Virtual Reality

Virtual Reality has gained popularity over the last 10 years as a new interface between a computer and a person. Technically the term relates to experiencing a place or feeling without actually being there.

Virtual reality has many forms now, and can be displayed over the internet, on DVD, CD and with 3D goggles. It is made from photographs, video clips and using our specialty, 3D rendered imagery.

3D Rendered Virtual Reality

Computer generated 3D imagery is a technique that creates virtual reality scenes from nothing more than inspiration and hard work. Nothing exists in reality to begin with so our artists use any information that they can gather to create a virtual model, one that only exists inside a computer. The level of detail and realism is only limited by time and budget.

Today the best and easiest way to display 3D virtual reality is with motion video. We create the scene and animate it. The process requires considerable computing power because each frame of virtual reality can take hours to create, and motion video requires between 24 and 30 frames per second of finished footage. At Archiform 3D we have constructed a “super computer” to cope with this unusually high workload.

Photographic Virtual Reality

This was one of the first forms of web and CD based virtual reality techniques. It involves multiple photographs being taken looking out from one point. These are "stitched" together to create one picture that looks in all directions. Software is then used to display this image to a person, who can then navigate left right, up or down to see everything from that viewpoint. The scene has perfect realism as it is created from real photographs. The downside is that the view cant move from that point unless her or she jumps to another "node".

Archiform 3D uses photographic virtual reality techniques to capture views. We take 20 pictures from a crane or similar platform to create a virtual panoramic viewpoint. We then wrap this virtual viewpoint around our 3D models to create the illusion of actually being there. This technique usually involves us creating virtual reality panoramas from a few locations to accommodate our need to move through the property.

3D Animated Virtual Reality

This is the best way to portray computer generated 3D virtual reality. We set the path the viewer will travel and the computers create the video footage (as described at the beginning of this page) to match. This gives us exact control over what the viewer sees and allows true movement. This technique also allows us to add a live presenter to the project.

Our showreel contains many examples of animated virtual reality as does our extensive 3D gallery.

Real Time Virtual Reality

This has been a buzz-phrase for a while. It uses 3D models, as we normally do, but it creates the imagery in real time. On the face of it you may think it is the perfect solution, but it is far from ready for the masses. The quality of real time rendering is based on many factors such as the speed of the computer, the quality of the 3D model and the size of the file needed to contain the data. This leads to the following hurdles:

  • Computers are no-where near fast enough to display the quality that the marketplace demands in real time.
  • The files are too big to download.

There are ways to improve the viewing quality and reduce file size. It 's possible to create a simplified model that has had all the lighting and quality "baked" into it. Instead of the software trying to calculate an exact representation of lighting conditions it uses a solution that is pre-made. This technique isn't visually perfect but it is close enough. The largest problem with this technique is that the time required to set it up far exceeds that of normal 3D rendered virtual reality. There is also limitations to the size of the file needed for extensive scenery, especially those with lush landscaping.

For now, real time virtual reality in the architectural marketing field is still a long way from ready, but is eagerly anticipated.

Holographic Virtual Reality

This is even further away than real time virtual reality and we can only try to predict what may come from this field. When available it will be perfect for scale model presentations and has the ability to replace physical architectural scale models.

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