Using Unreal Engine for previz in architectural 3D visualization

Architectural project in Unreal Engine

There’s a lot of discussion lately about the advancements in real-time 3D engines and the progress looks quite impressive indeed. We continue to study all new the possibilities programs like Unity, Lumion, Twinmotion and Unreal provide. One thing I wanted to discuss in particular is using a realtime engine for previz purposes.

On the early stages of a project it is very important to deliver a clear vision / idea. Traditional way here of making clay renders or viewport screen-grab look quite dull and do not provide full understanding of a final product which leads to misunderstandings and additional review bounces.

Option 1: Viewport capture

Option 2: Clay render

To avoid this we usually create fully rendered still previews in addition to clay / viewport camera animation. This is better but still requires some ‘thinking process’ to fully get an idea.

Option 3: Viewport capture and style shots

As an example on our G Hub project we decided to create more visually refined animatic with the help of Unreal engine to try out different approaches by different artists and so that our vision for the video could be more easily ‘sold’ to all of the client departments and to minimise reviews. Here’s side-to-side comparison with the final video.

Option 4: Using Unreal Engine for 3D animatic / previz

From an artistic standpoint ability to work directly in a scene, to see the lights and shadows with wide variety of camera effects opens up a whole new way to develop shots, work on a mood and overall pace / edit of a video.

From a client’s perspective it’s much easier to understand and make early-stage adjustments. Of course it’s still rough and could be improved further but in fact there were no revisions at all from the animatic to the final video product.

We see a lot of potential in using game engines for architectural 3D visualisation especially now with realtime raytracing and will continue to develop our skill in this field.

What is your opinion? What option looks better to you? We’d be really glad to hear about your experience.

Bonus: Another version of the animatic