C.G.I. PHOTOREALISTIC RENDERING: EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW

WHAT IS CGI RENDERING?

In the last decade, photorealistic rendering is increasingly used in many different areas. It allows you to represent an object or an environment realistically, even if it does not exist or cannot be photographed, with a result comparable to that obtainable with photography. The term rendering refers to the operation by which, thanks to the computer, the most truthful representation of an object or a three-dimensional environment is obtained. Precisely for this reason, the correct complete expression to use is CGI rendering or Computer-generated imagery. But what is GGI rendering? The image is generated using three-dimensional computer graphics programs that start from the mathematical description of a scene interpreted by algorithms. To be even more precise, it would be preferable to talk about Photorealistic CGI rendering, as the goal is to obtain a photorealistic photographic image and therefore as close to reality as possible.

Photorealistic rendering is a digital process using a 3D CAD model within a software package to create a digital image of the model. The result is a rendered image that is hard to distinguish from a photograph of a real-life object. 

The result of a good photorealistic rendering is a photographic image in all respects similar to a photograph. The only difference is that the photorealistic rendering or rendering is done on the computer, the photograph, on the other hand, is taken with the camera.

This explains why, if you want to obtain a good photorealistic render and therefore a photographic representation that is completely similar to a photograph and can be confused with it, you need to contact an expert professional photographer. Only he knows the rules of photography in-depth and completely: he has a vast knowledge of lighting, materials, and point of view.

The result is that for a photorealistic render to be truly definable like this, even a professional must mistake it for a photo. Otherwise, it is a 3D drawing, but not a photorealistic render. On the other hand, when the available budget is limited or the result is not expected to correspond to reality because you want to make internal use of it or because a rough idea is sufficient for the use you want, you can be satisfied with any result, not necessarily produced by a photographer, but in this case, it cannot be defined as Photorealistic CGI rendering.

WHEN USING PHOTOREALISTIC RENDERING


The cases in which a photorealistic rendering is needed are numerous and varied, but generally one resorts to rendering when the product is not available because it is still in production or because, before producing it, you want to see it realistically. how it will look, you need to preview it to retailers or you want to test what effect it will have on your target market. Photorealistic rendering is the optimal solution even when there are production, transport, or logistics difficulties because perhaps the product is very large, bulky, or difficult to move or when, for a thousand possible reasons, it is not possible to insert it into the desired background. Sometimes the problem is precisely the setting, perhaps difficult to reach, complex to photograph, located in a public or touristic or busy place. In all these cases, rendering is the solution. A professional can obtain, using the computer, a realistic representation of the object or environment in question and provide the client with a photographic image, similar to the photograph both in the aesthetic result and in the format and characteristics of the file.

In addition to allowing you to represent with a real image everything that has production, transport, or setting difficulties, the photorealistic render allows you to view various product variants realistically without necessarily having to create a prototype for each of them. This guarantees the customer considerable savings in terms of time and money.

Photorealistic rendering is required in many sectors, but the one in which it is most used is probably the furniture sector. In the case of a piece of furniture, for example, the rendering allows you to represent multiple variants, without having to produce them all. In this way, the manufacturer can have a real view of the piece of furniture in question and verify what effects it has on the consumer or on the market. The producer can also afford to “dare” without taking risks. In preparation for a fair, for example, a kitchen company can reproduce a kitchen in unusual versions in a catalog, perhaps with colors that are not in demand or with particular effects. Of course, it is up to the customer to use common sense: you cannot create something in the virtual world that you are not sure you can do. The seriousness of the company itself is at stake.

WHICH ARE THE MOST INDICATED SUBJECTS


There are no subjects more or less suitable to be represented in a photorealistic render. Rather, there may be more or less difficult subjects, but any difficulty can be overcome if you have sufficient experience and skills. Of course, based on the difficulty of the job, the time and effort required and consequently, the price varies.

 

IS THERE A REFERENCE PRICE?


It is difficult, if not impossible, to set a price standard for Photorealistic CGI rendering as there are so many variables to consider. The cost of a photorealistic render must be quantified based on the complexity of the work. First of all, it varies according to the starting point: you can start from a simple paper drawing, a dimensioned drawing, or a 3D file created with Autocad; it can be an accurate design or just a sketchy one. Depending on one or the other, the number of work changes. When the project is in hand, the professional carefully evaluates the required contents, environment, and composition and draws up a quote as precisely as possible.

To avoid inconveniences, it is necessary that the initial drawing or project be detailed and that everything is established at the outset. Only in this way can we agree well on every aspect and identify any problems to be solved in advance. The cost of a photorealistic render increases significantly if substantial changes are made during construction or when the render is almost completed. It is very complex to change general settings, such as the point of view or the origin of the light: having to change them when the computer has already processed the image at the top means throwing away much of the work already done.

Typically, the customer who does not have a trusted supplier turns to several professionals and requests several quotes. Comparing them, however, is not easy and you have to be careful. The advice we can give to avoid mistakes is to rely on the results. The render must necessarily be a photorealistic image and therefore, to realize how a professional works, you can ask him to view other renders that have already been completed. Only in this way can you understand if the cost of the render is commensurate with the result. In the case of 3dmlstudio, when you introduce yourself to a new client, the works performed are always shown.

The ideal client must want a photorealistic result. The needs must not be limited by the budget, but by the result. We only produce photorealistic renderings and obtaining them takes commitment and time.

HOW PHOTOGRAPHY AND RENDERING LIVE

Photography can be of great help in creating a photorealistic render. Before starting a job, it is necessary to carefully evaluate whether, to represent the requested object in the desired background, a render, a photograph or a mix of the two are more useful. Depending on the product and the context, the most correct and advantageous formula is identified. The use of one or the other is also defined based on the result to be obtained. For example, if the customer wants the image of an armchair inserted in a villa for a catalog, first of all, he wonders if the armchair exists and if it is suitable for being photographed. If so, photograph it. Secondly, the question arises whether the villa in question exists or not. If it exists, it is evaluated if it can be photographed or if this involves problems (cost, permits, time). If the armchair does not exist or is too complex to photograph, it can be built virtually. It is the photographer who, from time to time, identifies the most correct and convenient formula for the client. In this case, it will be convenient to photograph the armchair, reconstruct the environment virtually and then combine the two in post-production.

THE IMPORTANCE OF DETAILS


To obtain a good photorealistic rendering it is very important to study the scene, the lights, the materials, and the framing right away. This must be done in the production phase and not in post-production to avoid the considerable increase in work that would result. If you follow this suggestion, in the post-production phase you will arrive with a render already completed and you are limited to optimizing the file for print or the web, adjusting the contrasts, or improving the image, but you do not intervene in a way substantial.

POST-PRODUCTION COMPOSITING


During the compositing post-production phase, visual elements from different sources are combined into a single image, ensuring that they coexist naturally and realistically in the same scene. More simply, a photographic part is combined with a virtual part generated by the computer. To obtain a photorealistic render, as a result, there is a fundamental rule: the light and the point of view of photography and rendering must match perfectly. For this to happen, the operator must know exactly how and where the object will be contextualized as, when it joins the object and the background, they will have to coexist naturally.

Both interior and exterior compositing can be performed. There are many cases in which compositing is used. Generally, the customer has the object to represent and therefore can be photographed but wants to place it in a context that is difficult to photograph for various reasons. It can be an extraordinary location that is difficult to photograph or difficult to reach or difficult to transform into a photoshoot (permits, the intervention of the local police may be required to block traffic or stop people). Or, even more simply, you want a certain light and therefore you should wait for a day with favorable weather, wait for a specific time to have a certain brightness, move with all the equipment and create the photo set in a place that is perhaps not suitable. In all these cases the solution is compositing: the object is photographed in the studio and post-production, and it is inserted into a virtually created background.

Compared to CGI rendering, however, the compositing technique has a small disadvantage: unlike “pure” rendering, with compositing, it is not possible to change the point of view at a later time. For example, I cannot rotate an object if this possible modification is not already foreseen in the shooting phase. With 3D, however, the object is complete on all its sides and therefore it is possible to change the shot at any time. To use compositing, therefore, the customer must have clear ideas right away for example the operator knows exactly where the object will be contextualized and which light source and point of view to use.

For example: if the professional combines the photo of a kitchen with the photorealistic rendering of a certain background with compositing, the origin of the light must be the same in both, otherwise the result will not be realistic. When the professional photographs the kitchen, therefore, he must already know where it will be inserted. And, when he realizes the rendering of the environment, he must already know where the light must come from.

TYPES OF RENDERING

 

SECTORS WHERE RENDERING CAN BE USEFUL


Photorealistic rendering can be useful in any sector. Let’s see the main ones.

In architecture, rendering can make it possible to represent buildings that do not yet exist, to complete others in the construction phase, or to modify some of their characteristics. Architectural rendering offers numerous advantages over photography, just think that it can be changed at any time by changing the point of view, for example. The photorealistic rendering of architecture can be used, as well as specifically in architecture, in all the other sectors in which it is necessary to propose a product inserted in an architectural context.

Interior rendering is very often required, which includes furniture rendering and, for example, office rendering. Photorealistic renderings of closed environments are built when these do not exist or exist only in part, or exist but are complex or expensive to photograph. The purpose for which interior rendering is used is to give a realistic idea of ​​the environment or contextualize an object that requires a furnished environment. Interior rendering is widely used by companies that produce coatings, wooden floors, wallpaper, but also furnishing accessories, accessories, or objects of various kinds. Photorealistic office rendering can be useful for a company that produces office furniture, but also any object that needs to be placed in an office environment.

In the case of exterior rendering, it is possible to create photorealistic renderings of villas or houses that do not yet exist. Of course, on a case-by-case basis, the need to do so is assessed. It may be that a designer is satisfied with a 3D drawing or a just sketched render and therefore it is not the case to turn to a photorealistic rendering professional because the cost would not be justified. Studio Urnato only produces quality photorealistic renderings, the result of which is completely identical to a real photographic image.

A render that is requested very often is the photorealistic rendering of the product. It is mainly the manufacturing companies that request it when they do not yet have the product or for various reasons, this cannot be photographed and it is preferable to represent it with a photorealistic render.

SECRETS TO DISTINGUISH THE RENDERING PERFORMED BY A PROFESSIONAL

COMPARISON WITH THE CUSTOMER AND VERIFICATION OF THE PREREQUISITES


The first phase of creating a photorealistic render includes the comparison with the customer. During this phase, the professional identifies and fine-tunes all the project specifications. First, he inquires about the subject and environment to be represented and understands if they are available to photograph. Then, based on the subject, the materials available, the desired setting, the timing, the final purpose, and the available budget, evaluate whether it is preferable to make a photorealistic render, a photograph, or mix the two things during the compositing. Each case is unique and must be studied in its specificities. Relying on a photographer certainly helps, as he is used to taking pictures and can evaluate, case by case, how to move. If he has mastered both photographic techniques and photorealistic rendering, he can immediately understand whether it is more advantageous to choose one or the other.

Sometimes you have to opt for rendering because you don’t have the object available, or because you want a setting that doesn’t exist, or because maybe the object and context are real and existing but the object is cumbersome to movie or photograph. , or the desired environment is difficult to reach or photograph. Sometimes, however, the object and background are available and it would be unreasonably expensive to render. At other times, finally, the solution lies in the middle: the object can be photographed (when instead recreating it in render would be laborious), but the setting requires a photorealistic rendering; or else it is better to render the object whose production would be too expensive and use an archive photograph for the background. In the latter two cases, photography and photorealistic rendering can be used together and mixed in the compositing phase.

THE QUOTE CAN BE MADE IF THERE ARE THE PREREQUISITES.


The client must have clear ideas to enable the photographer to carry out his work. Let’s see step by step what the photographer needs to know to proceed with photorealistic rendering and what those who want a rendering must therefore explain:

If the subject exists, a photo is taken.

what-is-meant-by-photorealistic-rendering
If it exists but it’s not perfect, you take pictures and then retouch it.

what-is-meant-by-photorealistic-rendering
If it does not exist or exists but cannot be photographed or photographed it would be too expensive or burdensome, a render is done.

THE QUESTIONS TO ASK


what-is-meant-by-photorealistic-rendering
Where do you start to render? From a handmade drawing? From a photo? From a 3D drawing? Of course, the quote will vary based on this: if you start from a 3D model you can save a lot of work compared to starting from scratch or a sketchy drawing.

what-is-meant-by-photorealistic-rendering


Where do I contextualize the object? The client must give the photographer a reference: it can be a project, a drawing, or an idea. Here too, it is necessary to understand if the context can be photographed or if it is necessary to render it. In the first case, you can proceed with compositing, in the second case you can also render the environment.

what-is-meant-by-photorealistic-rendering


Do you want to convey an emotion? If you do not want to convey emotion and you want a descriptive technical image of the object, a non-set render is performed. If you want to convey an emotion, you work with light, for example, you propose a setting with the light of the sunset, mixing a photo and a render.

At this point, if the job has the prerequisites, the professionals to be involved are defined. An art buyer (indicates which objects to place and where) or an architect (we start from a drawing of his to make the photorealistic rendering of furniture) can be used for a furniture rendering. Sometimes the company itself has an internal designer or architect who confronts the photographer in the realization. As the project is refined, it is possible to make a cost hypothesis and then formulate a quote.
The first phase of the work, the one just completed, is essential because the more details are defined at the beginning, the more time and money are saved – in the subsequent phases. It is advisable to dedicate all the necessary time to this phase.

PREVIEW PROCESSING AND TEAM COORDINATION


Once the estimate has been formulated, you can start with the actual work. When a photorealistic render is carried out, it is always the photographer who directs the work: it is he who knows what can be done and what are the limits of the various techniques. Knowing well how the programs work and what their potential is, the photographer understands what to photograph, what is preferable to render and what to do in post-production. If there are photos to take to make comparisons, he takes care of them. The technical part, on the other hand, is carried out by the collaborators, but always with his supervision.

Based on the requests and information collected, a preview is created. The preview or preview is very close to the final result as it is already complete with all the materials, with the lights and the point of view set correctly. Once ready, the preview is presented to the customer who makes all the necessary observations and requests the changes he deems appropriate. The professional knows how to advise him on how to go in the most photorealistic direction possible.

It should be borne in mind that when the photorealistic rendering is completed, any intervention is painful, in terms of time and therefore, consequently, costs. Some things can be changed at a later time (for example inserting or removing an accessory or a piece of furniture), but others require you to start almost from scratch (for example, change the flooring). This is why it is recommended to dedicate all the time necessary to the project first, and then to control the preview.

At this point, if the job has the prerequisites, the professionals to be involved are defined. An art buyer (indicates which objects to place and where) or an architect (we start from a drawing of his to make the photorealistic rendering of furniture) can be used for a furniture rendering. Sometimes the company itself has an internal designer or architect who confronts the photographer in the realization. As the project is refined, it is possible to make a cost hypothesis and then formulate a quote.
The first phase of the work, the one just completed, is essential because the more details are defined at the beginning, the more time and money are saved – in the subsequent phases. It is advisable to dedicate all the necessary time to this phase.

PREVIEW PROCESSING AND TEAM COORDINATION


Once the estimate has been formulated, you can start with the actual work. When a photorealistic render is carried out, it is always the photographer who directs the work: it is he who knows what can be done and what are the limits of the various techniques. Knowing well how the programs work and what their potential is, the photographer understands what to photograph, what is preferable to render and what to do in post-production. If there are photos to take to make comparisons, he takes care of them. The technical part, on the other hand, is carried out by the collaborators, but always with his supervision.

Based on the requests and information collected, a preview is created. The preview or preview is very close to the final result as it is already complete with all the materials, with the lights and the point of view set correctly. Once ready, the preview is presented to the customer who makes all the necessary observations and requests the changes he deems appropriate. The professional knows how to advise him on how to go in the most photorealistic direction possible.

It should be borne in mind that when the photorealistic rendering is completed, any intervention is painful, in terms of time and therefore, consequently, costs. Some things can be changed at a later time (for example inserting or removing an accessory or a piece of furniture), but others require you to start almost from scratch (for example, change the flooring). This is why it is recommended to dedicate all the time necessary to the project first, and then to control the preview.

 

When the preview is ready you are 90% of the work. Only the high-resolution calculation that is performed by computers is missing

PRESENTATION OF THE FINAL RESULT


When the customer confirms the preview, the project is refined and made final. If up to this point the professional photographer and the collaborators under his supervision have dealt with it directly, now the project passes into the “hands” of the PCs. All data is entered into the computers that process them and provide a high-definition image: the final rendering. Studio Urnato has an internal render farm used only for this. This calculation station works day and night managing to process even more renderings at the same time. When the render is completed, the photographer optimizes it according to the final destination (for print, for the web, or whatever) and presents it to the client with the calculation in high resolution.

 

PHOTOREALISTIC RENDERING AND PRIVACY


There is a very important and delicate aspect which, unfortunately, little is thought of. When you turn to a professional to make a render, they rely on important and delicate data. First, an idea is put into his hands in the form of a project or drawing, then other elements are added as the work progresses. Often he is asked to design the render of a product that does not exist or that exists only as a prototype. This involves placing a great deal of trust in him and his seriousness.

It is really risky that an idea ends up in the wrong hands. For this reason, you must carefully choose the professional you work with. Nowadays, however, to save money, due attention is not paid to this aspect and the supplier is chosen superficially. Many studios that perform renderings, to cut costs and capture customers by lowering the budget or keeping it lower than competitors, delegate part of the work – or even all – to external studios located abroad. The countries that do this type of work at really low prices are China, India, Vietnam, and Bangladesh. Projects are often sent to those areas with a request to perform the calculation and image processing part. Few pause to think about how reckless this is, especially when it comes to previewing projects.
The most serious firms carry out all the work internally and this, while entailing higher costs, allows the client to avoid any type of risk. In Studio Urnato the work is performed only by trusted professionals who work internally and have been part of the studio for years. Not only that, Studio Urnato has an internal render farm for data calculation and processing. When a serious studio accepts a job, it signs a confidentiality document with which it undertakes not to disclose the data and images.

The most serious firms carry out all the work internally and this, while entailing higher costs, allows the client to avoid any type of risk. In Studio Urnato the work is performed only by trusted professionals who work internally and have been part of the studio for years. Not only that, Studio Urnato has an internal render farm for data calculation and processing. When a serious studio accepts a job, it signs a confidentiality document with which it undertakes not to disclose the data and images.

 

“All the virtual computing is managed by us, with our internal render farm. Many entrust the calculation and processing phase to external studios distributed around the world. This means that a finished project – even if in the low definition is still finished! – can end up in the hands of anyone and can be disclosed without the manufacturer knowing anything about it. When you send material abroad, you completely lose control of it. In this context, we are talking about photorealistic rendering, but the same is also true for commercial photography. Many studies have the cutouts done externally, for example. We, on the other hand, guarantee the utmost confidentiality to our customers. We sign a document in which we ensure that we will not disclose the images. Furthermore, in the Studio, there is no turnover of collaborators, but only professionals who have been working with us for years. “

 

 

 

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