Architectural Visualization 2020 : Enscape Review

This is the second article in a series where we talk about Architectural Visualization in the context of our work at Enzyme. You can find the first article here

Understanding where we are in terms of Architectural Visualization tools, I would like to talk about how we address photorealistic rendering at Enzyme. As discussed in the article before, I would classify Enscape as fairly easy to use, intuitive software to produce some good images with very little effort.

Normally, we work between Archicad and Rhino3D and often have cross-platform issues. Over the last few years, we’ve used TwinMotion as a primary visualization tool because of its ease of use and integration into the Archicad environment. More recently, we’ve been experimenting more and more with Vray for Rhino as it is very well integrated into the Rhino & Grasshopper environment.

All of these software have their pros and cons. What surprised me the most while testing Enscape with both Archicad and Rhino over the last few weeks was the speed, good library of assets, ease of use, easy web and windows app deployment. Another core functionality, which, unfortunately, I haven’t managed to test yet is VR Functionality.

Enscape Lighting Study

This means that as a small studio working on a project, we can very quickly create a Windows Executable file that can be shared with our clients allowing them to navigate through this virtual project. We can also just as easily deploy this model on the web and send a link to someone who can navigate through the project online. To access either of these files, We do not need to have Enscape installed on the computer. This requires very little post-production in the studio allowing us to spend more time on the design and solving design problems rather than technical ones.

Enscape Walk-through Video

Another major advantage I found working on Enscape is how quick and easy it is to make and render a walk-through video. This is often a requirement from our clients at various stages in the design process and we’ve spent a fair amount of time trying to make this happen as smoothly as possible. There are still a few bugs with the camera paths but I expect these will get fixed in the future updates.

To summarize, let’s look at some advantages and disadvantages of Enscape compared to Twinmotion and Vray :

Enscape vs Twinmotion
1. Ability to render Material ID & Depth Passes, this saves us a lot of time in post-production while making masks for various materials
2. Cross-Platform Support for Rhino & Archicad
3. Faster & Easier Walkthrough Video Production
4. Light View Mode – this mode conveys a lot of information about lighting in the scene and can be used to study/simulate various lighting conditions.

1. Not as well integrated into Archicad especially when it comes to material workflows
2. No macOS Application yet
3. At the time of writing the article (December 2019), Twinmotion, since it was acquired by Epic Games is Free to download and use, which is a major advantage as compared to Enscape which is priced at $58.25/month for a floating license or $39.08/month for a fixed license
4. Since Epic Games recently acquired Quixel, they have access Quixel’s Megascans library of more than 10,000 2D and 3D photogrammetry assets which could be a game-changer for Twin Motion

Enscape vs Vray Next for Rhino
1. Cross-Platform Support for Rhino & Archicad
2. Enscape is a lot easier to use and setting up a decent render can take just minutes as compared to Vray
3. Rendering Times can be a lot faster depending on the quality needed. Higher Quality renders on Vray can take minutes to hours depending on the complexity of the scene compared to seconds on Enscape
4. Enscape’s inbuilt assets can be used to quickly add realism to the scene

1. Vray is what I would classify as a complex rendering environment, this means that the user has the explicit ability to control everything in the render. This can be a major disadvantage for less technically apt designers but can be a superpower in the right hands. One can produce stunning high-resolution images with photo-realism that can fool even a trained eye into thinking its a photograph.
2. Vray, priced at $350/year is significantly cheaper than Enscape which is priced at $58.25/month for a floating license or $39.08/month for a fixed license
3. Vray has no inbuilt assets but can use 3D Models available on the web, this means that one can develop and build their own asset libraries with more control over texturing, however, this can also be time-consuming.
4. The ability to use proxy scenes and meshes means that one can keep a light model with geometry only being called while rendering. This is a major advantage on very complex projects where a file might run into the gigabytes.
5. The significant advantage of Vray over Enscape or Twin Motion is it’s seamless integration into Grasshopper, this means that we parametrically control and thus test spatial and material assemblies, animate various parts of the model using sliders and even animate things like people, vehicles, etc.
6. Vray has the ability to render a lot of different passes containing valuable information about materials, UV Texturing, Depth, refraction, reflection, etc which can be used in various ways for post-production.

After using and testing Enscape for a week, I can see the value that it provides and as a young product, there’s a lot of room for improvement in the near future but at the same time, with major developments happening at Epic Games to relaunch Twinmotion and integrate it more with Unreal Game Engine and BIM, Enscape has its task cut out to gain market share in a market right now dominated by Twinmotion and Lumion.

All of this makes Enscape a pretty robust visualization tool for a studio like us. It has all the infrastructure to develop more VR capabilities going forward and a robust rendering engine that produces some high quality images in a very short period of time.

Quick Render from Enscape ~10 sec, no post-production
Quick Render from Enscape ~10 sec, no post production
Quick Render from Enscape ~10 sec, no post-production