Those involved in the process of designing, building and marketing architecture are always on the lookout for easier and faster ways of going through design iterations and communicating with clients. Streamlining these processes has become imperative in order to stay competitive. In particular, architectural visualization — an increasingly influential specialism within the AEC industry — has evolved from being a source of photo-realistic images to a discipline that offers wide-ranging workflow capabilities and interactive tools for architects.
Disrupting a relatively monopolized market are new, versatile rendering tools that can produce high-fidelity imagery while also functioning as a nimble design tool. One of these all-round solutions is Enscape, a real-time rendering and VR plugin for Revit, Sketchup, Rhino, Archicad and Vectorworks that pretty much does it all. Here, we outline four ways that the Enscape software can be utilized from the first model to the finished rendering, and every step in between.
1. Streamline your modeling and rendering process.
One of Enscape’s biggest strengths is its simplicity of use. All the complexity that burdens most popular rendering tools is replaced with an intuitive user interface which gives quick, effective results without having to endlessly tinker with settings. The plug-in has its own library of premade 3D assets you can simply drop into the model at no additional cost. These assets are already converted into proxy models with a low poly count, so they don’t tax your hardware setup.
The latest Enscape 3.1 version introduces a brand new material library which includes over 200 materials ready to import into the CAD material system, as well as over 60 new simplified assets with reduced geometry. Naturally, you will need sufficient graphics to run the application — Enscape recommends at least an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 with 4GB — but the speed at which Enscape manages to visualize materials is greater than what you’d expect from conventional tools used in architectural visualization.
2. Collaborate in real time using Live Link technology.
Enscape essentially renders out your model in real-time using OpenGL and Vulkan. It can instantly update any changes done in the 3D modeling software, which makes it a great collaboration and design tool. Thanks to the Live Link technology, designers can change and review their projects in real-time, both on a desktop display and inside VR. This allows for fast design iterations and feedback gathering.
3. Use tools that don’t require your clients to become software proficient.
Architects can use Enscape in stakeholder meetings, where models and creative decisions are seen and verified instantly. One of the most useful features that streamlines this process is Collaborative Annotation – a tool for adding notes or annotations on any part of locally stored projects or in BIM Track projects (a web-based issue tracking platform for BIM coordination).
At the end of a meeting or design review, users can upload their project as a Web Standalone to send to a client or colleague. They can also export an Executable Standalone file so that people without an Enscape license can experience the model using, for example, an Xbox controller.
4. Utilize virtual reality as an immersive design tool.
Enscape is directly integrated into the CAD software, which enables it to deliver an immediate experience of a 3D model. It works with Oculus Rift, Oculus Rift S, HTC Vive, HTC Vive Pro and Windows Mixed Reality. Simply start the VR Mode in Enscape and enable the VR headset inside your main 3D software (for example, Sketchup). It offers Walkmode and Flymode for navigating the space, with the option of choosing the way projects are presented during your real-time walkthrough.
It is also possible to take screenshots from within virtual reality and save them as part of project documentation. The software also allows you to generate panoramas in both stereo or mono, which can then be saved to a file or uploaded into the cloud. The 3.1 version now introduces the Panorama Gallery feature which allows users to share and group Panoramas independent of source files.
Powerful new tools like Enscape are proving to be true game changers when it comes to streamlining different processes in the AEC industry, and it will be interesting to see which direction the technology goes from here.