Lindsey Hayes: Architectural Visualization in Motion
Interview: Today we sat down with Lindsey Hayes, the Multimedia Designer for Redhype. An imposing stature is paired with a soft southern accent, and a clear authority in the field of architectural visualization.
Hayes distinguishes himself from other 3D and render artists through his attention to detail, composition, dedication to reality, and most remarkably, his commitment to immersing the viewer in the world of the render by creating a video in addition to remarkably lifelike stills.
If you’re interested in what you read here, and want to know more about the architectural visualization services in Greenville offered by Redhype, visit ArcViD, our brand new visualization and branding division!
Q. How did you get into visualization?
A. Honestly, by happenstance. I was interviewing and looking for a place that I could really hone my skills. Through the process I researched, sought out architectural firms and advertising agencies, and came to realize that architectural visualizations was what I wanted to be doing. After that, it was all about finding the right space to do the work. When I started, I was sort of just messing around with 3D and studio work. I’ve always had a desire to capture reality, to really play with the space between the uncanny valley, and to get my work as close to the real thing, as photorealistic as possible.
Q. Has your background as an artist influenced your visualization style?
A. Yes, I would say so. I can see my background influencing me through the understanding of basic principles, the composition, color, layout of a piece, etc. I know I have room for improvement and growth, that’s always there no matter what your field. I’ve never considered myself a photographer, but those are skills you need to refine your understanding what makes an image believable. I’ve been dedicating time to studying architectural photography to better my own understanding of buildings, of what sells the image and the idea to the client. I’d say my art background has helped me understand the stylizing of an image, and allows me to gather certain cues and form context around what the client wants and translate that into the visualization.
Q. Are there other visualizers that have inspired or informed your work?
A. I’m influenced by some of the heavy hitters in the field, Peter Guthrie, Bertrand Benoit, Henry Goss, and Studio Aiko. Photorealism is something I’m drawn to, and all of these artists work in that tradition, and give that hyper-focus to detail. Studio Aiko, I love their videos, and draw a lot of my video inspiration from there, so far as camera angles and the way light can move. In terms of my own productions, my goal is to go beyond the basic walkthrough, I try to create short form movies with my work to give the client and their audience something to get excited about, to leave them wanting more, and to ideally envision themselves in that space.
Q. How would you describe your visualization style? How does it differ from other styles?
A. I’m the first to admit that I’m still learning. I’m green so far as the visualization game goes. I’m still developing my style and aesthetic, but that’s not to say I don’t have my own goals. I gravitate towards certain principles, paying attention to composition and to camera angles. That’s where my strength lies. I seek to take advantage of unique angles, and of the fact I’m not tethered to a rig. I try to take cameras where they wouldn’t go, and I think that makes me unique in both the videography and visualization world.
Q. What software do you use?
A. My main program for application, cameras, modeling, and creating the base of the render is Cinema 4D. I rely on this program to carry the weight of the render and to produce state of the art images in a fast time frame. I use Octane Render for my render engine, and utilize Photoshop and Aftereffects for postproduction to really sell the realistic visual point of view.
Q. Why go through so much effort with the images to make them photorealistic? Where’s the value?
A. The value lies in providing the client with something that’s concrete. If you’re trying to sell an idea often time rudimentary sketches aren’t going to cut it when it comes time to ask investors to meet a high price tag. It’s a lot easier to feel comfortable investing six-figures in a project when they can clearly see the design and have the opportunity to experience the model in a 3d manner. We live in a 3d world, and we are accustomed to photorealistic images from movies, to games, to everyday life. A static 2d image or animation, especially when it comes to video, doesn’t provide enough context for space and scale, 3d is really the only medium that can translate these ideas into an accessible reality.
Q. Many visualizers concentrate their time in still images, whereas you’ve spent time developing videos. Why this difference?
A. My goal is to create something that is going to grab the viewer and transport them somewhere else for a few short minutes. My goal is to captivate the audience, allow them to live inside that video, that apartment, that space long enough so they can envision their lives and what it would be like to live inside the render. I’m about connecting with people, and about telling stories.
Q. How long does each image/video take?
A. It depends on the project. When it comes to the videos, you might be looking at anywhere from a week to a month depending on the scale and level of detail required. You start getting into the inside of a building vs. the outside, and whether trees, gravel, pavement are involved. How much design an interior needs, all these are factors that affect the time of the render.
Q. Are high-end visualizations lucrative?
A. Absolutely. Clients that I’ve worked with tend to be developers who are marketing or trying to win six figure contracts. These visualizations separate the competition in a bidding war and have the opportunity to showcase ability and level of effort to investors and potential buyers. I’ve also worked with clients who are investing extensive amounts of money into personal homes. At this level the client wants to be able to see the finishes in their home before they pull the trigger, it can help them build their dream home in a space that feels a lot more accessible than a blue print or sketch.
Q. Do you think that we’ve reached the point where visualizations are indistinguishable from real photos?
A. I’d say so; we’re approaching an age where some engines are putting out ridiculous visuals, visuals that reach a point where it’s very hard to distinguish between the what’s real and what’s rendered. I’m using Octane, which is a GPU render and puts out very realistic images. There’s also been a surge in using more real-time producers, such as game engines, and in this space I think we’re on the verge of 3d taking us somewhere new. We’re on our way to a whole new level of virtual reality.
Q. Can renderings look better than the finished building?
A. Definitely, but that has to do with the postproduction effects. You render out your base, but Photoshop and Aftereffects, furniture, and interior decorating decisions can make a huge difference between the render and reality.
Q. You introduce real world imperfections into your architectural visualizations, why is this?
A. I think the visualizer’s goal is to mimic the real world as closely as possible, and in order to really transport someone to that space, you need to make the product look as real as possible. Working in this 3d world has made me hyper aware of my surroundings. For example, I’ll watch how leaves behave and move, how sunlight reflects off certain materials. You become aware of your environment, notice the fact that surfaces, camera lenses, everyday life isn’t clean or tidy, it isn’t perfect. To make the render believable the visualizer has to be willing to include these minute, but lifelike details. The believability is in the imperfections.
Q. Where is architectural visualization heading next?
A. Real time. Stills have their purpose, and videos have their purpose, but when the opportunity to do a real time walkthrough becomes available, when the ability to truly envision and immerse yourself in a space becomes available, you know you have something special.