Architectural visualization company Brick Visual has been loading its most complex scenes into Chaos Group’s real-time 3D ray-traced engine, Project Lavina, since the private beta first launched. With the first public beta now available, Attila Cselovszki, CDO at Brick Visual, shares how adding Project Lavina to the architectural visualization (arch-viz) pipeline has revolutionized the way they work.
Reducing render times is the holy grail of the visualization industry. Waiting for machines to render is an issue that can disrupt the creative process — the typical trade-off between speed and quality has become expected. When Project Lavina was announced, however, it looked as though it could free 3D artists to look around their worlds without restrictions. Brick Visual joined the private beta program without any hesitation, to test the new engine's capabilities.
Project Lavina's First Test
First, they wanted to see how Project Lavina could handle interactive look development (look-dev) and find out what quality levels were possible without preliminary optimization and preparation in 3ds Max. Look-dev is the phase of a project where the overall artistic styles are established and often involves adding textures, colors, lighting, and more to begin bringing a project to life. The success of integrating a new tool always depends on the level of complexity; it has to be easy to use and have a fast learning curve to avoid artist frustration.
Brick Visual's initial goal was to simulate the typical workflow of an artist in their everyday work. This meant exporting the .vrscene file without any optimization or preparation in 3ds Max, then using the original post-processed final image of the project as a reference for light/tone setup in Lavina. Finally, they rendered out the sequence in 4K, at 100 – 1000 samples depending on the noise level, keeping the render time under 5 minutes per frame.
The first, and most important, finding was that Lavina fits into their pipeline almost seamlessly. It runs every scene smoothly, allowing artists to drop in the unprepared files and explore them in an intuitive way. Project Lavina is also capable of handling billions of triangles — and the denoising makes the whole experience feel so natural that the user immediately starts to wander and look around.
Fitting Project Lavina into an Arch-Viz Workflow
1. As a look-dev tool for arch-viz image production
At Brick Visual, the look-dev phase is a crucial part of any project; artists can wander around in a scene and take pictures to find the best composition for the most engaging story. With Project Lavina, a workflow is possible where artists take the prepared base file, jump into Project Lavina, and create all the scenes (in terms of camera, aspect ratio, light setup, and compositional elements). After client or supervisor revisions, they can then continue the work in 3ds Max and simply re-import all the elements and setups that define the scene.
2. As a VR look-dev tool in architecture
Project Lavina could also be useful for artists to perform look-dev in a VR space, meaning they can have a deeper understanding of spatial relationships and find even more interesting points of view. As a first step, it would be enough to have a static 360-degree experience, even without movement in 6-degrees-of-freedom, to discover scenes in a brand new way — Chaos Group is working to include this soon.
3. As a previz renderer for movie projects
When it comes to movies, there are many previz iterations, including viewport previews and low-quality render sequences. Being able to create high-quality previews within a fast turnaround time, while experimenting with different shots, is a game-changer. Artists could import a predefined camera path from 3ds Max and render a sequence over lunch, with the added ability to edit the camera path, camera properties, lights, and more, all in Project Lavina before importing it back into 3ds Max.
4. As a final product renderer for medium-quality movie projects
During the testing phase, Brick Visual found Project Lavina’s quality to be good enough that it was able to be used for the final product in some cases. By default, Lavina is not a final renderer, but based on their experiences so far, they might further investigate this option.
Brick Visual's Final Verdict for Project Lavina
So, can Project Lavina fit into an arch-viz pipeline? If the final release contains all the above features — allowing them to work with Project Lavina and 3ds Max together — then it's definitely a yes for Brick Visual. Project Lavina handles huge, complex scenes like a breeze and it is really promising. The arch-viz industry is always passionate about useful innovation and, after testing Project Lavina, they encourage others to try the beta version. Project Lavina has the potential to take a leap forward in the pursuit of the Holy Grail of arch-viz.
Follow Project Lavina’s progress on the official Chaos Group forum.