We live in an age of robotics, drones and automation. And those things can be interesting in their own right. But when it comes to Architecture, some technologies seem to replace warmth and light with cold industrialism. Happily, Enscape is not one of those technologies. Whenever I use Enscape, I feel this effortless artistry at my fingertips. It takes the most basic of ideas and makes them more real, adding depth and light and excitement. Yes, I know that Enscape is essentially an addin, a piece of software that consumes models and renders them in real time. But it is executed so well, that it makes it seem like so much more. And in fact, it really does legitimately enhance the quality of work that you can produce rapidly within your own office.
I have posted about Enscape before in this full review, and in this post about Enscape 1.9. The question is: What does Enscape version 2.0 bring to the table?
One of the most significant enhancements in Enscape 2.0 is an improvement to the lighting engine, a feature that results in more Realistic Lighting. There has been additional thought and development work given to things like indirect lighting, behaviour of reflections, and overall realism. You will likely notice this difference if you open a model you used on previous versions of Enscape and try it with Enscape 2.0.
There is also a really nice new Grass material that looks great and is very easy to use. Along with this, better trees, plants, and other improved RPC replacements have been added.
Improved Navigation Methods:
Hit the M key at any time to activate a mini map:
Also, you can now Right-click on element to orbit around that element.
Performance and Hardware
I was warned that Enscape 2.0 introduce a higher demand on GPU performance due to better visual quality. This may make it necessary to go one step left on the performance slider (e.g. high instead of Ultra) to get the same result and speed than in an older version. Lighting calculation starts at medium and will be quite demanding. “LOW” should be renamed to draft mode because that is what it is. If there are no artificial lights in the project, this is good for a quick walkthrough. My main workstation is a Metabox with a 980GTX graphics card, and I did notice some slowdown when setting Rendering Quality to Ultra. You may have to experiment with your own machine, depending on how good your graphics card is. Just turn the quality slider down a bit to get to the performance that you need.
Also, I have it on good authority that better Performance will be available in a hotfix soon.
Complete List of New Features in Enscape 2.0 for Revit and Sketchup
Here is a complete list of new features and changes made in development of version 2:
Design tweaks for SketchUp lights window
Option to disable grass
Replace the ugliest trees
Change light icon for Sketchup
Implement better realtime DOF (depth of field) method
Try using White Mode with Outlines and Architectural Two-Point Perspective
Also try only using about 5% of Outline slider to see how it makes detail stand out
Recently, I was working as Construction BIM Manager on a significant health project. We worked on the coordination of a very complicated operating theatre fitout with very limited area for services. Architectural elements had been modeled for coordination purposes only, but definitely not for presentation. I was asked to try and quickly produce some images for a media release, and I immediately thought of Enscape. Would it be able to produce something convincing, even though we had no real entourage or materials applied? Below is the result achieved in just a few minutes:
I enjoyed using the white mode as it meant I did not have to spend a lot of time putting materials into the model. To see how this looks with grass and trees, I used similar settings on the sample commercial Architectural Revit project. The image has so much life and range, and it required almost no work at all to produce:
With Version 2.0, Enscape has taken a big step towards exceptional visual quality and realism. Both the Revit and SketchUp versions are updated so no matter which program you currently use, the new features are now available. I hope you enjoy trying out the new version!
Enscape is continuing to develop new and amazing ways to quickly visualise and present your Revit model… and now, your Sketchup models too. I will cover both of these below…
1) A quick look at the Enscape Sketchup Extension
Sketchup is still a solid workhorse in a lot of firms, as it is almost too easy to use. Some architects immediately feel comfortable using Sketchup, where Revit has a bit of a steeper learning curve. Personally, I hope to see more designers moving into Revit for early concept design with massing or adaptive components or Dynamo, but in the meantime there are plenty of people out there building really nice models in Sketchup. Which is why Enscape is releasing this Extension, I suppose!
After installing the Enscape extension for Sketchup (you can see some tips on how to do this at the end of the post), you will probably want to immediately start tweaking settings. As with Revit, you can have the Sketchup window, Enscape window, and Enscape settings all open and ‘live’ at the same time. For some reason, Enscape started with maximum bloom and extremely warm colour temperature, but after tweaking that a bit it started to look really nice as usual:
As Sketchup models are quite light compared to Revit, I was able to run on Ultra settings and the experience was smooth (helps to have a Metabox in this situation of course). Overall, the Experience of using the Extension for Sketchup is almost identical to the Revit plugin implementation, which is great.
You can achieve a really interesting result just by playing with the time of day and the sky orb brightness:
Which leads me to the new features..
2) Enscape 1.9 Platform Updates and Updates for Revit
One of the biggest updates in this latest version is that now Revit Decals are supported. As you probably know, a Revit Decal is basically a flat item that gets stuck onto a flat surface like a Wall. From there, you can pick an image and set the size. Now that Enscape supports this, it is much easier to do things like customised signage, and it can be done very quickly and photorealistically. Previously, I had a challenging workaround through custom RPC, but the support of Decals should make this process much easier for flat elements.
Enscape now also has Oculus Touch support, along with a handy heads-up display when you look at the controls in VR:
Further, more support for Glass and Glazing materials has been added. Essentially, Enscape is working to support every applicable material property from Revit, which is great.
A couple of other things:
you can set the frames per second on exported video
you can ‘move’ the clouds to really get your scene looking just right
you can modify the brightness of Sun, Moon and Stars. It is seriously impressive to set the time to night, and then boost the stars right up. It is quite beautiful 🙂
Here is a video that summarises the updates in 1.9:
Check out this video of the Sketchup plugin in action:
Here is how you can manually the install Enscape Plugin for Sketchup:
1) Download the .rbz file (currently from the Preview / Alpha page). I’m currently using enscape-184.108.40.2063-g355786d.rbz
2) Go to the Extension Manager in Sketchup
3) Choose Install Extension and pick the rbz file
4) Accept the prompts
5) You might have to restart Sketchup. Then you should be able to start Enscape from the Extensions menu:
Every now and then, you come across a software product that makes complete and absolute sense. As a Revit professional, I have spent a lot of time learning howto use Revit: howto play by the rules, and also when to bend them. With all my Revit experience, I recognise that there are some things that just don’t quite work perfectly inRevit. One of these is the rendering and material management process.
Over the years, I have seen rendering inRevit come a long way. You may remember the complete re-tooling of the Material management system a few years back? But even in 2016 and 2017, it is still a time-consuming process that requires a lot of tweaking. Having to wait each time for the result, then tweak settings, then wait again… well, we just don’t have time for that intoday’s world, right?
That is why we have seen a huge increase in the amount of ‘real-time’ rendering tools and engines for Revit and BIM. But the one real-time rendering tool that really makes complete sense for Revit, is Enscape.
If you haven’t heard of it before, here is a quick overview of what it is and how it works…
Basically, Enscape is a real-time rendering engine for Revit. It understands lighting and materials, and enables a plethora of visual effects. To use it, you simply open yourRevit model, and literally just press the Enscape Start button. It will rapidly export the selected 3D scene view to a new Enscape window, and you will be able to walk around in a rendered environment using the default settings.
The first moment you see it in action is really jaw-dropping. Just how fast and smooth it is to go from a drab Revit coordination and documentation environment, tothis bright and colourful, photorealistic world – it is something you really need to see with your own eyes. But, the ‘wow’ moment is really just the beginning…
You see, Enscape maintains a live link to the current Revit session. So whatever changes you make inRevit, are then quickly visible inEnscape. Want to change the color of the walls? Just modify the material (Appearance Asset) inRevit, and watch as the color changes in the rendered view. Are you working on an interior furniture layout? Well, open a plan view inRevit and start nudging the furniture around with the arrow keys… then observe the furniture move in the rendered Enscape window! As I said, for rapid material and modelling iterations, Enscape simply makes complete sense.
Also, any changes you make to the Enscape Settings are applied immediately to the live Enscape window. You can apply and remove visual effects, modify the lighting, colour, bloom effects, depth of field, clouds and so on without ever really having to wait for a lengthy render process. Once you have the desired settings, you can save that as a profile for use on any future projects.
Of course, if you are ever involved with briefing clients and communicating design intent, you are probably already starting to perceive the potential of Enscape. When you start to look around at its overall capabilityin more detail, you will understand the new power that Enscape puts intoyour dusty Revit hands.
Getting Started To launch Enscape, you can’t have a Perspective view as the current view inRevit. This is a Revit API limitation. So, you should go to a Drafting View or a Floor Plan view, and then select the desired ‘launch’ 3D view from the drop-down list on the Enscape ribbon. Then, press Start…
You should review the HUD (heads up display), which shows you the basic WASD navigation method (very familiar if you are a PC gamer). Left mouse button and drag changes view direction, right mouse button and drag changes the time of day…
Tip: hold down Shift to walk faster
Now, let’s see what Enscape can do!
1) Virtual Reality
I put this item first partly because of the current hype around VR, and also because at Virtual Built it was one of the main reasons we started using Enscape on real projects. We experimented with a lot of tools that allowed varying types and degrees of virtual reality experience, and we also looked at the whole pipeline – the process of taking Revit data, exporting it to some other platform, playing with lights, materials, content and so on, and finally generating or simulating the model in virtual reality.
In the end, we found a lot of the alternatives left something to be desired. Primarily, we wanted something that required minimal re-work outside of Revit, and also that created real-time virtual reality (not static panoramas). And we were really pleased with the workflow and experience of using Enscape. The image below is taken from a real client presentation that we delivered during an important function for one of the top building companies in our state:
The Virtual Built Enscape VR Kit
Live VR Mode
The VR experience inEnscape is started in the same way as the normal windowed mode, you just need to press the Enable on the VR Headset pane. Oculus Rift and HTC Vive are now both supported, and at Virtual Built we have had good results with both devices.
With the Oculus Rift and gamepad navigation, the experience is very ‘easy’, for want of a better word. You can quickly explain the basic mechanics to a new users, and then allow them to navigate the rendered VR model. Depending how you want to implement this, you may also then need someone to drive the Revit session at the same time. You can have the Revit user modifying materials and furniture layouts, while the Client is experiencing all of these changes in a human-scale, immersive environment. Trust me, it is pretty revolutionary… It was this experience which partly led to the title of thisreview.
Here are a few other ways tointegrate Enscapeinto a VR workflow, such as with Google Cardboard devices and easy sharing to mobile phones…
1a) Exporting and Uploading a Stereoscopic Panorama from Enscape (VR View)
Start Enscape and set your viewpoint at the desired panorama location
On the RevitEnscape Ribbon, use the “Take Panorama (Stereo)” option
Wait for the Export to finish
Then use the My Panoramas button to see the completed Render
2) Effects Settings inEnscape Enscapeincludes a range of effects that are useful for architectural presentations, including PaperModel (think sketch pen style) and a true Architectural ‘Two Point Perspective’, where vertical edges are always vertical.
The effects inEnscape are mainly controlled on the General and Image tabs of the Enscape settings dialog. Below I show an example of each of the main effects.
Two Point Perspective
Depth of Field
Global Illumination OFF
Color Temperature – warmest
Light (intensity) View
Sun vs Shadow Contrast – maximum
As you can see, while the Default settings look good, there is a lot of flexibility and room for experimentation. Because the changes are seen in real-time, you can do small tweaks and see the results immediately, meaning you can more quickly achieve the specific look-and-feel you want for your current design.
3) RPC Enscape now supports rich photo realistic content (RPC), including custom content built using Archvision tools. This essentially opens up a lot of potential for rapid creation of RPC for use inyourRevit and Enscape scenes.
Tip: keep in mind that 2D RPC will tend to look a little strange inEnscape when you move up close and pass by on one side of it…
Here is a quick overview on getting the RPC intoyourRevit and Enscape scene:
Tip: Make an Enscape View Template to quickly share your 3D view settings to different viewpoints inRevit
4) Output Options
There are a host of new ways to export yourpresentations once you beginto adopt Enscapeintoyour workflow. Above we have already discussed:
simple navigation (view still images, and move around your model in real time)
Virtual Reality panorama image export and upload, and the
Live VR experience.
There are many others, such as:
Export still image (default hotkey is Shift+F11) as file, or to a Revit Rendering view in the Revit file
Export to EXE – a standalone viewer for the current project that you can share with clients
Save Perspective viewpoint toRevit session
Export video (set Start and End frames, then Export to video file)
Personally, I suggest you start with the basic desktop Enscapeinterface, and get comfortable navigating around and showing yourRevit model to others around you. Then, you can naturally grow inyourEnscape knowledge and explore more of the settings and output options. It really can give you a clear edge over some of your competitors, particularly in design- and presentation-focused fields such as Architecture studies or high end Design Competitions.
5) Updating Enscape Enscape has an auto-update feature that will open a dialog when you first start Revit, and then prompt you to download the update through the browser.
You can also manually check for updates from the About dialog box:
Note: thisreview was prepared using Enscape 1.8.2.
At Virtual Built, we have started to explore the use of Enscape on a variety of projects. It is a great tool for real-time immersive VR presentations, and it maintains a very strong link to the Revit environment. For that reason it is not a disconnected endpoint, but an extension of the familiar Revit BIM environment… that gives you new and impressive ways to present and share your designs.
Due to its speed and ease of use, you will be able to test it out quickly on a few projects and experience that initial ‘wow’ factor. From there, I hope you will start to see how it really can revolutionizeyourRevitpresentationcapability, taking you to the next level of beautiful Revit artistry.
I hope you enjoy trying out Enscape, and feel free to reply here with your thoughts 🙂