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Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Revit and Lumion 10 Review - Is it Worth the Upgrade?

Well, it's about that time again.  Lumion released it's latest version a couple of months ago (Lumion 10) and I have been testing, using, and taking notes about it to share with you all.

First, if you have not seen all of my previous Lumion reviews, you definitely should check them out:

Lumion 5 Review
Lumion 6 & 7 Review
Lumion 8 Review
Lumion 9 Review

Why bother reading older reviews?  Because you'll notice over the years the reviews have evolved into comparing the latest version of Lumion with it's previous.  By reading all of my reviews you will see that I believe you should be using Lumion, regardless of version.

If you are not using Lumion right now, you should be.  And if you don't have a license of Lumion right now, get Lumion 10.

If you have Lumion 7 or earlier, get Lumion 10.

This review is for those of you who have Lumion 8 or 9 and are deciding if you should upgrade.  The rendering and animation output qualities between 8, 9, and 10 are very similar.  It's the features that differentiate the versions.

So, check out my review of all of what I think are the most important new features of Lumion 10 and decide for yourself...

FYI, the test project I am using in both Lumion 9 and 10 is called Stilted Studios.  I published a really cool video about how I designed this particular project...

Now, onto the review....

First, if you are not a reader and would rather watch me talk about Lumion 10 while doing some live demonstration, check out the video below:

P.S. - As I mentioned in the video, I am trying to get to 60K subscribers on YoTube this year...  If you haven't subscribed to my channel yet, please do! ;)  

High Quality Preview Window

This was a feature I was pretty excited about, until I used it.  Over the last couple of years Lumion has been improving their rendering quality dramatically with the use of new effects, lighting, reflections, and shadows.  The problem now is that what you see in your "preview" window is no longer a true preview of the final rendered image or video.

The ability to quickly show a more final image in preview mode is a welcomed feature.  I tried it out and thought, "OK, looks a little better".  But then I compared it to the preview window in Lumion 9 (which does not have a "HQ Preview" feature).  As you can see below, there is not much o a difference between the standard Lumion 9 preview and the Lumion 10 HQ preview.

This could, perhaps, be more pronounced on a different type of scene.  But, on my test project I am not seeing a huge improvement.  Check out the images below and let me know what you think.

Lumion 9 - Live Preview

Lumion 10 - "HQ" Live Preview

Updated Layer "UI"

File this one under, "yeah, I guess that's nice".  

In Lumion 10, the visibility layers had been visually changed to look like tabs.  You can also pin them or unpin them when in Build mode.  Unfortunately, there are still only 20 layers....  If anyone from Lumion actually reads these reviews, please, please, please add more layers...

New Layer "Tabs"

Another little UI change that has to do with layers is a new drop-down menu when selecting objects.  The way it works is when you select (or multi-select) objects the drop down will show what layers those objects are on.  You can then move them to other layers using the the drop down.  This is a little improvement over the old way of moving objects between layers.

Layer select and place drop-down.

Material Changes and "UI" Updates

New Load, Save, Copy, etc... Buttons

This is a subtle but impactful change tot he material editor UI.  When you select a material the Load, Save, Copy, Paste, and Add to Favorites buttons are right on the main material menu.  This is a welcome change.   Previously, a use would have to make a few more clicks to get to these options and it always ran a little laggy to me.

Displacement Maps

When I first saw they added displacement mapping I was super excited.....

Then I found out it was only for a select few built-in materials and I could not make my own.

And I got much less excited.

Hopefully we will have the ability to use displacement maps  on custom textures in a future release.

"AI" Artistic Effects...?

My  "Monet" ....
Sometimes I wonder how software companies determine where to spend their time.  I also wonder if they add a feature just because they can and no because it is being demanded.  The new "AI" Artistic Effect falls under this category.  Why? Who asked for this?    

The "AI" Artistic Effect is supposed to take your image and rendering it  in the style of a few selected famous artists.  In the image above, I chose Monet.  

Why would any professional say, "Hm, I'd like to render my design but have it look like a Monet".


Also, it does a pretty crummy job.  I ran the same rendering above through many different artists styles and they all looks pretty bad and not so much like the style chosen.

"Fine Detailed" Nature

If you have read my previous reviews about Lumion you would know I am a huge fan of their massive object library.  They have enough people, plants, cars, trees, and context that you will never have to Photoshop in a single tree again.

With the release of Lumion 10, a new "fine-detailed" planting category was added.  This is pretty awesome for when you need to make a rendering and plants or tress are close to the camera.

The two images below show a typical Lumion tree and then a "fine-detailed" Lumion tree.

Typical Lumion planting close-up.

A new "fine-detailed" planting close-up.

As you can see, the difference is pretty noticeable close up.  How about further away?  See below:

Typical plantings on the left, fine detail plantings on the right.

In the image above, the differences between typical plants and fine-detailed is less noticeable when the camera is further away.  

Overall, it's nice to have some more detailed plant models.  Two things to keep in mind, though.  First, as you can imagine, these "fine-detailed" plants can bog down a scene quick.  Second, you cannot switch an already placed typical detailed plant with a fine-detailed one.  They are a difference object category so you'd have to manually place your planting again if you wanted to use fine-detailed plants in an existing scene.

Effects Selection "UI" Updates

Updated Photo and Video "Effects" menu.

This is just a little something that didn't make the front page of release notes but I noticed it right away.  For some reason they changed the Effects menu.  Instead of tabs across the top their are tabs across the side.....  They also added a little toggle at the top.  

I have no idea why they did this.   Maybe laying the foundation for a newer release?  

Aurora Boralis

That's right... Someone took the time to develop the "Northern Lights" effect....




Why??  Just.... Why?

Render Quality and Speed?

Last, but not least, I wanted to see if there were any improvements in rendering quality and speed.  I took the exact same scene, on the exact same computer, and ran the exact same rendering on Lumion 9 and 10.  I used the 4K resolution rendering settings and the same effects for both.

The results:

Lumion 9 Rendering: 1 min. 16 seconds.

Lumion 10 Rendering: 1 min. 22 seconds.

As you can see, the rendering speed is essentially the same.  But, how about quality.  See below:

Raw Lumion 9 Rendering

Raw Lumion 10 Rendering

Eh, they look pretty darn close to me.  What do you think?


My takeaway from a month or so using Lumion 10 is similar to that of my Lumion 9 review.  If you are not using Lumion right now for your renderings and animations, get Lumion 10.

If you are using Lumion 7 or earlier... Get Lumion 10.

But, if you are using Lumion 9 and are trying to decide if the upgrade is worth it I hope this review has helped.  Ultimately, if all you are looking for is better quality or speed from your Lumion 9 scenes, it doesn't look like Lumion 10 will make a huge improvement.  If any of these new "features" (see the entire list of "new" features by clicking here) will solve a major pain-point in your Lumion workflow, get Lumion 10.

For me, some of the features are nice, sure, but none of them make a dramatic enough impact on my life to upgrade.

What do you think...?