Review of Cameramatch for Vectorworks 2011

Review of Cameramatch for Vectorworks 2011

By John Helm
Helm & Melacini Architects
How’s business?  If it’s good or bad you may want to consider buying this add on for Vectorworks (VW).  If you are busy then it will save you time and if business is not so good then it might just give you an edge up on the competition and help you get more work.

Every project that we architects do has a site. The site might be an empty field or an infill property with existing buildings all around.  It could also be an existing building with work done on the outside or the inside.  These days many of us are designing in 3D creating nifty little models of our work that often just float around in space with no reference to the actual site other than of course the 2D site plan.  Or we may create the site and its surroundings virtually.  But for the client and for the completion of the design process what could be more illustrative than to see the new structure on a photo of the actual site.

This can be done using VW importing a picture and then matching the exact angle/perspective of the picture with a 3D view of the VW model.  It’s not too difficult if we know the exact position of the camera, the angle, the focal length, etc. of the imported picture.  But I can tell you from my own experience that what might not seem too difficult can take hours of messing around and trial and error to get a result that even seems close to reality.  This is assuming you know the details of the imported photo listed above, but what if the client just hands you a picture taken from some random location.

Cameramatch solves all of these problems and once one learns how to use the program the “photo” of the site combined with the model of the proposed project can be accomplished in minutes using just about any random photo not hours.  Time savings on just one of these should more than pay for the $100 cost of the program and from then on it’s just more money in your pocket.

Now I have to admit that I have had a few start-up issues.  The instructions, who wants to read instructions, are detailed and one must read them and fallow them.  One must also be familiar with the base program, which in this case is the latest version of VW.  Cameramatch is also available for earlier versions.  I have been at fault in both cases.  I just got the new version of VW and I don’t really like fallowing instructions.  I know I’m not alone otherwise they wouldn’t have a quick start guide in just about everything we buy these days.

As an example here are before and after photos of a little house we are working on in the Czech Republic.  It’s actually a teardown and rebuild of an existing structure attached to another house.  The photo used was taken at random by the client.  We have not even been to the site.
This was just my second attempt at using the program; so don’t think that it’s the best that can be done with the program.  Go to the site and look for some examples done by others to get a better idea of the true potential of the program.

The program, as is VW, is available for both the Mac and the PC.  As with all the latest versions of most software, the more computer power you have the more smoothly the program will work.  Cameramatch and VW are no exceptions they both seem to like my new laptop using Windows 7 with lots of ram a lot better than my older XP PC.  But I am able to get the same result with both computers; it just takes longer on the old one and it gets a bit fussy when it starts to run out of ram.

So the bottom line is that this program provides you with an additional tool that will help you with your design, give your client a true picture of how his project will look on its site when finished and save you time and money.  So buy it; it’s a bargain.
I close with a quote from Matt Panzer and suggest that if you really want to get a good idea of what the program does visit his website; you can also download a free trial version:
“Some CM (CameraMatch) users have made CM part of their normal workflow for every project.  The clients love it because they immediately understand how the design fits into the existing structure or site.  And early stages of the project benefit since the designer only needs to model the proposed parts in detail.”

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