From films to building models, 3D rendering, along with 3D modeling, has found a way into many aspects of our life. But where did 3D rendering and modeling come from? How did these come about? Find yourself curious about how it all began?
How It Started
The year was 1960. According to the CG Society, William Fetter, a designer, was having a hard time trying to find a way to maximize the space for the cockpits of Boeing airplanes. He wanted to make the most out of every available inch of space within and devising a better layout was the answer. He eventually came up with an orthographic view of the human form that was wholly computer generated. He called it “computer graphics.”
Three years later, in 1963, Ivan Sutherland—a contemporary of Fetter—would start the ball rolling with his PhD. thesis. The title of his work was Sketchpad: A Man-machine Graphical Communications System. It was the first time ever that people could interactively draw an image on a computer display with the help of a software.
Sketchpad eventually led the way for many concepts of graphical computing that’s still relevant today. These included memory structures capable of storing objects and the rubber-banding of lines. It also covered the ability to zoom in as well as out on the display, along with the ability to create lines, corners and joints that were perfect. The software was essentially the first ever Graphical User Interface or GUI, one that existed long before the term was even coined and had gained popularity. It was a breakthrough of epic proportions.
However, that GUI was still a long way from the CGI images we see on our screens today. That meant more work ahead. The next problem developers took on was how to improve on the accuracy, on the visual information, of an image. It also became much more important to find a way to pull that off without adding even more to the geometry. That way, the system memory wouldn’t be bogged down and compromised.
Eventually, the breakthrough came in the form of two shading types. The first was made by Henry Gouraud. It was the Gouraud shading model, and it’s still in use and famous today. The second was by Phong Bui-Tuong. He was a researcher who took Gouraud’s shading model concept to the next level, refining the idea even more.
The downsides for both were: Gouraud’s model still lacked complexity—realism—around the edges. That, along with the model’s perpetual surface highlight, the popular star-shaped highlight, was a major drawback. On the other hand, while the Phong model successfully improved on such flaws, it was immensely sluggish than the Gouraud model, the process overshooting the mark by being eight times slower.
By the 1970s, CGI was already gaining ground in the designing community, according to an article on Computer Stories. The times saw people explore new movie and designing techniques. With the experimentation came environment mapping techniques, along with the first 3D computer-generated imagery (Futureworld). Both came out the same year: 1976. From then on, 3D rendering technology would evolve into the face and form we know today.
Today, 3D rendering and modeling is everywhere. Given the quality of the technology, it’s now possible for people to use it to fulfill a whole range of purposes. In this sense, it’s regarded as the fusion of technology, for being able to bring together different industries and fields together.
One of the major applications for this technology is in construction. Here’s why:
If you’re planning to have your home built or just have a renovation project in mind, most architects these days will offer you 3D models of the blue print. The 3D models—yes, they aren’t called drawings anymore—are handy in so many ways. Here are some of them:
- Better understanding. You get a better understanding of what your home will look like. If you’re the type of person who can’t see past a floor plan, 3D models will make your life easier. That, and a better understanding of the models will also allow you to make better decisions when your architect asks you for what you want and need.
- Real-time changes. Unlike hand-drawn floor plans that take time to revise, change and modify, 3D models can be changed in a snap. That means you won’t have to wait until you see the design reflect whatever revisions you wanted. The design change and evolves in real time so there’s less time wasted on talking and more time spent on executing the design you approved.
- Positive reviews. With technologies changing the way we communicate and interact with each other, people—now more than ever—appreciate convenience and ease in everything. That includes the convenience and ease that a 3D model brings. Want to show how this particular design with allow the home structure to blend in with the rest of the community or the environment? Check. With 3D models, getting that design approval is much, much easier.
- Little to no changes after construction. Because details are easy to see in 3D models—you can go over every inch of the blue print and basically walk from room to room—you can ask for a lot of changes even before construction happens. So when construction starts, you won’t have to waste time and money on any major changes in design or space flow.
- Pay for the work you want. According to an article on Houzz, by getting a clear idea of what the project involves, of what the house looks and the materials look like, you can save on a lot of money, time and effort. With 3D, you can tell your architect exactly what you want.
Aside from architecture, use of 3D technology is now a huge part of marketing, industrial design and forensics—just to name a few.
In marketing, real estate agents can sell more properties, with 3D models since these give potential buyers a clear idea of what it looks like, how spacious or wide or cozy a room or house is. Potential buyers can basically see the structure even without stepping inside the property. It’s a great way to boost buyer interest. Plus, it’s a convenient and easy alternative to a walkthrough when there simply isn’t time for one.
In online marketing, visuals and 3D images work to give that professional look and feel to a site or a project. The more professional it looks, the more reliable yur business looks and the more credible you seem. With 3D models, you’ll find it much easier to tip a client’s decision in your favor.
In industrial design, 3D modeling is also used to make 3D versions of products presented to clients.
In forensics, facial reconstruction via the use of 3D rendering and modeling is one of the most important tools in the fight against crime and criminals today.
In games, 3D quality makes for a uniquely enjoyable gaming experience.
These are just some of the industries today that use 3D rendering and modeling technology. As the technology further evolves—and our comfort level improves along with it—more industries will likely go the same way. Waiting to see how all that will eventually turn out and what new technologies come out of it is something we’d love to see.
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