At Archilime, we’re committed to being at the forefront of technology advancements and our team are constantly innovating according to these changes. We spoke to our very own Dominic on why there has been such an increase in interest in architectural animation, and what this means for the industry and us at Archilime.

Dominic joined Archilime in 2016 as Junior Artist. He came from an Architectural Design background with experience in residential design and build. His discipline meant he had experience in modelling and some rendering which gave him a good foundation of knowledge coming into the position. Throughout the last two years he has moved over to animation due to his obsession with continually evolving technology and the overlaps that are inherent in CGI technology and art.

Why is animation on the rise within the architectural industry?

There are lots of reasons why animation is growing in popularity in the industry. Most importantly, it’s how accessible animation is and how the processes evolve and become more efficient.

This evolution has to do with the two types of rendering processes; offline and online rendering. Offline rendering is where an image is ray traced and this information is sent off to multiple computers to process, then producing the results after a period of time. Online rendering is where the rendering is done in what’s referred to as ‘Real-Time’.

This use of online rendering, such as in computer games, allows rendering to happen immediately as scenes are being created. This gives us the advantage of a much more efficient workflow and a massive cut in final production render times as opposed to using conventional offline ray tracing based rendering techniques.

We have been using Unreal Engine 4 produced by Epic Games which is a computer game engine that has been used to create AAA titles such as Fortnite and Player Unknown Battle Grounds. The use of computer game engines also allows us to explore interactive game like content as well as virtual and augmented reality.

How does animation help the industry?

Animation can assist the industry in many ways. There are also multiple sectors to the industry, each using animation in differing ways.

The property marketing industry benefits from animation as it gives potential buyers a sense of the property they are looking to purchase before it is built. It also helps because the fact that it is animated means we have the ability to dynamically move around a site allowing potential buyers the chance to experience the surroundings and atmosphere of a development. This is effective when combined with moving images, sound, and visual effects, as opposed to conventional still images. It gives clients the opportunity to make more informed decisions.

Animation is also used in the architectural industry to assist in the design and development of a property or development. Importantly, this enables the architect and their client to move freely around the inside and outside of a property and to explore elements such as proportion and light. This can be done on a phone, tablet, computer, or even in virtual reality. Virtual reality, of course, gives the viewer the best possible insight as to what their design will look and feel like when finished. This means they’re able to make more informed decisions about important visual and physical aspects of a project. This ability will always facilitate a better end product.

When did animation become a key factor within the industry, and where do you see it going in the next five years?

Within the last two to three years, the process of online rendering has got to a quality level that is acceptable for high-end visualisation, which will continue to advance and get better with time.

The next stage in this evolution is when the two processes of offline and online rendering converge to gain the best of both worlds. I’m looking forward to being able to work with the high-quality lighting of offline rendering, at the same time as seeing the results in real-time like you do with online rendering.

These plans are in motion in initial testing right now, however, we’re eagerly awaiting the next generation of graphics cards to allow us to utilise this next evolution in the rendering industry. In five years time, I see this being the norm across all industries from cinema to marketing.

What is your favourite piece of architectural animation and how do you feel they have helped you as an artist?

I don’t have a favourite piece as such, but I do love environmental recreation. Recreating nature is far more challenging than the built environment, but is equally important because your realistic-looking building won’t look that as such if it’s surrounded by obviously engineered landscaping and vegetation. I follow a few artists from the gaming and cinematic VFX industry who inspire me. I take inspiration from them as they are working to the highest quality of realism yet using online rendering which both motivates and challenges me to be better.

What drew you to animation?

I’m not sure if I should really answer this question honestly as ultimately my love for animation and real time rendering was a product of exploring solutions to my frustration with the waiting times involved with offline ray tracing based rendering. As artists our creative flow can be interrupted by these waiting times while information is being processed, which can, in some cases, be discouraging creatively.

This led me to look for alternatives and it was during this research that I realised the potential of gaming engines. It wasn’t long before we were utilising this technology to allow us to do animation for the very first time. I was hooked and have been ever since.

I am driven by a desire to create better and more realistic content with every project, and because the technology is always evolving, we are constantly progressing and pushing the software to its limits.

If you could create an animation for any building, which would it be?

I love to work conceptually. This allows for a fully flexible brief that’s predetermined by myself and a particular design ethos of my choosing. I can also recreate nature alongside and intertwined with the built environment, which I love to do. Having said that, our Lead Creative, Dan and I have been discussing and fantasising about creating a Utopian Mars Colony as the subject topic fits within interests of ours but also would allow us the opportunity to improve our skills outside a terrestrial and monetarily motivated project.

What is it that you love about working at Archilime?

There are many things – the team have become close friends, and our beautiful studio where we work is nestled on the edge of Dartmoor with the sea within reach. Work-wise, the ability and encouragement to push myself and the tools I have to do my work is one of the best things about working for Archilime. I’m given the space and freedom to test new technologies and push old tech to the limit. We are supported with further training and the time in working hours to research and develop new ways to work more efficiently, all the while we are producing superior end products. We all feel incredibly invested in what we do here and working somewhere in which everyone shares your drive is very much where I want to be professionally.