How real-time rendering impacts the virtual architectural industry
Through improved technology and digital communication, clients and designers alike have become accustomed to instant results, making the demand for real-time rendering a critical software trend to watch. While this type of rendering evolves, the industry continues to prepare itself for the radical impact it will have on business operations in the not-so-distant future. Real-time rendering will change the fundamental dynamics of the industry, allowing designers to create renders more efficiently, bolstering their client relationships and shortening project turnaround times.
Traditionally rendering is a time-consuming activity which occupies designers for hours, extending project deadlines which are longer than both clients and designers would like. Architects continue to invest in software and skills that will improve overall efficiency and add more value to the clients’ projects. Real-time rendering and virtual reality present an overarching solution to the operational problems current rendering processes present.
While few people outside the industry can identify ray tracing, there are equally as few who haven’t seen ray tracing in action. Ray tracing generates an image through the tracing of the path of light. This type of rendering uses light as pixels in an image plane and simulates the effects it has with virtual encounters with objects.
Movie makers generally integrate ray tracing into their films to enhance or generate special effects. Ray tracing incorporates realistic reflections, refractions, and shadows that are important for films to appear more realistic. This technique produces images that are indistinguishable from camera-captured images.
Historically, computers were unable to move fast enough to use ray tracing in real-time such as video games. While movie makers can wait longer for an image to render offline in render farms, video games do not share this luxury and require the render to be available within seconds. Real-time graphics have so far been unable to incorporate this advanced technique and instead make use of a method called rasterization.
Rasterization displays 3D objects on a 2D screen much faster than ray tracing can. Objects on the screen are created from a mesh of virtual shapes – mainly triangles and polygons – that form 3D models of objects. This virtual mesh has vertices which intersect with various sizes on other triangles. There is an extensive range of information within each vertex, including its position in space along with information regarding the colour, texture and knowledge which helps it determine the direction it is facing.
Computers convert the triangles of the 3D models into pixels, or dots, on a 2D screen which is assigned to an initial colour value from the information in the triangle vertices. Rasterization is computationally intensive as there can be millions of polygons used for object models in a scene.
While rasterization can process images at 60-frames per second which is ideal for the gaming environment, it lacks realistic light incorporation. Without light, imagery can look fake which is the opposite effect virtual architects want to achieve. Virtual architects have waited for technology to evolve to a point where ray tracing’s accurate, realistic rendering could be coupled with rasterization’s fast-paced rendering.
The industry is evolving to a new sphere of innovation by allowing architectural designers to see the possibility of using technology that will enable realistic light and reflective aspects in rendering images that are processed at 60 frames per second. This type of rendering will not only optimize workflows it will give a new view on the spectrum of projects virtual architects can design.
The need to reduce the time and effort taken in creating these renders has become a necessity for companies who want to deliver instant results. Real-time rendering will transform the industry with virtual architects able to present clients with an immersive experience within real-time rendering.