What is the future of ArchViz ? | SOA Academy Day #8 Takeaways

Updated: Jul 17, 2018

At GRAPHROOT, we always say: What we do is Calculated Art. SOA Academy Day #8 Artist vs. Machine approach gave us a glimpse into where the industry was going next. Bottom line is New Tech was always a creativity enhancer for the industry and CGI artists are happy to explore how they can use innovation to tell a better story.

The present is a crossroad between a recent past where Arch-Viz meant a lot of technical effort from the artist’s part and a future where AI and optimized software solutions take over more and more of the technical activities of the process. Speakers from both sides of the industry: artists and tech specialists alike, revealed their vision for the future by sharing their experiences.

Our main take on the matter was that new tech will push the industry further by letting artists focus more on the creative part of the process. Switching the focal point to the artistic vision is the major advantage of where we are heading.

Concerns, whether technology will get to replace the artist altogether in the future is something SOA pointed out as a possibility we should consider.

We believe the Arch-Viz community created the ideal layout for sustainable growth in a changing environment by developing a Sharing Culture that always puts Creativity First and made Research Innovation a norm. Arch-Viz only exists because a handful of people decided to live behind the safe professions they were schooled in and take a chance in experimenting how new tech could be used to make art. Driven by passion, curiosity and mostly courage they developed some pretty high standards for Collaborative Competition. Whether we’ll use technology as a tool to maximize artistic value or we’ll find new ways to use innovations that render part of our process obsolete, however challenging, the industry has a good head start.

Still green, Arch-Viz is a long-term player. Its core values, assumed or not, were clear as day at SOA Academy Day#8.

#CreativityFirst #TheSharingCulture #ResearchInnovation #CollaborativeCompetition

This industry has a fighting chance in the AI era due to its laser focus devotion to creative innovation. Built by self-taught pioneers with a “What else can I do” attitude, ArchViz encouraged a continuous sharing cycle. Its dynamics are more similar to a gaming community than a professional industry. Most innovative fields were at some point community - centered, but as they grew, players moved towards a more self - serving direction.

With Architectural Visualization hitting the two-decade mark, people involved are still keen on sharing and passing know-how as much now as they did in the beginning.

Sharing is a core value, not a passing trend! You can track it to the backbone of the industry: established artists, newcomers and even software providers made it their mission in creating a supportive environment.


MIR rendering

Nicholas O’Leary let us take a pick behind the scenes at MIR’s “Is this something to hang on your wall” image validation process. Another highlight is the extensive amount of time they spend on each image- about one week and even longer if need be. Also surprising, are the multiple possible scenarios they develop in the first stage - close to a dozen.

He also talked about his permanent process of classical art experimentation and how important it is to test the limits of your creativity with extensive artistic scenarios. He pointed out visualization should be “like any other creative industry in the pursuit of beauty” by making images that “create enthusiasm”.

We were inspired by Nicholas’s drive and passion for art that and were marked by his creed: “If your are not failing, it means you're trying stuff that is too safe. You are more creative only by trying more and more ideas”. Even after returning to the office his insightful statement about how important it is to learn to let go to ideas or, as he says it “killing your darlings" was still on our mind.

Nicholas O'Leary art work personal MIR
Image credits: Nicholas O'Leary


Up-and-coming talents Johannes Lindqvist and Jakub Cech shared their experiences with the crowd. Both are focused on designing photo-realistic visualizations and engage in detailed and focus work, but their approaches couldn’t be more different. While Jakub dedicated his yearlong image study to an arch-viz Legend: Alex Roman, Johannes intrigued the audience with his blunt confession that his work improved only when he stopped comparing and studying works of renowned CGI artists like Peter Guthrie.

We found Johannes’s vision about Arch-Viz refreshingly disruptive. A self-taught CGI artist, his is part of a new breed - with no formal schooling in architecture or art, but a mean eye for detail and a native instinct. Nevertheless, his brilliant CGI photography isn't the result of plain artistic intuition, almost a decade of experience. We suspect the coziness of his work can be traced back to his experience as an IKEA 3D artist, while his time spent in advertising gave him a good understanding on how creative businesses work. He announced the launch of his new studio Illusive Images and talked in detail about how they work on projects. It was interesting to see his client relationship focus on top of technical organisation of their workflow. To get a better grasp of the work, check Johannes’s extensive tutorials.

Video Credits: Illusive Images

Jakub’s SOA presentation on his book: “Beautiful Computer Generated Images” is an excellent learning resource. He showcased his workflow step-by-step from concept research to materials, light and color mapping techniques. His “No flat surfaces” rule helps him deliver beautiful imagery. Jakub’s study can be helpful for anyone looking to get into the industry as it gives a global perspective of the image creation process.

Video Credits: Jakub Čech


Technology made this industry, so any innovation coming our way only enhances our toolkit and expands the limits of our playground. Software companies have a sidekick’s role in Arch-Viz. They make it possible for 3D professionals to focus more on the Art part of CGI. Plug-ins and software tools boost artistic abilities beyond technical limitations. How many times did you have a brilliant idea you were forced to let go because it was either time consuming or you had limited resources? This is something software providers are trying to fix and after meeting some of them we’re optimistic about where we’re going.

Take SINI for example, whose main mission is to help artists make beautiful CGI photography by providing technical optimization solutions. Their vision about empowering artists to overcome limitations comes from a strong background in the industry. Their extensive toolkit is so on point, precisely because they started out by developing tools for their own use and then made industry available software. We were impressed by their community-based values that can be seen at all levels of their business: from providing custom solutions, to working on price optimization strategies so more people can access their products.

SINI SOFTWARE plugins software 3ds max plugin rendering
Image Credits: SINI SOFTWARE

Another hot topic was Chaos Group and Corona’s new partnership, or how they call it “the Marriage”. This was this year’s most debated decision in the community. Some were afraid Chaos will put to rest the Corona project, others that Corona will lose its distinct drive for innovation, rumors that V-ray will change directions were also making people nervous. And it was only natural because in any other case when a Big Player takes over the innovative competition, it goes three ways: either their existing product gets replaced by the innovative one, the two get Frankensteined together, or simply kill off the project they bought.

chaos group corona family
Image Credits: CHAOS GROUP

What Corona and Chaos choose to do makes a strong argument of how Collaborative Competition and Research Innovation work in this industry. As they talked about their strategy, everything became clear. To scale up: make the product better and expand usability, Corona needed more founding. As we see it, going into the Chaos Group family was one of three possible directions: grow slower and put a brake on innovation, go with an outside industry investor and risk losing charge of product development because of conflicting values: innovation vs. fast return-on-investment, or the surprising: partner-up with your competitor that understands your community's values.

Corona’s concern of going in the direction that gives the product the best chance of reaching its full potential, rather than fast financial gain or full product ownership, shows us why software providers are in this industry important pillars of the ecosystem.


Arch-Viz had a good start because Legends promoted an open industry policy by posting workflows and resources reviews from the very beginning. Developing a sustainable environment for the future of Arch-Viz depends on the ability to push for innovation while nurturing creativity.

SOA Academy 2017 conference Venice Italy
Image Credits: SOA

The ArchViz Academy Awards initiative is a joined effort of State of Art Academy and Ronen Bekerman. Since sharing is an industry value, most artists and studios do so, but Ronen Bekerman is known for his curated blog where he facilitates high-quality resources from top-notch artists. SOA, on the other hand, is well known as "the place to learn next level stuff". So, it was natural for them to team-up in an effort to establish a platform for collaborative competition where creativity is celebrated.

A diverse jury pool with members from all industry players: the media (Ronen Bekerman), the academia (SOA), an industry pioneer (Peter Guthrie) and a big arch-viz company (DBox) made sure the winning entries will be a good start for Arch-Viz Best Practices.

The Winners are showcased here. Peter Guthrie was also awarded a lifetime achievement in appreciation for his work and input in developing the Arch-Viz industry.

For us, it was an awesome experience and we plan to come back next year. We encourage anyone with an interest in the field to understand the dynamics of the industry in real life, SOA Academy Day is an excellent opportunity to do so.

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