Glass is easy to create in 3D programs, right? All you need do is create a surface that's reflective and transparent.
This was exactly the kind of assumption made by one of my friends yesterday. In truth, creating realistic glass models is a pain in the butt, and without sophisticated rendering and lighting techniques, it would be nearly impossible.
3D software has made modeling glass much easier now, but you just have to marvel at the amount of calculations that goes into each 3D frame. Even with a good computer, rendering a high
resolution picture can take several minutes to complete.
Just take a look at these Ottawa windows, for instance (they're from the Bank of Canada in Ottawa.)
One quick glance at them reveals the sheer amount of elements affecting how the windows and their reflections will turn out. Here are a few elements the program has to take into account:
- Background objects, like the curtains and the tree
- Objects within the glass, or glass in front of other glass.
- Ambient light and sunlight (not to mention their position relative to the glass).
- The textures of the glass itself, and the textures of objects reflecting on glas. The shape
- The broader shape of the windows.
Pretty crazy, huh? Now, your homework assignment for tonight is to find out how many supercooled, military-grade computers were used to render all of Avatar.
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