3D Animation Workshop: Lesson 88: The New 3D Artist
Lesson 88 - The New 3D Artist - Part 1
For the last six months, I've used these columns to evangelize the arrival of a new era in Web 3D technologies. I'm not entirely comfortable with the role of evangelist, but I think it's necessary and will no doubt be returning to it soon. An important sign that 3D for the Internet is on the rise can be found in the Special Edition of 3D Magazine (Spring 2000), devoted entirely to Web 3D. If you haven't seen this issue, go grab it while it is still on the stands because it covers a wide range of issues very well. If nothing else, it confirms the explosion of interest in this critical subject.
Yet, the deeper I've ventured into the brave new world of Web 3D, the more I've come to shift my thinking about direction and opportunities in 3D graphics generally. 3D computer graphics is a very new field, both artistically and technologically, as is just becoming mature enough to require a major reassessment of its future. This kind of assessment is critical to everyone involved in 3D graphics because, as in all areas of technology, success or disappointment depends largely one's ability to accurately assess the future. I am growing more and more convinced that the future belongs to the 3D artist who masters the concepts and tools of interactivity.
Let me share my reasoning with you.
Until fairly recently, the primary commercial focus of 3D computer graphics was in service of the motion picture and video industries. The most successful application of 3D has been in producing high-end visual effects for major motion picturesÂso much so that many movies over the past few years have been designed and marketed primarily as computer graphics spectaculars. The money is Hollywood is very big and the results have been very impressive, but the number of persons actually employed in these efforts is quite small. The time passed many years ago when there was any real shortage of CG talent in Hollywood. That doesn't mean that new people won't find their way in, especially if they are highly motivated. But Hollywood industry represents a very narrow and risky career path.
For a number of years, 3D has been hyped as the dominant vehicle for feature character animation, but despite some high-profile successes, the situation remains unclear. 3D has a lot of problems to solve in this area, and even when it does, we cannot be certain that viewers will prefer a 3D look to a drawn look. I wouldn't bet the house right now on the triumph of 3D as the primary tool for character animation.
Where 3D has succeeded, and is growing explosively, is in the video game field. I read the other day that video and computer game sales are poised to pass motion picture box office receipts. The arrival of the Sony PlayStation 2 promises to raise the standard of gaming in the most striking way, but its effects will be felt more broadly. Once the average kid owns a state-of-the-art real time graphics player (which is what the new PlayStation is), the desktop and laptop computer market must follow suit. Intel is battling with Advanced Micro Devices to stay ahead in the race for processor speed. 1000 MHz (1 gigahertz) processors are here right now, running twice as fast as the 500 MHz models that were the speedburners of only five months ago. These speeds are entirely unnecessary for word processing and general Web surfing, but will make the regular home PC the graphics equivalent of a dedicated games console. When you add the recent drastic price decreases in powerful 3D-accelerated graphics cards, the stage is set for the mainstreaming of high-end interactive 3D graphics on the personal computer and business workstation.
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Created: Mar. 14, 2000
Revised: Mar. 14, 2000