This is my personal thoughts, opinions and musings place. I will also rant about things, especially politically-correct things that irritate me. And sci-fi. Did I mention sci-fi? There'll be lots of sci-fi stuff here. And movies, too. Mmmmm... Movies

Friday, March 11, 2005

Reality and the world of 3D - Part 10


OK, so we can describe a car and what it can do. So what? you ask. Well, that's the first step to understanding 3D computer graphics. Let's talk about that now.

What is 3D computer graphics? At its simplest, 3D computer graphics allows the artist to configure a scene with various elements such as sky, atmosphere, light, terrain, water, plants, people, animals, simple and complex objects, and other such entities. While in the process of setting up the scene, the artist can view the scene from any angle in the three dimensions. Once the scene is configured to the artists satisfaction(or as the time allows), the artist then instructs the computer to produce an image from a particular point of view.

In many ways, it's much like photography. You position the model and all the props, set up the lights, point the camera, focus and click the shutter-release button. You then get a photograph, printed on photo paper, or displayed as an image on your screen. This is exactly what happens when you instruct the computer to produce an image from your 3D scene. The computer analyzes the objects, the lights, the textures, and all the other information contained therein, and begins calculating. In effect, it produces a 2D photo-like image from your 3D scene, just like your camera takes a real-world 3D scene in front of the lens and turns into a 2D image on film or memory card. In my opinion, if you come from a photography background, it will be easier for you to understand proper scene design in 3D than if you've never handled a camera.

There, of course, differences between 3D computer graphics and photography. For one thing, photography is instantaneous. If, for example, you have a busy scene in front of you, like a mirror market, it will take the camera no more time to record that image than it would an image of a blank wall. That is not so for 3D computer graphics. The more complex the scene, the more lights or reflections you have, the more time it takes the computer to calculate everything and produce an image. Some images are so complex, they'll literally take days for the computer to produce. That's days of calculations in addition to the amount of time it took for you setup your scene in the first place.

Another difference is that in 3D computer graphics, every element of the scene, every wall, every chair, every desk, every character, human or otherwise, must be created, either by you or by mesh designers. We'll talk about that in a later section.

In the very first section of this essay, I introduced the concept of “reality carries its own conviction.” In the next section, I will discuss it. Please stay tuned.


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