17/05/2019No Comments

Finished Friday // Mountain Vista CGI Interior Visualisation

To help the client illustrate their concept for this refurbishment of a American private business retreat. We created 3 interior images showcasing the proposed changes and alterations.

Head over to the completed projects to find out more about this project!

And feel free to drop us an email or DM for a friendly chat if you'd like to discuss this, or perhaps a similar project you have in mind.

 

07/02/2017No Comments

Follow us on Behance

Follow us on Behance

Behance is a great platform to share, view and appreciate anything visual, and we love it! That's why we're now posting our finest work on there for all to see.

Feel free to follow us, our page is Punch Digital, and if you like our work, give us thumbs up and click "appreciate"!

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31/08/2016No Comments

360 Virtual Reality Chair // The future of VR?

360 Virtual Reality Chair

If you're a gamer, virtual reality guru, or just want a glimpse of just how immersive virtual reality will be, then spend a minute and watch this 360 Virtual Reality Chair...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nKQ7U8ix2zY&feature=youtu.be

I'm excited by tech like this; for me it seems to offer a lot of solutions for many issues is virtual reality.

Solving problems with virtual reality?

Firstly, many folks complain of motion sickness when using the virtual reality headsets. Theoretically a virtual reality experience is so immersive that the users brain is tricked into believing what it sees. At the same time the users brain has little or no connection between the physical and virtual worlds.

For example, in a virtual world the user can turn a corner, but they don't physically move. Users may then experience motion sickness. The virtual reality chair's solution is to physically turn the user 360. The chair also features pedals so the user can control speed distance and orientation with their feet. Both of these features link the physical user to the virtual world.

Virtual Reality Treadmill, an alternative to the 360 virtual reality chair

There are VR treadmills (check out this video for more info on virtual reality treadmills), which allow the user to physically walk. They look impressive, but in my opinion are perhaps a step too far for the home user. However these could be very useful for training simulations and serious gaming where it's important to mimic real life as close as possible.

Standing or sitting?

For the average user, a 360 virtual reality chair may be an ideal solution. Standing can be tiring, and for virtual reality to become mainstream the tech needs to be as easy and comfortable to use as possible.

The chair could be used for various genres of virtual reality, such as driving simulations. But also let's not forget that the majority of users are use to sitting when gaming. Users may eventually become accustom to standing, however right now sitting would be the obvious solution.

The future?

Without doubt the 360 virtual reality chair has a future. The chair may solve issues with motion sickness which is a massive plus. The chair is ideal for virtual gaming in many genres. Add a steering-wheel or a joystick and the chair could give amazing virtual reality experiences.

Users can buy the chair for only $599. A virtual reality set-up with a high end headset and PC isn't cheap, so adding a chair isn't unthinkable.

This 360 virtual reality chair may be the first step towards a complete VR home experience. In years to come the technology will advance, and inevitably these chairs will be fitted with hydraulics, heat, wind and maybe even odors! Imagine that!

For now check out www.rotovr.com to learn more. Get in touch with your ideas and thoughts, and maybe even some predictions for the future!

Dean

13/07/2016No Comments

You’ve Been Tango’d! Google Tango that is! Google’s Augmented Reality

Google Tango Augmented Reality is another leap for new tech, and it's pretty exciting!

I love this industry, and Google's new augmented reality (AR) makes us very excited! Why though? Augmented reality is when a virtual image, text data, etc is overlaid into the real world. The easiest way to do this is to point your smart phone at a tracker (a unique image), and your phone recognises this tracker and overlays the virtual image into the real world on the screen of your phone. Ikea did this very sucessfully with their app, check it out here http://www.gizmag.com/ikea-augmented-reality-catalog-app/28703/

The only problem with this method of AR is that the camera on your device needs to see a tracking image (like the Ikea catalogue). Google Tango doesn't! Now that's impressive!

How it does it is probably something very technical, and I assume it uses some kind of 3D scanning to gauge depth and distance, but developing hardware isn't our thing, so I'm only guessing. What I do know is that this is a real game changer for AR. By removing the need for tracking images means we could, in theory, overlay virtual worlds into the real world much much easier. It's also interesting to read that Tango can also measure. Imagine if we take the Ikea concept, but say develop a feature where a user holds their Tango device at a room, and the app then selects tables which would fit in the space. There'd be no need for that tedious process of measuring a space, reading the dimensions in a catalogue, and then hoping it all fits OK!

Google Tango AR Augmented Reality 3D CGI

Augmented reality has huge potential in education and marketing. The need to engage and excite people is very important and AR can help. It can make seemingly dull experiences very exciting. Take kids to a museum and they'll probably look forward to their pack lunch and gift shop, but if you make the experience exciting and engaging they'll probably forget all about their cheese sandwiches! In Google's promo video the kids visit a museum, and use Google Tango AR to see a T-Rex come to life, and also display further info for them to read and learn. This may not engage or excite a group of OAPs, but the beauty of digital content is that each AR experience can be tailored different users.

Google Tango AR Augmented Reality 3D CGI

If we look at the area we primarily work in, marketing architecture and products, augmented reality could really be a great tool to use. Imagine walking around a house or residential development with a Google Tango style app. Whilst the parents are using it to learn about the boring stuff like energy efficiency, crime rates, or even the choice of carpet colours, and the kids could see where their new school could be, learn about local clubs and groups, or how high the new swing goes in the near by park!

Google Tango is a very interesting development, and we'll be watching it very closely. There's only one device at the moment that's Tango enabled, and that's the Lenovo Phab 2 Pro, but I'm sure more will follow very soon. Imagine the Samsung GearVR with Google Tango, my mind's already blown!

Dean

22/10/2015No Comments

Stock and Custom 3D models in CGI Visualisations

Throughout my CGI work, the scenes I create will be primarily populated with the building or product, but to set the scene props, landscapes, entourage, etc are added. These items, big or small have to be created and added to the 3D scenes.

Sometimes we use stock 3D models, which are very similar to stock photography. There are websites where you can download a wide variety of 3D models ranging from costing nowt, to hundreds of pounds. Once downloaded, the 3D models can be dropped into a virtual scene and used within the visualisation or animation.

With the majority of my projects I will 3D modelling various parts of a scene. In architectural visualisations I will model the buildings, landscape and other items, then populate the scene with stock library items such as cars and trees. I do this simply because the stock models available for foliage and vehicles is pretty extensive, and it would be counter-productive for me to start modelling these items, which could make the final cost of the CGIs too expensive for many. A collection of 10 cars can be purchased for a few hundred pounds, where as for myself to 3D model just one car would take at least a week, which makes a typical architectural visualisation just too expensive and time consuming.

architecture_nb_shot_2_final_1600Stock foliage used within a custom 3D modelled environment.

With interior visualisations and digital room sets, I find myself using less stock 3D model, in favour of hand creating custom items. My preference to do this has many factors.

  1. Trends within interior design changes on a monthly basis, and as such many of the stock 3D items are dated, and have sometimes been created years ago. This is OK for the design classics, but for items that change with the seasons it's not ideal, and can really impact on the final image.
  2. I can create almost any item in 3D, without it impacting on project costs or time too much. 3D modelling can be very tricky, and getting items to look realistic can also be hard, if not impossible for some, however when I started in the CGI industry over a decade ago (ouch), my speciality was 3D modelling, and doing it fast and good! Over the years I have continued to build on this core skill, evolving processes with every year, taking advantage of new techniques and software to be able to quickly create virtually anything.
  3. Purchasing 3D models from stock sites isn't always straight forward, first you have to find the right model, at a good price (I am a Yorkshireman after all!), and then trust it's OK to use. Then once I've bought the models, approximately 50% of the time the 3D models will need adjustments such as re-scaling or fixing errors, and nearly every time I need to check the 3D model material finishes to be in-line with my techniques and processes. This can be time consuming, and could also become costly.
  4. If I create the 3D models from scratch, I know the models are good, correct and error free. Maybe I'm not very trusting, or perhaps I just have faith in my own skills! Either way I know when I've 3D modelled an item that it's going to look good in the image, and if it doesn't look quite right, I know how to break it apart and improve it.
  5. The final advantage of creating custom 3D items is that they belong to me! I will add items to my personal library for future use, and I will also re-sell the 3D models though my TurboSquid account to other folk. I must admit I don't receive much in the way of sales, but it pays for my dropbox account at least!

Franke Sink Tap 3D Model CGI Kitchen

Franke sink and tap created from a handful of photos and dimensions.

Franke Sink Tap 3D Model CGI KitchenA wire-frame shot showing the 3D construction.

Although creating the 3D models from scratch has it's advantages, it also has its disadvantages. Some items can be very difficult to re-create in 3D. Items such as cloth, plants, and other organic forms can be tricky, so much so that it's not uncommon for these type of items to be photographed in the studio, and super-imposed into the CGI in post-production. This is purely a time-saving technique, anything can be created in 3D, it's generally a matter of how much time is available to complete a job.

modelling_toaster_dualit_01_1600

Dualit toaster, available to buy on TurboSquid

Other disadvantages could be that an items has little information or imagery to create an accurate 3D model. For example it's quite rare to find a piece of furniture photographed from every angle, instead usually the only reference is an angled photo, and generally the photograph will be of medium - low quality or resolution. So to create the furniture does require some educated guess work, and as such can't be too accurate. Clients will sometimes be able to physically send items to be turned into 3D models, which means a greater accuracy can be achieved, and is generally the only way to be certain of getting the 3D model just right.

Although I do find creating 3D models from scratch very useful, sometimes I do purchase 3D models. For interior room sets, I will often pick items from Design Connected, and occasionally TurboSquid and 90% of the time I'll be happy with the purchases. Purchasing these type of models will help speed up the process, which is very useful on projects where time is limited.

Both buying and creating 3D models has its advantages and disadvantages, and the majority of the time the decision to buy or make is made on a project by project case. As I've mentioned cost and time are two factors, however if possible I will always aim to use items I've created myself, this ultimately helps keep my work fresh, up to date and unique.

Dean

25/03/2015No Comments

3D Interactive Furniture Demo 01

Recently Unity3D (a fantastic piece of software to create interactive projects and games) became free, along with features such as real-time lighting, and fancy materials.

I've wanted to have a play with Unity3D for a while, so during a bit of downtime I opened it up and created a quick test project to experiment with and play....

Launch 3D Interactive Furniture Demo 01

3D Interactive FurnitureA screen grab from the demo.

At the moment, to change the furniture style, press buttons 1, 2, 3, 4, and use your mouse to rotate around the chair, and the mouse wheel to zoom in and out.

The next stage is to add buttons (some programming needed, which I know very little of!), and to also give options to change colours of parts of the furniture. The app can then be ported to tablets, phones, desktops, as well as websites.

Currently the 3D Interactive Furniture Demo is a very basic demo, only really scratching the surface of what is possible.

24/03/2015No Comments

Digital Room Sets Will Never Be Built

"Digital room sets will never be built."

This is a realisation I had whilst working on a current digital room set project, and it's not something I've ever thought about before. With architectural visualisations and product CGIs, the purpose of a 3D visualisation is to preview or to sell something, that one day will become real. A CGI of a building is pretty good representation of how the end architecture will look, and so estate agents can sell the house before it's built. The same goes for products. These things will be built, and I love seeing the real thing, and then comparing the digital to the real.

Room sets though will never be built. The products that sit in the digital rooms may one day be manufactured and sold, some might even be available now, but the room will never exist, and it's almost certain to say that the exact configuration of a kitchen or bedroom shown within a CGI is very unlikely to be exactly replicated.

Digital room sets are entirely 3D polygons, computer generated textures, and simulated lighting. Wooden beams, or a stone chimney breast are only pixels, with little consideration is often made to whether these architectural features would be strong enough, durable, or even possible in reality. So long as they look correct and give the impression of realism, then that's usually as far as the design will go.

ad15_portfolio_bi-folding_doors_black_featured_image

An alpine digital room set to visualise bi-folding door.

By removing the need for these room sets to be built, we can allow ourselves to build digital room sets which might not exist in reality. The 3D room set used in the Student Mattress Room Set Project doesn't exist in reality, but it could. However by removing the constraint of the room needing to the accurate, strong, and true to technical aspects such as building regulations, the temptation can be to create something un-realistic.

ad15_portfolio_bi-folding_doors_mahogany_featured_image
A student digital room set created to visualise a new mattress.

With 3D there are no size or design constraints, we can make rooms as large, unusual, wacky as we feel. This can sometimes be a mistake. For example, with the student room set, we could have easily made the set 10m wide, with elaborate architectural detail, modern furniture, and so on, but it would have quickly not looked like a student room at all. Yes the furniture we added is slightly unusual, and the room is perhaps more elaborate that the student rooms I remember from my University days, but it's still believable, it could be made like this. I believe this balancing act is key to creating a great interior digital room set. Realistic 3D models, materials and lighting only work well if the design and architecture is spot on to begin with. As I've said already, structural and other constraints don't apply in 3D CGI projects a literal sense, but they do apply in a believable sense.

There is the other side of the coin with to the lack of constraints, and this is we as artists and designers have total freedom to create what we want. If you want to show your product on the edge of a volcano, or even on the moon, then CGI and 3D magic can make these possible, at a tiny fraction of the cost of doing it in real life.

Digital room sets can also be stored away on tiny hard drives, archived for later use, amends, or new products. There's no need to de-construct the set, and there are no time limits on how long a set can stay constructed for. Digital room sets can also be quickly changed, re-styled, and given a new look very quickly. Check out the interactive applications over at the interactive page to see more about how interactive applications can be used in conjunction with digital room sets.

Anyway, I'm straying from my original point slightly. To the average viewer, a digital room set may look no different to a traditional, photographed room set, and I guess that's why digital room sets prove popular with clients and customers. My point is that for all the design, styling and virtual construction work, the sets are merely polygons and pixels, and will never be built, touched or experienced in the real world.

 

Digital room sets will never be built....

....and this makes me sad....

....but I think I'll be OK!

 

Dean

02/04/2014No Comments

2D Photo to 3D Virtual Model to 3D Physical Print

3D model libraries exist to allow digital artists to quickly populate their scenes with appropriate content. Using libraries for 3D models can be a time saver, and as such saves money and costs. But what happens when a specific model cannot be found in any library? This can happen quite often, perhaps an architect would like a particular bench outside their building, or an interior designer would like to see a specific item of furniture in their lounge.

The solution is to build the 3D models manually. Using as much information as possible, the 3D artist can turn drawings, dimensions and other references into 3D models. The accuracy of the 3D models is highly dependant on what information can be found. If the item to be modelled can be physically held, studied and measured, then the model will be more accurate than a model created from a handful of photos.

In a recent project I was asked to model the Dark Cross Dining chair.

Black Cross Dining Chair

From the website, we have the above image, and some basic dimensions, and that's all! However from this one image and the measurements I can re-create the chair in 3D. I also used the image to measure the leg thickness, the proportions of the chair, and overall shape and size of various parts. There are some assumptions I made, such as the seat height is similar to a standard dining chair, the chair is symmetrical and the legs are circular. I had to guess other areas, such as the rear of the chair, the curve of the top bar and the shape of the seat.

3D Dining Chair Wireframe

This image shows how the chair is built in 3D. Keeping models simple, and adding detail where needed is my philosophy, and this is evident in this 3D chair. Techniques can be then applied to the model to turn the faceted geometry into smooth curves.

Generally the 3D model would then have textures and materially applied, and rendered inside a scene. This model was created for a client, who only required the 3D model without materials.

I then decided to take this model and use it as a test for 3D printing. The chair didn't require many changes to make the chair printable, however some models will require more work. When creating 3D models for visualisations, the artist will often not model parts which aren't seen, such as the bottom of the chair as this is deemed as unnecessary and time consuming, however with 3D printing, all areas of the model need to be created. Also when 3D printing models, the model needs to meet a certain specification depending of the type of 3D printer that will be used. Some printers require a minimum part thickness of 1mm, so in the case of this chair, when it was scaled to 1/1o the cross detail was thinner than 1mm, so this had to be made thicker.

Once the 3D model is complete, the 3D chair model is then sent to a 3D printing company. There are several companies, all differing in difference services and price. The one I chose to use this time was 3D Print UK. I chose to use them as their pricing is different to other 3D printing companies, as they price on the overall dimension of the 3D model, rather than volume, and as I wanted to print several items (more blog posts to follow) the overall price was better than printing each model separately.

So the 3D models were sent away, and 2 weeks later a little parcel arrived containing the prints....

3D Printed Dining Chair

3D Printed Dining Chair

The prints really exceeded my expectations, the level of detail is much better than I had expected, and the strength of the prints are good too. I wasn't sure if the little fixings would be printed, as they are slightly smaller than the minimum specification, but they are still visible.

3D Printed Dining Chair

The finish of the white nylon print is an interesting finish. To touch it feels like an Extra Strong Mint, and visually it does too. The nylon material which the models are printed with is also quite easy to mark, and can also leave little powdery marks on skin and anything else it comes into contact with, although I presume this is left from the printing process, and any loose nylon powder is soon discarded.

I ordered 2 chairs, so I could try painting and finishing a chair.

3D Printed Dining Chair

3D Printed Dining Chair

The finishing of the brown chair was done using Humbrol Airfix paints, but with nylon prints almost any type of finishing can be used. The 3D Print UK site demonstrates using aerosol paints to finish the 3D prints.

Painting and finishing the models is important with nylon prints, not only to add detail, but also to protect the prints from dirt and marks. Even if a white finish is desired, I would still use a clear finish.

3D printing is something I've always been fascinated with, and printing these chairs has only made me more intrigued and more sure that 3D printing will play a huge roll in the very near future. The quality of the prints is very good, perhaps not as detailed as traditional model making processes, but if you consider the lack of tooling needed, and the individuality 3D printing offers then 3D printing is a very viable solution, especially for one-off items, or for rapid prototyping.

The main downside with 3D printing using external companies is the lead time, which in my experience is around 2 weeks. This is still very good, however I see 3D printing as something that could be incredibly useful for rapid prototyping, testing ideas, and playing with concepts.

The other downside is price, £100 doesn't print a lot, and could soon become costly if several iterations of a model were printed. For myself, I see these external print companies useful for finished 3D models, and I plan to purchase a desktop 3D printer for testing and prototyping. Watch this space......

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