It wasn’t too long ago that computer generated imagery (CGI) was the sole preserve of the large movie studios who could afford to invest time and money developing systems to create stunning visual effects.

Nowadays, CGI has become much more widely accessible thanks to the development of software, hardware and skills. It still represents a considerable investment, both in systems and personnel, but the cost of the final product, whether an architectural visualisation, 3D product model or animation, has made CGI much more affordable for all sorts of organisations. It can even save time and money in many circumstances, as well as delivering enhanced flexibility and increased marketing opportunities.

Advances in the software and hardware used to create CGIs has also meant that the quality of the final image, whether a still or animation, has improved massively in recent years, elevating CGI to a position where it is now a viable alternative to photography. In fact, for many situations, CGI is the preferred, possibly only, option thanks to the control, flexibility and cost-effectiveness it can deliver.

This enhanced availability and affordability saw CGI being adopted by many industries, most notably the property and housing markets, with house builders and property developers recognising its potential for property marketing.

Architectural visualisation for property marketing

Before CGI, house builders and developers would employ an artist to create an artist’s impression of a house, or housing development. Working from briefs or architectural drawings, with physical samples or manufacturer’s literature providing reference for the building materials to be used on the project, the artist would produce a visual representation of the home.

In most cases, these artists impressions would be pretty accurate, but they could never provide a true reflection of the property or its finishes. The final image would always be subject to the vagaries of the artist’s individual style, the materials used to create the image (water colour, pastels, acrylics, etc.) and the dictates of the marketing department. Naturally, backsides were covered with caveats in the property marketing materials, but the house buyer could never be sure what they would get until the house was finished on site.

It was the only option available to the house builder and property developer, but with the introduction of affordable systems and massive advances in technology over recent years, CGI has usurped the traditional artist when it comes to creating high quality, photo-realistic architectural illustrations, whether for interior CGI or exterior artist’s impressions. In fact, the term ‘artist’s impression’ probably does a massive disservice to the skills of the property CGI and housing CGI studio: the final image is much more than an impression, it is a visualisation of the architects design and an accurate representation of the finished home or property.

Not only does CGI provide a more accurate representation of the final house or property than can be achieved with the artist’s brush, it also opens up many exciting opportunities for marketing presentations; camera angles can be changed to provide different viewpoints, animations can be created to provide walk-throughs and fly-rounds, materials and finishes can be rendered with almost faultless accuracy and changed to suit variations in specification or show options to the potential client. Add to this the potential to change lighting effects, weather conditions, situation and landscaping, incorporate photographic images to place an architectural illustration in a real-life situation and much more, and you provide the marketer with a formidable, flexible and highly versatile tool for marketing the house, property or entire development.

These enhanced presentations also provide the potential house buyer or investor with a much improved buying experience.

House buyers are provided with greater assurance of the value of the property they are considering and are able to more accurately visualise their new home. They can even take a walk around it, viewing kitchens and bathrooms fitted to their own specifications.

In property development, CGI can be used to create individual buildings for retail, commercial and industrial developments, or entire high streets, business parks and industrial estates. The potential to show prospective investors the scale and quality of a development, where necessary to the last and finest detail, enables developers to secure financing more easily and quickly at relative low cost. And, as with the housing market, CGI allows images to be viewed from a variety of angles or animated to create stunning video presentations, enabling potential investors to gain a true picture of the development’s potential.

And, of course, within all of this is the potential to show an endless variety of options – different kitchen units, lighting arrangements, bathroom suites, interior finishes, furnishings, etc.

Architectural visualisations can be created from the simplest of briefs and sketches to the most detailed of specifications and architectural drawings, so no matter whether the house builder or property developer knows exactly what they want, or wish to explore concepts and change things as they go, CGI has the capability to accommodate all requirements.

Examples of our CGI work can be viewed in our portfolio. Selected examples can be seen by following the links below:

CGI for product manufacturers

Away from the housing and property markets, CGI offers product manufacturers enormous scope. From the early conceptualisation and prototyping of the product through to its final manufacture and application, CGI can provide stunning, highly detailed images for technical, training, sales and marketing presentations.

With most products now being designed on CAD systems, the CGI process is simplified thanks to the ability to import and convert the popular file types available (dwg, dxf, etc.). This at least provides an accurate starting point for the production of a wireframe 3D product model.

The application of materials and finishes builds this 3D model into a realistic, fully rendered product image, from where the potential for presentation can be realised.

As with housing CGI and property CGI, the 3D product model can be manipulated, altered and viewed in a variety of ways and presented in both still and animated forms. Mechanical components and assemblies can be converted into actual working models and the viewer taken on a fly-through of the various parts, show-throughs can reveal inner workings that would not normally be visible from the outside and camera angels changed to show an infinite variety of viewpoints.

CGI also offers the potential to show the product in application and can offer many advantages over photography in this regard, particularly where the product is installed in situations which render it invisible after installation, such as below ground, within a structure or within a larger finished assembly, such as a vehicle, machine or processing plant.

Thus, CGI offers enormous potential in its application throughout a company’s many departments. It can be used for training, technical, sales and marketing presentations, and can be easily customised to suit each department’s requirements.

Examples of 3D product modelling and product application CGIs can be found at the links below:

CGI visualisation from imagination

In addition to the actual illustration of houses, property and products, CGI also allows marketers to create visuals that do not exist in reality, either to illustrate potential situations in which products might be used or to place products in a situation. Again, this demonstrates the exciting possibilities that CGI presents and its potential to provide a viable alternative to photography; after all, you can’t photograph what doesn’t exist!

The best way to illustrate this is by example. Two of our latest projects show how CGI techniques can be employed:-

The Fosroc projects show the use of CGI images to create imaginary scenes where the company’s products might typically be used. The Samuel Heath examples show the combination of CGI product modelling and photography to create photo-montages of situations in which the company’s door closers might be used.

Incorporating CGI in presentations

Once completed, the final CGI image or animation can be produced in most widely acceptable formats for video, web or print presentations.

Best practice when creating any CGI is to have a good idea of the intended final delivery method before the CGI process commences. That way, the CGI studio will ensure that the original 3D product model, architectural visualisation or architectural illustration is created to the appropriate size and resolution.

Securing the services of a professional graphic design studio will help in this process and assure the quality of the final presentation.

Want to know more about CGI?

Further examples of our CGI work can be found here – CGI portfolio

See our article on how CGI can replace photography here – CGI offers alternative to photography

Or get in touch for a quotation or discussion about what we can do for you.

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