Design Visualization

C3D Interactive

Getting clients to change their habits can be somewhat of a challenge. For the innovative thinkers at Australian design visualisation company C3D interactive, the rewards are well documented.

John Aspinall, the company’s founder is increasingly gaining attention for his practice and process from some of the world’s leading names in architecture and design. Lend Lease, Norman Foster, Hassle and others come to his company for its advanced and somewhat unique process of design development.

“What we have been trying to do for about ten years is to get architects and industry to appreciate that if the modeling and rendering facility is brought in early enough and with sufficient resources, it can be used to rapidly develop a design,” explained Aspinall.

This involves bringing computer-aided design (CAD) forward in the process, in much the same way that filmmakers now plan and storyboard their visual effects from initial scripts. The result is a non-linear and streamlined approach that greatly enhances the entire design workflow.

AutodeskR 3ds MaxR software is a cornerstone tool in the company’s visualisation design process for several reasons. “It greatly assists us in terms of its ease-of-use, connectivity with core architecture programmes, and its strong compliment of renderers and plugins,” explained Aspinall. “We love 3ds Max’s dual strengths of flexibility and precision because it helps us to speed development and create detailed photorealistic images.”

C3D interactive is, in effect, using 3ds Max to bring a form of virtual rapid prototyping to architecture. Ideas and their subsequent revisions are quickly modeled, which is why Aspinall feels that many in the industry are only realising half their potential.

“The big failing with most design practices is that they use design visualisation as a marketing function right at the end of the project. They lose some perspective on the possibilities for their own buildings and start when time is squeezed so it is too late to make any changes.”

Aspinall and his team prefer to employ 3ds Max from the beginning.

“What we do is say to the architect, bring your idea to us when it is just a seed in your head, whether it be on a napkin or the back of an envelope. Let’s model that idea up using our skills and work on that process collaboratively for a predetermined amount of time.”

On-demand global creativity

The second part of Aspinall’s plan to streamline and speed the design process has been to build a 3D pipeline that can function around the clock. Apart from his Sydney team of sixteen working from their Milson’s Point offices 3CD interactive has established satellite arms in China, United Arab Emirates, and Switzerland.

This allows teams of 3ds Max animators to work on a concept throughout their daytime window and pass it onto the next office, in a continual development process.

“The model can be worked in this way for as long as required and at each point say morning, noon and night we can assess different elements and see where the design is at,” explained Aspinall. “I strongly believe that the model needs to be open to constant change. You can’t get precious about the model. It is there to be manipulated like a lump of plasticine and the best designs I have seen keep the changes going right up to the very end.”

Aspinall added, “In the end they will have a complete model that they can use as a source for a large amount of their Development Application presentation materials  all the elevations, a lot of the set shots, floor plans, and so on. The step from there to producing marketing materials is miniscule.”

Making decisions on reality

3ds Max is also used for its animation potential during the design process. C3D interactive examine their creations from different perspectives to assist in making design decisions based on how the building is viewed in its eventual environment.

“For the architect and the developer there is nowhere to hide you can see what is being proposed really early on and you can make realistic judgments from realistic viewpoints. We can show the view as if you are walking along the street looking at this thing, or we can place you in a moving car or across the street, looking out the window of the nearest office building,” said Aspinall.

Once again, the possibilities thrown up by 3ds Max allow the architect to rapidly discover what is working and not working. The modeling and reviewing process is assisted by C3D interactive’s use of V-Ray for 3ds Max. The raytrace renderer from the Chaos Group provides high-speed processing and realistic results.

For further information on C3D interactive and their design visualisation work visit

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