Best Practices: How to use executables for presentation
Perhaps the most important part of an architect’s process is presenting a design to the client. This is what all your hard work is leading up to, and a good presentation can make or break your client’s approval. But 2D plans don’t exactly paint a picture in the mind, your CAD software is lost on your client, and you don’t want to overwhelm with too many static renderings.
What you do want is to offer your client an effortless, yet unforgettable experience, which allows them to focus on the details that are important to them. This is just what Enscape’s standalone export (executable) offers: complexity without complication.
One little file offers endless possibilities. The standalone can be used as the basis for a formal presentation, or sent during the design process for quick evaluations. It allows you to catch problems earlier by communicating the design to the client more often. There is no software to learn and the client can open the standalone on their own hardware, as it does not require an Enscape subscription to run. These benefits and many more will be covered in this post.
It couldn’t be easier to export a standalone model of your Enscape simulation. It takes just two clicks: one to start Enscape, and one to export the model. All of the fine-tuned settings you had active prior to exporting will be included in the standalone. After this, the possibilities are endless. You can keep the file for your own records, or send it to a client for evaluation.
How to export a standalone file in the Enscape menu
The beauty of standalone files is how easy they are to run. The machine on which the client wants to view the model must meet Enscape’s system requirements, however, no additional software of any kind is needed! The EXE provides the same experience and quality that Enscape does, but does not require Enscape, Revit, SketchUp, ArchiCAD or Rhino to run. This is what makes the standalones such an excellent tool for client interaction. And the Enscape controls are incredibly intuitive; all instructions are listed right on the screen.
Upon opening the standalone, you will find that it has an integrated settings menu which allows to adjust the standalone like never before. These are limited to necessary, yet useful functions, and are incredibly simple to adjust. Of course, any settings you had active prior to exporting the model will also be active in the EXE. The adjustable settings offer you and your client the ability to spontaneously view the model under different conditions in a way simply not possible with static renderings. Let take a closer look at all the available settings.
You can easily pin and unpin the Settings menu in the standalone file
The tab to open the Settings menu is located on the left side of the screen, about one third of the way down. When it is hidden, you will only see a translucent bar. Hover your pointer over the tab, and it will automatically expand. If you click the pin icon, the menu will stay open while you move around. Click the icon again, and the menu will close.
In this menu you can turn virtual reality, light view and white mode on and off, and adjust the rendering quality and the thickness of the outlines.
Like so many things in Enscape, it only takes one click to enable VR in the standalone. The machine that the model is being viewed on must fulfill Enscape’s virtual reality system requirements. Enscape currently supports the following head mounted displays: Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and Windows Mixed Reality Headsets such as the Samsung Odyssey. The software needed to run Enscape with the individual headsets (Steam, Steam VR, Oculus runtime) is also required to run the standalone in VR. But as soon as this is set up, you can enable virtual reality and allow your client to explore the project like never before!
Virtual reality with just one click – also in the standalone
Virtual reality in the EXE looks exactly the same as running VR natively in Enscape. After setting up your hardware and enabling VR, you will be able to navigate the Virtual Reality Settings menu, which allows you to turn white mode on and off, adjust the thickness of the outlines and set the time of day, all from inside VR. Additionally, you can access your favorite views and turn the minimap on and off. Enscape also supports taking screenshots while in VR. You can either take a snapshot of your current view, or frame up a screenshot using a virtual camera. Screenshots are queued and rendered upon leaving virtual reality. Giving your clients the opportunity to view the model in virtual reality creates a commanding and distinctive moment they will never forget.
This is now one of the most useful adjustable settings: You can define the rendering quality from within the standalone, and change it freely. The same four options are available as in the native Enscape:
You can choose the best rendering quality for the given hardware equipment
This is a powerful setting, especially in relation to client interaction. Enscape has certain system requirements necessary to run, and client machines don’t always have top tier graphics cards, as they simply don’t need them. This is often an issue that does not arise until the client tries to open the file. With this new setting, there is no need to export a new EXE file; the client can simply adjust the rendering quality to find which setting allows them to run Enscape fluently.
Adjusting the rendering quality can go a long way towards viewing the Enscape model on machines that might not be meant for running such a demanding program. This feature is also especially useful for early stages in the project when high quality graphics are secondary. You can also use this feature in conjunction with virtual reality. Toggle the slider to find the quality that works best with your headset and hardware. This allows you to spontaneously switch to virtual reality, without having to switch machines.
Light View, White Mode and Outlines
Enabling white mode will display your model void of any materials. Depending on where you are in the design process, you might want the client to simply focus on the architectural forms of your project, and not worry about colors and materials just yet. This is what white mode is perfect for. It displays a work in progress clearly as an unfinished model, rendering everything with a uniform white color. Try combining white mode with heavy outlines for a stylized, graphic look. Adjust the thickness of your outlines in white mode or normal mode via the Outlines slider.
You can enable white mode from within the standalone and adjust outlines.
If you’d like to show your client a light analysis of the model, you can do this by enabling light view. This option will display how many lux are falling onto each surface. Enable light view and adjust the time of day to see how your model interacts with the light at any given time. The time of day feature is unchanged in the new version of the standalone, however, in combination with the new features, changing the time of day can drastically affect how your client sees the project. Simply hold the shift key while clicking the right mouse button, and keep an eye on the bottom right corner of the screen; you will see a clock that shows the exact time.
On the right side of the standalone screen, you will find the Favorite Views menu. It can be opened in the same way as the Settings menu: by hovering your pointer over the translucent tab. This feature simplifies moving around your model, and makes it easy for your client to find certain views. Clicking on the thumbnail preview will smoothly transport you to that location in the model. The animated transitions allow you to keep an overview of your location within the project as a whole. A double click will transport you directly to the desired spot.
Defined views will be automatically included as thumbnail images.
The views you wish to include in your standalone must be designated before it is exported. But, again, this only takes one click. Simply decide which views you would like to include and mark them as favorites by clicking the star next to their name in the Enscape view drop down menu.
When you have done this, these views will be automatically included as thumbnail images in the expandable sidebar menu. Please note that while the Setting menu is always included, the Views menu only appears if views have been designated prior to export. You can either click on the thumbnails, or use the Page Up and Page Down keys to switch views, even when the menu is not open. The possibilities for client presentations with this menu are endless. The views are exported with your time of day settings in Enscape, so you could for instance save different variants of the same view to quickly show one area in your model in different lighting situations.
Presentation and Documentation
The most straightforward application of the standalone export is for presentations. In a formal client meeting, the standalone simplifies your presentation down to the most salient features, delivered in a stunning display. You can use it to avoid overwhelming the client with your CAD software; streamline your delivery by only having one window open. During formal presentations, you can use the favorite views to choreograph your proposal, only showing the client the preselected views you want them to see. Alternatively, you can explore the whole project in the standalone, and leave yourself room for spontaneity in your pitch.
Between formal presentations, standalones are a straightforward way to give your client updates on changes or developments inside the model. Simply send your client the EXE file, and allow them the freedom to explore the model at their leisure. This is constructive for both sides, because it allows you to catch problems earlier by communicating the design to the client more frequently.
Documentation also becomes effortless through EXE exports. It is the simplest way to track changes in your project, and be able to access earlier versions for comparison. Enhance your workflow by periodically saving your model, enabling you to revert to it for reference without having to search through your CAD program. Leave your client with an unmistakable record of your work, even after the project is completed.
Any settings you have active prior to exporting are included in the EXE – and this includes your customization features. You can define your own loading screen, overlay image, window icon and caption text. In the standalone, the overlay image and loading screen are particularly effective.
Insert the logo to cultivate your company’s corporate identity
Use the overlay image feature to add an image to your screen. This could be your company logo, or the name of the working architect. Use a personalized image for the loading screen. The customization settings are a great way to bring your standalone in line with your corporate identity.
Both features can be easily defined in the Customization tab of the Enscape Settings menu. Simply select an image by clicking the folder icon. If you decide you want to remove any of the customization features, simply uncheck the box next to the feature.
Now that you have spent some time getting to know the standalone and all of its features, you have perhaps already seen how this tool can benefit you personally. Document your design process without interrupting your workflow by saving standalones along the way. Send your client more frequent updates, and offer them a way to better understand their project. Engage your clients more fully during meetings by breaking away from typical presentation displays. In short, make the design process easier for you and your client.
The beauty of Enscape has always been its simplicity, and the standalone is no different. Just a few clicks, and your clients can explore their project in a way simply not possible with static renderings. Without software to install or programs to learn, they can focus on what is important: your design. And you can offer this opportunity in less than a minute; a small EXE with vast potential, a world of possibilities in one click.