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Monday, March 5, 2018

From Revit to Lumion - The Ultimate Review #3 (Lumion 8 Pro)

"HOLY SH**!"

Those were my first two words when pressing render for the first time in Lumion 8 Pro.  

I have been taking my time getting to know the new release before posting a review.  Today is the day.  In this post I will highlight my favorite new features and why I love them.  I will also talk about my wish-list items (in hope that maybe the next go around will address them). 

But, before you read through the review below you should take a minute to check out my previous reviews of Lumion 6 and 7.  This is a continuation of the series and some of the thoughts and feedback I give on my workflow, process, and opinions of the older versions are still valid.... Also, in the previous posts I give some background on why I started using Lumion and what it was like.

Click here to view my Lumion 7 Review...

Now, continue reading to hear about my favorite new enhancements and features in Lumion 8...

My Favorite New / Enhanced Features

Instead of running through every single new feature and describing it I thought I would pick by favorite new/enhanced features and add a little commentary of my own. 

For a complete list of the new features check out Lumion's website here...

CWeltonDesign also does a great job demonstrating most of the new features in his YouTube livestream here... 

Overall Quality:

With Lumion 8, Act3D took a major step in the right direction when it comes to producing truly photo-realistic visualizations from a "real-time" rendering engine.  Some of the quality enhancements are subtle while others are dramatic.

Here is a side by side of the exact same model rendered in Lumion 7 and Lumion 8...

Click to enlarge...

What do you notice first?  I notice the softer shadows and the variations in detail of the grass and trees.  Looking closer you can see the materials themselves have more definition and the overall lighting is spread in a more realistic manner. 

Overall, the image looks much more "realistic" to me.  An remember, this is a raw rendering.  As in, no post-processing. 

Here is another example of the realism that can be achieved with a Revit model and a few effects in Lumion...

Click to enlarge...

Click to enlarge...

Pretty impressive, no?  I can honestly say that I am continuously impressed every time I create a new rendering in Lumion 8.  You really have to try it to believe it and fully comprehend just how good of a rendering engine Lumion has become.

New "Layers" Effect:

New Layer Visibility Effect... So Simple!
The old Layers effect was pretty lousy.  It was a slider that turned layers on an off, but, in all honestly, it made no sense.  I can not explain how it was supposed to work because it never worked they way I thought it would.

Well, thankfully, in Lumion 8 we were given a new layer effect.  This new effect is extremely simply to use.  Simply turn any layer on or off by clicking that layer number on or off.  Why was the effect not like this from the start?!

Model "Variations":

Over the last three years I have been asking for more layers (or a better layer management system) within Lumion.  We are stills stuck with the measly 20 layer limit, but, Lumion 8 introduces model "Variations".

For us Revit users... Think of Variations as "Design Options".  When you load in a model you can load in multiple version of it (or "Variations").  This allows you yo flip between options without taking up multiple layers.  This makes it much easier to manage phases, materials, and design options within a Lumion project.

Right now, you are limited to 10 model variations per model.

This definitely helps reduce the amount of layers we use.  One unfortunate aspect of Model Variations is the effect that controls them in camera and video modes.  It is essentially the old layers effect with a slider... Why would this not be the same as the new layers effect?!

Variation Control Effect... Yuck...

**Pro Tip** To control multiple models with different variations you will need to add a Variation Control effect for each.  Putting them on the same effect causes mayhem.

Model Groups:

Selecting a few objects... 

Grouping and rotating the objects...

A simple little enhancement that does exactly what it sounds like it does... Groups stuff.  One of the benefits here is that I can now rotate groups of objects among 1 axis instead of there individual axis's.

Mass Placement Updates:

Mass Placement with Curves in Lumion 8 Pro

Mass placement has always been a favorite tool of mine in Lumion.  The ability to place large amounts of trees, people, or cars at one time and randomize their rotation, locations, etc... is awesome.  On caveat has always been placing objects along a curve.  The old mass placement tool could only do a straight line.  The new Mass Placement tool works similar to the Mass Movement tool and gives you the ability to make multiple bends and even smooth out the bends. 

Measuring Tools:

Measuring in Lumion 8 Pro.

This may seem like a silly little feature but it carries quite a bit of value.  Lumion is a full scaled digital world, but we never had the ability to simply measure stuff. Now, we can measure things.  This is helpful when you are merging Lumion model elements and Revit model elements.  For example, if you want to put Lumion streetlights at a specific distance from a structure and specific spacing.

Wish-list Items

Unfortunately, this release did not do much to eliminate my wishlist items from last year... 

Here we go...

More than 20 layers... Please!

Yup, you are still limited to 20 visibility layers.  Please, creators of Lumion, if you are reading this, please update the "layers" structure and add more than 20!!!!

** Lumion 8 Update **  The addition of Model Variations somewhat alleviates the 20 layer limitation.  But, I really feel as though this is a major limitation.    

Batch Exporting Views:

With the launch of "LiveSync", Act 3D released a new "Lumion Exporter" plugin for Revit. The exporter has always worked great for me without any issues.  That being said, I would love to have the option of batch exporting Revit views.  We find ourselves creating multiple 3D views for different things that need to be exported to Lumion.  

For example, the site, foundations, structure, and final building may want to be brought into Lumion as individual models.  Therefore, we set up 3D views with visibility settings for each.  Right now, we have to open each view and export them one at a time.  A simple batch exporter would be HUGE.

** Lumion 8 Update **  This is still a pain in the butt issue that I believe would take very little resources for Act3D to solve.  All we need is a view checkbox, and export multiple selected views... That's it!

Copy in Place:

This wish-list item may not even be necessary if the maximum layer threshold was increased beyond 20.  Essentially, when you copy an object (or series of objects) you have to use the move tool and hold "alt" to make a copy.  Therefore, it is almost impossible to copy and paste objects in the exact same location.

** Lumion 8 Update **  This wish-list item is still necessary (even with variations and more layer support).  Fortunately, the new "Grouping" function helps ease the pain a bit of duplicated elements, but you still can't duplicate in the exact same place. 

VR Support:

Lumion is a real-time rendering and visualization tool.  To me, it is a "no brainer" to have even the "build mode" be view-able through VR goggles.  Unfortunately, at this moment in time there is very limited Oculus Rift or HTC Vive support with Lumion.  Right now, all you can do is create 360 Panoramic images... Which are cool, but when you have an entire 3D world to explore why limit it to one stationary spot?!

** Lumion 8 Update **  If you read my post on Enscape3D you would see that we chose Enscape for VR because of it's simplicity.  If Lumion would simply give us the ability to fly around our models in Lumion with an HTC Vive headset on... I might even be tempted to ditch Enscape for VR... 


Ultimately, Lumion 8 has become my new rendering tool.  I no longer mess with V-Ray, use Revit's native or cloud sources, and Enscape3D is used for fully interactive VR only.  The simplicity, speed, and quality of the images and videos produced by Lumion make it a no-brainer.

Another side-effect of Lumion is that creating renderings has become fun again. It's a little like playing The Sims.  The workflow of placing entourage, trees, and context is so game-like that I get wrapped up in the story I am creating and have to snap out of it.  

If you were on the fence and waiting to hear what I had to say about Lumion 8, count this review as my pushing you off the fence...

You will not regret it... I promise....

I'd love to hear from those of you who have been using Lumion 8 since it's release late last year.  What are you thoughts?  Leave a comment below and let me know!

DESIGN:BIM - A Guide to Utilizing Design in the BIM Process

Customers who purchased BIM After Dark - Volume 1 emailed me asking if I could create a breakdown of my design process (from sketches to final presentation boards).  Well, I finally did!

"DESIGN:BIM" is a simple, easy to follow, guide that takes you through how I use Revit within my design workflow. Click the link of the image below to download now!