Such a little acronym has meant so much over the last
20 years, well at least for us it has. It has changed so
many things, such as design, presentation, prototyping,
simulations and gaming. 3D takes us places that don't exist
yet and shows us things that have yet to be made. In fact
3D can show us things that cant possibly be made or seen
any other way.
Artistry meets technology
Computer technology is what brought us 3D. As processors
got faster their ability to render 3D objects got better.
The calculations can be immense and the first computer
systems would have taken years to display even simple 3D
scenes. Each year new technology was developed both
in how 3D is calculated and how it is displayed, and now
the quality is so good that people cant tell a photograph
from 3D anymore. We can actually achieve perfection on
every job given enough time and money, but budget and deadlines
often lead to small compromises that are still almost undetectable.
The software used for creating 3D
scenes is very complex,
mainly due to the many options involved. Each piece of
a scene, such as an object (3D
Mesh), building, light,
texture or environment has hundreds or even thousands of
variations. A 3D Artist needs
to be skilled in the technology and talented in layout
and perception to be successful. The role of the 3D Artist
has even fragmented into specialties such as character
now the mainstay of many marketing campaigns, especially
real estate, which has evolved significantly over the
years to an industry that sells mainly prior to construction.
Renderings show what is going to happen on paper or the
web, normally showing key areas and interiors.
3D Renderings are also used to portray things that may
already be build now but appear better in a 3D environment.
For example, a watch or cell phone may be much easier to
show as a 3D Rendering than as a real photograph.
Taking renderings a step further, 3D
animation is simply
the playback of sequenced renderings to form a movie.
They are used in small productions like TV commercials
and extend to entire movies, like Shrek, Toy Story, etc.
To produce 3D Animations we
deploy large arrays of computer hardware called a Render
Farm, which breaks down the intense computational
burden of producing so many images.
3D Enhanced Video
3D can actually be combined with real video, enhancing
shots or adding features that aren't really there. This
is often used in techniques like camera
tracking or motion
capture. For example, we have many samples of 3D buildings
put into real aerial footage, showing exactly how the finished
development will look. Some Character Animators use motion
tracking too, which records the movement of an actor so
it can be applied to a 3D Character. A perfect example
is the character "Golem", a sinister character
in the move
"The Lord of the Rings", who is really a 3D creature
with the movement taken from a real actor. The character
was then put into a real life scene with real actors.
3D can be used to create effects that would be too difficult
or impossible in real life. This could be explosions, car
chases or wild action that if shot in reality would involve
too much destruction and defy the laws of physics. Next
time you see a helicopter do a crazy stunt in a movie you
should consider that you may really be watching 3D.
3D Virtual Reality
For years now people have been trying to bridge 3D with
a human interface, therefore creating a virtual environment
that appears to the viewer as being real and impressive.
3D goggles and other pieces of technology try to fool out
eyes so as the brain thinks we are somewhere that we are
not, but so far none of the available technology can come
close to a real experience. A completely realistic virtual
reality is apparently still far into the future.