This is a very small part of an image we are working on at the moment. I am sharing it to illustrate the sort of detail that a convincing visualisation must have.
This area of the model is quite incidental to the overall composition, but nevertheless, it is important to get right. It is the security barrier to a high class headquarter office reception in Liverpool (not too far from the beautiful Royal Liver Building as it happens).
There are a few things going on even in this small section. Smooth surfaces have a tendency to look very flat or lifeless if you aren't careful. Even the cleanest stainless steel or glass has some imperfections - either dust, scratches or smears. To achieve this look, we mix many different bitmaps into our shaders to help break up 'CG uniformity'. In fact, at Blink Image, any flat or smooth surface always has some sort of 'dirt' mixed into it (just like our Oxford studio) - it's an in-house rule!
Also, floor tiles are quite complex. If you were to use a basic bitmap of a floor over a large area, you would begin to see repeating patterns that would break the illusion of it being real. We therefore use many bitmaps that are procedurally randomised to break any visual consistencies. In addition, in a tiled floor, no matter how good the tiler, there will be imperfections. Each 300x600mm tile will have a tolerance of 0,5mm or so. The grout might be around 6mm, but it will vary across an entire floor area. If you let 'CAD' distribute your tiles, the floor will be absolutely perfect. It will therefore look a bit weird and unnatural. Annoying moire patterns will begin to show up too. Adding in some subtle randomness - though not so much that anyone would comment on it - makes it all look more real. And, as with all polished surfaces, a small amount of dirt or smears will affect the reflective qualities.
As well as material detail, it is important that the model has a level of detail that reinforces this believability. Tiny shadow gaps or chamfered edges to catch the light are crucial to mimicking reality. Without this, every edge will be too perfect and just look like any other CGI.
Having discussed the importance of imperfections in architectural visualisation, striking a balance is crucial. Inexperienced visualisers will get carried away with dirt and apply it everywhere giving a muddy feel to what the client wants portrayed as a beautiful, crisp, clean environment. Settings in software like VRay allow you to add in depth of field, chromatic aberrations and haze all too easily. Yes, it's all very clever, but is it actually what we want to be presenting? If you were commissioned to take a photograph of a large, brightly lit lobby with a 24mm lens, would you actually see noticeable depth of field like you had shot it with a telephoto macro? Would you want to have smudges and streaks all over your expensive Canon 'L' Series lens like you haven't cleaned it properly? No you wouldn't, and you wouldn't get another commission! The effects would be there, of course, but they would be so subtle, you wouldn't even notice it.
Of course, all this attention to detail and imperfection takes time to apply and experience to implement. Blink Image has nearly 20 years experience making the unbuilt world seem real. Every new commission allows us to push things that bit further.
If you'd like to discuss a project, and need more than a straightforward CGI (a 'Click-Render' as we call them!), give us a call.