Transcript: Visualising Design Concepts in a Virtual Environment

[8:05]  Fraser Fonda: HI Keystone and all
[8:05]  Iota Ultsch: Lillie!
[8:05]  Fraser Fonda: Welcome
[8:05]  Lilli Field: Iota
[8:05]  Andileo Benelli: hiya keystone!
[8:05]  You: Howdy!
[8:06]  Iota Ultsch: these bench seats are hard to negotiate in a kimono!
[8:06]  Scope Cleaver: Key!
[8:06]  Lilli Field: hi
[8:06]  You: lol
[8:06]  Fraser Fonda: Thanks very much to Keystone for giving the 4th talk as part of RIBA architecture week
[8:06]  You: It’s an honor
[8:06]  Dec Oh is Online
[8:06]  You: shall we get started?
[8:07]  Fraser Fonda: Yes please
[8:07]  You: Welcome everyone to Architecture Island
[8:07]  You: I’d like this to be as open and informal as possible, given the fact that many of you have as much or more experience using SL to visualize architecture as I do
[8:07]  You: I welcome open discussion and feedback as we go – so feel free to chime in with your thoughts!
[8:08]  You: I’m not sure how many of you here or in real life are completely new to SL –
[8:08]  You: so, perhaps a very brief description of what SL is might help start –
[8:08]  You: Second Life is a 3-D virtual world entirely built and owned by its residents. When I started using it about 1 year ago, there were about 400,000 registered users – today there are over 7 million.
[8:08]  You: so, its growing very, very fast
[8:09]  You: when I first started, there was already a ‘Society for Virtual Architecture’, and Chip’s blog, ‘Virtual Suburbia’ dedicated to architecture in virtual worlds –
[8:09]  You: the community engagement through those groups and blogs became central to accellerating the learning curve
[8:10]  You: so, for anyone wishing to really use SL (Second Life) as a tool for architectural visualization, few things will be more helpful to you than becoming involved in the community here
[8:11]  You: I started the group ‘RL Architects in SL’ which holds events and experiments dedicated to the architectural profession
[8:11]  You: and there are lots of other groups starting as well that hold lots of great events
[8:11]  You: I try to keep track of it all on The Arch blog as well –
[8:12]  You: At the time I found out about Second Life, I was practicing green residential design, serving a very wide geographic region. Given the fact that anyone can download and use Second Life for free from any computer with a decent graphics card, it seemed reasonable that we could use it to have meetings with long distance clients, and actually walk through schematic design ideas in a more immersive and engaging way than sending 2D pdf drawings via email.
[8:12]  You: I came to SL with quite a bit of experience in 3D modelling and online games, so within a few hours, I built a very crude model of a house that was under construction in one of the public sandboxes. I copied the design several times and made an entire neighborhood of it.
[8:13]  You: I knew this medium had potential when I noticed several other avatars walking around inside the houses. Someone even started decorating the interior with their own furniture – people were immediately asking me questions about the designs.
[8:13]  You: One visitor even critiqued the design and quickly built a study model as I watched to show me how I could improve the design.
[8:14]  You: So over the next few months, I learned the building tools and started inviting clients into Second Life on a regular basis.
[8:14]  You: Since the in-world building tools are so simple, building rough schematic models works great for describing a general concept.
[8:14]  You: More detailed models allow the client to test paint colors, material types and finishes – furniture layouts and even landscaping options. They can literally occupy and become comfortable with the design before they break ground on the actual house.
[8:15]  You: When you’re ready to start building for more permanent use, you’ll need land.
[8:15]  You: You can either rent land, or buy land. If you plan to build large projects that require total privacy, you’ll probably be best served by a full island – but it can be expensive at US $1675 to buy and US $295 per month to maintain.
[8:16]  You: however, a full island is a LOT of land – so you might consider splitting it with others – or renting parcels to others to help offset the cost
[8:16]  You: Smaller parcels can be rented for much less. I rent land to architects and designers here on Architecture Island. I’m currently sold out, but will be buying another island soon.
[8:16]  You: I rent land for about 1.5 lindens per 1 square meter per month
[8:16]  You: which is just about exactly what I pay in monthly tier to cover the rent
[8:17]  You: I try to rent land only to those who use it for studying or visualzing architecture-related projects
[8:17]  You: so, there is a very diverse range of renters here
[8:17]  You: from all around the world
[8:18]  You: feel free to explore the island after this presentation –
[8:18]  You: my hope is that by providing this profession-specific land, we will all be able to learn from each other, and continue developing the architectural community in SL
[8:19]  You: some architects use it as a creative release – since anything is possible in a virtual environment, it is a great way to just explore ideas
[8:19]  You: other are taking a strictly professional approach and building real-life designs and inviting clients in to tour the build
[8:20]  You: We also use the island for this Wikitecture experiment we’re sitting inside of now – where multiple contributors co-create a design –
[8:20]  You: more on that Thursday =)
[8:20]  You: Now for the building tools. Unfortunately there is currently no fluid and automatic way to import full architectural models into Second Life. There are several methods under development, but my advice is to learn the in-world building tools first.
[8:20]  You: Even though you have to re-create your models here, you’ll quickly find that the advantage of a virtual model far outweighs these limitations.
[8:21]  You: Everything in Second LIfe is made with objects called ‘primitives’ or ‘prims’. You can learn the basic building skills by either experimenting on your own in any one of the many public sandboxes, and by visiting the Ivory Tower (you can find it by doing a Search for Ivory Tower).
[8:21]  FLH McMillan: I have a question about copying RL structures such as Frank Lloyd Wrights Falling Water. Is that legal.
[8:22]  You: Hmmm – good question –
[8:22]  Lilli Field: yeah i saw that advertised for sdale
[8:22]  You: I’ve heard a lot of controversy around that –
[8:22]  You: my feeling is that if the original designer is given credit, its ok – its kind of an honor to extend those designs into the virtual world –
[8:23]  You: but, I’m not sure what the ruling is, strictly in legal terms
[8:23]  Iota Ultsch: I guess if you were pretending to be FLW there’d be an issue…but short of rolling in his grave I think it shouldn’t pose a problem
[8:23]  Far Link: I attended a presentation given by a group of law professors on this topic, and it is still a big grey area right now.
[8:23]  FLH McMillan: The prints are in public domain (available to download), so it seems like it’d be cool. And giving credit is a good idea.
[8:23]  Samara Kasshiki: I believe Linden Labs put out a “Wright House in a Box” awhile ago. So it seems THEY think it is OK.
[8:23]  Lilli Field: technically it doesnt breach copywrite but any photo which can identify a building must gain owners permission from owner
[8:23]  Lilli Field: so that should apply here
[8:23]  Chip Poutine: …and somebody was selling that linden freebie on SL Boutique 😉
[8:24]  Steffana Rossini: here
[8:24]  Steffana Rossini: hello
[8:24]  You: ok – so everything is made with primitive objects
[8:24]  You: and those ‘Prims’ can be linked together
[8:24]  You: this is a prim =)
[8:25]  You: i can make a copy of the prim
[8:25]  You: then, you can easily stretch the prims into any shape you want
[8:25]  FLH McMillan: When two prims are linked, do they still count as 2?
[8:25]  You: yes
[8:25]  Stash Dukes: yes
[8:25]  You: so, the prims are extremely easy to work with
[8:25]  Lilli Field: now what about prim rezzers
[8:26]  You: its like working with clay – or a cardboard study model
[8:26]  You: To build more accurate models, you’ll need to import your drawings as textures.
[8:26]  You: The best way to import drawings is to create jpeg files that are square. This makes mapping them much easier once you import them. You can then import your image files by clicking ‘File’, then ‘Upload Image’.
[8:27]  You: Once you’ve uploaded it, build an object, and stretch it to its maximum 10 meters by 10 meters. Then you can click ‘Select Texture’, click the surface of the prim, and find the texture you just imported.
[8:28]  You: You can then modify the ‘Repeats per Face’ fields under the ‘Texture’ tab to get the plan to the right scale.
[8:28]  You: doing this will take some time to learn
[8:28]  You: but as you learn, you can always ask friends and members of the group to help
[8:29]  You: I’m just providing a general overview – and it may be a bit difficult to follow along without being able to do it yourselves – but hopefully you’ll get a better idea of the overal process so you know what to expect
[8:29]  You: and, there are lots of ways to do this –
[8:29]  You: this is just the method I’ve found to work best –
[8:29]  You: so, if anyone has discovered new methods – please feel free to share!
[8:30]  You: It is generally best to build things in SL to about 1.5 times the RL scale. To guage the scale of the plan texture, build a prim and stretch it to about 1.5 meter by 1.5 meter and place it near an exterior door on the plans. Continue modifying the ‘Repeats per Face’ until an exterior door is about 1.5 x 1.5.
[8:32]  You: so, you continue making copies – and adjusting the ‘Offset’ and ‘Repeats per Face’ fields until the plan is complete
[8:33]  You: after you’ve imported the plans and elevations, you start building walls, doors, windows, etc.
[8:33]  Lionila Lightfoot is Offline
[8:33]  Vnezh Mikadze: what about the new sculpties in building plans?
[8:33]  You: just like in AutoCAD, if you have elements that repeat multiple times, you can make a linked set and save it – using it over and over
[8:33]  You: sculpties will be excellent for building architectural elements
[8:33]  Far Link: Key, how do you handle transparencies on the texture image? Is this with Alpha channels in Photoshop?
[8:34]  You: for example, building a door or window frame with 1 prim instead of 3 or 4
[8:34]  You: wait, I should back up a bit…
[8:34]  You: each parcel of land has a limit on the number of prims you can build on it
[8:34]  You: so, prim efficiency is critical
[8:34]  You: that’s where sculpties become a huge benefit
[8:35]  Stash Dukes: as well as using software asin in 3d max
[8:35]  You: like I said – if you have to build window assemblies out of 6 prims each, you could do it with 1 sculptie prim and save
[8:35]  Lila Pixie: alpha transparency is supported, if you upload using the TARGA (.TGA) file format
[8:35]  You: to get the transparency –
[8:35]  You: yes, you make a targa file in photoshop
[8:35]  Chrissy Ambrose: A friend has some mega prims do you think they can be useful
[8:35]  You: yeah, I think mega prims are helpful to a certain extent –
[8:36]  You: but, they aren’t a protected class of prim –
[8:36]  You: technically, they could be removed any day by Linden Lab, since they’re not really legal yet
[8:36]  You: so, you have to keep that in mind when building
[8:36]  You: but, mega prims help when laying out plans like this
[8:36]  You: instead of doing it on 10 prims, you can do it one one mega-prim
[8:37]  Chrissy Ambrose: but you dont reccomend using them in the structure yet
[8:37]  You: but you have to have that much land, and you have to be good with the building tools to be sure you’re not covering up huge areas of the island with giant prims =)
[8:37]  You: well, I know many people are – I doubt they will ever be removed entirely
[8:37]  You: but, its always a risk worth mentioning
[8:37]  You: anyone else have thoughts on using mega prims?
[8:37]  Lilli Field: and how do they feel about the rezzers
[8:38]  You: the other thing is that they don’t scale –
[8:38]  You: they can only be used in the shape they come in
[8:38]  You: they can’t be modified
[8:38]  Scope Cleaver: THey’re not accepted for any projects at SL”s Birthday
[8:38]  Chrissy Ambrose: Oh I didnt know that, I was just thinging about big expances of walls 10*10 it would cut down on prim usuager
[8:39]  You: the way I’ve found them to be incredibly useful is in laying out entire sim projects
[8:39]  Chrissy Ambrose: I will never gat a whole sim lol
[8:39]  Chrissy Ambrose: get
[8:39]  Lilli Field: lol me either
[8:39]  You: I typically design the sim plan in AutoCAD, then import it to Photoshop, then import it into SL and map it to a mega-prim
[8:40]  You: that way you can easily get a sense of proportion on an urban scale
[8:40]  Chrissy Ambrose: But it can only be a template
[8:40]  You: yes
[8:40]  You: then I erase it
[8:40]  You: so, just to wrap up the building process –
[8:41]  You: you just go over the plan, and build the walls, doors, windows, etc.
[8:41]  You: to get the right profile, I import the elevation and align it with the front, back and sides
[8:42]  You: one of the best things about building more accurate models is that there is a huge volume of content already built to ‘finish’ the design
[8:43]  You: for example, you can build a home complete with all furniture, sinks, toilets, beds, laundry appliances, etc.
[8:43]  You: all of the doors can open and close –
[8:43]  You: because everything in SL is created by the users
[8:44]  You: you can find lots of great entourage – trees, cars, etc.
[8:44]  Deniz Hirons: hello
[8:44]  You: I don’t mean to bias support for any one retail venue, but I buy most of my furniture from Scope and Max, who recently opened a new venue
[8:45]  You: for architectural visualization, their furniture and architectural components are among the best in SL
[8:45]  Lilli Field: u dont make your own
[8:45]  Chrissy Ambrose: you can make it yourself
[8:45]  You: yes, and you can always make it yourself
[8:45]  You: sometimes if you can’t find just the right piece, you can make whatever you want
[8:46]  Deniz Hirons: hello
[8:46]  You: from an architectural standpoint there is also another major benefit of using SL that hasn’t been explored much yet –
[8:46]  Chrissy Ambrose: most have only a few prims so it can be easy to see the structure
[8:46]  You: because there is such a strong and growing community here
[8:46]  You: architects can theoretically build a design concept, and test it out
[8:46]  Fraser Fonda: hello Deniz
[8:46]  You: by inviting others to explore it and provide feedback
[8:46]  You: the aLoft hotel is a great example of that
[8:47]  Chrissy Ambrose: I heard that Hiton was designing ahotel in sl
[8:47]  You: they built a full scale replica of a hotel design that would soon be built in real-life in several destinations
[8:47]  Chrissy Ambrose: too see how it would play in the real world
[8:47]  You: they took the feedback they were given by avatars in Second Life and actually revised parts of the design before building it in real life
[8:48]  You: I think there is tremendous potential there for architects
[8:48]  You: they ended up deciding to take the aloft hotel down and are giving away the island
[8:48]  You: but, I can imagine other projects living on after construction is completed…
[8:48]  You: and becoming a virtual augmentation of the real life building
[8:49]  You: like a conference center, where virtual conferences are held to compliment the real life conferences – the possibilities are endless
[8:49]  Chrissy Ambrose: Prim limits must restrict the builds so they may not be able to produce accurate models
[8:49]  Stash Dukes: I recommend everyone to see the virtual NBC
[8:49]  You: well, not exactly
[8:49]  You: bigger builds just need bigger land
[8:50]  Chrissy Ambrose: I suppose the cost of an island is nothing to a hotel chain
[8:50]  You: the other opportunity for architects in Second Life is to actually consider the potential for virtual environments
[8:50]  You: I think an architectural background is an ideal skill set to have for experimenting with virtual architecture
[8:50]  You: its a bit like web design in the early 90’s…
[8:51]  You: this kind of environment is exploding in popularity
[8:51]  Bjorlyn Loon: I’d like to hear your thoughts on avatar size and camera viewshed issues in SL architecture…. these issues seem to drive the oversized environment.
[8:51]  You: and I think architects ought to be taking it seriously – and considering how virtual spaces might augment or compliment the real life buildings they’re designing
[8:51]  Chrissy Ambrose: Well i dont have one I would like to create an asthetically pleasing design
[8:51]  Chrissy Ambrose: I am good with prims though
[8:52]  You: in a sense, its the ultimate in sustainable design
[8:52]  You: for example, if we could somehow measure the demographics of the people viewing this event right now…
[8:52]  You: and consider the environmental footprint it would require to get us all, physically in the same room –
[8:53]  You: of course, the servers consume energy, and your computer is consuming energy – but as virtual environments become increasingly viable and easy to use – it is not unreasonable to expect that it will be able to replace certain kinds of physical architecture
[8:54]  You: and if that’s possible – I think architects should be thought leaders in determing how the two worlds interface and overlap –
[8:54]  You: so – back to scale issues…
[8:54]  You: the reason everything has to be built at 1.5 times real life size is because when you view the building in mouselook, your field of view is distorted and makes everything feel small
[8:55]  You: so, its a limitation – but since everything is relative here, you can still accurately portray relationships and layouts – even if it’s slightly off scale
[8:56]  You: the camera issue is an important one though
[8:56]  You: if you’re not in the same room with your client walking through your design concept
[8:56]  Bjorlyn Loon: you assume that people will generally be using Mouselook, then?
[8:56]  You: their perception of the design can change depending on how they experience the space
[8:56]  You: if they use mouselook, their experience will be entirely different than if they are camming around
[8:57]  You: what i do is tell the client to use mouselook
[8:57]  Earnest Hudson is Online
[8:57]  You: in some cases, I build the virtual model, then film a machinima or video piece of an avatar walknig through the space
[8:58]  You: machinima is an excellent way to share concepts here as well
[8:58]  Bjorlyn Loon: in designing entirely for a virtual environment though, you cant expect the folks piling into a booth at the pub to all be using mouselook though, and with camera engaged, they may be staring at a blank wall on the outside of the building… thus, the builds differ dramatically from what might be done in real world
[8:59]  You: absolutely Bjorlyn – you’re right
[8:59]  You: so, the way to think of this world is like painting or building a cardboard study model
[8:59]  Iota Ultsch: hence the machinima
[8:59]  You: you can assertain general relationships –
[8:59]  You: like, I can show my client what it will feel like if the dining room opens to the kitchen, or if it will be in a seperate room
[9:00]  You: even if they can’t get an exacting sense of what it will feel like to be crowded into the dining room, it still helps visualize the relationship
[9:00]  You: so, its a broad-stroke environment – for now
[9:00]  Far Link: Do you find it more helpful to let a client build their own avatar and go through the intro island, or have you ever built one for them just to save them the extra step?
[9:00]  Bjorlyn Loon: is the architectural community beginning to catalog some of these differences between real world and sl builds, and to find unique ways to address the differences?
[9:00]  Curt Kongo is Online
[9:01]  You: Far – I require them to create their own avatar and go through orientation
[9:01]  You: its a great filter
[9:01]  You: otherwise, if they aren’t that engaged, and havne’t taken the time to learn the basics, it will be frustrating
[9:01]  Far Link: ah, good idea
[9:01]  You: most of our SL clients are younger tech-savvy folks that love to learn
[9:02]  Chip Poutine: It seems like a number of the more proprietary realtime walkthrough solutions have the same issues with scale.
[9:02]  You: and, when they’re building a home – which is the biggest expense of their lives – they’re willing to do just about anything to be able to sit down in the living room and hang out before construction starts =)
[9:02]  Iota Ultsch: true
[9:02]  Bruno Echegaray is Offline
[9:02]  Chip Poutine: they also force one into the first person mode, which is for the most part just nauseating.
[9:02]  Chip Poutine: literally
[9:02]  You: I think individual members of the community are starting to look at the differences between the two environments
[9:02]  Iota Ultsch: LOL
[9:03]  You: its definitely something Chip writes about a lot on his blog, and I’ve been hearing more talk about it
[9:03]  You: but, there is room for more….much more –
[9:03]  You: I think we need a new language for virtual architecture –
[9:03]  You: I think we need an island dedicated toward that end –
[9:04]  You: this island is more for professional architecture – but I think an island dedicated to exploring purely virtual-architectural interface and experiential issues would be great
[9:04]  Iota Ultsch: RMIT have a great space
[9:05]  Chip Poutine: the virtual world of much literature is a very abstract place
[9:05]  Chip Poutine: compare gibson to stephenson, for example.
[9:05]  You: so true!
[9:05]  Hugo Plessis gave you The Port, The Port (250, 75, 26).
[9:06]  Tom Bukowski is Online
[9:06]  Chip Poutine: second life by virtue of its ‘pastoral’ landscape, taking cues from RL, implies a certain kind of response
[9:06]  Chip Poutine: that we can choose to groove on or not 🙂
[9:06]  You: exactly
[9:06]  Far Link: Agreed. We almost need a new ‘5 points’ manifesto for virtual design
[9:06]  You: I think that taking cues from RL is an important step in the transference –
[9:07]  You: since we learn to organize our world through these basic visual cues from an early age
[9:07]  You: its reasonable to expect those cues to show up in the virtual world
[9:07]  Chip Poutine: if we were in the inky blackness of gibsonian cyberspace i doubt we’d have the same sense of community, at least to start
[9:07]  Iota Ultsch: Let’s have a seance and get Vitruvius online
[9:07]  Chip Poutine: we’d all be trying to ice each other hehe
[9:08]  You: lol!
[9:08]  You: exactly – its also the concept of ‘priming’ that has some value too –
[9:08]  You: what you look at has a lot to do with your mental state and mood
[9:08]  You: so, you can establish or ‘prime’ an experience or expectation here
[9:08]  You: that will inform the dialogue or interactions in that space

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[…] cyberspace. The Arch website is one of his outlets, and we’re looking at a transcript titled “Visualising Design Concepts in a Virtual Environment” in which Brouchoud talks about the virtual 3-D world Second Life, which now has 7 million […]

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lol im sorry the only reason this blog caught my eye was because of the Chrissy Ambrose thing. Im Kristi Ambrose… so.. Hi.

Anyway Im really enjoying this blog, thanks :o)

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