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Technological achievements in 3D computer based modeling & rendering


Emerging Technologies.

New directions are rapidly emerging in modern photometry  that promise to revolutionize our understanding of light, hence improving our ability to communicate lighting designs. Some images are photo metrically accurate representations of real-life situations, such as the digital image of  the atrium, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art that has received international publicity and was awarded a first price in photo-realism at the San Francisco AIA.
There are three converging directions in photo metric  research: near-field photometry, three-dimensional illuminance, and radiosity. Of these, radiosity is of great importance to an architectural computer renderer.

Radiosity versus Ray Tracing.

Radiosity and  ray tracing algorithms are very different and yet they are in many ways complementary. Ray tracing is very versatile because of the large range of lighting effects it can model. Radiosity is an advanced form of ray tracing. Images
produced using ray tracing techniques tend to look somewhat artificial, with sharp-edged shadows. Although they look realistic, they are not suitable for detailed photo metric analysis.
Ray tracing a complex 3D model may take  hours for a computer to render. It is important to understand the technology of both techniques to achieve the required results. Radiance, an application program developed by the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory department of  Day-Lighting, was originally developed as a research tool for predicting the distribution of visible radiation in illuminated spaces. It uses the technique of ray tracing that follows light backward from the image plane to the  source(s).
Because it can produce realistic images from a simple description, Radiance has a wide range of application in graphic arts, lighting design, and computer-generated architecture. Radiance is  available free of charge but it has a complex user interface, and is therefore difficult to use.

Lightscape Technology, now part of Autodesk and incorporated into 3D Studio Max., was another very powerful application ( PC Platform only) it was the first  visualization application based primarily on radiosity techniques. Neither radiosity nor ray tracing offers a total solution
for simulating all global illumination effects. Radiosity excels at rendering diffuse-to-diffuse  inter reflections and ray tracing excels at rendering specular reflections. This post-process radiosity and ray tracing solution offers the best of both worlds.

It is possible to combine a ray tracing post-process with a specific  view of a radiosity solution to add specular reflections and transparency effects. This radiosity solution replaces the inaccurate ambient constant with accurate indirect illumination value, therefore generating a much more  realistic image. Lighscape is probably the most accurate and innovative application today for calculating and rendering accurate lighting simulations of 3D architectural digital
models. The application uses a proprietary  radiosity technique to calculate direct illumination and indirect diffuse inter reflections of light between surfaces. An integrated ray tracer is also provided to add specular highlights and reflections to specific views. All  surface materials are defined according to the physical characteristics of diffuse and specular reflectivities. Lightscape calculates all light energy distribution in physical photo metric units. There is no limitation to  the number of lights which may be included in the scene.

Is Virtual Reality the Future of the Design Profession?

 Today we have the technical ability to allow the designer and the client to realistically explore and experience
unbuilt projects. This virtual space exploration has its price: low resolution display, chunky headsets, electronic  gloves, and very expensive computer systems. The problem and the danger with virtual reality technology is its side effects, such as motion sickness.

The above stiched image of the Red Room, the White House is a series of 12 images taken with a 15 mm lens than stiched together using QuickTimeVR Authoring Tools from Apple Computer  Inc.  At this stage is is only an uncorrected image of a 360 degree panorama.  Once created into a QuickTimeVR movie the image can be view as a panorama.

Apple Computer's QuickTimeVR does not require the elaborate paraphernalia associated with virtual reality. Creating interactive 360-degree panoramic views or walkthrough in QuickTimeVR  is quite simple. One can create a walkthrough just by combining photographs, computer-rendered images, or both. This innovative technology will allow designers to publish their visions in an interactive CD-ROM format and  distribute it to all members of the team. It can be viewed with the standard CD-ROM player found on any computer platform.

View By View  is currently working on the 200 years of the White House architectural historical  tour project. The viewer will be able not only to see a 3D computer-generated fly-by of the White House as it changed over time but once inside the White House the viewer will tour the President's house visiting spaces and deco  that no longer exist


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