Live Interior 3D Pro
By: Tim Danaher
COMPANY: BeLight Software
PRICE: $130 (about £84)
ISSUE: 24 23 DATE: Nov 08
Verdict: Needs Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later
The premise of Live Interior is simple: it helps you visualise interior design projects from home
and domestic situations, to commercial and business environments.
To this end, the program incorporates a 2D drafting environment, which lets you sketch
out the details of your design. For its target audience this makes perfect sense, since most people
start out with a 2D design rather than diving straight into the 3D side of things. Live Interior
does, however, handle 3D models, translating your 2D drawings into fully navigable, OpenGL-rendered
3D environments — it's where the live in the title comes from.
This new release is certainly a departure from its predecessor in terms of its look
and feel. The whole interface has a much more polished appearance, from the assistant where you can
choose various ready-made building types and room layouts, to the Inspector palettes and object library.
If you choose to draw your own layout, the feedbacks and snaps are more slickly presented,
and proper, architectural dimension lines accompany each wall as it's created. Unfortunately, the wall
dimensions are still measured from the centre line of the wall, which is crazy. No-one who works as an
architect or interior designer measures walls in this way, and you will be working with internal dimensions.
This means that you will have to subtract half the wall thickness from the value displayed by Live
Interior 3D Pro to arrive at the correct measurements. You also need to note that because drawing is
non-modal, moving the arrow out of the drawing area causes the current wall to scroll off to infinity.
Once a plan has been drawn, the space can be carpeted, colour added to the walls and
populated with furniture. This can be imported either from Live Interior 3D Pro's own extensive library
or from Google's 3D Warehouse. Click on Download Model and the application will display a clock showing
the download time and a list of materials being imported.
You can also add your own custom objects from Google SketchUp or 3DS Max, and edit objects
directly in SketchUp. You can either move the object around on plan updates in the 3D window (2D and 3D
can be displayed side by side), or you can move it directly in the 3D view.
The 3D rendering has been improved in this version. Real-time reflections are now supported,
something that's quite impressive when you see it. Lighting has also been greatly improved, and you can
now set the sun's position by the time of day. The setting of the model's latitude by a simple slider
should, however, be replaced with something a little more accurate.
Also in this version is support for multistorey designs. This includes a stair designer
that lets you set stair type, rise and going, and handrail height. It also features a facility for designing
floor openings. Handling multi-storey buildings is well implemented: each storey sits on it's own drawing
sheet and these can be accessed from the Inspector palette. As an aside, the way it lets you rifle through
a stack of drawings is rather neat.
Another new addition is a wall designer, which allows for the creation of custom alcoves,
openings and panels - although there's no support for drawing curved walls yet. The Walk tool has been
supplemented by a head-up display, which appears when you place the mouse at the bottom of the 3D window.
This gives much easier and more convenient control of the viewing position. Completed projects can be
exported as stills at high-resolution or as QuickTime movies in up to HDTV resolution. Another impressive
feature is the ability to export as QTVR — these files can get the project over in a file far
smaller than a .mov.
Live Interior 3D Pro is certainly better than its predecessor and the new features make
it a much slicker product, but wall drawing still needs improving.
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