• Andrea Levratti

The evolution of visualization in lighting design.

I stepped into the lighting world right during the 'LED revolution', when the lighting manufacturers started using this lighting source, at scale, for their equipment.

Incandescent and halogen lamps started giving way to the more efficient Light Emitting Diodes, and the range of options available for lighting designers has increased exponentially as a result.

Not only lighting designers have benefited from this evolution, but the equipment energy consumption dropped due to the lower power required to emit a similar luminous flux. For example, incandescent lamps with a 50W consumption were changed with a LED source of around 10W, giving a similar output (but with a lower quality of light). Over time, the efficiency and quality of LEDs have been increasing. And it keeps going up!

With the advent of the LED, the lighting industry got a boost, and lighting calculation software started implementing more and more functionalities for us to calculate and visualise the light in a nice way.

What is a 'light calculation'? It's a mathematical calculation to check that a particular design will provide the proper lighting levels. Not too dark, not too bright. The right contrast, the right uniformity, glare control etc. A lot of technicalities can significantly change the look of the space.

An example of lighting calculation showing lighting levels in false colours.

Nowadays, the software helps us test the lighting sources using "photometric files" into architectural 3D models. The manufacturers generate these files, which contain all the parameters necessary for the calculations, and we can use them to understand the lighting levels we can reach.

When I started using this calculation software, it was also possible to visualise the lighting effect in greyscale, generating low-resolution renderings. Over time, the options have evolved, and a few years ago, we started navigating the 3D model smoothly on screen, looking at the rough effect of our design, other than checking the technical results.

We were just about to step into the next level of visualisation for lighting design.

To help the client understand a rough effect, in some (rare) cases I have used this software to let them navigate the model on screen, always making it clear that there are variables that the software cannot take into account. But it has been useful to have another tool to show a rough design intent, other than producing classic lighting concept images.

Example of a 3D model built into a lighting calculation software.

At that time, I started thinking about how cool it would have been to let the client navigate the 3D model in person.

It was just a matter of time. Virtual Reality arrived. Boom!

Over the past months, I have been studying the possibilities of Virtual Reality and started developing with Lightera a trial model that is navigable with a VR headset.

It shows some of our lighting techniques with a resolution and fidelity that goes really close to reality, and it will have some other cool functions that we will reveal later.

We will use this model as a sample (with all its limits) to show our clients what can be built virtually before transforming it into reality. If a client wants to 'walk' into a space and have a rough understanding of the 'look and feel', we will have the possibility to build the model and integrate our lighting into it.

Even if we are still far from accepting this sort of "dematerialisation" of the interactions, we should look at these possibilities with enthusiasm. Navigating and reviewing ideas with a headset while in London while a client is in New York is very futuristic. Still, it is also something actually about to happen.

Draft of VR model. Copyright 2022 lightera.

The future of lighting design sees us interacting remotely in virtual spaces, which will give clients the possibility of getting a better understanding of the design before translating it into reality. And in reality, it will look stunning!

Stay tuned and follow Lightera on LinkedIn and Instagram to keep updated on our progress with the Virtual Reality.

#lightera #virtualreality #visualization #lightingvisualization #lighting #lightingdesign

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