Are People Integral To 3D Visualisation Projects?

When it comes to adding people within 3d visualisation, sometimes it is best to purely focus on the subject matter.

Naturally this is something that customers request from time to time, but unless it is a necessity, Chris Jackson, our MD, says to leave people out.

Here is how Chris looks at this subject and topic area.

3d visualisation of Bristol City Stadium Ashton Gate

“The human brain can process an image in 13 milliseconds. The brain is constantly looking to interpret what it is seeing.

When including people and activity to a 3D image, our brains are looking to pick up subtle changes of appearance and movement, so for many images (and animation) it is extremely difficult to achieve a result that is convincing. Which is why creating a still image that shows a host of people, such as a large-scale development with communal areas, it can look false.


People Rarely Work

People in CGIs rarely work. The nature of the subject matter has to be represented the best it can be.

However, there have been occasions when people play an integral part to an animation.

Our Ashton Gate stadium project for Bristol City would have looked barren showing an empty stadium on matchday. To create a stadium of 26,000 people what we did was create 40 individual sequences and offset the timing of each movement. If the whole stadium moved in unison, it would not have looked natural. The final animation was to bring the whole stadium alive, but not spend too much time focusing on individual people.

This is also what we achieved with the nighttime sequence showing fans filtering into the stadium. Whilst from a distance the brain doesn’t notice actual people, what it does is put everything into context, a busy evening at a football stadium.

Screen Shot 2015-12-03 at 14.44.20

The reason the stadium project focused on mass rather than individuals was that we can become instantly distracted when picking up tiny nuances with real people, from a jaw to an arm movement. With CGI animation for characters such as Gollum, that’s exaggerated but when replicating a real person the final view will never be 100% correct.


When It Links To Lifestyle

However, if a customer does request people as part of the final animation as there is a link to lifestyle, this is something that we can allow for.

There are two ways to add people to renders, either by rendering a 3D modelled individual or by a montage within post production.

Have a look at our film for Trafalgar House (below) that shows a 3D modelled person. Alternatively we can film models against green screens and then make them look natural within a chosen environment.


To any visualiser, the key is to make the person (whether modelled or real) look as natural as can be within the selected environment. Too many people do not check the simple aspects such as making the sure the lighting is correct and shadows work.


Coming To A Conclusion

The use of people within animation sequences can work, it just takes an appreciation for how much detail is required. I am a believer that the nature of any piece of architecture or subject matter deserves to be represented in isolation.

It is more important to take away the association with a person and but create recognition within a space.”

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