Renderhouse: “The Power of 3D is Underestimated.”

“Investment in good visualizations is peanuts compared to the total cost of a project. It is easier to get potential buyers interested because you can present all the architectural qualities,” Ludwig Desmet declares. In the past five years his one-man business Renderhouse has earned its place at the absolute top of 3D visualization.

“I don’t allow haggling over the prices of my visualizations. The image quality has to be top priority and I need job satisfaction,” Ludwig Desmet tells us. “Consumers of luxury products want to see precisely what they will be getting for their money. My clients want to showcase the high-class quality and added value of their projects. Of course the best way to make your case is with high-quality 3D images.”


Ludwig Desmet believes you cannot detach architecture from its environment. “Architecture never stands on its own. There is always an environment and you have to show that, too. If you are selling an apartment by the sea, show the sea. For a house in a quiet neighborhood, the peace and quiet are a big selling point. You need to be able to see it, by drawing the eye to the trees and greenery in the surrounding area, for example."

Own photographs

Desmet not only provides the most accurate rendering of the environment, he also wants to shed the right light on it.

“What is of great importance for a visualization? The right sunlight. Before I start working on a commission, I go to the site and make a series of pictures for the backgrounds. I research the orientation of the building beforehand so that I know at what moment of the day I can take the best pictures. As a consequence I also know the camera’s perspective and the exact lens used, so that I can reconstruct the viewpoint and the lens perfectly in Cinema 4D.”

Other eyes

Desmet studied professional photography earlier in his life.

“I think that as a photographer, you view 3D differently than an architect, for example. I use several of the primary principles of photography – such as composition, perspective, lighting – in my 3D work.”

Material study

Desmet’s 3D models have more than a commercial function. Often architects also seek out his help to furnish one design with various materials, so that the 3D model becomes a decisive factor during the design process.

Quick return on investment

Furthermore, the 3D models also serve as a control of the structural design.

“Sometimes architects need to adjust their design after seeing the 3D visualization. There are often mistakes in the 2D plans: a window may be missing in an elevation, or the stairs may not be in a good place.”

“For the architect the investment has already paid for itself in those cases. If the faults had been revealed after construction, the cost would have been far higher."

“It also happens that architects adjust their design after seeing the 3D visualization to improve it aesthetically.”

Now and then Renderhouse is asked to develop a concept that will not be worked out by an architect until after the 3D illustrations have been made.

“I have been working on a project to redesign the site of a trading company for a while now. The client does not yet know exactly what he wants so we are exploring various options. As soon as we have a finished concept, we will present our idea to an architect.”

Small offices

Some of the clientele of Renderhouse consists of “smaller offices that do not make their own 3D drawings and prefer to leave it to a specialist. Most of my assignments are pure visualization work. Occaisionally I am asked to make Quicktime VRs (QTVR). This is a very underestimated interactive tool that allows you to show the project in its entirety in a very attractive fashion.”

With QTVR you explore a project through 360° degrees. A British study shows that on architecture websites the pages with panoramas are the most-visited after the homepage itslelf.

One of the challenges for good architectural visualization is the right lighting. “The artificial sun needs to be in sync with the real sun in the background picture; the same identical morning/afternoon/ or evening lighting. The clouds and season also all have to be right,” Desmet explains. “Nothing looks worse than a north-facing elevation with bright sunlight shining on it.”

From design to 3D
The source material Desmet receives usually consists of CAD files and cross sections. “In Cinema 4D I transform these into 3D. If it is the image of an exterior, I only put things in the interior that are visible from outside."

"For an interior I first create the wall volumes. After that I cover them with materials and look at the lighting of a scene first of all. Once that is completed I begin with the interior decorating. Sometimes I make the detail-renders when the client asks for them. For example, when it is relevant to include certain details for a project presentation in a brochure. To render things as accurately as possible I ask the client for lots of product references, such as the RAL colors that were used and the type of brick.”

Artistic versus realistic

Renderhouse is known for its photorealistic 3D models. “But I have great admiration for people who can make a good visualizations using Sketch and Toon or the traditional way with paint and brush. A good artistic impression is a worthy alternative for photorealism.”

Long road

Desmet is one of the pioneers of the better 3D visualization. He says Belgium still has a long way to go in the world of 3D. “There are some very good 3D artists in this country, but it is a very small group.”

The lack of good visualizations, in his opinion, is a result of the lack of interest in good architecture. “Admit it: Belgium is hardly a trailblazer in exciting architecture. And that has an effect on the field of visualization. Too often the view is: it can’t cost too much, and that applies to the real architecture as well as the visualization. The frustrating thing about 3D work is the never-ending discussion about money. In London the budgets for architectural visualizations are four to five times as high as in Belgium. So there is still a lot of work to be done here. Often a rotten Sketchup drawing of a project will do. I would rather have a beautiful hand-painted watercolor than bad 3D.”



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