Harris Kalinka

Imagery + Animation Golf + Architecture

Monday 25th August 2014

Should I get my visualisations Made in China?

Could outsourcing your architectural visualisation work to China save money for your company?

China and India are the major players when it comes to cheap 3d visualisations. Many clients and colleagues I’ve known since my days studying architecture are bombarded with daily emails from these countries offering them visualisation services.

I also regularly clear these sales emails from my inbox. We don’t outsource, preferring to keep all our work in-house. But I’d be lying if I said we hadn’t ever considered it.

So, do we think you should consider it? Perhaps.

Why China doesn’t make sense for us

We’ve often thought about getting some of the basic 3d modelling work done in China, but we like to be in control of quality at every stage of the process. Not only that, but we wouldn’t want to risk our own or our client’s reputations if something did go wrong.

Outsourcing our 3d modelling might save us a little bit, but when we weigh up the savings against the risk, we’ve always opted not to outsource.

Why Chinese visualisations could make sense for you

Outsourcing does have its benefits – specifically the price. But whether it’s worth doing or not depends on the type of project and your own expectations.

Having spoken with a number of people who have tried the services of Indian and Chinese visualisation companies it seems they offer mixed results. Some have had an OK experience and were satisfied with the images, given the amount they paid for them. (This was often a fraction of the cost of any European company.) Others had a really bad experience.

The general consensus was that the experience wasn’t a pleasurable one, even if the final images were satisfactory. In some instances the outsourced images were actually more expensive because of the number of revisions required to get them to a suitable level.

When could it work?

1. You only want marketing images: If your images are for marketing and accuracy is not imperative then you could consider outsourcing.

Our advice: Be sure to issue a very clear brief with as much project information as possible and examples of the level of quality you expect.

2. You have a lot of time and patience: If you have time and patience then it might be worth considering outsourcing.

Our advice: If your project has a tight deadline then don’t do it, work with a local company or one that has been recommended by a colleague.

3. You have a member of your team in the country you are outsourcing to: Even better if they speak the local language.

Our advice: Get them to meet with the company and keep in close contact with them throughout the process.

When is it too much of a risk?

If your project needs images for planning, such as photomontage views or in particular verified views, we strongly recommend you choose a visualisation company who is reliable and who you are confident can deliver a high standard of work.

Planning images need to be as accurate and realistic as possible and this becomes more difficult when you can’t meet up with the company to discuss the project and they can’t go to the site to take the photographs they need.

What to watch out for with outsourced visualisation services

Late, inaccurate or poor quality images can devalue your design and the reputation of your company, so it’s always important to find the right visualisation company, no matter what country they’re in.

Communication is the number one problem. There is always some back and forth with every project, so it’s important that whoever you work with understands your comments and can execute them. It can be a challenge to convey details like the textures of materials and the subtleties of lighting to someone who doesn’t share your mother tongue.

Last-minute changes. If you’re working to a deadline and the visualisation company is in a different time zone it can be difficult to get those last-minute changes done in time. Bear this in mind when you set your deadlines and plan your review schedule.

Quality of the final images. Some companies have been known to ‘borrow’ images from other established visualisation companies to improve their own online portfolios. Make sure you ask them for high-resolution examples of visualisation work before you agree to work with them. Most visualisations on websites are low-resolution, so it’s unlikely they’ll have high-resolution images from other companies.

A final consideration

Our visualisation services are sometimes more expensive than a company in China or India, but there are reasons for that other than the fact that we’re based in Europe.

We don’t outsource, so our quality is exceptional at every stage of the process. Because we want you to keep coming back to us, we make sure our work is of consistently high quality and that we give you plenty of opportunity to comment at every stage of the production process.

And when you work with us, you know you can pick up the phone at any stage in the process and speak directly to one of our directors who will resolve any problems quickly.

Assess the savings vs risk for yourself: Call us to discuss your project and get a quote