Archviz specialists forma6 present anytime, anywhere with Twinmotion
Made up of architects, town planners, geographers, and landscapers, forma6 uses a diverse range of software across different stages in the architectural pipeline.
When it comes to communicating ideas to clients, they need a solution that plays well with their existing design tools, enabling them to retain as much data from the original model as possible while showcasing it in a compelling way. Often, they also need to deliver on very tight timelines.
That’s where Twinmotion comes in. “We’re able to generate videos in record time,” says Pierre-André Biron, Senior Archviz Artist at forma6. “Before, we used to use image-by-image rendering with ‘classic’ rendering engines, and without a render farm it took us several weeks to generate a three-minute video in full HD. Today with Twinmotion, you only need 30 minutes to generate a video of three minutes in 4K on a single machine!”
Archicad to Twinmotion workflows
Pierre-André is in charge of creating all the images, 3D animations, and virtual walkthroughs at forma6. For the past ten years, architects at the company have been designing all its projects in collaborative mode using Archicad and BIMcloud.
This way of organizing things enables them to systematically develop projects to Level 1 and Level 2 BIM standard and build a 3D model consistent with the architectural and technical project at each phase. Once the model has been developed, forma6 exports it to Twinmotion. “It's very easy for us to switch over to Twinmotion to better communicate the design of the space,” says Pierre-André.
“Architects can use this tool easily thanks to simplified settings for materials, light, shade, and atmosphere. To go into even more detail, the architectural model is first transferred into 3ds Max to refine the geometry then exported into .udatasmith or FBX before import into Twinmotion.”
Using the Datasmith export connection to import files from 3ds Max into Twinmotion enables forma6 to retrieve as much data as possible, particularly for the V-Ray materials configured in 3ds Max.
If you export a 3ds Max scene that includes V-Ray materials rather than standard materials to FBX format, the texture files are not linked to the materials and you lose V-Ray material parameters like glossiness and bump once the scene is imported into Twinmotion. “But with Datasmith, the texture files are linked and some parameters of the materials are kept,” explains Pierre-André. “Since we work with V-Ray materials in 3ds Max, Datasmith enables us to save time because there is no need to convert the V-Ray materials to standard materials.
Once the model is in Twinmotion, forma6 has a range of creative options for presenting the scene to clients, including taking them through the scene in VR. “Twinmotion's VR functionality enables us to present our projects to customers interactively so that they can become immersed in the project,” explains Pierre-André.
“In this way, we help them project themselves into the future and move through the scene virtually, either by keyboard and mouse or using a virtual reality headset. Today we have more and more requests for this type of service.”
Pierre-André reports that clients are invariably pleasantly surprised to find themselves "inside" their project before it is built.
Similarly, the new Twinmotion Cloud feature is set to take the hassle out of the logistics of presenting projects to clients who may not be able to be present in the firm’s office. "Twinmotion Cloud will undoubtedly be an essential option for presenting our projects,” says Alexandre Grignon, Bim Manager at forma6.
“Previously, we were using Twinmotion Presenter, which needed the client to have a powerful machine with a recent graphics card to view it and required the sending of a file of over six or seven GB for download.
“Twinmotion Cloud now enables us to view the project from any computer without the need to download. It connects to the link that we send it and the file is run on high-performance online machines. All you need to do is take a virtual stroll through the project with the greatest of ease.”
Real-time tools for improved communication
Chartres Cathedral is one of France's finest churches. A jewel of Gothic architecture listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, it goes without saying that any architectural design work planned there is gone through with the finest of toothcombs.
The team at forma6 was commissioned for a project in the square at the foot of the Cathedral—an extremely complex undertaking given the historical and listed urban environment. Twinmotion proved to be a vital tool for presenting the project throughout its design phase.
The tool helped provide the complete visibility required to meet the various town planning regulations, requirements, and wishes of the various stakeholders of the project including the city of Chartres, the heritage commission, the Architectes des Bâtiments de France, and the Evêché (diocese).
“Twinmotion enabled us to produce videos and fixed images in record time, at each step of the project and for every change that's made,” says Pierre-André. “It's been a real decision-making tool when it comes to urban planning and architectural choices.”
The forma6 team worked on another project where the ability to produce high-quality video was paramount: the Lycée Saint-Philbert-de-Grandlieu high school. The school comprises general teaching facilities, workshops, catering, student accommodation and eight staff accommodation units. It will eventually house 1,500 students.
Firms were invited to pitch for the project and had to adhere to strict guidelines aimed at reducing the environmental impact of the development.
Participants were tasked with making a video showcasing their design plans to a jury, with forma6 winning the bid in early 2021. The video offers a 360° flythrough and walkthrough of the outside of the building and the main indoor spaces.
“Twinmotion has proven extremely effective for this sort of work, since deadlines are always very short. It enables us to produce 3D animations very quickly and optimize the project right up until the last minute—or nearly!” says Pierre-André.
The Hôpital de la Cavale Blanche is a project that has been underway for several years. It involves the construction of several new healthcare facilities, including an oncology center, outpatients' surgical department, and medical imaging center, alongside the renovation of all the existing buildings and the transformation of the outdoor spaces—landscaping, parking garages, pedestrian walkways, and tram line.
The forma6 team have an urban planning brief for the redevelopment of the whole site and also an architect brief for the design and construction of multistory parking garages, as well as for the renovation of the existing building facades. Their use of Twinmotion here is slightly different.
The team has been commissioned to design a scalable digital model to facilitate the incorporation of both future buildings currently being built on the site and the future projects to come over the next few years. This project was begun in the 2016 version of Twinmotion, then reworked in the 2019 and 2020 versions. It will also be undergoing rework for Twinmotion 2021.
The project was entirely modeled in 3ds Max, then exported as an FBX file into Twinmotion. “We particularly like Twinmotion's ability to graphically handle several millions of polygons easily, in real time and without slowdowns,” says Pierre-André.
The digital model is also used by the departments of the City of Brest Métropole, who have integrated it into a 3D model of the city.
On all these projects, forma6 have been able to effectively ‘tell the story’ of each development, bringing stakeholders with them on a journey to convince them of the big idea. What’s more, features like Twinmotion Cloud are providing the flexibility to communicate with clients whenever needed.
“Twinmotion enables us to present our projects at any time of day or night, whatever the time of year,” says Pierre-André. “It's a real design tool for all project stages, and being able to do it in real time gives us the option to show clients their projects under different lighting atmospheres.”
Working towards Unreal Engine
For forma6, adopting Twinmotion has opened out the architectural pipeline, with exciting possibilities now on the cards for the future.
“Real-time technology is becoming a core component of architectural project communication,” says Pierre-André. “It's a technology that we'll be developing more and more at the firm, especially via the Datasmith to Unreal Engine plugin. Continuing a Twinmotion project in Unreal Engine will be our next step to add even more realism and interactivity to our presentations.”