© Brick Visual
© Brick Visual

Brick Visual puts Project Lavina to the test

We invited Brick Visual to load its most complex arch-viz scenes into Project Lavina's revolutionary real-time 3D ray-traced engine. Find out what happened.

Project Lavina is around the corner. And our game-changing visualization tool is already in use by top studios around the world, allowing artists and clients to experience 3D ray-traced scenes — in real-time.

Below, Brick Visual’s CDO, Attila Cselovszki, discusses how adding Project Lavina to its arch-viz pipeline has revolutionized the way they work.

About Attila Cselovszki

Attila is a visualizer with an architectural background. After graduating as an award-winning architectural student he co-founded Brick Visual, which has become world-renowned for its atmospheric arch-viz imagery, animations and VR/AR experiences. Attila is responsible for product and pipeline development at Brick Visual, including its Pulze software family. 

Discover more about Brick Visual in this interview, by watching this Total Chaos presentation or by listening to this CG Garage podcast.

Project Lavina is a brand new real-time member of the Chaos ray-tracing family — and at Brick Visual, we’ve been testing it from the very first beta phase. 

Reducing render times is the holy grail of the visualization industry. Waiting for the machine is an issue that can disrupt the creative process and affect the workflow between parties. Sure, it's fun to have a break and play some table soccer in the office — but it's less than ideal. We're used to trading off between speed and quality.  

© Brick Visual

About 10 years ago, GPU acceleration started to evolve — and now V-Ray GPU is a full-featured production renderer with few restrictions and excellent render time. But even with fast GPU rendering, there's still a need for an even faster previz tool . . . 

Until now.

In the middle of the 2010s, it became clear that the arch-viz industry would have to speed up render times because of the hype surrounding VR and game engines. There were two approaches:

  1. A tool that eases out the transition between 3ds Max and a game engine. However, using a game engine is still in an experimental phase in arch-viz because of the expensive turnaround time.
  2. The belief that Moore’s law will create an era when we can rely on a standard arch-viz pipeline and render in near real-time — but we don’t want to wait 20 years for that law to deliver what we need today.

When Project Lavina was announced, it looked like a game-changer that could free 3D artists and let them look around their worlds without restrictions. So we didn’t hesitate to join the beta program and find out what it could do.

Project Lavina technically fits into our pipeline almost perfectly. It runs every scene smoothly, so we could just drop in the unprepared files and explore them in an intuitive way.

Attila Cselovszki, CDO, Brick Visual

Testing Project Lavina

Upon signing up for the beta, our first test was to see how Project Lavina could handle interactive look-dev and find out what quality levels we could get without preliminary optimization and preparation in 3ds Max.

The success of integration always depends on the level of complexity. A new tool has to be super easy to use with a fast learning curve — otherwise artist frustration will negate any added value.

The Project Lavina experience interacting with a Brick Visual scene. © Brick Visual

Our goal was to simulate the typical behavior of an artist in their day-to-day work. We wanted to efficiently create acceptable outcomes in the shortest possible time without delving into Project Lavina’s settings too much. So we kept it simple:

  • We exported the VR scene file without any optimization or preparation in 3ds Max.
  • Then, we used the original post-processed final image of the project as a reference for light/tone setup in Project Lavina.
  • Finally, we rendered out the sequence in 4K, at 100 – 1000 samples depending on the noise level, keeping the render time under 5 minutes per frame.

The first and most important finding was that Project Lavina technically fits into the pipeline almost perfectly. It runs every scene smoothly, so we could just drop in the unprepared files and explore them in an intuitive way.

Project Lavina fulfills its promise. It is capable of handling billions of triangles and the denoising makes the whole experience so natural that the user immediately starts to wander and look around. And what else should we do as “virtual architectural photographers?”      

In this beta stage, Project Lavina has to evolve a little to reach its full potential. One feature that needs refinement is communication between Project Lavina and 3ds Max, so the user can transfer cameras, lights and setups bidirectionally. We used Pulze, our in-house scene management tool, to achieve this for now. When this is completed, Project Lavina will be a great addition to the daily work of an arch-viz professional and a streamlined look-dev tool that automates the batch creation of draft images.

Ideas for integrating Project Lavina into your workflow 

© Brick Visual

1. As a look-dev tool for image production

At Brick Visual, the look-dev phase is a crucial part of any project. At this point, artists wander around in the scene and take pictures to find the best composition and tell the most engaging story. We can imagine a workflow where the artist takes the prepared base file, jumps into Project Lavina and creates all the scenes in terms of camera, aspect ratio, light setup and compositional elements. After client or supervisor revision, they can continue the work in 3ds Max and re-import all the elements and setups that define the scene.

Left: CPU render. Right: Rendered real-time in Project Lavina. © Brick Visual

2. As a VR lookdev tool

As an extension of the previous option, Project Lavina could be used by the artist to perform look-dev in a VR space. This way they would have a deeper understanding of spatial relationships and could find more interesting points of view. As a first step, it would be enough to have a static 360 experience, without movement in 6-degrees-of-freedom, to discover scenes in a brand new way — and we hear Chaos Group is working to include this soon.

© Brick Visual

3. As a previz renderer for movie projects

In movie projects, we have a lot of previz iterations including viewport previews and low-quality render sequences. To be able to create a high-quality preview — within a fast turnaround time and experiment with different shots — is a game-changer.

We envisage a workflow in which the artist is able to import the predefined camera path from 3ds Max and render the sequence at lunchtime. We'd also love a direct connection to 3ds Max, so key edits are updated live in Project Lavina.  In this case, it is also important to be able to send render jobs to the local farm.

We found that Project Lavina’s quality is so good that it can be used for the final product in some cases.

Attila Cselovszki, CDO, Brick Visual

4. As a final product renderer for medium-quality movie projects

During the testing phase, we found that Project Lavina’s quality is so good that it can be used for the final product in some cases. By default, Project Lavina is not a final renderer, but based on the experience so far we might further investigate this option. 

© Brick Visual

Does Project Lavina fit into an arch-viz pipeline?

If the final release will contain the above features — allowing us to work with Project Lavina and 3ds Max together — then definitely: Yes. It handles complex and huge scenes like a breeze and it is really promising.

We know that our industry is always passionate about useful innovation and, after testing it, we would encourage others to try the beta version and offer feedback to the awesome Chaos Group team. They have the potential to take a leap forward in the pursuit of the Holy Grail of arch-viz. 

We’d like to say thank you to Chaos Group and NVIDIA for their offer to test Project Lavina.

Help redefine real-time rendering

Join the Project Lavina beta