COMPUTER GENERATED IMAGES (CGI) VERSUS PHOTOGRAPHIC MONTAGE


 

THE QUESTION


This article will explore the use of 3D in a photo-montage when creating exterior visualisations. We love producing a good photo-montage, but when is it time to consider a full 3d scene? There are many factors to take into consideration. Finally we also explore the future of the photo-montage charging you to consider its validity.

THE PHOTO-MONTAGE


What is a photomontage?
"Photomontage is the process and the result of making a composite photograph by cutting, gluing, rearranging and overlapping two or more photographs into a new image. Sometimes the resulting composite image is photographed so that a final image may appear as a seamless photographic print." From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
There are a few things to consider when commissioning a photo-montage. Below are a few advantages and disadvantages for you to consider.

Advantages:
Context, there's no better way of visualising the design with a good photograph.
Before & After, Flip between the two images to really understand the design schemes impact.
Time, Not having to model the surrounding environment should result in producing quicker results.
Planning, planners love photo-montages. They get to see the full impact of your proposal. 
Verified Views: Full accurate visual representations but a surveyor is used to record the camera's position & key points.
Disadvantages:
Limitations, There is a limitation when using photography for a back drop. The camera angle is set and the perspective is limited to your photograph. 
Photography: To really make sure the montage looks good. Your backdrop photograph needs to be good to. This can be difficult if the weather is inclement.
Clutter: removing clutter can be costly.
Content, sometimes there are obstructions blocking your view. Ether it be traffic or scaffolding these need to be removed in Photoshop and this can take time.
Clients: Some clients like to design and develop on the fly, This can be difficult with photographic a montage.
In general the photo-montage route should offer the best results. As long as the foundations are in place. A good photograph should offer the perfect canvas to work on. Make sure all parties have agreed and signed off the photograph. Unlike full 3d stepping back in the process is difficult. A major part of photo-montage is Photoshop. We use Photoshop to mask out and layer the final visual and this can take time. There is a lot more front end work when manipulating photography unlike full CGI.

 THE CGI ROUTE


As a team of visualisers there is no doubt that a fully modelled scene is a more preferred option. This avenue allows for greater control and flexibility, but getting the detail and contextual information is a lengthy process. Below highlights a few considerations.

Advantages:
Any angle, once the model has been built then the fun begins. Choose the best camera angle with ease.
Time of day, you have total control. Day or night you decide.
Weather, again the choice is yours.
Tweaks, we can refine, manipulate and tweak. Very easily in full CGI. 
Clients: Some clients like to design and develop on the fly, A full 3d scene can help.
Disadvantages:
Time: To get the real sense of context you'll have to create the surrounding environment which will take time.
Accuracy: You wont get any better than a photograph for 100% accuracy.
3d Collateral: Is there any? More and more architects are using 3d so its worth asking the question. This can save a lot of work.

 

IN SUMMARY


In summary both options provide great solutions. The real question for us is the client.
Do they make changes during the visualisation process?
Do they need the flexibility that a full 3d scene can provide?
Are they able to get a good photograph?
Once these questions have been asked then we can advise accordingly. Always consider both options, consider the future implications and developments that your project may require. Future proof your project. Understand the limitations of photography. Either or they results can be the same but the process can be a lot different.

 

THE FUTURE


WebGL & Aerial 3D


One of the future developments you may want to consider is WebGL and Aerial 3D. These 3D solutions when combined offer a great method of demonstrating a 3d immersive montage. Once your 3D Aerial scan is complete we then add to  your proposed architecture. This allows you to view the proposal for any angle. Why not switch between 3d scenarios allowing you to gain a greater understanding of the before and after. Planners can then evaluate all aspects of the planning proposal in 3D and in real-time. 
Try it for yourself. Download time may vary...

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