When producing a CGI for planning applications the following variables come into play.
The camera location and height; normally eye level 1.6m high
The relative height of the camera to the height of the site;
Camera lens; a 50mm lens is usually accepted as a good representation of the human eye.
The weather, time of day and time of year ( think leaves on/off trees)
The render quality of the final output; the position of the sun, the reflection/absorption of materials ( if known).
Final output; most computer screens are not colour calibrated and printing varies with each printer.
Panoramic views; the extent of overlap when patching together of individual frames.
Distortion/keying; when taking a view close up to a site.
Given the number of variables the visual treatment or graphic style of the final image needs careful consideration.
Red Outline; in this view the outline of the building is traced into the scene. Note how the base is set to the site level, determined by survey data on site and accurate modelling in the computer.
Although the image gives an accurate representation of the outline, it obviously fails to show any lighting effect and depth of field for the proposed building.
In the above example, the proposed development was a series of buildings that had yet to be fully designed. A simple red outline would be practically invisible at this range so the semi-transparent fill gives a more solid look. Red lines were then used to show the maximum impact of rooftop plant rooms.( again yet to be designed so a worst case volume was felt better than none at all). If you compare this visual treatment to the surrounding buildings the block format is a reasonable depiction of the possible view. Note the distortion in the foreground due to the stitching together to form a panoramic view.
The Amazon HQ in London shows the before photo and the verified view for planning. The complicated facade structure is a nightmare to render but considering this was delivered in 2008 when computers and software were slow, it looks the same as the building that is there today.
The view above shows the measurements for one os a set of CGIs for a planning a application. Below is a CGI planning visual of the final render from a different view angle. Note the level view angle, no attempt to touch up or alter the surrounding streetscape, a raw scene, unlike a marketing view where we remove debris, graffiti, sale boards etc.
The above methods are proven techniques that should result in an accurate portrayal of the final development or a verified planning view. However, the more cost-effective method is H4 Verified Lite, which adopts most of the verified view process, but accepts a greater tolerance ( +- .5m) and is acceptable for most applications where the CGI views are submitting as supplementary info. The H4 group provide a full method statement and being regulated by the RICS ( Royal Institue of Chartered Surveyors) we are one of the few visualisation studios, in London with such credentials.