Are We At A Stage Where Property CGI and 3D Visualisation Is The Same As A Real Photograph?

The lines between reality and virtual are becoming increasingly blurring. Property CGI is now the same as the real world. Lets look at why with Matt.Property CGI


Continuing our series at looking deeper into the role of 3D visualisation and Property CGI as a communication tool, it is fair to say that the lines between reality and virtual within Property CGI are becoming increasingly blurring.


Matt Gibson from our architectural visualisation team has over 10 years experience within this discipline. He is a good port of call to discuss if it is becoming harder to distinguish between the two.


“If you want the straightforward answer, then yes, we are at the point where CGI and photos look the same.


Proof That It Is Becoming Blurry


Here is the proof that puts everything into context. Did you know that 75% of the product images within an IKEA catalogue are computer generated (compared to 25% back in 2012).


What does this mean to us all? It’s proof that the effects that stand out the most are the ones that you never notice.


However, everything comes down to the skill of accumulating photographic knowledge.


3D visualisation artists are becoming more in tune with photography and photographers are getting to grips with 3D rendering software (particularly in the IKEA instance).



Responsibility Is With The Visualiser


The responsibility for the similarity between CGI and reality will always be within the experience and interpretation of the visualiser. Software has progressed significantly in such a short space of time. For instance, where we were once reliant on 2D photos of planting we now have an abundance of access to 3D imagery of shrubbery.


Software can help us achieve results quicker, but effects such as lighting will always be down to the artist. So will the imperfections that creates the lifelike effect.


Imperfections such as overgrown grass, chips on wooden panels, in my opinion, are just as important as the overall object/structure we are focusing on. This is also true of chromatic aberration. This is a common optical problem when taking photos when a lens is unable to bring all wavelengths of colour to the exact same focal plane.


It is the small defects that occur in reality that are just as important within the virtual. This is a huge reason why it is getting harder to tell the difference.


When the world of CGI makes the step up from photo reality is the ability to render at a higher resolution. The resolution of a 30-mega-pixel camera image can look small change when producing a CGI image that is seen on a building wrap and still crystal clear.


There is a significant argument for the development of 3D visualisation within a commercial environment. The world where the watercolour was once used to depict a new property development is being surpassed by creating a virtual world to interact with.


The tools we have as visual artists is representative of how the industry is making leaps. From plug-ins for intricate detail ie. grass to faster rendering time, the argument for the virtual is getting stronger.



The Role Of Post Production


The human involvement though is the reason why CGI now looks natural. This can be attributed to the post production stage. From vignetting (softening or shading the edges of a subject matter), creating textures (from adding dirt to human imperfections) to the balance between light and shade, is where the role of realism sits comfortably.


The role of architectural visualisation is constantly evolving and technology plays its part.


However, it is important to acknowledge that for a CGI image to look natural, the involvement and detail from a person (the artist) is where realism truly takes its shape and form.”

For Matt and one of the team to look at your next 3D visualisation project, give Sandra a call on 0117 9251050 or email

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