It’s full of 3d renderings!

Have a look at the catalogue… can you pick which ones are real and which are 3d renderings? No? You’re not the only one.┬áThe art of 3d visualisation is continually evolving and progressing and has reached a point where high end computer generated imagery cannot be picked from real life photography. The art of 3d visualisation is continually evolving and progressing and has reached a point where high end computer generated imagery cannot be picked from real life photography.

A few years ago (2005), ikea decided to dabble in 3d rendering for their catalogue. They inserted an image of one of their chairs (see below) into their print catalogue as a test to see if anybody would notice it was a 3d rendering and not a real photo. Nobody did. So they decided to do more. Since then more and more of their catalogue and online imagery has been entirely 3d. And now an amazing 75 percent of the product shots on ikeas website and in their catalogue are computer generated.

Talented 3d Visualisaton Artists

Over the years ikea have acquired a really talented group of 3d artists with an equally impressive render farm. They have given away the old, expensive, time consuming and inefficient method of physically building sets (they used to ship in all the various components needed to build a kitchen, bathroom, living room etc etc to a huge warehouse, build the set and then spend days getting lighting and props just right so they could get the shots for the catalogue) and then when its all done they would have to destroy it and start again with a new room or new theme. Huge amounts of time, money and cardboard where wasted!

Creating the imagery as 3d renderings does away with the logistical, financial and environmental nightmare of physically building sets that will be used for a day or two and then destroyed. A 3d scene is instantly changeable and can be stored digitally… easily accessible for any changes that need to be made in the future. Its easy to see why ikea are fully embracing 3d visualisation to create the majority of their branding imagery.

Not only is it much better for their bottom line, but they now have complete control over every single variable in a scene – the product colours, the lighting, the props, the camera angle… everything can be easily tweaked in an instant. If a product design changes slightly they can just adjust the 3d model in the scene and re-render… no expenditure at all.

Different Styles for Different Countries

Being a multi-national company and selling their products to so many different cultures means that they also need to create different scenes for different countries as most countries have different styles and tastes. Can you imagine the operation they would have needed to create all the physical sets for all of the different rooms and products for all of the different countries? The mind boggles at the thought of all that cardboard and packaging being flown around the world and then thrown in the bin!

3d Rendering Techniques

Ikea have developed a large cgi team who primarily use 3ds max and vray… the same high tech software that we use at ScreenAge. They have over 25,000 models of their products in their 3d library. The key to their photo realistic renderings is the highly detailed modelling and texturing techniques utilised by their artists. Most of their models are created in real world scale and have high resolution textures applied to them. Every tiny detail is incorporated into their models… things like stitching and stray fabric strands are used to add realism. Its often said that the key to realistic renderings lies in the imperfections of the world. An object or a scene that is too perfect is easily recognizable as cgi. Dirt and dust and not-quite perfectly aligned cabinets or perfectly straight linen are all evident in real life photography, so in order to create a 3d rendering that can be passed off as real life, it is essential to add these imperfections to a 3d scene.

3d Rendering is the future.

With large companies like ikea, nobilia, miele and many more all utilising 3d imagery in their marketing communications, the benefits are becoming more and more apparent. Creatively, the ability to have such complete control over every single element in a marketing communication is amazingly beneficial. From tailoring every single detail in an image towards a particular target group and using scenes/scenarios that would be impossible to re-create in the real world, it seems that 3d visualisation is the way of the future and more and more businesses (large and small) are getting on board. As technology gets better and artists get more creative, the level of 3d visualisation is continually evolving. Ikea, being the manufacturing behemoths that they are are leading the way in their integration of cgi into their marketing materials. Anybody still building real life physical sets are not only getting stung financially but are missing amazing opportunities for increased creativity and productivity in their product marketing.