WIP - Ennis House VR Project Part 1

Work In Progress / 31 May 2022

Hi everyone. The purpose of this blog is to document the progress of my current project, which is the recreation of the Ennis House that was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1924. It's a very iconic house in Los Angeles and has been used as inspiration for various films over the years. The block design can be seen in Blade Runner, which is one of my all-time favorite movies.

Whenever I begin a project I start gathering reference images. I use a program called PureRef to create a reference board of images. PureRef is great for organizing your images all in one place. The image below is the PureRef board that I made for this project.

I found some great walkthrough videos of the Ennis House on YouTube as well, which helped me see more details of the architecture that I didn't see in the reference photos.

After gathering some good reference I found a free CAD model online Ennis House Model  Credit goes to Wyatt Cullers for the model. 

After bringing the model into 3DS Max, I had to do a considerable amount of cleanup and then I started breaking up the model into logical parts. Since this house has so many different angles and nooks and crannies it was difficult to break it up into parts that can be easily remodeled and textured. This part is still a work in progress, but I basically broke it up into rooms according to the original blueprints.

After breaking up the model I started importing the meshes into Unreal 5. I kept the pivot at origin (0,0,0) for all the building meshes so that they would line up perfectly in Unreal when I placed them. This would be my initial blockout. I start out by assigning a grey material with 0.8 roughness to everything and then I place some basic placeholder lighting to get a feel for the space fully lit. I use baked lighting for VR projects, because it runs better than dynamic lighting. After that I start applying textures and materials based on the reference images.

Next, I started breaking out repeating elements like columns from the main mesh and then I placed those as static meshes in Unreal. The images below are my work in progress pics so far. I've got a long way to go, but it's coming along.