Reviews

Twinmotion 2020 in the spotlight - a special delicacy for Archicad users

Epic Games, the developer of the popular game engine called Unreal Engine, has published the eagerly awaited new version of Twinmotion. It is the first version that is based completely on their own development. The new version follows the naming convention of the previous and carries the name Twinmotion 2020. What ne and fascinating does it offer? And how does it affect Archicad users?

Epic Games is known for its Unreal Engine and several games that are based on it. The most famous and most played at the moment may be Fortnite that is favored by young people. With the new Twinmotion version Epic Games continues the trend to apply game engines to professional architectural visualization.

What makes Twinmotion special?

Traditional 3D rendering software has throughout the times required special skills and knowledge in 3D graphics from the users - especially if they require even only a little bit more from the prepared material. Additionally, traditional offline rendering always requires computation capacity or time, sometimes even rendering farms. Of course these things can be optimized using much time, but here we get back to the special skills and the fact that this kind of tasks are often outside of the work of a traditional architect or designer.

The model used in the article is based on the drawings of the Sumner House building designed by New Zealand based AW Architects.

Additionally, even the reasonable transfer of the model to a 3D rendering software may cause unpleasant and time-consuming activities. Twinmotion operates in real time and makes 3D rendering in a technical sense ridiculously easy and fast, and provides visually good-looking results. This is why Twinmotion is an excellent tool for the 3D rendering in the drafting stage and thus for the communication with clients and partners. And if we think about this kind of 3D rendering, Twinmotion combines the wishes of a really large amount of users for easiness and fastness.

What hardware requirements does Twinmotion have?

From a hardware point of view Twinmotion works best on a computer that has a high-performance 3D graphics card. This is especially important, if you want to move smoothly in the model. If needed, the quality of the screen presentation can though be reduced, in order that Twinmotion works quickly also on a more common laptop. This adjustment only effects the screen presentation, not the quality of the final pictures, panoramas or videos. Different from traditional offline rendering software that use the central processing unit of the computer, real-time operating Twinmotion requires computation capacity especially from the graphics card of the computer.

What is new in Twinmotion 2020?

The user interface of Twinmotion is to a large extent still based on easily understandable symbols and the "drag and drop" logic. Visually the user interface is mainly the same as in the previous versions, but small rearrangements and regrouping can be recognized. All in all already the fact that the aim was to take away technical ja abstract concepts from the user interface makes Twinmotion a very easily accessible software.

Illumination

When you open Twinmotion, you will recognize directly that the models look better than what you are used to. The main reason for that is the completely renewed illumination and shadowing system. Put simple, illuminations, reflections and shadows look better. In the new 2020 version there is the Screen Space Global Illumination calculation method, that makes light sources behave physically more accurately, nearly without effecting working in real time.

Also the sky model have been redone to better correspond to the physical features of a real sky. In particular, this manifests itself as atmospheric sunsets and the essence of the sky in different places, at different seasons, and at different times of the day. The atmosphere is also enhanced by volumetric lighting, which makes the light look as if it is passing through a medium - for example, to sift beautifully in the mist. Snow and rain also look better in the new version, so you can easily create a typical winter weather in Finland for the model.

Materials

The 2020 version contains entirely new materials and material types. One of them is the X-Ray material that makes it possible to see elements that are hidden behind other elements. This is particularly helpful, if you for example want to show piping that is running under slabs.

More traditional, but previously missing materials, are represented by a frosted glass material whose transparency and roughness are easy to adjust. In luminous materials the Screen Space Global Illumination calculation method makes it possible that they now also generate light in the model. The creation of different monitors and video walls is made easier by a new video material you can make shine and play video files.

Objects

The own object library of the Twinmotion 2020 software has become a new look. In terms of vegetation, this means high-quality Xfrog trees, each with 4 seasonal and 3 age options. In Twinmotion, you can influence the age and through that also the size of the trees with the new Growth slider that enables you to for example make an entire forest older or younger. The placement of trees and other vegetation in Twinmotion is possible by the familiar and fast painting - or by sowing with the completely new Scatter tool.

Also human figures are of higher quality than before. People originate from the library of AXZZ design, and they are based on photo scans. In total the library of the 2020 version contains 62 animated humans, and five different clothing alternatives. From the library you can also find 82 still-people, so there is a lot to choose from.

Data transfer

When it comes to the transfer and linking of design patterns from modeling software, it can be handled conveniently via Twinmotion's compatibility extensions from Archicad, SketchUp, Rhino and Revit. Additionally to the transfer the extension enables also linkings; and if you want to make changes to the model, they are updated by only one click with the help of the synchronizing function.

If the file should not be linked but exported as a separate file, that is possible as well. From a technical point of view the export of a file is realized in FBX format. The file format support of Twinmotion is reasonably wide: 3D models can easily be imported from several different sources as files, and they can be used for example as objects. Imported files can also easily be saved to the user's own library, from where they can be extracted to other projects.

The model can be viewed directly in the view mode of Twinmotion by flying or walking. If the use of the keyboard and the mouse feels difficult, also gamepads and virtual glasses are supported. If you want to use Twinmotion in the manner of traditional rendering software, you can save the final material as pictures, videos, panoramas and Twinmotion Presenter viewing models.

In the new 2020 version, the Notes tool facilitates the communication around the Twinmotion model by making to possible to take notes and annotations to the model. As a new feature these annotations can easily be exported from Twinmotion to the BIM model of the designer in BCF format.

What does the cooperation of GRAPHISOFT and Epic Games meen?

Before the release of the new 2020 version Epic Games and GRAPHISOFT announced their cooperation, that gives all Archicad SSA customers the possibility to get the commercial Twinmotion 2020 version completely free of charge.

In practice the cooperation also means that there is a equivalent material for the default surface materials of Archicad in Twinmotion. This appears to Archicad users so that the Archicad surface materials are automatically converted to Twinmotion materials when the model is transferred. This reduces the need for manual work significantly. Surface materials that do not have an equivalent in Twinmotion are transferred from Archicad together with the image texture defined on the surface, and usually require adjustment only in terms of reflectivity.

This feature effects also Archicad objects, what is especially useful in the use of vegetation objects. For example, light tree objects placed in the Archicad model are automatically replaced with high-quality 3D trees in Twinmotion, and there is no need for a manual reposition of new trees.

If you do not want to replace surface materials or objects by the Twinmotion equivalent, you can unable the feature in the export settings of the compatibility extension.

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About Gio Siradze

Gio Siradze has worked with 3D-modeling for many years and has a background in Multimedia Design. Gio works currently as a Product Manager, Specialist and Trainer at M.A.D. – Micro Aided Design.
  • Finland