THE 7 STEPS TO A VISUALLY VERIFIED MONTAGE
VISUALLY VERIFIED MONTAGE
Visually Verified Montages, also known as Verified View Montages (VVM) or Accurate Visual Representations (AVR), are a form of photomontage.
These images are completed with a much higher level of accuracy and detailing, ensuring that the exact position of the camera and tripod is recorded, so that a surveyor can capture key points to be mapped in a 3D world. The process is more elaborate, time-consuming and, subsequently, costly than a standard photomontage project.
Any commissioned AVR or VVM is held to be a well-defined and verifiable representation of a proposed development. Once completed, a VVM submitted to planning as part of a Qualitative Visual Assessment becomes part of the legal document itself. This leaves the image open to be challenged, should it be deemed to be inaccurate. To date this has not yet occurred in the industry, which is a testament to the benefits of adhering to a rigorous methodology.
The methodology employed by Infinite 3D is the same that is widely accepted in the industry today. It is from the Landscape Institute’s Guidelines for Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment.
What is a VVM?
You send Infinite 3D a brief, specifically requesting a VVM or AVR to be completed for a proposal. Due to the heightened technical requirements of these undertakings, it is imperative that the brief contains detailed information as to desired viewpoints and architectural drawings. We will consult and discuss the brief in-house, before discussing it with you further, to ensure both parties are in complete agreement about the work to be completed.
If possible at the time of briefing, CAD drawings should be provided, for a more efficient service later in the process.
Our in-house photography team will travel to the specified site to take photographs from the agreed upon viewpoints. These photographs will be taken by a professional architectural photographer using a 50.6 megapixel (8,688 x 5,792) Canon EOS 5Ds digital SLR with a full-frame sensor of 36 x 24mm - equivalent to a 35mm film still image frame. Generally, for use in a VVM, our photographer will take the source photography using a 24mm TSE (Tilt/Shift) lens, unless specifically otherwise requested by you.
The use of this equipment under such settings ensures that the images are captured to the greatest quality and accuracy available. As each photograph is taken, the location from which it was shot is recorded and marked with spray paint. Supplementary shots of the tripod position are taken to aid the accurate placement of virtual cameras during the modelling process. Detailed records of the location, height and orientation of the camera are made by our photographer.
These source images will be approved by yourself, the architects, and the planners before we proceed.
An example of an approved source image for a VVM:
Once the images have been approved, approximately fifteen specifically labelled foreground and background points will be marked on each image. These are known as ‘keying points’ and are crucial to the accurate modelling of the proposed. Generally the points are made on relevant, obvious areas of the image - such as ridge lines, gables, spires and towers, but they can be placed anywhere that will accurately portray the level of depth the model needs to capture. These points are made by our modelling team at Infinite 3D, and approved by you before a surveying team is sent out to the site.
An example of an image with the key points marked up:
Once agreed upon, the marked up photographs are forwarded to a specialist surveyor. This is the only part of the process of a VVM that Infinite 3D outsource, to our own trusted surveyors. They will visit the site to confirm an exact GPS location of the camera from each viewpoint. This is achieved by following the data captured by our photographers. Once the locations have been confirmed the surveyor will use specialist equipment - usually a theodolyte, to obtain 3d reference data of the fifteen keying points per image.
An example of the surveyors key point mapping:
Once the key points have been mapped and the surveyor has obtained the 3D reference data, the modelling process can begin. To start with, your provided CAD drawings are imported, cleaned up of unnecessary information to the modelling process and aligned. The 3D reference data from our surveyor is used alongside the extensive metadata from the camera, and the data recorded by our photographers, for each viewpoint to match the keying points exactly. That is, matching the points chosen on the source image, to the virtual ones mapped by the surveyor. In aligning these points exactly, our talented modelling team can map the position of the proposed building with absolute confidence that the positioning of the project is correct, and in perfect context with its surroundings.
An example of a matched, key pointed image, with the surveyor’s key pointed map:
Once our experienced team of 3D visualisers have collated all of the data and faithfully matched the key points of the source photography to a 3D space, they are able to introduce the proposed building into the photograph with all the appropriate masks applied, to ensure that it appears to sit exactly as it would were it completed. The creation of the model can begin as soon as the CAD drawings have been received, and so can be ready to place before the data is all collated. In these instances, the process of VVM is much quicker and more efficient.
As per your requirements and desires, there are always a number of options available once we reach the modelling stage. The level of detail which you require will
generally be agreed upon before the project is undertaken, but this is always open to discussion further down the line.
The accepted levels of detail are known as AVR Levels 0-3, with each level adopted to broadly define the purpose of the AVR and the level of detail that the final image will contain as to the proposed. Below the scale is outlined with examples of the final images available for production. The examples are from a completed VVM by FoundationCGI on the H.R Owen Ferrari Garage, Old Brompton Road, London.
This was the building as it existed before the VVM imagery was applied:
The classification is a cumulative scale in which each level incorporates all the properties of the previous:
AVR Level 0 - Toned Area describing the location and size of a proposal
An example of AVR Level 0:
AVR Level 1 - Wire frame describing the location, size and relative degree of visibility of the proposal.
An example of AVR Level 1:
AVR Level 2 - As in Level 1, with a description of the architectural form via a shaded single material model.
An example of AVR Level 2:
AVR Level 3 - As in Level 2, with an added overlay recreating the lighting of the source image, and showing details of the specified architectural materials to be used, as per the proposal plans.
An example of AVR Level 3:
As with most services, the AVR level requested will have an impact on both the timescale of the project and the cost of the final images. At Infinite 3D our quotes are always tailored to best suit your budget and your requirements, and so detail levels can be discussed and added details are always available.
These details are often added in post-production, such as alterations to the hues, saturation and contrast of your images to really bring the project to life. There are also options to include people, animals or vehicles to your montage shots, to bring a sense of reality to the final product.
Once our 3D artists have put all these finishing touches to your image, they are supplied to you in the highest-resolution available, or at a size which you may request.
Upon delivery of the Verified View Montage imagery, Infinite 3D will also always provide you with a detailed Method Statement, outlining the work undertaken and the information used to produce the images. A typical Method Statement will include, as a matter of course:
The name and contact details for Infinite 3D, as producers of the VVM or AVR.
The process used to select the viewpoints for inclusion in the study and to determine the representation type to be used.
Details of any general policies that have been applied regarding angle of view, cropping or use of multiple - stitched, images.
Description of the procedures used to accurately determine the size and location of the proposals and any comments on the accuracy of these processes.
Description of the procedures used to determine the degree to which the proposals are visible in the viewpoint - as with AVR Level 1 and above, and any notes on how occluded parts of the proposal are shown.
Descriptions of the processes used to add architectural detail to the representation - as per AVR Level 2 and above, and how this has been shown graphically.
Descriptions of the processes used to represent the appearance of the proposed materials - as per AVR Level 3, and notes on the limitations of the modelling techniques used.
A typical Method Statement: