The 1950s saw the introduction of 3D movies, but the idea never quite caught on, possibly because of the dorky glasses. Today’s computer-based 3D users are mostly gamers, but in addition to consumers who want to play PC games and watch 3D TV shows, there are professionals using apps on a Mac Pro or other high-end PC to create those games and shows, too.
CRE supports many post-production and animation professionals working in 3D, with such high-tech tools as render farms and mass storage. And, of course, other specialized professionals – architects, engineers, product designers, landscaping contractors – need to see their concepts in three dimensions. Where is this all headed? Let’s take a look.
New 3D technology helps meteorologists envision weather formations, physicists study subatomic particles and doctors examine tumors and other conditions. However, despite 3D graphics looking great and being available on most consumer PCs now – and notwithstanding rumors of 3D coming to an iPad rental – there are few applications driving adoption of 3D in the average business, and the apps that do exist are very specialized.
Of course, existing applications evolve and new ones are introduced. High-end applications like Alias/Wavefront Maya and NewTek LightWave are behind the 3D characters and effects for TV and movies, while 3D tools like Rhino from McNeel & Associates power product design for furniture, autos and other consumer items. You need real power to run these, but there’s also a growing number of low-end 3D tools that can run on basic PC desktop computer rentals. Meanwhile, companies are learning to use 3D technology in different ways.
Keys to general acceptance
The continuing evolution of realism, interactivity, ease of use and image quality over the next few years depends, naturally, on advances in CPU speed, memory and monitors – from plasma display rentals to LCD/LED models. This is true for online as well as “display” uses, such as inviting conference attendees to your exhibit booth with a 3D presentation on an all-in-one multitouch display PC. For 3D technology to succeed beyond a few niche markets, however, the following issues need addressing:
Cost: Low-end 3D creation is now fairly affordable, with software for simple 3D work and acceleration cards for aging PCs costing under $100. Plus, 3D libraries like Turbosquid.com sell 3D models inexpensively.
Ease of use: 3D image creation can be difficult with the high-end apps, but low-end ones are as simple to use as other (2D) consumer-level graphics programs. Still, new users need to learn the terminology, tools and workflows.
Demand: It will take some time to discover all of 3D’s uses, but for now the daily business practices in most firms simply don’t require an additional dimension – success is difficult enough in two dimensions!