XR Voices

Vectorworks and Real-Time Rendering

As a Vectorworks user, chances are you’ve stumbled upon Jonathan Reeves already, either in the forums or by watching one of his helpful youtube tutorials. He has certainly been an active player in the development of innovative 3D visualization. Today, we get his direct insights specifically on the benefits of real-time rendering.

Reeves walks us through the pros and cons of two popular real-time rendering solutions. He details 8 beginner tips for working in Twinmotion and explains Enscape’s desirable live-link synchronization with Vectorworks.

Both Twinmotion and Enscape have free trials so you can see which one may fit your workflow.

Introducing Jonathan Reeves

Reeves is an award winning practicing architect, author & professional Vectorworks trainer who has spent the last 20 years at the forefront of digital architecture and has worked with and taught many renowned UK’s architects and designers over the years. He has witnessed and played an important role during the developing transition from CAD to 3D BIM.

Why use real-time rendering?

I’ve always been looking for the fastest renderer. I started with Atlantis in the early days. Then I used Cinema 4D, which was a great renderer but took a lot of time and effort to get really good results. And then Twinmotion came along and it felt like real-time rendering was the Holy Grail I’ve been searching for my whole career.

With Twinmotion, anybody can learn it because it’s so simple and you can get a fantastic result really fast. Depending on the project size, it may only take me a couple of hours in Twinmotion. Bigger projects, starting from scratch, might take 8 to 12 hours. But it’s relatively not that much time to get a super amazing presentation.

All the meetings I have these days are remote. With real-time rendering, I share my screen and really walk them through the ideas of the project. I can spin them around the model, get them inside of the kitchen to show them what it looks like. And they love it. Using a live-link solution like Enscape, I can make changes directly in Vectorworks to demonstrate design changes in high-quality realism.

What are the pain points?

At the moment, there’s no live update synchronization between Twinmotion and Vectorworks. This means that if you make a change in Vectorworks, you’ll need to re-export your revised model and re-import it into Twinmotion. All the things that you’ve added in Twinmotion will stay because they are native Twinmotion objects, but you do sometimes have to reapply materials. Vectorworks light objects don’t transfer well either.

On projects where I prefer a live-link solution, I use Enscape instead of Twinmotion. Enscape is a very nice real-time rendering software that works directly alongside Vectorworks, currently available for Windows only. So if you change something in your Vectorworks model, the change is immediately reflected in Enscape.

Twinmotion and Enscape are entirely different products, and they both have their pros and cons. I would say, in some ways at the moment, the rendering quality of Enscape is more realistic than Twinmotion. But I like Twinmotion because the interface is simple and very user friendly.

Twinmotion Tips

Here’s eight helpful solutions to get started bringing your Vectorworks designs into Twinmotion:

1. Learn how to get good at Vectorworks 3D modeling. Without that, you’re not going to achieve a nice look in the rendering software. 

2. Master Renderworks materials to the point where, when you take a model into Twinmotion, you’ve done 80% of the work already.

3. Be organized with your layers and classes in Vectorworks to set yourself up for success in Twinmotion.

4. When importing into Twinmotion, you must not collapse! If you don’t keep the hierarchy when you import, then you won’t be able to edit individual walls or objects. So do not collapse the hierarchy, which is the default. 

5. When in Twinmotion, explore the software libraries to find out what’s on offer and where they are located. There’s all sorts of things hidden in folders and half the time you just don’t know where they are, or don’t remember how to access them.

6. Create your own user library in Twinmotion. Bring in your favorite models from Sketchup’s 3D Warehouse, for example. Or export some of Vectorwork’s many resources or Spotlight objects.

7. If you want to do real-time rendering, then you’ve got to have some good hardware. I have a MacBook Pro with a Vega64 external graphics card and three 32″ 4K BenQ external monitors. This gives me the convenience of a laptop with the power of a desktop, and all the screen real estate I could ever need, for admin, design and visualization workflows. I am interested to see what happens with the new Apple Silicon developments in the future.

8. Consider investing in a few hours of professional online training as this can have dramatic impacts on the speed and quality of your progress. I provide online Zoom Twinmotion training globally.

How might VR come into play?

I am really excited about virtual reality and own an HTC Vive. I will say, even back in my University days back in the early 90s, I was reading about it and was excited about it then. Today, the graphics cards are powerful enough, the headsets are now cheap enough, and they’re good enough quality. It’s just the fact of waiting until the market picks enough of them up so that everybody’s got one.

While I do think it has really got a place already, I do think there’s going to be a time when everybody will have experienced it and seen the benefit of it. I’m really looking forward to that. I think VR will change the way we’ll be working within the next five years.

XR Voices is an ongoing Interview Series featuring events industry professionals who are using innovative visualization tech.  We aim to share knowledge and entertain any opportunity to evolve the design process.
Do you know someone who might like to be featured in a future XR Voices interview? Contact me here.


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