3D rendering is one of the most significant developments in visual technology over the last 50 years. It has a long history of being used in all sorts of media and design fields. This article is a very brief rundown of some of the most important and commonplace uses of 3D rendering that you may find useful.
Architecture is one of the most recent fields to fully embrace 3D rendering. Architects have started to offer their clients a 3D view of their prospective buildings by using 2D to 3D floor planning software. 3D floor plans offer clients a far more representative view of a building – showing elevation as well as flat dimensions and allowing for an assessment of spatial ‘feeling’.
Architects also make use of 3D rendering technology in the creation of Virtual Reality property tours – in which clients are taken on a tour of a future building using VR technology so that they can assess potential changes that need to be made.
Video Game Development
Video game developers have been seeking a realistic representation of a three-dimensional world for many years. 2D video games do not seek to entirely reproduce the feeling of perception: instead, they allow the brain to fill in the gaps suggested by representative sprites. 3D games, however, have always chased reality. The first successful 3D-rendered video game – Battlezone – was a simple tank warfare simulator that used the kind of vector graphics popular with airframe designers at the time. It was a massive hit and was bafflingly considered so realistic that the US Army used it to train tank crews. It is a wonder that they did so well in the Gulf War, all things considered.
Modern 3D-rendered games differ hugely from those early releases. They feature beautiful environments and characters that are able to react naturally to forces exerted within them.
3D-rendered effects have long been a staple of movie-making. The first feature-length film to be entirely rendered in 3D was Pixar Studios’ Toy Story – which was an instant hit. Conventional logic within filmmaking dictates that 3D rendering must be cleverly mixed in with physical effects if it is to be used wisely in an otherwise ‘real’ on-screen environment. Peter Jackson’s Lord Of The Rings trilogy is a great turn-of-the-century example of this style of effective integration. The motion-captured character of Gollum is cleverly inserted into filmed environments by blending digital and physical effects.
3D rendering is a commonly used medium for modern conceptual art. Artistic programming is often focused on the creation of renders – both interactive and static. The impact of 3D-rendered art is fascinating – taking the viewer away from the stifled and prescriptive environment of the gallery and allowing for ideal viewing on mobile devices or home-based computers.
3D renders are extremely useful during the product design process, where they can be used to effectively visualize objects before they are created in physical form. 3D rendering has largely replaced model-making in the product design world because it is a lot faster and easier.
The concept of virtual reality has been around for a long time. It could be argued that the first attempts at creating virtual reality took place in the Victorian era – when some artists created immersive panoramic paintings and stereoscopic photographs. In the 1950s and 60s the visionary inventor (and all round fascinating person) Morton Heilig invented several precursors to modern Virtual Reality – including a wearable headset.
It was the advent of good 3D rendering, however, that made true virtual reality a possibility. Environments rendered in three dimensions are not like drawings or paintings – they can be explored in their entirety. Many modern Virtual Reality software programs use AI-generated environments to give the user a sense of infinite explorative possibility.
Medical imaging is a field that includes radiography, magnetic scans and mammography. It is immensely important, allowing medical professionals to accurately view areas of the body that would otherwise only be visible after intrusive surgery. Modern medical imaging is extremely reliant upon 3D modeling. The most modern medical imaging software uses data from sensors and combines multiple sources of said data to automatically generate three-dimensional images of the inside of a patient’s body. Doctors can then examine and explore these renderings – helping them to successfully offer a diagnosis.
3D CT and MRI scans are proving to be particularly useful in the diagnosis of ailments that were very hard to spot in the past. Cinematic rendering technology enables doctors and radiologists to get a better look at the texture of tumors so that they can successfully classify them. Traditional 2D mammography has been largely replaced in some countries by 3D tomosynthesis – a process in which multiple mammographic images are taken and then synthesized into a 3D image. It has been found to be far more effective at identifying breast cancer than more traditional methods.
Simulation training is a method of technical training that places a student inside a simulated environment in order to prepare them for highly skilled tasks. One of the most commonly used kinds of simulation training is in the aviation industry. Pilots are expected to spend time taking training flights with various characteristics inside a simulator before they take to the air. As air forces across the world seek to (apparently) save on carbon emissions and (definitely) save budget money, they have started to use simulators more and more. The Royal Air Force – the air arm of the UK – have recently announced that combat pilots will spend around 80 percent of their training time in simulations as opposed to actual aircraft – something that wouldn’t have been possible before the tech advanced.
3D rendering is essential in the creation of good simulation training programs. Environments need to be rendered with extreme accuracy if pilots are going to be able to use their simulated training in real-life flights. Some publicly available flight simulators – such as DCS – are of such a high standard that they are regularly used by professional pilots.