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Photorealistic Rendering   |  3D Graphics

The More Photorealistic the Rendering the Longer the 3D Takes

By Jacob Ben Ami

It is important to say that the more photorealistic the rendering, the longer it takes the computer to figure out how to paint all the details of an image; so long in fact, that those forms are not really feasible for easy maneuvering and modeling within digital space. There are some forms of shaded rendering that are fairly feasible for today's technology to handle. The most popular form of late is the technology developed by SGI (Silicon Graphics Inc.) called OpenGL. OpenGL is a fast rendering algorithm that can be very effectively sped up by the right hardware. Most mid- to high-end video cards now are OpenGL accelerated.

OpenGL is powerful in its ability to quickly draw lit models that show the textures applied to the model's surface. It is still a rough form in many instances, but it gives a good idea of overall color and position. Both Strata's StudioPro and NewTek's LightWave, which we will cover, use OpenGL heavily. Not all applications use OpenGL, however. For instance, Cinema4D, another program covered, uses gouraund shading. Other applications use other high-speed libraries (e.g., Heidi, Quickdraw3D, etc.).

The point of all of these low-end shaded renderers is to provide the modeler a quick look at roughly how the light and texture falls across the surface of the objects present. Sometimes, understanding the form is more important than seeing color and light on the surface. For instance, a typical exercise in almost every beginning drawing course is to "draw through" the object; that is, the student draws the backsides of the objects through the space presenting the front side. The motive behind this exercise is to better understand the form. The computer has many ways of "drawing through" objects to allow you, the creator, to understand the form of the models present more fully. These include outline, pointcloud, and wireframe.

Perhaps the biggest benefit of these rendering systems is the speed in which they redraw; the computer is able to quickly paint pictures on your screen using these methods. As models become more complex and the computer has to deal with more and more information, it takes longer and longer for it to draw the information you have given it. Sometimes, the models become so complex that using any other form of rendering is simply too time consuming, and these methods are how you work the majority of the project.

3D Rendering And Animation Industry Matures

By Daniel Kreimer

As the 3D rendering and animation industry matures, raytracers are becoming increasingly speedy. So speedy, in fact, that some 3D apps only offer raytracing.
Raytracing does have a drawback, though; it does not calculate any light that may be bouncing between objects.

For instance, a white ball inside a room with multicolored walls. With even a matte finish, the ball would be showing the results of the brightly colored walls on its surface in real life, but raytracing does not calculate these. The result is renderings that perhaps do not show the effects of surroundings on an object quite as well as something that uses radiosity.

Radiosity is probably the single most powerful and photorealistic rendering engine available. Radiosity analyzes a scene and treats every object and surface as a potential light source. This allows incoming light to bounce off surfaces and change characteristics as it goes.

This detailed manner of handling light makes radiosity a very sophisticated rendering method. The biggest drawback is that although powerful, calculating all those extra bounces of light is extremely time intensive. It is not unusual for a radiosity rendering to take from 4 to 100 times the time to render as a raytracing render.

Be selective about radiosity renderings, or if you know that you need an effect that radiosity will provide (e.g., the colored blushes on the side of the ball), consider "faking it" with raytracing. For instance, the blushes on the side of the ball could be done with colored lights that cast no shadows. Faking radiosity sometimes takes a little longer, but it usually saves you time over what you would spend waiting for a true radiosity render.

Vray for Cinema 4D for Creating Photorealistic 3D Visualisations

By Paul Doherty

'Vray' is a plugin which has been developed for many different 3D software packages. In simple terms Vray is a virtual light simulator combined with a virtual camera and an advanced material creator. These materials can be customised to create any type of surface and react to light in a very realistic way. Vray works in conjunction with the 3D software and replaces its native render engine and material editor allowing extremely high quality renders to be produced.

Vray for Cinema 4D uses 'Tags' which are applied to lights, cameras and geometry within the 3D environment. These Tags are mini managers which give the user a multitude of extra options and settings and tell the 3D package which elements are lights or cameras etc. The camera tag for example allows the virtual camera to act as an SLR camera. The camera Tag includes iso settings, F-stop, shutter speed and vignetting effect etc, etc. Light tags allow the lights to behave more realistically and include 'Physical sun and sky' with a multitude of settings which can create very realistic lighting effects.

The Vray bridge rendering dialogue box can be a bit intimidating to new users compared to other rendering engines on the market which rely on a less customisable setup. It is on the complicated side but once mastered, extremely impressive results can be achieved. The render settings dialogue requires an understanding of complex terminology, and a lot of time to begin to understand how all the settings affect the images produced. An understanding of photography is helpful with the camera settings and an understanding of image editing will speed the learning process.

Vray's main advantage over the many other rendering engines on the market is it's fast render times. It uses global illumination and raytracing to produce spectacular images in a fraction of the time. It also includes the feature of 'network rendering' which allows vray to connect to other computers over a network and utilise their processors to render the image faster. Each processor is allocated a 'bucket' which is a small area of the image which is being processed, 4 processors equals 4 buckets, so connecting to say 5 other quad-core pc's over a network means that the image has 24 buckets processing it at the same time. This obviously means much faster render times, so when the deadlines are looming vray can help you meet them on time.

Understanding 3D Exterior and 3D Interior Rendering

By Nabeela Shaikh

Gone are the days when hand-rendered 2D images were the primary mode of presentation for architects and interior designs. All professionals in the building industry today rely heavily on 3D rendering to sell their designs to the client and to give them a perfect understanding of how exactly their final product will look and feel.

Although for the production of 3D exterior and 3D interior images, an artistic bent of mind is an absolute necessity, a whole different set of skills needs to be picked up than those of a traditional artist. 3D rendering is very unlike 2D and hand rendering. For the latter the scene is visualized right from the start on a flat surface. Colors are used to represent materials and finishes while shading techniques represent lighting and help to get some degree of realism.

3D rendering is a whole different ball game. For a 3D interior image, an entire room is visualized in 3D terms in virtual space. Every single aspect like the walls, openings and even furniture are modeled in detail. Similarly for a 3D exterior image, the entire building is generated in 3D form on the computer, with each architectural feature detailed. This is done using sophisticated computer software, the most popular one being 3D Studio Max.

Initially no colors or materials are allocated to the surfaces. The entire model is generated in a 3D wire-frame mesh. Imagine a house built with matchsticks and you get the picture of what the mesh looks like. Just with many more joints and denser interweaving.

Once the mesh is in place it's time to breathe life into the model by allocating materials and finishes to each surface. Anything from metal to glass and even fabrics and water can be represented. At this stage one can get a better idea of what the final artwork will look like. Also this juncture is the best opportunity for the designer to study his creation, since it is possible to rotate the objects and view it form all angles. He can analyze his design for any defects and make alterations to it. Beyond this point no alterations can be made to the 3D model.

Finally lighting is added to the model, a scene is selected judging the best view point and angle and the image is rendered. This is a long process done on the computer using special rendering software which elicits realism in your image by bringing out the effect of lighting on the same. The final result is a 2D image of your 3D exterior or 3D interior that has photo-realistic quality.


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Light, God's eldest daughter, is a principal beauty in a building.
Thomas Fuller

I don't think of form as a kind of architecture. The architecture is the result of the forming. It is the kinesthetic and visual sense of position and wholeness that puts the thing into the realm of art.
Roy Lichtenstein

Architect. One who drafts a plan of your house, and plans a draft of your money.
Ambrose Bierce

An architect should live as little in cities as a painter. Send him to our hills, and let him study there what nature understands by a buttress, and what by a dome.
John Ruskin

Ah, to build, to build! That is the noblest art of all the arts. Painting and sculpture are but images, are merely shadows cast by outward things on stone or canvas, having in themselves no separate existence. Architecture, existing in itself, and not in seeming a something it is not, surpasses them as substance shadow.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

No architecture is so haughty as that which is simple.
John Ruskin

We may live without her, and worship without her, but we cannot remember without her. How cold is all history, how lifeless all imagery, compared to that which the living nation writes, and the uncorrupted marble bears!
John Ruskin

All architecture is great architecture after sunset; perhaps architecture is really a nocturnal art, like the art of fireworks.
Gilbert Keith Chesterton

No person who is not a great sculptor or painter can be an architect. If he is not a sculptor or painter, he can only be a builder.
John Ruskin

Believe me, that was a happy age, before the days of architects, before the days of builders.
Lucius Annaeus Seneca

A structure becomes architectural, and not sculptural, when its elements no longer have their justification in nature.
Guillaume Apollinaire

When we build, let us think that we build for ever.
John Ruskin

All fine architectural values are human values, else not valuable.
Frank Lloyd Wright

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