Sunday, February 7, 2010

Rendering Assignment

The three readings, “Rendering 3D Worlds – 3D Geometric Graphics II”, “Once and Future Graphics Pioneer”, and “Once and Future Graphics Pioneer Part II”, all contained extremely relevant information pertaining to digital renderings and interior architecture. The readings discussed materials, lighting, new technology, and visualization methods. These concepts are all highly relevant to the field of interior design and architecture both in academics and professional practices.

In reference to materials and texture, the first reading offered a plethora of insight with regards to solid textures, bump mapping, and displacement mapping, all which are new terms that I have added to my vocabulary in 3D computer design. Bump mapping and displacement mapping, although they both are used to achieve a similar heavy textured look in a light rendering, work in different ways. Bump mapping works by “redefining the angles of the surface normals” while displacement mapping “literally displaces the surface” (Spalter, 1999).

In discussing light, all three publications references similar techniques and methods. The discussion begins with defining simple terms such as diffuse and specular. Diffuse refers to an even distribution of light being reflected while specular refers to a reflection in a specific direction, often creating a highlighted area on the surface (Spalter, 1999). There are several types of lighting, many of which I have been previously introduced to such as ambient, point, and spotlight, along with two new types, directional and area.

Several rendering methods were brought up that had been proposed before in this CAD seminar. Phong lighting, Phong shading, and Gourand shading were all points of reference provided in the timeline created earlier in the semester. Phong lighting and shading are rendering techniques that take into account the eye of the viewer, while the Gourand shading focused on creating gradient color to shadowing (Spalter, 1999).

When looking to render several objects, one would use a global lighting model which calculates a reflectance using several methods for a more accurate finished rendering (Spalter, 1999). The model is produced using a variety of rays, such as recursive ray tracing, shadow rays, reflection rays, and transmitted rays. The titles hint at the role of the given ray, however, it would be helpful to clarify that the recursive ray tracing starts from the viewer’s eye including only information that can be directly seen (Spalter, 1999).

In contrast to the techniques discussed above, the Radiosity approach renders all forms included in a model not matter where the viewer’s eye is (Spalter, 1999). This is generally used in animations and fly thoughts but is time consuming, often utilizing “rendering farms” for overnight durations (Spalter, 1999).

To create the realistic nature of a 3D model, image based rendering has become highly popular in films, architectural presentations, and research. This type of software allows the designer to combine photographic images with 3D models for a context based image (Spalter, 1999). In one academic setting, third year students were given the opportunity to work with this type of software to create a building that was very reliant on its context and site (Novitski, 2000). The students were able to successfully use this software along with a large projection viewing to see their creations nearly full-scale in photorealistic quality (Novitski, 2000). The articled quoted the instructed as saying “students learn to model and render within the context of design thinking” (Novitski, 2000). This is a constructive practice that should be considered at all academic design based institutes.

Along these lines of combining design thinking and technology, the research surrounding a new piece of electronic drafting and design equipment, currently estimated at $55,000 per unit (Novitski, 2000). The unit will act as a drafting board, modeling software, and sketchbook with internet capabilities. The goal is to provide technology the feeds the design process not simply provide another computer (Novitski, 2000).

Timing is always considered when selecting materials, lighting, and methods when not only in the rendering stage but also in the schematic stage, documentation stage, and construction stage. There is always a compromise taking place between quality and efficiency. With understanding many techniques discussed in this essay and the readings, designers can begin to understand how to better balance quality and efficiency. With the idea of incorporating design modeling with design thinking at the beginning stages of education, designers can build the skills to allow the two elements to complement each other instead of hindering the task at hand. Lastly, with new software and equipment under research, the possibilities and quality of work will continue to improve across the board.

Spalter, A. (1999). Rendering 3D Worlds - 3D Geometric Graphics II. In The Computer in the Visual Arts (pp. 257-293). Addison Wesley Longman Inc.

Novitski, B. (2000). Once and Future Graphics Pioneers. Architectural Record, (June).

Novitski, B. (2000). Once and Furture Graphics Pioneers Part II. Architectural Record, (June).

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