I have a slight problem with Lumion Pro: I can’t seem to
get past its visual artistry to use the product for its intended
purposes. Breathtaking landscapes and vistas, beautiful foliage and
drop dead gorgeous water are few of the features that stand out
immediately in Lumion Pro and we haven’t gotten to the core
of its business. Beautiful sunrises and amazing sunsets along with
glimmering beaches, fog covered mountains, starry nights filled
with meadows, flowers, butterflies (nocturnal.. creative license
ok?) and fish fluttering about (more creative license…
yes… I know fish don’t flutter) and the completely
over the top underwater plants. And the best part of all this is
the speed and ease of which these scenes can be created… by
just about anyone with decent computer skills… and very
little learning curve. All this and we still haven’t even
discussed Lumion Pro’s rasion d’eter… stunning
A lot if not most of the Renderosity community are conceptual
artists whether they consider themselves to be or not. Creative
projects are all about conceptualization and visualization. The fly
in the soup has always been how to get your visualization into the
digital workspace . We are no strangers to the struggle. As someone
that is not a daily user this product comes as a pleasant surprise
in terms of speed and that ever important quality render needed to
hook a client or sell a concept.
Lumion Pro Pro 5.3 Interface
Having spent the past several weeks with Lumion Pro 5.3 - 5.7 I
am still convinced it is one of the fastest visualization tools on
the market. It’s ease of use and great looks make it the envy
of many of us that don’t work in the architectural field.
Some of my prior experience was with the demo version back in 2011
which I believe was Lumion 3. A video I made with the free version
is still a popular draw on my YouTube channel which attests to its
overall render quality back then. A little research shows that
Lumion Pro is based on the Quest 3D engine by ACT-3D. Quest 3D
which bills itself to be “Amazing for fly-throughs and 3D
Simulations” has captured not only the attention of the
architectural visualization market but other 3D artists as
Let’s get to the all-important pipelines… two of which
are Sketchup to Lumion Pro and 3D Studio Max to Lumion Pro that I
used for this review. Both couldn’t be easier in
execution or more frustration free than what I experienced and not
being frustrated with a 3D application just seems…
well… refreshing. I mean… it’s rare. In this
case I used the common FBX format for both but it can take SKP,
DAE, 3DS, OBJ and even MAX files if you have Studio Max installed.
The Lumion website lists several versions of CAD, Cinema 4D, Maya
and many other 3d modeling applications that can export meshes
compatible with Lumion Pro.Supported image formats include TGA,
BMP, JPG, DDS, PNG and PSD. As you can see getting your model into
Lumion Pro is no big deal. What's considered a hurdle with most 3D
applications is a "given" with Lumion. You almost feel like your
cheating using Lumino Pro it's so simple.
One item I did struggle with initially was object placement.
Like most single screen 3D tools you soon realize that point of
view is what is important when placing and manipulating objects.
Once you get over this small hurdle the workflow speeds up
incredibly. Lumion Pro is an application that lends itself to being
used with both hands in concert. You can direct movement via
keyboard and view via mouse. This combination of keyboard and mouse
speeds up usage considerable.
Lumion Pro’s library is impressive with its SpeedTree
technology. From plants and trees to swarming insects there is lot
of great assets in the nature library alone including forests. This
doesn’t count the other libraries like people and props.
Lumion's Extensive Nature Library
FX AND OTHER COOL THINGS
Drag and drop extends to special effects too. It includes fog,
water mist, fire and other fx to use or misuse at your discretion.
These are not half baked effects either. The on screen presentation
of the effects this author tested were surprisingly good. In most
cases visually enhancing the image or movie. There are fire,
fountains and fog along with other effects. These are just what I
would call the PRE production effects… we haven’t even
gotten into POST effects after you go into the movie
Just a Few Pages of the Lumion Pro Effects
MOVIE - IMAGE RENDER
Creating a movie or single image render couldn’t be any
easier than it is Lumion with it simple place the camera and click
for a pic system. Set your camera up for the initial scene and
press a button to take a picture. Move the camera anywhere you
desire at any angle on the screen within scene and take another
picture. You’ve just created a moving camera shot from your
first pic to your last. The camera moves between these pictures
like key frames on a timeline. Up, down, rotate…whatever you
need to complete the camera shot.
Top: Lumion Imaging Center for Photo Sets, Bottom:
Lumion Timeline for Video
POST MOVIE EFFECTS
Post production contains even more features such as rendering
type (sketch, cartoon and so forth). Atmospheric effects include
sun,moon, shadow, contrails, global illumination, reflective
surface and others. Weather contains clouds, volume clouds and
volume sunlight along with rain and snow.
There are camera, style, artistic and sketch tabs each with it's
own page of drag, drop and setup effects. There is also 2 point
perspective and a really cool Analog Color Lab that has some great
presets and sliders to control or customize your own look. We don't
want to forget Godrays, Selective Saturation and Bloom, Fisheye
Lens, Handheld Camera and more.
Post Movie Effects
BRINGING IN EXTERNAL ASSETS
Ok… now we come to the big one for everyone…
importing external assets. Since Lumion can import FBX that should
pretty much answer the question for most of us. Output in FBX, with
animation, and you will be able to import the prop and animation
for drag and drop use in Lumion. Animated props seem to work fine
but characters are another story. I was not successful in getting a
functioning animated character (fbx) into the workspace. It appears
the skinning was off on the character skeleton which imported in an
aberrated T-Pose and no animation. There are many other file
formats available for import including: dae, skp, dxf, dwg, max,
3ds, obj and kmz along with fbx. That covers a lot of bases in
terms of building an external asset library. It’s a
simple browse and place system with an opportunity to name asset
before saving it to the library of assets. You can delete any
imported asset from the library with a couple of clicks.
Finally we arrive at the marketing thrust of the product.
Empowering individual architects and firms to showcase their
designs in a way that attract and hold the attention of the
client… that all important focus when trying to nail down a
project. With everything else this application can do
creatively… it’s almost anticlimactic at this
point. The ability to use almost any 3D design application
opens the door for many firms to bring their 3D models into the
Lumion workspace with ease. This allows the creation of marketing
materials from brochures to posters and, of course, the animation -
moviemaking aspect to really push the visualization envelope and
sell the project. For most of us… all we need is an image to
get started creating a marketing package. The image needs to be
pleasant and professional with as much eye candy as the situation
allows. The ability to expand that package further with animated
video is a huge plus. We all know that good isn’t good enough
anymore and the edge that a product like Lumion can give its users
could be a major difference in a head to head presentation with
LUMION 5.7 UPGRADE RELEASED
Before this review was published an upgrade to version 5.7 was
released that adds a new beta feature, MyLumion.com, to the already
existing toolset and this did alter the interface a tiny bit.
Notice the different layout in far right corner menus and you also
see the new MyLumion icon.
Click on this icon and you will be brought to a new screen that
allows you to pick up to ten (10) viewpoints by choosing a slot and
clicking the familiar camera icon. These are rendered and uploaded
to MyLumion.com which is then available in a nice 360 degree
panorama of each camera shot. For testing I took four shots and it
was only a few minutes before it was rendered and uploading.
New Lumion 5.7 Upgrade in Minor Interface Change and
Addition of the BETA MyLumion.com service.
At first I was wondering just what this new feature
was but after seeing what they are going for here it became crystal
clear that it is another way to share visualizations around the
world with ease on a computer, smartphone or tablet. As of this
writing the feature was new and strictly beta with no editing
allowing up to 7 projects to be uploaded
In conclusion Lumion was pretty much as I thought it would be. An
easy to use and stunningly visual real time application that relies
on drag and drop placement of assets to build out a scene or image.
How complex or simple is strictly up to the end user with either
producing awe inspiring results. Anytime you can download an
application then immediately start using it without reference
material is a good thing on any level. The ability to kick it up a
notch with special effects, animated props, birds, animals, people
and other assets are just icing on the creative cake.
SPECIAL THANKS to the folks at Lumion,
particularly Roger Hammond, for providing resources and help making
this review possible. For more information go to www.lumion3d.com.
Lumion Pro Demo
M.D. McCallum (warlord720) is a International Award Winning
Graphics Artist, 3D Animator, 3D Sculptor and Published Author. He
is a staff writer and reviewer for the CG Industry news section
here at Renderosity.com. You can find more info on M.D. at his