Neoscape: Build it, experience it, believe it in VR

Design in Motion

Last modification: 24 Oct, 2017
7 mins

Guest point of view by Carlos Cristerna, visualization director at Neoscape.


When a client comes to us with a problem that we can ultimately help them solve, that's the most excitement and appreciation I get for our work. And when they tell us that we were an integral part of them winning the business - that's a great feeling.



Neoscape has been around since 1995 with studios in Boston, New York, and San Francisco. We are a group of artists, filmmakers, designers, and programmers who love to tell compelling, visual stories that convey complex and visionary ideas.

We see ourselves as the creative partners for dreamers and visionaries building the next great experiences.

© 2017 Neoscape, Inc.

Convince them with more than words

Clients come to us and ask for VR just because their competitors are using VR technology. VR is so hot right now that so everyone wants it without knowing exactly why. One of our core values at Neoscape is to question assumptions. Whenever a client comes to us with a predetermined idea of the solution they need, we always question why.

I can show you a bunch of photos of cars and tell you which one is better, but until you've taken it for a test drive, you won't be sure of your decision. You may be able to make an intelligent decision based on features and price, but your gut might instill doubt. VR has the power to pull these emotional strings.

VR has the ability to put someone in a place that still doesn't exist yet, and simulate that feeling of being there, of being immersed in the space. It's only when a client's challenge can be solved by communicating this, then VR is the way to go.



© 2017 Neoscape, Inc.



The Dallas Penthouse

We recently worked on visuals for a penthouse in Dallas, Texas as part of a high-rise called the Museum Tower. The penthouse was still available and, as penthouses often do, required extra care and attention in its marketing. The pool of potential buyers is not only smaller for these ultra-luxury residences, but they are also often international buyers who can’t simply visit for a quick tour. We created a series of renderings to help them realize the potential of the space once fully built out and designed.


© 2017 Neoscape, Inc.
© 2017 Neoscape, Inc.



I happened to be in Dallas after we had delivered the renderings and stopped by to visit the project. To experience that space was amazing. You can take all the pictures you want, but when you are faced with a unique space, there's no comparison - whether it's a huge airport, a penthouse, or a residential unit. The only real way to appreciate the scale of the place is to be there. So there was my first challenge: recreating the penthouse in real-time VR.

As I was having these thoughts, Bruno Landry from the 3ds Max development team reached out to us looking for a project that they could use to test their latest feature in 3ds Max: a real-time engine that would simplify content creation for VR. The timing couldn’t have been better.



© 2017 Neoscape, Inc.
© 2017 Neoscape, Inc.
© 2017 Neoscape, Inc.

Bringing it into real-time

We'd tried several different engines in the past to create real-time VR experiences. In that process, we spent so much time - sometimes months - transferring data from 3ds Max to other platforms. We tried out the 3ds Max Interactive engine for obvious reasons that we're already 3ds Max users, and we know the software really well. Being able to transfer our large datasets from viewport to viewport and output our work to a different medium with one click was not only convenient but quite impressive. It's a huge added value for us and, subsequently, our clients. Until this point, repurposing our work to use other workflows had been a hassle.

It turns out that our penthouse project was a natural fit for the test. It had plenty of big interior and exterior spaces, large windows, and we had already built the model. We worked with the 3ds Max team to push the visual boundaries and capabilities of the new Max to VR workflow, and in the end, it paid off. With this new VR solution, we're able to offer our clients a greatly enhanced experience as a by-product of work we were already producing.


From 3D to VR in just five days

When we work with big companies, we're working within very strict boundaries that bring entirely new challenges to the table. One client hired us to help develop a presentation with the caveat that they weren't permitted to produce anything new from their initial printed submission, meaning they couldn't change their design or upgrade it in any way. They were, however, able to produce additional visuals. With time against us, we decided to go the VR route and create an immersive experience rather than render more imagery.

They had a model of their project to start. With the 3ds Max VR workflow and some basic programming to teleport around the model, we were able to complete the full experience in just five days. This workflow gives us the ability to reuse models we already have, which is a huge timesaver. A year ago, you had to redo everything when bringing your model into a game engine. That simply doesn't fly with our clients anymore. In our industry, everything is fast-paced and usually last minute.


Experience it to believe it

When someone shows you a rendered image of a room and tells you, "These are 15-foot ceilings," you just need to believe them. You don't have an accurate sense of scale unless you're there.

Once we had created the afforementioned VR experience, the next hurdle was to determine how to integrate it into the client's presentation. Given our experience with VR, we know that you always run the risk of making your work look like a gimmick. However, we were confident that for a project of this scale and complexity, you had to experience it to really get it.

We walked the group through the experience on a screen, and they were excited and interested. In the end, only one of the panelists asked to put the VR headset on - but for us, that was a win. Having that one person walk through the experience carried a lot of weight because to experience it is to believe it. He was able to understand where the designers and engineers were coming from, and what their vision for this project was.


The future of VR

VR will become another tool that we have at our hands to help our clients, and it will undoubtedly change our industry. Now that the technology's more accessible, how we collaborate will change quite a bit.

For example, we work with lots of people who know what we do and have a general idea of how we do it. They're not necessarily 3ds Max experts, but VR technologies will bring them into the design process, allowing them to experience 3D spaces and offer their input in an interactive way.

Nowadays, artists in this field need to know their way around 3ds Max, among many other tools. With VR content creation capabilities now being part of a defacto tool like 3ds Max, it makes more sense for us to invest in the knowledge and learning.

Consider the workflow has been simplified - you no longer have to be a game engine expert to create VR content.


Want to hear more from creatives changing the world of design visualization?

Find more stories like this one on Design in Motion.

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