Right behind Mr. Fetter, one of his co-workers, a Dr. Ivan Sutherland, followed in the footsteps of this little experiment with the development of SketchPad, the world’s first 3D modeling program. This rudimentary software allowed a person to interact with a computer screen or create an image. Long before the term Graphical User Interface (GUI) was coined, it was the first of its kind.
Then the journey of 3D rendering began. We all know what happened next. Computers became faster, software became better, and the tools with which people would manipulate digital 3D space became so mature that they would give way to the development of multimedia innovations.
3D rendering software.
As already mentioned, 3D rendering software is divided into modellers and renderers.
The most powerful – and therefore the most difficult – 3D modeler is Maya. It is a complex software from Autodesk that is mainly used by animation studios and video manufacturers as the backbone of their world building. Maya has by far the most robust set of tools and even has physical modeling designed specifically for animation filmmakers who try to recreate real systems for the most accurate and credible rendered scenes.
For architects and designers, Rhinoceros 3D dominates the market. It offers a different, more accessible tool set from Maya, but still has enough under the hood to model geometries quickly and accurately. An alternative to Rhino is the free downloadable SketchUp distributed by Google. It is the world’s most user-friendly 3D modeler and is rapidly gaining importance as a productive design and communication tool for architects.
Most modeling programs are designed to work with a variety of renderers, the most popular and powerful being VRAY. It allows you to create scenes, images or animations with ultra-realistic light and shadow scattering algorithms that perfectly replicate reality. Alternatives to VRAY are Maxwell, Cinema 4D or the open source program Blender 3D.
3D renderings in film.
Perhaps the industry most affected by the rapid growth of 3D rendering technology is show business. The volume of animated films shown every year with raccoons, foxes or panda bears is staggering. Studios like Pixar have not only changed the trajectory of animated entertainment, but also the motion media screen as a whole.
The use of computer-generated imagery (CGI) dates back to the 1970s, when mainstream megahits like Star Wars amazed moviegoers with things they had never seen before. And while George Lucas was still focusing his film magic on using practical effects and scale, he brought this galaxy far, far away to life with 3D rendering in a way that had never been explored before.
Other filmmakers soon followed, and in 1993 a young engineer named Spielberg gave the world a naked Jeff Goldblum and a variety of ultra-realistic and horrible dinosaurs in Jurassic Park. This movie doesn’t look like it was made in the last 5 years. But Jurassic Park was the film that set the standard and all digital media had been waiting for before they really took off.
The fusion of Hearts and Minds was Pixar‘s first big foray into the movie business with a charming story about a boy and his toys in Toy Story. Buzz, Woody and the gang all proved that the days of an animation industry dominated by the second dimension were numbered. It was the first blockbuster to be shot entirely in CGI, and it happened to be one of the most revered, beloved nostalgic journeys ever made. The importance of Toy Story cannot be stressed enough because it required such an accessible, universally usable universe that people fell in love with the medium.
Today, it would be difficult to find a new version that doesn’t have at least a touch of digital interfrecency. And while many ironically accuse the unfortunate death of George Lucas’s Star Wars trip to excessive use of 3D rendering, the development of the medium has done nothing but good things for the film industry.
Architecture and design.
For many, architects have the glamorous and romantic task of constructing massive buildings of concrete and steel that offer protection to the masses and also look good.
Architects and designers rely on these 3D rendering tools to showcase their skills as designers. Of course, there are many steps, from the idea sketched on a handkerchief during leisure activities to a code-compliant, structurally solid building, where the journey often begins with the designer’s ability to communicate it and ends before the actual work begins.
3D renderings are the architect’s best friend. It gives them the opportunity to show that they don’t count. In addition, the ability to quickly create a 3D model gives the designer the opportunity to criticize his own style. 3D rendering has become an indispensable design tool and provides an integrated quality control system that ensures that every corner of the building has been carefully examined before the time has been spent figuring out how to build it.
As technology has evolved, architectural studios have begun to integrate Virtual Reality (VR) technology into their practice. This improves the architect’s ability to communicate his work with clients and builders.
VR and 3D renderings.
If you have used the Internet last year, you have inevitably come across a story or dossier about the rise of VR. High investments in the VR technology of global players like Google or Facebook make it clear that VR is becoming more and more mainstream. But of course the use of VR requires a completely different taste of rendering technology. Real-time rendering or the 3D rendering you find in most video games or other interactive digital media requires the help of very powerful algorithms and processors to create experiences that will calculate directly depending on user input.
So far, the 3D rendering we’ve been talking about exists in the form of pre-defined images or algorithms created by engineers and artists and then set to render before the finished product is output. Real-time rendering happens as it is seen and flows from the memory of the software you are currently using. This technology, developed in parallel since the invention of 3D computer graphics, is the key to the revolution of VR. Architects have begun to use VR to accompany customers on virtual tours through unbuilt building. People who do not understand the experience qualities of a floor plan can be communicated with them in terms that they can more easily understand.
With the increasing importance of VR, the further development and implementation of 3D rendering technology is also gaining in importance. Artists are becoming more and more versed in the idea of building fully realized 3D worlds with which they can interact – albeit in a rudimentary way. Until recently, it was simply too expensive and too time-consuming to do such a thing. Think about how long it takes for video game developers to need a cam from conception to completion, and you’ll understand why it took so long for certain industries to catch up. But times are changing and VR is going to go to places where nobody thought it would end.
What future developments are to be expected?