Enscape update Version: 2.5.2 – create your own Skyboxes

On May 20th, Enscape released another minor update. The speed at which the Enscape developers are updating and adding new features to the software is astonishing. They obviously listen closely to their customers and they’re keen to make the product as rounded and useful as possible.

You may have received an email about the new release and the new Skybox feature.  For those who didn’t get the email or who didn’t read it, here is run-down.

Firstly, being upfront, this feature will not appeal to everyone. It has a bit of a learning curve to implement. You need to make special images to make a custom LightBox and whilst you can download or buy generic ones, making your own requires a bit of work For those who have the time, budget and enthusiasm this will be a great enhancement.

Enscape ships with some quite nice backgrounds that form a sphere around the rendered scene to represent the ground and sky. These are referred to as “Skyboxes” as they form part of the lighting in the render. Skyboxes are made from  high-dynamic-range (HDR) images that have a range of intensity values of from darkest to lightest that is many times more than a normal raster image (such as a jpg or bmp). The beauty of these HDR images is that they better represent the real world differences in light that we experience, although our eyes adapt to these conditions so we don’t necessarily realise the full range of intensities. An HDR image in Enscape actually contributes to reflections in the render so we can see the outside world on things like external glazing. And the render engine even takes the intensity of the light into consideration when it creates light in the render so the colour and intensity of light in the HDR image has an effect on the overall lighting.

Without going into to many technicalities (which you WILL need to get your head around), the image you need to capture is a made from multiple exposures of the same image that are laid on top of each other to capture the range of light values. The shape of the image is referred to as a “Raw Photosphere”. You’ll need a suitable camera such as a GOPRO Fusion (about $750 AUD at the time  I write this article).  You can create the images different free or paid software. The below examples were done by Dan Stine using GOPRO Fusion Studio which is a free program that is designed to work with the GOPRO Fusion camera.

GOPRO Fusion Studio in use:
An image being edited for use in Enscape:

The real killer feature here is that you can take a special image of your proposed site or the area surrounding your design and incorporate it into your Enscape renders. That takes your visualisations to another level as the viewer now sees the design in its real environment. At the very least you will raise the wow factor especially when presenting with VR.

In the example below you can see a Skybox taken of the site surrounding the proposed building design. Note how the Sky is accurately reflected on the table top and other reflective objects.

Render example with a custom Sky-box:

And of course, being a spherical image, as we Pan our view around in the render, the background accurately moves to represent the whole panorama of the site and the Sky.

Same render but from a different vantage point

So a very interesting feature indeed and we realise it’s not going to be for everyone but if you have the equipment, budget and time this will be something worth pursuing.

More information can be found here: Enscape 2.5.2 Notes

As always, have fun 😉