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3D modelling and animation

3D is an acronym for "three-dimensional". It has taken painting from a world of two dimensional limitations to the third dimension of depth. Even 4D - time. Computers have allowed us to create virtual simulations of our real world and animate them to look around and walk through spaces that can exist only in cyberspace.

Used extensively in Hollywood today - 3D has pervaded all that we see on the big screen and now television. The computing power used to create such spaces was unthinkable 15 years ago - but today mainstream desktop computers and software allow us to imitate life or create spaces that cannot exist in our world.

It is a very time consuming task re-creating worlds - much like a builder creating a house, everything needs to be created from scratch to simulate an environment. From lighting to wall textures and colours, it is an art form in itself to create 3D models that are useable and efficient. Models created for games such as Quake require very low polygons - faces, hence the characters look "Blocky". While animated walkthroughs and photomontages rarely suffer the same fate, it is easy to overdo models with unnecessary detail. For example, if you are creating your lounge room it is pointless modelling up stoves and fridges in the next room. Likewise, details such as light fixtures, architrave's and PowerPoint’s may exist, but prove unnecessary detail at the end of the day. Hence it is important to keep a tight reign on what is important and what is superfluous detail.

Once we have created our environment, it exists only in the computer. We then have to "render" still images of each view to appreciate what we have created. Depending on the size and complexity of a model, rendering a single frame can take anything from seconds to days. We can control the detail in an image by turning on reflections, shadows, or hiding various objects to speed up rendering.

Animating the model then entails rendering many frames in sequence to create a "walk through". The images are spaced exactly to replicate real video - hence the viewer thinks he is walking through the space. It is not difficult to imagine the time involved when we start rendering animation's. If each frame takes 30 seconds to render and we want a 5 min video walking through a space - it takes over 2.6 days to finish ! Due to this downtime, we require several computers linked together to speed up this process - called a "rendering farm". Two computers halve the time to finish - 3 a third, 4 a quarter and so forth.

We at VRgrafix have several workstations dedicated to a rendering network that allows us to complete your projects on time. And unlike our competitors - we do not charge for rendering time.