Computer-generated (CG) animations have become a commonly employed medium to communicate architectural designs and projects.
When CG animations were first used in Architecture the first conclusion that was made was that anything is achievable in the realm of CGI and real-world constraints were nothing to worry about. However true this might be, a prominent problem was the designers of these animations did not share the rich history of film, and therefore they do not readily benefit from the body of cinematographic techniques that filmmakers could draw upon. This resulted in an era of fly-through animations, where the camera would consist of long continuous shots flying through the entire space. It was believed that this was the best way to show the areas in their entirety. Experts argue that this resulted in unappealing, lacklustre animations that could be vastly improved by the application of filmmakers’ craft knowledge. Despite the varying opinions on fly-through animations, they are still widely used and requested by architects in the industry.
Along came shots
In 2009 a new idea was introduced by Alex Roman. He believes that a space could be presented via several short shots, where each shot needed to be a work of art. He focuses on known camera rules and employs this to capture the beauty of critical elements and textures within the scene. The result was “The third and the seventh” which is widely known to be one of the best architectural animations of all time.
“I remember just how in awe I personally was with this animation, so much so that it was a pivotal moment in my life – mobilising me into a pursuit of this great passion I have for CGI. In lieu of this, I have committed myself (and by extension, my company) to produce an animation of this quality in due course. Something that will invoke the same emotions I had after watching the “Third and the Seventh”.”
This technique was able to capture a viewer’s attention for much longer than a fly-through ever could and is the preferred technique used by major players in the architectural visualisation industry at the moment.
Nine years on, this same shot-based approach is starting to show it’s age as everyone is producing animations that look quite similar. Once again the viewer’s attention to this type of animation dissipates, especially if viewers are not solely interested in the architecture shown. If viewers are more inclined to see the buildings’ lifestyle offering, then a fly-through animation focusing on the architecture would be pointless to them.
The next frontier
If anything was made clear at this year’s D2 conference, it was that cinematic animations would be the next step. With ever-evolving technology, it is no longer impressive to just create photorealistic animations. Something else is needed to capture a viewer’s attention.
How can we create a cinematic animation?
The animation should tell a story, but should not distract from the architecture. Simple devices such as characters or props can be used in clever ways to navigate the viewer through space. If done well, the viewer should be enticed to watch the entire animation to find out what happens.
With the advent of social media marketing, the word viral is thrown around far too often. For us as architectural visualisers, it is a tool we can employ not only for our own benefit but for the benefit of our clients. A cinematic experience built into the heart of our animations is the new frontier. Using marketing tools in conjunction with cinematic expertise making the possibility of going viral achievable.
Viral definition: an image, video, piece of information, etc. circulated rapidly and widely from one internet user to another.
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