Harris Kalinka

Imagery + Animation Golf + Architecture

Friday 5th June 2015

7 steps to buying a great visualisation

When you buy a visualisation for your project, you want to be sure you get value for your money. You want to be confident that the visualisation will show your design in its best light, whether it’s for marketing, a competitive pitch or to impress a client. It doesn’t matter if you need a photorealistic view of a building or a flyover of a golf course (or even if you don’t know what you need) these are 7 steps we’d recommend you take to make sure you get the best visualisation that your money can buy.

1. Plan ahead

Without planning ahead, it’s hard to get the benefit of any of the following advice. Whilst a visualisation can be created in just a couple of days (or even in 24 hours), it’s always best to allow plenty of time. This will give you the opportunity to identify the right company, review progress and comment on, so you can be sure the final visualisation reflects your design and vision.

2. Talk to the visualisation companies you want to work with

Speak to the people you’re considering working with, don’t just email them. They can advise you on aspects of the project before you begin, potentially saving you time and money.

You’ll also get a feeling of how easy it will be to communicate with them. The benefits of this are certainly worth a short conversation at the very least, and even better a face-to-face meeting to discuss the project in more detail. You might find our 9 questions to ask your visualisation company useful.

3. Check experience and resources

It’s not a deal breaker if a company hasn’t worked on the type of building or golf course you require, because the method of production is very similar for most buildings and courses. But it’s definitely worth viewing their portfolio to see the quality and breadth of their work.

If the project is particularly big then it would be sensible to check the company has the resources to work on such a project and to ask them for some references too.

You don’t want to switch companies if you need some revisions or additional images. It could be very costly. So make sure they can accommodate you and the changes you need, even if there are project delays.

4. Have an idea of what you need

It’s always nice to let the visualisation company have some input into the project. They can advise you on the best type of images or animation for your project, the most effective camera angles, lighting options and the final composition. They should have a lot of experience and can really bring out the best in a design.

But it’s helpful if you have an idea of how many images or length of animation you might need and what elements of the project are important to show – explain to them what defines your design. This can give the visualisation company a clearer idea of what is expected of them and they’ll be able to give a far more accurate quote.

5. Choose the right service for your goals

A project that’s for marketing will often require a different type of visualisation to a project that’s for a client presentation. So it’s important to know the difference between the visualisation services on offer and how they could work for your project. To get the most value for your money, and before you decide on your service, you could also ask yourself:

How could I use visualisations for all stages of a project?

Creating the 3D model is typically the most costly part of the process, so why not use the same 3D model for a client presentation and then again for marketing? With some small tweaks the same 3D model can be used throughout the project, not only saving time but also creating a consistent quality of images for every stage.

Could I benefit from using the 3D model as part of the design process?

Not every client can read an architectural or grading plan, so why not make use of the 3D model during the design process? This could be an opportunity to impress your client with a set of images or animation from the start. This might not be appropriate for every project, but we have some clients who have really embraced this way of working. They even use the 3D model as a way to test different materials, mowing patterns, furniture layouts, bunker sizes and lighting set-ups.

6. Get detailed quotes to compare

No one likes surprises when it comes to money, so the more information you can provide at the start of a project the more detailed and accurate the quote a company can give you. If you have a budget in mind then it’s always helpful to make this clear. It will help companies tailor your quote.

As with most things, with a visualisations you get what you pay for. So if one company is offering you the same service as another, but is charging 60% less, then there is usually a reason for this. It’s important to question why this is before making a decision.

7. Ask questions

If it’s your first time working with a visualisation company then don’t be afraid to ask questions both before and during the process. Not only will this get you the best visualisation possible, it will also help you to understand how the company works and you’ll develop a stronger working relationship for future projects.

Bonus tip*

Look for a company you get on with, who you think you can trust and who understands the vision for your design. On many projects there will be the inevitable last-minute design changes and the stress of working towards a deadline, so it’s important to work with someone you feel comfortable with.