Renderings - how to spot the ducks from the drakes
If you're frustrated with all the 3D geek speak, acronyms and
sales people pushing 3D renderings down
your throat then your going to enjoy this page. The industry
has had a few companies enter it that are, as we would consider,
Archiform 3D prides itself on complete transparency and disclosure.
We are real artists, actually doing the work ourselves, and we
pride our relationship with all our clients and peers within
the industry. And we aren't the only ones! So read through and
learn what you need to look for before you order a project.
Architectural 3D Rendering techniques that you should be looking
Did you ever get a scene that looked flat or lifeless? Did the
trees in landscaping follow you around like creepy eyes in a
haunted house portrait, or did they spin around like they are
on roller skates? Read on and you may learn why.
Real 3D landscaping
Many artists take shortcuts with landscaped scenes. This is
because 3D landscaping is complex and often above the means of
many normal computer systems. We have a whole page devoted to landscape
renderings and how to pick a good one.
Archiform 3D's landscaping is pure 3D, realistic
and highly detailed. read
the article and get an understanding of what makes a good
landscaped scene from a bad one.
We have an entire page devoted to this too. Put simply, the
best 3D companies use radiosity or Global illumination to simulate
perfect real-world lighting in scenes. Read the Radiosity
Rendering pages to get the whole picture. Radiosity can also
be used for interior 3D
animations too, and the best of the best
will incorporate this technique into fly-through
video scenes. Make sure that if you are getting animations
from artists that sell you radiosity stills that the animations are also radiosity.
Archiform 3D is a world leader in advanced
rendering techniques, including the best quality
Flat 2D objects in 3D scenes
This is an interesting point and your view on it should be very
conditional. Over the years some 3D artists have used flat 2D
pictures composited into a 3D scene using photoshop. The result
is quite realistic, in fact sometimes it's almost perfect. If
you want one picture only then this can be a good technique,
but if you need more than one then you have problems, extra work,
limitations and a lot of extra costs. A scene with flat objects
cant be animated as there is no true 3D depth.
Archiform 3D makes perfect true
3D objects and uses them in all interior 3D scenes. We
avoided using flat objects because they lack flexibility.
Choosing the right 3D rendering company
It makes sense that you should be able to quickly view a large
and varied portfolio of work online. Not just the best images
from a few projects but a complete spectrum of many projects
and everything in them. Most companies only display the images
that they want you to see, and the ones that are not quite up
to scratch or are of lacklustre projects never see the light
of day. Insist on seeing all the images, not just a few. You
need to be able to accept the work typical to what you will be
getting, not just what their salesman wants to show you.
Archiform 3D's portfolio is extensive,
detailed and follows our warts and all policy. It goes back
years, so you can watch the evolution of us, our quality and
the technology as a whole.
All good 3D companies have a high-quality showreel that you
can download right now. A good real will show diversity, quality,
superb animation and maybe a background of the company. A company
with nothing to hide will ensure you can download a wealth of
information before you make a choice.
You can download our showreel right now. There
are a few versions for you to choose from.
Who is your contact?
Ask if you are going to be able to talk directly to the person
working on your 3D artwork. If your job is complex in any way
then it's likely you will need some one on one time with the
person working on it. If a companies artwork is being done by
some low paid guy in a non-english speaking country then you
may have some real problems communicating. Most companies that
do their work with such a system will tell you that the salesperson
is the artist, but don't be fooled. Middle-men are trouble for
a project, so avoid them, and the guy that came into your office
selling 3D services does that for a living: sell, not create
Archiform 3D does not employ
salespeople. You can talk to the person actually working on
3D pricing structures
3D Rendering is a very different process to traditional artwork,
and the pricing should be different. But some companies price
traditionally, which has some major pitfalls (for you) when working
on complete projects. Following are some key areas you should
Pricing by the 3D rendering
Sounds simple at first, right? You pay so much for a picture
- how simple! Based on traditional methods this is the right
way to charge because each picture has to be painted as would
each subsequent one. But 3D is different and the picture is the
by product of setting up a scene. Some 3D companies prey on your
ignorance to this concept and actually still charge you for EACH
picture! You get hooked on what may look like a cheap price for
the first one but pay a whole lot more when you need a complete
set. It's an old technique to many industries, but that doesn't
mean you need to fall for it. If you want to get the upper hand
on someone that prices by the rendering then give them a very
complex, expansive scene then tell them you will only pay for
Archiform 3D charges by the scene, not the
still. We offer your additional still images for free.
Pricing by the minute
This method of pricing almost seems fair, until you learn about
it. Each second or minute of animated 3D video footage does not
require any human work at all. It is an unattended process! The
time to create the animated footage is spent by computers, so
while a 3D artists has to pay for the computers the cost is negligible
compared to real work by real people. It is easy for an artist
to spend a week to do the work and then have the scene render
unattended for another 3 weeks. Better still (for the artist),
clients always want extra footage!
Archiform 3D charges by the scene, not the
Extra fees for 3D stills or high-resolution renderings
Oh, if only we did this - we would be rich! This is the sneakiest
catch of them all. Many companies will charge you to produce
a still image from the animation path of a presentation. It's
like the previously mentioned "Price by 3D rendering" above.
But the human work involved in doing this normally doesn't exceed
10 minutes. It's like a money tree that gets shaken every time
you (the client) asks for still images. Some companies also charge
extra for higher-resolution images. This takes an artist about
Like we said, we charge by the
scene, not the rendering, still or resolution.
Extra fees for producing your work on-time
The most exploited lurk in the industry. They offer a cheap
price up front but enforce a higher rate if you want the job
quicker. It is a fact that almost every job is in a hurry so
you are almost forced every time to pay extra. And then you may
not get all the information to the artist on time so if you still
want your job to meet the deadline you will have to pay extra.
Surcharges or higher rates for faster service are just a sneaky
way to ensure you pay more than what the advertised price is.
Architectural 3D services, like any other service, should be
researched. Don't just ask the questions, demand the proof. Fortunately
most 3D companies and artists are honest hardworking people that
will be glad to back up what they say and show.
The ways of a Shark
There are some companies that more or less just send their work
offshore with little or no real talent on hand for you to communicate
with. Once they have sold you on a few good images you are at
their mercy, or worse, you are at the mercy of some person that
you may never even talk to. These companies or middlemen may
be fine if you only need low quality work and/or a cheap price,
but they are never any good for a large project or a long term
Simple proof of whether you are dealing with a middleman is
whether that person can actually, physically produce the work
he or she shows you.
Large companies or small?
The size of the company has no relevance to final quality, in
fact it is often the smallest companies that produce the most
outstanding work. What you need to be most sure of is if they
have the resources to do your project. Large sometimes means
lower quality and less stringent control. Small sometimes means
a more personal touch and eye for detail but fewer time slots
to take on new projects. An honest small company should tell
you if they are too busy to complete your project when you need
And in support of the small company, you will find that the
staff and management really glad to have you as a client.
Render farms and hardware resources
Render farms, something Archiform 3D was of the very first to
implement, are an array of computers that process out 3D artwork.
The more processing power a company has the quicker it can produce
the final renderings. If you want to asses a render farm you
need to look at 2 things:
- Age of systems. A render
farm might be large,
but if it is a second hand system that was running 2 years ago
then it's likely to be considered junk today! In fact we have
learnt that it is not even viable to feed electricity into anything
over 2 years old. Advances in technology are so great that systems
are often rebuilt or replaced within a year. At Archiform 3D
we use state of the art 64bit systems that are constantly upgraded,
improved and made faster.
- Number of CPUs per artist. It's pointless
having a large render farm if you say you have even more artists.
That means each artist doesn't even have exclusive access to
just one machine. At Archiform 3D we try to keep our average
at about 150 state of the art CPUs per 3D artist, a figure that
is to our knowledge unmatched. If an artist cant have exclusive
access to at least 10 CPUs on average then there will be serious
slow-downs in production.
This industry is moving fast and it's made from
specialized, dedicated people that get more of a kick from producing
great artwork and making clients happy than almost anything else.
But it's growth also attracts the wrong type of people and the
typically bad business practices. Fortunately there are far more
good companies than sharks, and by making a few simple examinations
you will pick the good ones.
Do you have any comments or suggestions about
this article? Are you a 3d artist that would like to add his
or her 2 cents? If so then please drop
us a line.
Updated November 2005