarding a specific project's duration, it depends on the factors mentioned above. A small project, such as a single house type, may take a few days, while a large distribution centre with multiple camera angles could require around two weeks. It's best to reach out to us as soon as possible to get an estimated start and completion date for your project.
Transparency is our priority when providing quotes for our projects. We will always communicate the expected timeframes upfront, preferring honesty over providing false information.
In summary, the duration of a 3D visualisation project is influenced by several factors, including project size, level of detail, number of views, extent of 3D modelling, textures/materials, lighting, and our project queue. We strive to work on projects in the order they are commissioned to treat all our clients fairly. If you have a 3D project on the horizon, please reach out to us early so that we can allocate the time it deserves, ensuring the creation of a stunning 3D visualisation to help you convey your vision to clients and stakeholders.
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About the Author
Jamie Wilkes has worked as a 3D visualiser and has over 20 years experience working with 3D CAD in the architectural industry. He is now owner and director of Resolution Studios, a 3D visualisation firm based in Halesowen in the West Midlands.
Starting out as an Architectural Technician, Jamie worked on a number of commercial and residential schemes, producing CAD plans, elevations & sections of buildings. After completing his Masters in Digital Architecture Jamie then followed his passion for 3D & took a role as a full time 3D visualiser working mainly in the leisure sector.
Resolution Studios was established by Jamie in 2008 and has since provided 3D visualisations, animations and interactive imagery for planning applications and marketing developments in many sectors throughout the UK and abroad.
Do you want to be making use of the latest tools and technology with your next project, if so then please get in touch and we can see how we can work together.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 0121 674 40 20