Live Interior 3D 1.1: First Look

Live Interior 3D 1.1: First Look

After mucking about with this app's controls and spelunking in its less-than-helpful manual, you might be able to create some nifty 3D interior scenes. Patience, as they say, is a virtue.


"First Looks" - as opposed to full-scale, rated reviews - such as this one of BeLight Software's Live Interior 3D, are a bit of a conundrum. By definition, they're more a recounting of first impressions than a presentation of well-researched analysis: plug in a peripheral and fire it up or install a piece of software and launch it, then see how well it behaves without poring over each and every word in the manual.


We're Mac lovers - manuals are, for us, a last resort. When taking software out for a test drive, we expect it to be easy to figure out (discoverable, in user-interface design terms), and that it should offer built-in assistance when things are a bit confusing. When software fails these simple introductory duties ... well ... we're willing to grudingly dig into the manual for help - but that manual had better be easy to navigate, clearly written, and be able to answer our questions both promptly and correctly.


This interior-design app fails these First Look tests on all accounts. Its controls don't provide the simple feedback you'd expect, its capabilities are difficult to understand without delving into the manual, the manual itself is poorly written, and even with the manual's help things simply don't work as they should - or maybe they do, but the manual is so opaque that it's difficult to figure out how to accomplish what you want to do.


Live Interior 3D's box proudly states that "Creating a new or remodeling your current interior has never been so easy or intuitive." Since I have two rooms in my home that I'm interested in remodeling - my elder daughter is leaving the proverbial nest - this sounded like an app that was worth the investment of a couple of hours of my time.


I first measured the nooks, crannies, windows, and doors of those rooms, then used those measurements to create a floor plan in Live Interior 3D's 2D View. Easier said than done. A lot easier, due to the app's poor feedback on wall length and placement.


I dutifully left space for doors, then discovered on page 34 of the manual that I needn't have bothered - the app will cut door, window, and niche openings for you out of existing walls. A nice touch. I then added a door between my two rooms, choosing from the library of architectural elements between a door labeled HIT 03 and one labled KUP 04. Therre must be a difference between these two doors, but poor ignorant me wasn't giving any aid as to how to distinguish an HIT door from a KUP door - and the manual didn't help. (A Google search turned up a few references to these door types - including others labeled TOP, OPO, SO, and more - but I'm still in the architectural dark.)


More trouble began after I added the door, when I discovered that it swung opposite the way I expected it to. Now, it being Gay Pride Weekend here in San Francisco, I certainly took no personal offense at the door swinging its own way, but I did want it to match the one currently separating my two rooms - and after about an hour of messing about in the app and digging through the manual, I still couldn't get the door to open the way I wanted it to. I gave up - after all, this is just a First Look, not a full review.


It seems that this is the dialog I should use to create a door that swings in the direction opposite to the one provided in Live Interior 3D's library, but I couldn't for the life of me figure out how to save changes. Can you?


Next I launched Live Interior's 3D view to, uh, view my handiwork, then decided to add some furniture from Live Interior's library. As one of my planned rooms is to be an office, I was disappointed to discover that when I typed "desk" or "desks" into the library's search box, I got a grand total of zero elements to choose from. I did a bit better with "shelves," though not a lot. After choosing a shelf unit from the small selection offered, I added it to my room and was then disappinted to find out that no matter how I "glued" it to the wall, changing its measurements made it come unglued. Sigh...


I then played around with lighting and discovered that even the tiniest amount of luminosity blew out my 3D view in nuclear-powered brightness, but after dialing my lights waaaay down, the 3D lighting effects were quite nice. I then tried "walking" around my rooms, but quickly plopped through walls and got lost outside my rooms, staring at the grass or at the sky - I wish there were a "return home" toggle. Oh, and I still don't know how to open a door, or even if it can be done - and the manual's no help.


Then I gave up.


See that wall with the "X" selection indicator? I wasted a good 45 minutes trying to change its color to match the other light-colored ones, only to discover that I couldn't - it's in shade, y'see. It would have been nice to have been told up-front.


If this were a true review, of course, I'd read every page of the manual, try each and every control, talk with the folks at BeLight Software, and wrestle this app into full submission so that I could completely and fairly evaulate it not only on its own merits, but also against its competition. But this isn't a true review; it's merely an "I just wasted about four hours of my precious weekend on this app" First Look.


And, to be honest, it's going to be my last look. Oh, that remodeling job of mine? Back to the drawing board. The real one. With paper and pencils.




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three dimensions is alwasy better..

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I think design looks good in 3D model than 2D model.



annette logan

I your input. Exactly what I wanted to know. I have tried two other interior design software applications and both have been as you described. But this was for a Mac so I was very hopeful!

I see your review is from 07 and would like to know if you have learned about any efforts to improve the program.
Or maybe you know of another software program (PC or Mac) that works intuitively and renders beautifully.

Also, (sorry but I just thought of this) there is a show called Hidden Potential on HGTV that uses computer generated concepts of what the house could look like. I've looked on the internet and can only find what people "think" the program is and that it's very expensive. Any ideas?

Thank you!

Annette Logan

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