Do you remember when we found out 75% of Ikea’s catalog wasn’t real photography, but computer-generated imagery? It wasn’t just crazy that Ikea had decided to save money by rendering their own goods instead of photographing them; it was crazy that none of us had noticed.
What’s next? If CG Cloud has a say, you’ll walk through entire virtual spaces that are almost indistinguishable from the real thing. Here, we see its latest creation, a space filled with 370 hand-drawn objects, like Herman Miller chairs, skylights, espresso makers, and even fresh lattes, being rendered in real time at a ridiculously high resolution (4K) for you to “walk through” virtually. This demo took three weeks to make, and if you’re technically savvy, you can download it here to tour yourself.
This demo was created using Unreal Engine–software that was once exclusively for developing video games that is now gunning to become the future tool of any realistic 3-D scene you’d like to create, including Pixar-esque animated films.
The scenes aren’t perfect, no. But neither are Ikea’s catalogs when you look really closely. If these videos prove anything, it’s that we’ve reached a good enough level of realtime rendering to make the technology useful–and soon, it will likely improve to the point where it becomes essential.
For architects and interior designers, 3-D mockups are nothing new. Heck, there are iPad apps that will help you render up an interior design plan. But rarely have we seen something with this level of fidelity, convenience, and accessibility, allowing the user (or client) to swap in new tables or kitchen finishes with a button press, then walk around the room to see how it would impact the design from every angle.
Right now, this is a demo of one small, specific plan, and all the work was custom. But as technologies like the Unreal Engine evolve, the object libraries and creation tools will become more standardized, and no one on any level of the socioeconomic totem pole will build a home or office without knowing exactly what it will look like before laying the first brick. Ultimately, this will make clients happier, and creatives more capable.
This article originally stated the demo was by Craft Design, which did the layout but not the rendering.