To My Dearest Collective Human Consciousness:
It is becoming almost impossible to tell what is visually real or computer graphic (CG) generated today. This is made possible by incredible advances in both hardware and software to process millions of pixels into something that mimics what our eyes interpret as ‘real’. It has been said that the human eye can register up to 10 million colors and some believe that number is higher. There is a reason computers can simulate reality with the power to display over 16 million colors.
Like all of the great movements of our collective visualization history, artists and artisans have utilized technologies that were available to document their ideas and realities. From the Renaissance to the Baroque, Romanticism, Modern and Contemporary art periods, these innovators have held the world in aesthetic wonder.
With the invention of computers and the laser scanner, we have collectively taken our place in history and propelled the art and science of 3D documentation. Where once the term ‘render’ was used for an artist creating a sketch or painting, now many would associate this term with CG-based visualizations and not give traditional art a second thought.
Computer rendering technology is such that particles of light can be calculated using complex optics formulas that consider light bouncing and refracting, changing values and hues, and showing themselves as pixels of color, so subtle, as to mimic the real-world as we see it. And based on clever programming, this virtual, algorithmic light show is optimized (dumbed down) to our human perception to create a visual spectacle (within our lifetime). Otherwise, the “cost” in time for calculating every particle of light would be tremendous.
CG software, by its nature, renders graphics on your monitor. These graphics can include simple lines, polygons, or a complex series of polygons called ‘meshes’ that comprise a 3D computer model. But some software goes the extra mile, providing tools that make computer graphics pop.
Developers of this type of software go to great lengths to incorporate tools to allow users to make their 3D drawings/models photorealistic. These tools all follow a fairly standard set of guidelines and names. They will usually have a tool/button set aside named “render” with a series of sub-tools that allow one to tweak the way the 3D model displays on the screen and create more realism to the scene. Some advanced animation software platforms have another function called “baking”. This allows one to essentially store the rendered information such as ‘materials’ (photos or images pasted on a 3D polygon surface or point) and lighting into the polygon surfaces or points from an infinite number of angles; the final ‘baked’ model can then be used for video games or similar applications where the scene is rendered in real-time rather than from a single camera angle.
The list for top rendering and baking software is long, yet entry into this market can be accessible for just about anyone having relatively simple projects they’d like to start with. If you have the time to learn, there are countless tutorials online – many for free.
If you don’t have the time…
there is always you know who…