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June 17 2016

10 Tips for making a great movie in Lumion

Making a movie in Lumion is not a big challenge, as the basic tutorials on the Lumion website show. But how do you make a really great movie?

The two people in the Lumion team who make the Lumion promo films have compiled their top 10 tips, which fall into 3 broad categories:

  • Camera work and movie structure
  • Artistic effects 
  • Attention to detail 


Above: Film by 3D Cordoba,  shows almost all of the features of an excellent Lumion film

Camera work and movie structure

1. Use slow camera movements

Allow the viewer to get a good look at what you are trying to show by slowing down the camera movements. Move past the objects you want to show closely enough and slowly enough that they can be appreciated. Simply taking two shots very close to each other in Lumion to make a single clip can be very effective.

2. Use multiple clips

Make short clips instead of one long movie, each one starting and finishing at carefully chosen points in your model. This allows you to show more of your model and to focus on the point you want to emphasize. Structure the clips in a sequence that tells the story you want to tell. Avoid making long complicated fly-throughs in one long clip. This almost never works. It’s better to make choices.

3. Move camera in one direction in each clip

Move the camera in a single direction in each clip.  This lets the viewer appreciate what they are seeing. Whether the camera moves up, down or around the design is a choice that’s up to you. But whichever direction you choose for each clip, a deliberate, single-direction, slow movement is usually the way to go. The camera direction in adjacent clips should flow naturally and when done right can create a ‘wow’ effect. Sudden direction changes don’t usually work.

Above: Film by Shinsaku Hidaka, winner of the 2015 Lumion Japan Competition. The focus here is using techniques for artistic purposes.

Artistic effects

4. Use animated effects … carefully

Use animations like cloud or sun position, to achieve a beautiful sky, a sunset effect or shadows that sweep across surfaces. These create great visual effects but they need to be slow, otherwise they will distract attention away from the design itself.

5. Use volume lighting and lens flare … carefully!

Lighting is always important. Great scenes in Lumion usually have good lighting. Sometimes volume lighting works but needs to be used very subtley. Adding the lens-flare effect is an equally nice artistic touch but be sure to avoid big blobs of light on the screen… unless that is specifically what you are looking for!

6. Use the analogue color lab or color correction

The analogue color lab or the color correction effect in Lumion. These provide a palette to give your movie its own individual color tone, which can be quite persuasive in creating a particular mood. It also works well in subtle combination with the vignette effect.

Above: Movie by  Kristijan Tavcar shows creative use of Lumion’s effects like animated depth-of-field and animated sun for sweeping shadows 

Attention to detail

7. Use a little bit of motion blur

Motion blur as the curious effect of tricking your brain into believing that a movie has a higher frame rate than the real frame rate. This means that small amounts of motion blur makes your movies more comfortable to watch.

8. Fade in and fade-out for main movie and between clips

It’s important to think about the beginning and end of your movie, as well transitions between clips. Careful choice of fade-in/out transitions can be very helpful with this.

Above: IKM animation of Pittsburgh ballet theatre shows great use of camera work, music and Lumion effects.

9. Pick the right music and sound effects

Music matters. It sets the mood. Be sure to pick music which fits the story that you want to tell. Get the timing of your music to match changes in the imagery of the animation, in this way, the images and music work together to emphasize impact. Sound effects from within Lumion like tweeting birds, traffic on roads or people chatting can be added as objects in your scene too.

10. Reflections

Reflections are crucial. Use Speedray reflections always and use reflection planes on selected important surfaces. Reflection planes need to be used sparingly because they use a lot of computer resources and rendering takes longer. They produce very accurate reflections, which are very important for mirrors, glass and large water surfaces. Speedray reflections can be turned on always because they are less demanding of your computer and don’t have a large effect on render time.

Above: Moscow high-rise complex by Sergey Skuratov Architects showing excellent reflections, camera work and well-timed/well-suited music

If you didn’t get a chance to do so, look at each of the excellent films above taken from the Lumion showcase and made by customers of Lumion. Look critically at them and you’ll see a lot of the themes mentioned of above. You’ll also notice the artistic flair that comes with talent …. and practice!

Read more… ‘5 Tips to improve still image renders from Lumion’

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