Do you know how 3D rendering works? Have you ever seen a 3D architectural rendering studio in practice? You may think the answer is “no”, but the chances are that you’ve experienced and seen 3D in one form or another without realizing it.
3D rendering is used in action movies, car commercials, building demos, and product designs around the world. While it used to be extremely expensive and out of reach, virtually every architect now has an architectural visualization studio on speed dial.
Let’s explore the ins and out of the modern 3D visualization studio.
What is a 3D architectural rendering studio?
3D rendering uses a computer to generate a two-dimensional image from a digital, 3D scene. An architectural rendering studio is a design and software expert, building the image using special software and expert methodologies.
A 3D rendering studio can produce a range of rendered images, ranging from hyper-realistic visuals that resemble photographs down to non-realistic images like cartoons or diagrams.
Product and interior design images are usually more realistic as they are used to sell concepts or products. There are several industries that rely heavily on 3D rendering, not just the architectural world. Video game and visual effects companies, product designers, interior designers, and others use 3D rendering to communicate ideas, pitch proposals, experiment with materials, or contextualize their ideas before they are built or made.
3D rendering also forms the cornerstone of animated movies and the entertainment industry. Wherever visual effects are needed, you need 3D rendering. There’s no need for actors or stuntmen to risk their lives dodging crazy explosions or falling debris – the effects are replaced by rendering. Many car commercials are entirely CG!
How does it work?
A 3D architectural visualization studio uses two pieces of software: a render and a game engine. Render engines use ray tracing, and game engines use rasterization. It’s also possible to use both, but we won’t get into that now!
Ray tracing creates an image by tracing rays of light through a plane of pixels to simulate the effect of its encounters with objects. Different rays are traced to obtain shadows, reflections, light, and so forth. This technique can create photorealistic images. The more detailed the image (and the more light used), the longer it takes. Remember, an artist has to take everything into account. This includes reflections, refractions, displacement, sub-surface scattering, and more. Attention to detail is key.
Rasterization is much faster. It also enables you to create a 3D environment where viewers can interact with the scene. Objects are created from a mesh of virtual triangles that create 3D models of objects. The corners of the triangles intersect with one another to provide specific information and create the shape. Then the triangles are converted into pixels on a 2D screen to present an object and final image.
This is very common in video game engines and can become quite intensive and time-consuming to complete.
As mentioned, large and big-budget projects (like movies) will usually combine ray tracing and rasterization to create impressive and immersive experiences.
What services does a rendering studio offer?
It depends entirely on their clients’ needs and their area of specialization. Most studios offer some form of exterior building rendering, interior rendering, landscape rendering, 3D floor plans, architectural animation, product rendering, and virtual reality.
Most studios will charge a price per image, scene, or project. The bottom end of the barrel can charge $80-$200 per image, but that is considered extremely cheap… and might not be the best quality work.
3D rendering costs involve the expertise of the artist, the hardware and software costs, and the time it takes to complete the render. The more complex and detailed the work, the higher the price tag.
A 3D architectural rendering studio combines art and technology to create something truly spectacular. Yes, you could bargain-hunt your 3D rendering project and find an affordable freelancer, but the results may leave a lot to be desired (and lead to expensive errors down the line). It’s best to hire a reputable rendering agency with a solid portfolio that can deliver the work within a realistic time frame to avoid