Insights from Inbetweenness 2024

This year’s Inbetweenness Festival was a great opportunity to gain valuable insights into the archviz field. The event featured top industry talents and studios, keynotes and workshops on creativity and business practices, as well as friendly conversations between sessions. After our delegation of artists returned from Lisbon, we sat down with Róbert Andrékó, one of our Lead CG Artists, to share the festival’s biggest learnings and key takeaways about the present and future of architectural visualization.

Which presentations or workshops were the most transformative?
I think it would be impossible just to pick a few; there were so many great talks to mention. Berga & González showed us how smart they are at marketing, producing booklets for luxury villas of such high quality that it genuinely feels like holding a work of art. Playtime wowed us with their honesty regarding bad images and what to do with them. Then there was ArtefactoryLab which has cultivated a clientele looking for exactly what they offer: 3D renders inserted into photos shot on-site to achieve peak realism. If there is one takeaway, it is that truly every single service and company has its clientele, they just have to find it. 

Could any of these learnings be incorporated into a high-profile studio’s workflow?
This last one I mentioned could be learned from, for sure. ArtefactoryLab is based in Paris but they figured out a way to essentially cover all of Europe thanks to cheap plane tickets. It’s so cool to me that they could marry the photographer lifestyle with 3D visualization, traveling the world as part of your job and taking awesome pictures wherever you go. A dream come true for real. But even besides these personal reasons, I think this type of extra fieldwork could be beneficial for any studio’s output as well, helping us achieve greater photorealism. Another thing I became very conscious of thanks to this festival is the importance of in-house projects. Narrative is a London-based firm that talked about having some gap time between two major projects when they could just mess around aimlessly, switching a car in an animation with an Anima character model. Once they posted the results, this little stunt resulted in Anima contacting them, asking them to do a whole movie with their models. A series of random events turned into probably their biggest work to date, crazy to think about. It just shows that the effort you put into an in-house project can indirectly help you score new business, and something to keep in mind.    

Did you see any groundbreaking projects or case studies demonstrating new ways of thinking about Archviz?
Not groundbreaking in conventional terms but we had extensive talks with a professional who made short movies mixing archviz scenes and telephone conversations he recorded with friends from all over the world, all contemplating their current life situations amidst the pandemic crisis. While no technical marvels, these personal videos resonated with us due to their interesting, out-of-the-box dramatic storytelling.  

What was the most innovative technological feat you’ve experienced at the festival?
Ultimately, the focus of this festival wasn’t on technology but on business and creativity. However, a sponsored block I dug very much and stood out to me was a render farm service called Heata. What they do is they install boilers in poorer households and put a CPU on the side of it so as they render out images they heat the water. We liked this project so much in fact, that after some friendly chat, we partnered up with the team to utilize their incentive in our recently announced artist competition

How is the role of virtual and augmented reality evolving in Archviz?
There weren’t showcases held specifically on this topic but as we learned, Tomorrow has already started to integrate the new Apple Vision Pro into their work. Unfortunately, they gave no examples of what they are currently using it for at the moment, but I need no convincing that ZOA should get one of these headsets to experiment with. [laughs]

What areas should we focus on developing or learning more about to stay competitive and innovative?
Right now, in image making at least, the hottest thing is a reduced color palette with hard contrast and minimalist skies. I would call it minimalist realism. Since the biggest thing in archviz I think is being in on the new trends, studios constantly have to do their best and follow the lead of the trendsetters so as not to get left behind. It was a nice reassurance for our team that judging by what we’ve seen on the show floor, we seem to be among the leaders in the field of animation.

How is AI influencing and being incorporated into Archviz?
AI is a controversial topic in the field. While a few studios mentioned it during the festival, it was clear that this technology is still in its early stages. It’s primarily used for small tasks, such as filling in gaps or enhancing image quality, which can speed up workflows and make images more accurate. Overall, AI shows promise as a useful tool, but it wasn’t a major topic in the conference.

Informed by all the insights shared on the festival floor, what would you say the future of the architectural visualization industry looks like?
I have two viable scenarios for the future: one is where you completely align yourself with client expectations, abiding by every request they might have. The other possibility has to do with the industry getting supersaturated right now because of the democratization of tools and the advancements of AI. To be seen, you have to stand out even more. And honestly, you just have to be present at every event to represent your brand as much as you can.

After our presentation, did you get any feedback regarding the topic at hand or our studio’s work ethos?
During the Q&A session of the presentation held by Samer Saniour, one participant asked on the topic of in-house competition whether we do these during work hours. To his surprise, Samer said that we absolutely do. The whole point of our culture is that self-improvement and learning while having fun is part of the job. We got a few participants praising our stance on this matter, complementing how we differ from the hip, Google-like companies that have table tennis and indoor slides and all that stuff just for show. Instead, we came across as a team that favors “family values” and the importance of getting better together. It was very nice to hear that our mission and what we are about is clear from the outsider’s perspective as well.


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