The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the growth of the digitization of architectural projects. New techniques were being developed and used for the representation of spaces in all their potential, including the representation of landscaping in 3D.
One of the greatest challenges of representing landscaping in 3D is deciphering the countless details present in each species of plant. For example, one must determine the curvature of trunks and branches, the different textures of leaves and flowers, the dimensions and proportions of each component, and the variation of color tones present.
There are a loads of details! And all of these details added together bring a distinct realism to the film being produced. Without these details, the films appear superficial, lacking in authenticity and public connection. This remains one of the greatest fears of our customers.
In the past, the level of detail of landscaping was seen as merely background in the real estate market. Today, however, companies hire Elephant Skin mainly for the difference in quality of the films and images, with their emphasis on landscaping and 3D representation.
In order to reach this level of detail and realism, it was necessary to bring together various different perspectives, such as those of architects, landscapers, and artists, to build a unique vision and language, which could best meet the client's expectations.
Our process of technical evolution in the representation of landscaping in 3D.
Elephant Skin's CEO, Giovana Driessen, is an architect and landscaper. Due to her previous experience in landscaping offices, she has a keen eye focused on customer expectations, as well as an extensive technical expertise when it comes to plant species and their respective development.
As Giovana would observe the artists create, she would ask questions. Among them, how can we best represent the location in which the project is situated?
Each unique region has its own peculiarities regarding temperature, humidity, and seasons. This all directly influences the environment and the realistic representation we aim to achieve.
It is impractical and unrealistic to place a palm tree in a scene where it snows or an araucaria on the beach. Correctly representing the natural environment invariably helps people identify and connect with the project site.
It was imperative that the artists voice their challenges and address any technical factors that would hamper the quality and realism of the 3D landscaping. Giovana's approach to the team was very important for understanding these challenges, and together we were able to build solutions uniting these two worlds of landscaping and 3D art.
It was necessary to build a single vision so that quality expectations could be met.
The collective evolution began when the team started to work in the same language. From there, they were on the same page and able to understand the technical terms of landscaping, identify plant species, and unite towards the final objective of the representation.
VFX Coordinator, Caue Rodrigues, became even more interested in the universe of plants and dedicated himself to acquiring technical knowledge on how to interpret a landscape project. He decided to delve even further and pursue a postgraduate degree on the subject.
Understanding the two worlds (theoretical and technical), Caue managed to develop practical methodologies for the best use, development, and optimization of files and scenes.
We created our own image bank!
The challenge was to bring authenticity and quality to the plants and vegetation in 3D in the films and images. Not only did we find a solution, but today this process is what sets us apart from the rest in what we deliver to the client.
“Previously, we had a lot of generic stuff with very few variations, and you couldn't find anything by the species name. Today, we have our own image bank, which makes it much easier. If I want a Lily, I go to the image bank and type ‘lily,’ and there will be several variations of the same species,” says Caue.
Typically, blocks of benches that provide the same species do so in the same positions and sizes, patterns that undermine the authenticity of the projects. Now, we could start to model our own plants!
Giovana explains, “We took a more professional look at this area of vegetation and plant species in order to fully understand how landscaping naturally behaves. A tree can have countless variations: a trunk, several trunks, an open or closed crown, etc. So, Elephant Skin started to create its own image library and individual identity.”
Tools used in 3D landscaping reproduction.
The main tool used is 3D Studio Max. Within it, we use some plug-ins and extra tools, whichfocus on specific activities. For vegetation modeling, for example, we use Grow FX.
Initially, we model the species. Then it goes to the Forest plug-in, which will populate this plant from a pre-defined area and surface, with a rotational repetition break, making it more organic. There are projects that have up to 65 different species and about 40 to 50 areas within the project.
The care taken with every detail in the representation of landscaping in 3D is one of Elephant Skin's differences in the market today. This echnical advance was only possible thanks to the commitment and dedication of our team of artists. The entire team was willing to advance in knowledge, assume a critical vision, co-create, and overcome various challenges together.
The result is no less than WOW!
But, there is always a lot of work and devotion behind the beautiful impressions we create.
Giovana Driessen CEO
Caue Rodrigues VFX Coordinator
Communications Manager - Roberta Lemos | Communication Intern – João Victor Campos
Author – Jornalist Daiana Barasa and Juliana Rodrigues | Naiá
Interviewed – Giovana Driessen - CEO | Caue Rodrigues - VFX Coordinator
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Born in 2017 in Miami, Elephant Skin offers a cutting-edge, integrated branding experience for real
estate developers. Our services include brand storytelling, still renderings, concept development,
CGI, 3D renderings, film productions, floor plans and interactive tours. We are a company for
creators, for people that never settle.