Recently, I came across a fellow architect’s blog where he addressed some misconceptions regarding archviz consultants. It inspired me to write this entire piece on how to make your 3D visualisation project a success.
I have been developing 3D architectural visualisations for almost 20 years now. Over the years, I have come across many clients who, perhaps, were left a little unsatisfied despite us doing our very best for their projects. I’m sure that all studios have come across such situations, and believe me, it breaks our heart every time.
Here, I list ten things I’ve learnt in these two decades, which will help address issues early and, hopefully, lead to everyone being happy.
1. Visualisation is an investment
3D visualisation is the prime factor that drives real estate sales during the pre-construction phase. It’s important to give due importance to this process by treating it as an investment. If your buyers don’t like what they see, then the journey can end unsatisfactorily.
Well-crafted 3D images and a walkthrough is the face of your project until it’s completed. That’s at least 3-5 years for residential projects and a minimum of 2 years for a commercial project. It’s a rather lengthy span of time, and considering that most inventory needs to be sold prior to completion your investment in creating stunning 3D visualisations will be well worth it.
2. Let creativity flourish
Like making a film, 3D visualisation is the culmination of many people’s efforts. So, if you’ve hired an agency allow them their creative liberty.
I have seen projects with great potential end up with below-par visualisation simply because the builder wanted specific camera angles and lighting. An architect can be a gentle guide, like a co-director assisting the production. But too much interference can result in an average product.
3. Select the right agency
Selecting the right agency is tricky and is one of the most critical points to achieve a well-rounded product. Choose an agency you can trust, one that offers impeccable service. Most importantly, one that understands your vision. Real estate projects are full of challenges at different levels. The agency needs to understand your thought process and gel with your team.
So, how do you choose this perfect partner? Check out their industry reviews. Ask around on forums. Have a word with your peers. Remember, a good portfolio is not enough. If the agency doesn’t match your ‘vibe’, good images won’t materialise anyway.
4. Outline a clear brief
A clear brief is a job half done. Before putting pencil to paper have a huddle with the team, which includes everyone on the project. At the end of a detailed discussion, everybody should agree on the same goal.
5. Maintain a single point of contact
Maintain a single point of contact with your 3D team for effective communication and timely resolutions.
I have seen a lot of projects drag on endlessly because there were three or four people from the client’s team coordinating with our 3D project manager, conveying different ideas with different directions. We end up retracing many of our steps, redoing designs, and, worse, a substandard product.
6. Set timelines at the outset
It’s important to set up clear, mutual timelines even before you sign on a 3D agency for your project. This is of particular importance if there’s a rush to launch on specific dates.
Once the agency is on board it’s crucial to remember that both sides are time bound. Ensure prompt responses from your end. Don’t delay formalities like payments and be quick to deal with approval requests from the agency’s consultants.
A final point to remember. Rush your consultants only if required. Don’t push their limits of comfort as undercooked project launches result in bad first impressions. Instead, ask the agency to set small, trackable targets for faster progress.
7. Too many changes spoil the project
Too many changes, multiple feedbacks always end up leaving everyone confused.
A 3D agency prices a project based on the first design discussion you had with them. And while it’s understood that there will, inevitably, be revisions, changes to the project’s goals or direction create general discontent.
Local body rule updates and architectural changes are unavoidable situations requiring edits to be worked into the overall product. However, it’s only fair that the client pays for these add-ons additionally. Numerous changes also make 3D models more error-prone ending up with slow loading and rendering times.
The solution? Lay out the number of times you will specify changes in your schedule, and stick to that. Give constructive, detailed feedback at every stage and don’t wait to see the final output. If you feel the need for a design overhaul do agree upon that additional fee.
Always ask your consultant to give you quick clay renders, so that you can be sure of the forms, the lighting and the shadows, before the final rendering. This will save a lot of to and fro, and essentially time.
8. Develop a long-term relationship
Select an agency with a long-term partnership in mind. And then stay with them. You may get other recommendations along the way but keep the faith and trust your partner agency to repeat their stellar work.
9. Be ready to be flexible with your budget
Fixing a budget is the key to a tightly managed ship. But also give yourself room to be flexible when needed.
As the project evolves, you may want to add visuals of rooms from different angles. Strictly restricting yourself to a fixed number of images or duration of a walkthrough will restrict your project’s potential.
10. Freelancers vs agencies
I have complete respect for freelancers. They help keep budgets within limits and are great to meet flexible project requirements.
But. They also work on their own terms and that means they could be on their well-deserved break just when you are rushing to get a project done.
Selecting an agency means having professionals at hand all the time, and a more streamlined way of working.
By all means, work with freelancers if
- If you’re a freelance architect or builder yourself and manage a limited number of projects at a time
- You don’t have strict deadlines
In all other circumstances a 3D visualisation agency with a diverse team, manpower, and ability to take on large scale projects would be ideal for the long-term.
There you have it. Ten simple steps to get those perfect 3D assets, that will make your potential customers go “wow”. I believe following them will help you enjoy your journey a lot more.
A graduate in architecture, Sayantan is an avid reader, reluctant writer and passionate about travelling and sports. His favourite topics while reading are design, architecture and current affairs; though business drives him to read books on management and economics, just to stay in the league.