Playing Indoors

Everybody should try something different every now and again… well, in this case it’s not really that different or at least it’s nothing we haven’t done before. We have been doing enough interior work before and we have been doing our fair share of 3D rendering.

In terms of the interior design, this study called ‘Moonflower’ is just a little exercise of bringing a few elements and inspirations together we thought would be interesting. Like designing structural elements such as ring beams or air trunks or even air-condition ducting in a way that they don’t need to be hidden behind wall and ceiling panels but rather become part of the interior design. Or playing with the balance between ‘cool’ and ‘cozy’, making a showcase interior ‘liveable’. And then of course there are the ever exciting topics of transparency and illumination.

“We wanted to keep the interior fairly technical but not cold. A touch of space ship, a touch of summer. And a bit of zen… just think ‘Kenzo’. Maybe it’s slightly crazy, but I think it kind of works.”

The second part of the exercise was to do with 3D modelling and rendering. As always we’re working with Rhino. It’s a good 3D program, especially version 5 (you can see the ‘artistic’ line drawing mode images in the gallery below) and really works for us. When it came to rendering we started first with VRay. It’s really a very neat renderer, even though it can be sometimes quite tricky to get the materials and illumination right. There are, however, 2 drawbacks for us: First of all, VRay only works on PCs and secondly, it’s working like a plug-in to Rhino. Which means you need Rhino running on the same computer, which is likely to be your working computer, so unless you have a second copy of it, your productivity grinds to a standstill.

The next. image in the gallery is rendered using VRay… and we’re in two minds about the result. It’s kind of nice, very realistic in some aspects. But then again, we haven’t made up our minds if it’s beautifully calm or just slightly dead.

So we gave Keyshot a test run. It’s really easy to use generally, works for Mac and PC, is stand alone… what more could we ask for? Keyshot is mainly geared towards product and transportation design, so our interior model was a tricky task (mainly because Keyshot takes it’s illumination primarily from the HDRI backgrounds, but luckily one can create light sources independently, too). We had 15 days of trail period to get to know the program and end up with one or two renderings that would give us the feeling that the software would indeed be suitable for what we do. The bottom line is: 3D rendering is never an easy, straight forward tasks if that’s not your main job. In order to create the perfect result you’d have to work with hundreds of parameters. That starts by choosing and tweaking materials, finding the right viewing angles and applying the right background images. Depending on the size and / or scale of the model, materials sometimes behave differently. HDRI images can create all sorts of headaches, too. Some don’t deliver the right light, some deliver seemingly too much (causing the white noise you can see in some renderings). And then there’s the light! You can adjust the overall brightness / gamma. Or the brightness and contrast of the HDRI. Or you tweak every single light source. If you have the time and the mind set for fiddling with these things, it’s great fun, but honestly, we hope that when one day we’re against a deadline with a rendering, we’d better have figured out some bullet proof way to get to the results.

For the time being we’re quite happy with what we’ve achieved with Keyshot and it’s the most likely candidate for when we buy our next render software (we haven’t tested Bunkspeed yet, which is similar in it’s approach and we’ve seen brilliant examples, but unfortunately it’s a PC only software again, depending on high end graphic cards to make the most of it).

In the meantime, we hope you like our ‘Moonflower’ concept. Maybe we should put it in the ‘portfolio’ section instead?