Use of photomontages in Planning.

Posted on
The use of photomontages to represent how developments will look within the landscape are increasingly important in the planning process.

Rhys Jones is our guest blogger this month and explains in more detail below about the use of images.  Rhys works at Ninety90 and is a leading expert in the art of visualisation models.

1) What they can show and how they can help;

These days, most people are familiar with the use of Computer Generated imagery to illustrate how something will appear once finished. Even using relatively basic 3d techniques, an idea of a space or a building can be illustrated to such a level that it can give the viewer a very clear picture of a project, which TV shows such as Grand Designs utilise very well.

Moving into a more advanced level of detail and accuracy, it is possible to produce an image of a proposed development that looks convincingly real within the context of a photograph. This enables developers, council planners and the public to see, for the first time, what the development will really look like, and what the visual impact on the local area is likely to be.

A range of viewpoints are chosen based on various criteria, specific to both the development in question and the local area, in order to show the most accurate and balanced representation of the visual impact of the project.

2) How they are obtained

To create a photomontage, first we take a photograph from a specified position, then, using a 3d model, we effectively project a 3d image of the development onto the photograph through a camera-matching process. This process enables us to fine-tune variables such as scale, perspective and relative position, so that we have a convincing base to work on. Once we have this data, we can then make any number of changes to the 3d model and know that it will still sit realistically within our photograph.

Once positioned, we then match the lighting direction and intensity of the 3d model to that of the photograph, apply realistic textures to the model, and render out an image which is integrated into the photograph. The integration of the two can involve a number of post-production techniques, such as masking, painting, colour and tone adjustments, and adding people.

3) Difference between verified and non-verified views

There are many stages in the planning process and many different visual requirements for each of the stages. As the planning application progresses some of the views will have to be verified, as a requirement for council planners and/ or townscape assessors. This simply means that extra layers of specific and accurate data must be used and be presented in order to provide a solid legal basis for the planning application.

The main additional points include using a survey team to gather GPS data of set points around the site of the proposed development, marking and recording the position of the camera, and the team producing the images providing a methodology of their working processes. All of this means that the resulting images should not only be visually accurate, but that the means of getting those results are repeatable and robust enough to satisfy all parties involved.

Rhys Jones works at Ninety90 and is a leading expert in the art of visualisation models. To email Rhys click here.