There are so many new 3D apps being planned, under development or just released that it’s hard to stay informed.
I have decided to give one of them a test drive, one that looks rather interesting from what I’ve seen so far.
I’m talking about Lumion by ACT-3D.
I do not want to draw any early conclusions as we all know when testing a new app it’s easy to throw ones hands into the air and give up when we hit a snag or something does not work as we assume. So I’m going to try and avoid this by asking questions on their forum when I get stuck, this will also gauge their support, which as we all know is part and parcel of a good software.
What do we need to run Lumion successfully?
Lumion is a GPU based app, so no prizes here for guessing that your video card is king, the better the card, the better the performance. From what I have read on their website a GeForce 8800, 260GTX or ATI 5850 is adequate but a better performing card will be recommended.
Sketchup does not require a zip-shoot graphics card, heck it does not even require more than one CPU core, however those of us who render know that the future is all GPU, so if you are planning building or even upgrading any time soon I’d suggest including a new generation GPU, personally I’d stick with a Nvidia product for 3D work (gaming is another story that I am not versed to discuss) as too many times I come across folk with ATI issues.
There does not seem to be a Mac version and I did not find any info regarding if there will be in the future.
Yes there is, however you must register in order to download it.
The download is rather big, weighing in at about 1.6GB you will need a decent download speed or it could be a long time downloading (leave it to run overnight if your connection is slow, and make sure you have automatic Windows updates disabled as Microsoft loves to update and restart when you need it least, like when downloading or rendering)
What the demo offers compared to licensed version:
• 20 Materials
• 8 Plants and trees
• 6 Building types
• 2 Animating 3D people
• 2 Billboard people
• 9 People and animals total
• 9 Cars, trucks and boats
• 14 Misc.(Street furniture, chairs, benches)
• 28 Landscape types
• 6 Water types
• Saving disabled
• Does not allow commercial use
• Watermarked output
• 466 Materials
• 94 Plants and trees
• 54 Building types
• 20 Animating 3D people
• 84 Billboard people
• 147 People and animals total
• 71 Cars, trucks and boats
• 182 Mics.(Street furniture, chairs, benches)
• 28 Landscape types
• 6 Water types
• Allows saving
• Does allow commercial use
• No Watermarked output
Okay so we are downloading, let’s check out the tutorials…
As of today 17th December, there are only four video tutorials available, on enquiring at their forum I was told that the person creating them is in Egypt at moment and will be returning and creating more soon.
The four that are there are pretty decent and clearly explain the basics, I could not find any written tutorials or a quick start guide, hopefully this will also be available in due course.
Tutorials are here: http://lumion3d.com/tutorials
Lumion is now downloaded and installed.
I’m running a full version, with the exception of saving the scene the demo version can do everything the full version can like take snapshots (save image) and render out an animation, only the demo version will have a watermark in top right corner.
The full version costs €749.00 or around $985.00 ( based on today’s exchange rates)
I do not want to comment on price at this point as I do not yet know what this app is capable of yet, so let’s not get into a pricing discussion.
The first screen when starting offers nine terrain templates, picked one and off we go.
Okay, I have a terrain open and it looks great so far, water is sparkling and animated, sky looks great, looks like a scene from a game.
It even navigates like a first person shooter, I’m not a gamer so these controls will take some getting used to.
Please, register (free) to access all the attachments on the forums.
Yes, getting used to the navigation controls will take some familiarizing, it’s a combination of mouse and keyboard.
Personally I prefer Sketchup’s navigation especially for building a scene.
First things first, let’s import a model, after all there is no point to this review/test drive if it does not work nice with or baby.
I have chosen an old model that I have of the House over stream designed by Amancio Williams.
I followed the Lumion tutorial and opted for the Collada export from SU, It worked perfectly so far, all mesh seems intact and even textures came through fine, see video below from Lumion site on importing.
Placing the model was a little awkward as I’m still not used to the navigation controls, rotating and placing on surface was okay but positioning it a little more tricky as it seems to lift off ground and go places I do not want it to go.
I tried to scale the model but cannot find how to do this, I will need to find this out on forum, or if anyone can jump in here and help it will also be great.
Now to tweak some textures on my SU model.
The material editor also takes some getting used to, you have to select the model, then the material edit button, then the paint icon to add a new texture, mouse over the area and select the texture then select the + sign to edit it or choose from what’s available in the material library, after you have selected or edited the material you need to click the check icon for it to apply, and then start again for each material. I find the editor a little clunky and definitely could do with some streamlining as I did not feel in control and it is not as intuitive as I’d like.
Please, register (free) to access all the attachments on the forums.
So now I have successfully imported a Sketchup model, placed it and changed two textures.
TIP* make sure to give your materials a unique name in SU as default materials are not selectable in Lumion, so name them eg. Exterior wall, window glass, door wood so that they are available for edit in Lumion.
Let’s play with the landscape…
You can raise, lower, flatten, jitter and smooth terrains with brush size and strength adjustments, you can add mountains, flatten them and even import terrain maps (I will venture to importing terrains later, right now it’s baby steps)
You can also paint terrains with grass, stones, sands based on the landscape group.
Editing the terrain reminded me of my long ago attempts to create custom maps with Command and Control Generals world builder only a lot nicer with Lumion and more control.
Please, register (free) to access all the attachments on the forums.
Can you import any other animated objects (cars, people, vegetation, boats, animals) than what is already available or not? OR only as static geometry? In which case I would be probably paying for something I definitely do not need.
(My concern is that what if I do not like those two idiots who talk as if they were conducting some Wagner opera)
Second; you say in the demo there are this and that number of materials. Can you create (and tweak and SAVE) your own materials or you are (again) doomed to use what a certain company in a certain country/building environment thinks is the best to have for architects?
(You know, I read their forums but there are no answers...)
Can any "objects" be saved for further use (surely with their own materials like the question above)?
Do you think it is a good evaluation method when you cannot save your project file? I mean if you take your work seriously, do you really just spend a couple of hours working on it?
-I have asked this question and so far the answer I got was if you have Quest3D then you can create your own animated content and Speed tree for animated vegetation. I have neither of those so I will not be able to test this.
-I am under the impression that they will be making new content regularly which will be available to licensed users, from the little I was able to get from their forum it seems that content is based on requests from users.
-Creating and saving textures at this moment is still a mystery to me, once I get more fluent I’ll come back to you, unless a Lumion staff member is watching this and can offer advice.
-Again, I will need to find this out.
-It’s not up to me to decide, I do not see why one should not be able to save a scene file as it’s in their format and cannot be used with another software, so I see no reason why you are not allowed. I do know that there are no export options however, even with full version.
thanks for sharing your experience Pete, I made a very quick try some days ago and my impression was to having my hands tied.... it looks great (except the specular objects reflect the sky also in interiors... ) but without enough control for imported objects, I also cannot find a scale command. About pricing, it seems his direct competitor could be twinmotion2 that is even more expensive...
Is this thread an advertisement? I don't care if it is, but if they are throwing you a copy of the program in return for your review then it should have been made clear from the start what was happening.
No John this is not an advert, this is a review from a SU users point of view. I will not be biased nor inflate or exaggerate the product, I have a one month full evaluation license to test this product as arranged with Lumion without any deals made or exchange for any endorsements, I do not own the full version and I need to be actively connected to their server to use it.
At the end of this exercise members of SCF can make a better informed decision if this product is right for them based on my conclusions, learning from my mistakes and their following along with the demo version.
If this endeavor is a success and indeed helps some people then we will be doing this with other SU related software in future. At the end of the day I wanted to learn this product and have the time to do so, I thought why not document it, so please do not take offense or assume foul play. I hope my reviews and discussions about 3rd party apps helps this community as it's intended as we have been down this road before and I'm not up for another round of the same old arguements.
Can we please keep on topic now guys, or is this an exercise in futility?
Okay, so I played around a little more, this time I used some library objects like stones, trees, boats, people, birds and a bench.
Placing objects was easy and rather fun actually.
Getting the animated people to walk in a path took some head scrathing until I found that you need to be in movie mode to enable object animation.
The fly-through works very similar to Sketchup, instead of creating scenes you take a 'snapshot' as key frames and then you can preview your path. Once happy you save the video.
On the Lumion site the FAQ mentions .avi and mp4 available as video export, I only got an mp4 option and have posted an inquiry on their forum as to why.
Here is a quick animation, from a very short time learning the product. I have much still to learn but so far so good.
Nice movie Solo
Small point: the reflection in the windows of the trees looks 'funky'
Have been trying it out myself and so far I'm very pleased. Very easy program with good help options [got a bit stuck with applying the materials ] and the mouse-WASD combo works very well for me since I've played a game or two [I do understand that the 'older' part of the community might need a bit of time adjusting to it ]
Tried importing a skp, which went really well. Only negative thing that I can think of right now is that the SKP > DAE conversion seems to ignore cut out components [on the left of the pictures, the windows]:
ps. also can't seem to find the scale option, but I don't see this as a problem. Since everything inside the software is at good scale and the files I use are also.
Please, register (free) to access all the attachments on the forums.
There is a .skp import option?
I need to understand the glass material, I cut the reflection right down but reflections are still a little dodgy.
I was hoping that I could use my 3Dconnexion explorer but it's not supported, that would make life a whole lot easier.
Well no there is no straight SKP import but it can be done via the collada export in sketchup. I'm going to try other exports tomorrow to see if there are any that keep the cutout components intact.
Yeah, the reflection in the windows looks kinda odd. Did you render the movie at maximum quality, Pete? I understand that certain things, like reflection maps, do not update if you choose a lower quality.
BTW, what GPU do you have and how long did it take to render the video?
It would be cool if they released a 30-day fully functional trial...
I've also tried the demo and from what I understand the demo isn't limited to 30 days. I think they will have a 30 day version with save and a "infinite" demo without save.
My main issue is the feel that I can't control all that I want and can't change the "look".
Though its easy and fun to use, it have a distinctive look that isn't photoreal.
The sky for example.
It does look nice but not great and its not "exchangeable" for a sky box with photos.
How will I be able to make it look different than everybody else?
Also the inability to import animated components (without buying two really expensive software) and the lack of lights (there is only the sun) makes it hard to use for interiors. The quality of the ambient occlusion doesnt look all that great and there is no color bleeding which would really help getting it look more real.
Personally I think these programs need to mature for one or two versions to be what I need. They seem to be rushed to market.
I would also like to see some way of getting it interactive on to the web. Movies are great but I believe interactive visualisation is the future...
John, we discussed it (in private) whether Pete should do this and decided that yes, the community would definitely benefit from it. As it is not an advertisement here, you can see from my (sometimes exaggerated and little harsh) comments/questions above, too.
OK, end of off-topic and sorry Pete for the above remarks but I hope it helps clarify-
Back to topic...
That would make much more sense to me. Without saving, you cannot test a whole bunch of things (I guess not even if you can save your custom materials and such...)
Without custom stuff, it is indeed a question. In my field, I would of course need custom materials/vehicles/people etc. only. I do not really mind the lack of 100% photoreal and distinctive look. It's a bit like those Shrek movies but I like it.
I guess these glitches will be ironed out in some later, patch release...
This may also be an import bug (dae should keep the cutting feature of components) but I guess you could work it around by really cutting (intersecting and deletin) those areas for now...
As I understand, interior lighting will come at a certain phase...
Pete, keep up with the experiments and share your experiences here, please.
(And disregard my rants...)
@ Pixero, I understand what you are saying and at moment I also feel that there are limited options for skies and landscapes not to mention the animated objects available. From what I gathered reading the Lumion forum it seems they are very open to suggestions, so who knows these are very early days, they hardly have tutorials available yet so I'm pretty sure that they will be boosting their content and templates soon.
The one issue I do have is creating your own content, besides SU, which is great for any stationary object, the animated stuff is what I'm thinking about. I do not worry about vegetation as I'm sure the user library will grow in time to cover almost anything you could want, however like Csaba was saying what if he needs some period pieces, like plebs and Romans?
I read yesterday that they have a lot planned for future updates, like particle effects, lighting and a wider variety of content.
The one thing about Lumion is it's a lot of fun, I really enjoyed playing around with it.
The movie creation is very easy, anyone who has ever made an animation in SU will pick it up fast.
Also, as I see, the camera movement is smoother than in SU which (if true) is an additional bonus.
Since I wouldn't have the time to evaluate this software, I think this is great.
Would you be able in the end to export the animation file directly to a client in a format that would be easily viewable by them?
What are the file sizes coming in at?
Does the software recognize SketchUp scenes?
Just monkeying around....
You can export .mp4 and image sequence (the version I have does not have .avi) so I guess with a video editing app you can create just about any video format.
The sizes depend on your export/video resolution settings.
No, Lumion does not recognise SU scenes, groups or components, and at moment there is no way to animate SU models.
Your initial feeling on this? I felt it was alot like iClone. But with more advanced enviroment and a very forgiving UI.
I'm a Trimbler now!
Richard, Imagine iClone/Vue lite blend kinda.
These are very early days for Lumion, I do not think that they have a concrete road-map at this moment, judging by what I've read so far it looks like they are going to gauge the market for what heading to take.
At the moment it's a basic app with great potential, the ability to get a result fast is the best part. I'd like to see more options and better control over objects and materials. I'd also like to see things like an internal vegetation editor, maybe a way to create animated movements from base models.
I'm not sure at the moment who this app is geared towards, I'd really hope that it does not go towards the hobbyist with sword wielding nymphs and space adventurers but stay professional and maybe get a boost in the realism department.
This was made in MAX years ago. I hope Lumion enables custom object animation for escalators/elevators, custom animated textures for TV screens, etc., so I can do this kind of thing without the headache that MAX is.
Hi, I'm Remko, one of the programmers of Lumion and I'm honored this board wants to review Act-3D's little tool I decided to join in on the conversation to clarify things when needed and also to see what's happening here so we can feed it back into the development process.
First, let me explain a bit about Lumion. Act-3D decided to build Lumion because we saw that a huge portion of our customers was using our 3D engine for architecture visualization. We also saw there was only a very small crowd that was capable of writing shaders and other difficult things.
In short Lumion is a tool designed to make it very easy to create architecture visualization. It's not designed to let you do everything but we designed it so you can get decent results very quickly. We are not pretending to be a tool similar to 3DS Max but instead we want to provide an alternative option. The core of our idea behind the product is that it should be accessible to anyone. Anyone should be able to create a movie. Some people might not create movies as nice as highly skilled artists but still we want Lumion to be easy and quick so everybody can use it.
So, that's a little bit of background, here's what you want to know:
Reflections: They can look odd because we do not use ray-tracing. Ray-tracing takes hours so to get reflective surfaces we generate a cube map which is used to approximate reflections. We do have some plans for accurate reflections on flat surfaces. On curved surfaces it's usually hard to see you are looking at fake reflections because of the distortion. In the next update you have the ability to position the reflection map grab position, reducing obvious flaws to a minimum. After that you'll see more improvements with each update.
Animation: You can animate elevators, people, cars etc.. but it's all very simple now. Act-3D wanted to start simple and expand. Right now you can define a linear movement or rotation for each object for every scene. Even though we might expand the animation capabilities you can expect everything to be simple. People should walk automatically and wheels should spin automatically - that sort of thing. There are even some wild ideas about automatic crowd animations and traffic. It's all technically doable so who knows where we will go in the future.
Focus: Our focus is 100% on professionals creating visualizations. I mean architects and artists. I must confess this was a topic that came up several times during development. Because of the GUI and the simplicity people might think it looks like a game. It's not. It's a professional tool with specific professionals in mind. When we started the GUI was more colorful and I mad it minimalistic black and white to make it look a bit more serious. We are quite satisfied with the GUI though. In the end I think people will appreciate what we've done in terms of the GUI. We wanted something that 'just works'.
Sketch-up integration: Right now Lumion is young. Lumion exists for one month now (our other software is available for 10 years now). As time progresses Lumion gets more users and more users means Act-3D can do more. Act-3D can definitely see the value of tighter Sketch-up integration. One of the key goals of Lumion was to offer quick workflow between Sketch-up and Lumion. The main thing in Lumion now that exposes this is the reload button. If you change your model in Sketch-up you can hit a reload button to update the model in Lumion. Act-3D worked a lot in visualization and I know from experience a lot time is lost updating the visualization of the model to the latest version of the model. With features like this Act-3D tries to make things easier.
Limited options/ customization: Act-3D thinks that Lumion already has a huge variety of models, landscapes and other options. The logical way for the future is more of this. Each update will offer more content and more features. Act-3D sees customization as an advanced feature so more options will appear for tweaking the landscape, providing your own textures but we want to be very careful with our GUI. We do not want to pile feature upon feature to end up with a tool which has enormous complexity. Act-3D thinks even very complex things can be presented in a clear and transparent way.By the way, you can already import any content you want and sue your own textures/configuration for materials. I saw a guy that made a mod, changing all tree textures so the trees had snow on them. Although not our intend it's a creative solution. You could create a custom sky by just importing a huge dome with a texture on it. If you hit the ctrl key you get many options to customize the look. We will expand features like this in the future. Act-3D is doing a lot of research at the moment about lighting, depth of field, post processing and quality improvement. As time progresses you will see a lot more options to create a distinct look.
Advertisement: Act-3D not sponsoring anyone on this website. Act-3D does not believe playing tricks on customers is a good way of doing business. Of course we want to get good reviews but the most sensible way to do this is by making great software. If it's crap let us know so we can make it better. Fortunately the overall the reactions until now are quite positive. Act-3D's approach is that you can find out for yourself. We're too small to do massive advertisement campaigns so our best bet is the software sells itself. Reviews are a great help for this.
Last edited by remko on Tue Dec 21, 2010 2:47 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Hi Remko, welcome and thanks for dropping by to clarify some things... Expect more quesrions however!
I think Pete (solo) was a good choice for this test drive and passing info to us. He uses a wide variety of different rendering applications so we can all "trust" his evaluation and opinion.
True that I am not an architect and I would not even call myself an artist. However my work (when I model "professionally" and not just hand around to administrate these forums) involves archaeological visualization (I am an archaeologist by original profession so I am not doing this as a "hobby" although I may be a very lucky person because I like it as much as if it were my hobby really). When I model a Roman watchtower, I need Roman soldiers in there. When I model a Medieval house, I need some Medieval folks and horse carts and such).
I consider myself pretty efficient at modelling however I am far from being very fluent and effective at rendering. This is why I think that something like this "idiot proof" Lumion is (would be) a perfect solution for me. But of course, it also means custom content; people, vehicles, materials and such. I watched some videos and understand that I can import materials with my models and add shaders like normal maps and all but I would like to save these as well as save any custom content I make.
I understand this may be a rather narrow slice of the cake and with a new product you cannot concentrate on weirdos like me but as I also understand from what many gentlemen above added, some customization is indeed a general feature request for many. After all, even architects work with many different materials all over the world and these all need to be "custom" to a certain extent.
So overall, I am really tempted but without the perspective option at least to be able to ad my stuff, I (for instance) cannot indeed justify the cost (for myself, again, and only for what I would/could be doing it, otherwise I think it's quite reasonable). So in this case I may remain a "hobbyist".
Anyway, I hope you hear what I am saying. Here is another example by the way. This person is building Rome and is currently rendering in Kerkythea. However I can already see the potential of Lumion in such a project. (And that is a professional project with his wife, who is also an archaeologist).
Also, see your Private Messages, please.
I changed my comments on hobbyists just to make you know what I mean. I think it would be awesome if people use Lumion for their hobby. I just wanted to make clear we do not want Lumion to be gimmicky. From the experience we have from our other product people create very interesting things as a hobby. For example this project was created as a hobby: http://www.quest3d.com/download/movies/ ... Temple.wmv This was made in 2006 and was right up to the graphics level of many commercial projects at the time. I still think it looks nice. The guy that created that demo now works for us by the way and made the clouds and the landscape for Lumion. So in that sense we do have an interest in hobbyists it's just that Lumion is a professional tool. P.S. The materials are fully customizable. You can change texture colors and many other settings.
I know they are customizable (I watched the material videos, too). Can I createmy own, custom material libraries, too, or custom, insertable 3D library?
I mean I do not necessarily want to tweak the same material from project to project all the time.
Also, once I created some 3D objects (let's say "benches", so not necessarily animated ones) with all tweaked materials and such, I would like to re-use that in various projects.
So this is what I meant by "customization", not the properties of given materials.
The video is great.
I think I have seen it somewhere already (I know I've visited Quest3D before so maybe there...)
Nothing to add other than thank-you... this is indeed a valuable service to keep the Sketchucation forum member abreast of a very fast growing portion of the 3D world.
I create video tutorial series about several 2D & 3D graphics programs.
Lumion released an update last week, a few fixes, and more content. I have been trying to do too many things lately like test SDS2, Thea, (another product that I cannot mention thanks to tight NDA) and Lumion.
Then there was Christmas and New year (still got a bit of a hangover)
Anyway today I loaded up an old model and ran it through Lumion , gotta say the result IMO is great, oh, look out for the kamakazi seagull....my mistake.