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3D Visualization vs. 3D Rendering: Definitions, Advantages, Examples

a pink interior space with natural lighting, a purple tree, a purple rug, and purple chairs

What is 3D Visualization? 

3D visualization is a versatile process that provides digital representations of real-life objects, offering a preview of their appearance. Widely adopted across industries such as manufacturing, architecture, and multimedia, 3D visualization allows designers, engineers, and artists to model, lay out, animate, and render designs into interactive 3D graphics. Users can experience these visualizations on various platforms, including mobile devices, web browsers, and augmented or virtual reality devices.  

What is 3D Rendering? 

3D rendering is a crucial step in the 3D visualization process that utilizes light to generate images from three-dimensional data stored on your computer. It involves creating a 2D image or animation from a 3D model using specialized computer software. This process includes constructing a virtual scene with 3D objects, configuring lighting and materials for realism, and producing final images or animations based on the rendering program's interpretation of the information. Through 3D rendering, we can vividly visualize and animate imaginary worlds, objects, and characters on our screens, aiming to achieve a realistic appearance. 

How does 3D Visualization Work? 

a vibrant 3D space with staircases and alphabets

3D visualization follows a multi-step process to bring digital models to life. 

1. Modeling 

The process initiates by creating a 3D model using specialized software, crafting a digital representation of an object or scene with geometric shapes and structures. Artists or designers utilize tools to shape the models, defining their form and intricate details. 

2. Texturing 

Following the creation of the foundational 3D model, artists apply textures to elevate its visual appeal. Textures imbue surface details like colors, patterns, and reflections, enhancing the realism of the object or scene. Learn more about 3D texturing here

3. Lighting 

Lighting stands as a pivotal facet of 3D visualization. Artists strategically position virtual lights within the 3D environment, simulating real-world lighting conditions. Apt lighting not only accentuates details but also generates shadows, contributing to the overall realism of the visualization. 

4. Rigging (for animations) 

In the field of animations, rigging entails building a digital skeleton or armature inside the 3D model. This skeletal framework enables animators to intricately specify the model's movement, bending, and deformation—a crucial aspect for creating animations that are both realistic and dynamic. 

5. Animation 

Animators leverage the rigged 3D models to craft motion sequences. By defining keyframes that signify specific moments in the animation, software interpolates between these frames, ensuring a seamless and fluid motion. Check out top ten 3D animation software here

6. Rendering 

Once the 3D scene is configured with models, textures, lighting, and animations, the conclusive step is rendering. Rendering encompasses the processing of 3D data to generate 2D images or sequences. This stage can be computationally intensive, particularly for high-quality and intricate scenes. 

7. Post-processing 

After rendering, artists may opt for post-processing, applying additional effects or adjustments to enhance the final output. This can encompass activities like color correction, compositing, or integrating special effects to refine the visual impact. 

8. Output 

The ultimate rendered images or animations can be exported in diverse formats for utilization across various media, including films, video games, virtual reality experiences, or architectural visualizations.

3D Visualization vs. 3D Rendering

a surreal environment with water, green sand, mirrors reflecting clouds

A 3D visualization provides comprehensive information, including detailed specifications such as parts shape, dimensions, volume, weight, materials, colors, and even cost estimates for producing a physical object. For usability and easy sharing, 3D rendering images or videos are usually saved in common formats such as JPG and PNG (for images) or MPEG and MP4 for videos. This allows clients or users to open the rendering results in standard image viewers or video player applications without the need for CAD (computer-aided design) software. 

While 3D visualization and 3D rendering are often explained as two separate processes, they are interconnected. 3D visualization involves creating 3D models to showcase designs, while 3D rendering is a step within this process that transforms the 3D model into a realistic or lifelike image. Together, they create immersive and engaging content. 

Why is 3D visualization important?  

1. Cost savings and time to market 

By reducing the reliance on physical prototypes, 3D visualization helps companies save costs. Design and engineering flaws can be identified earlier, leading to improved product quality and reduced development time. These cost and time savings contribute to faster time to market, allowing companies and creators to stay competitive in today's fast-paced business environment. 

2. Enhanced sales and winning projects 

The power of 3D visualization lies in its ability to present products and designs in compelling and realistic ways. By showcasing products in a visually engaging manner, companies can attract more customers and increase sales. Additionally, 3D visualization helps in winning projects by presenting future designs in a realistic and true-to-life manner, giving clients a clear understanding of the end result. 

How is 3D visualization used? 

1. Manufacturing and Product Design

a team collaborating on the automotive design process while wearing VIVE Focus 3 headsets

In product design and manufacturing, 3D visualization plays a vital role in streamlining the production process. It enables the implementation of augmented reality (AR)-guided assistance during production, virtual assembly process validation, technician training, and virtual factory simulation. These applications improve efficiency, accuracy, and overall productivity.

2. Architecture and Interior Design

3D architectural visualization showing a group of buildings and balconies

For architects and interior designers, 3D architectural visualization offers the ability to create real-time building information modeling (BIM) experiences, conduct immersive design reviews, and connect design and construction. It allows stakeholders to visualize designs in a realistic and interactive manner, facilitating effective collaboration and ensuring that design objectives are met.

3. Education and Training

a kid wearing VIVE Focus 3 and holding controllers to see the earth and other planets

3D visualization is revolutionizing education and training by providing immersive and interactive experiences. Through virtual reality (VR) and other 3D technologies, students can gain hands-on experience and explore complex concepts in a simulated environment. This enhances learning effectiveness by catering to different learning styles and creating engaging educational experiences.

4. Engineering and Construction

3D visualization used on the construction site

In the field of engineering and construction, 3D visualization is used to visualize designs, plan intricate construction projects, and improve communication between teams. It allows engineers and architects to identify potential issues and make necessary adjustments before construction begins. This saves time, reduces costs, and ensures that projects are completed successfully. 

5. Entertainment

NANA’s home, a 3D virtual space created for the NANA JUMP Project

The integration of 3D visualization has become indispensable for gaming industry and TV/film/visual effects production studios within the media and entertainment sector, enabling the seamless presentation and approval of concept art. The rise of virtual idols and VTubers has steered consumer interests towards immersive pastime pursuits. Warner Music Taiwan’s virtual idol, NANA, serves as a compelling case study. Empowered by VIVERSE’s cutting-edge 3D spatial visualization technology, NANA actively connects with fans in a virtual space, fostering an up-close and interactive experience. This not only amplifies the authenticity of her persona but also enables her to faithfully deliver her worldview and personality to fans.

6. Sales and Marketing

a salesman pitching to the customer wearing a VIVE headset in a simulated car

Beyond its initial role in early-stage stakeholder approval, 3D visualization has evolved into a prominent marketing asset, significantly influencing customer decisions during the crucial point of sale. The robust functionalities provided by 3D visualization software, including the generation of realistic renders, interactive product customization, and immersive AR/VR shopping experiences, highlight its effectiveness as a compelling tool within the domain of e-commerce.

Final Thoughts 

In summary, 3D visualization and rendering stand as foundational technologies that have reshaped numerous industries, constantly advancing alongside spatial computing, immersive visualization, artificial intelligence, and other innovations. Leading the charge in meeting the rising demand for 3D immersive visualization, VIVERSE offers everything from VR/XR content to 3D virtual spaces. Through our utilization of cutting-edge 3D technology, we deliver immersive, engaging, and interactive experiences for both users and creators, ultimately fortifying the VIVERSE ecosystem and propelling industry expansion.  

Stay tuned for our upcoming blogs, packed with valuable insights as we delve deeper into the boundless potential of 3D visualization together.


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