Strangers Guide to 3D Modeling in the Fields of Industry

Bryn Fields
November 4, 2010
English Comp II
The Strangers Guide to 3D Modeling In the Fields of Industry
3D modeling, in its broadest and most common sense is the act of taking simple
geometric shapes such as boxes or spheres and meshing them into a complex creations of any
magnitude. This paper will not be fully about the artistic side or the technical side of these
programs. This paper will not be fully focused on one topic but several. Finally, some of these
parts you might find fascinating and others dull. The range that I will be writing about will
include 4 different fields of industry and will describe how 3D modeling and 3D imaging
technology have improved key areas within them. The access to freedom of creativity has given
birth to many academic, scientific, commercial, and medical achievements throughout the
years. I will write about some of those achievements and their impact of how they have helped
for better procedures with other methodologies on the way things are done.
Before we dive straight into the many different fields where 3D modeling and 3D
imagining are used, I feel that I should explain more about how objects are made using the
commercial modeling programs. The process of making 3D models is rather simple, so long as
you can understand the tools. I have quickly made a short montage of pictures to help show the
process of taking a box and meshing it into a gremlin looking character.
3D Modeling Academic Comprehensive Essay
In Fg1, the total amount of time this took me to model the final image was about 15
minutes, which in modeling terms is relatively quick. I would like to apologize for the chaotic
order onto where the images are placed; the images came out a bit too large during the
rendering of each step and I had to resize them as I went along in photoshop. Most projects in
3D modeling take hours to days to complete and are usually comprised with such finite detail,
that takes just as long if not longer to render out (render means for the computer to create the
image or movie with full details in it such as lighting, shadows, effects, etc...) For further
example of rendering time, the movie, Toy Story 1, took an incredibly long time both to make
and render. A quote from an unknown columnist who works at Entertainment Weekly Online
3D Modeling Academic Comprehensive Essay
who had a chance for to interview the producer stated that the movie took “A whopping
114,240 frames, 600 billion bytes (1,000 CD-ROMs hold the film's data), 160 billion pixels, and
800,000 machine hours…“ (EW1) The important bit of information here is the number of
machine hours it took for Pixar to render out the movie. Machine hour in technical
circumstances is a term used to state how many hours a computer has been left on to
continuously work on a task.
To further detail, a frame is like a picture. Each frame shows about a seconds worth of
imagery before moving onto the next frame, as in the case of movies. As for still frames, the
picture example I placed above is a perfect example of still frames. Each picture within it is a
still frame which I used to show the progression of making an object.
Now that we have gone over some examples of what 3D modeling is and how it is done I
want to also explain that for some fields of study such as Medicine, 3D modeling is labeled in a
different term and is vastly different from what you have seen and I will explain further once
we get to the subject. Since so far I have been talking mainly about the commercial side of the
topic, let us dive further into how the commercial industry feels about how it applies the use of
3D modeling.
The easiest topic to see the achievements of modern 3D creativity and ingenuity is from
commercially based entertainment. Top class movies like Avatar and Iron Man were all made
possible thanks to the prowess of 3D programs. James Cameron’s co-producer for Avatar, Jon
Landau, stated: “Avatar would not be possible, but for Autodesk. It made the impossible,
3D Modeling Academic Comprehensive Essay
possible and for that, James Cameron and I are eternally grateful.” (AD1) Autodesk is the
leading company for innovative 3D modeling software in the world. It is evident how popular
and powerful their tools are, in that their top 2 modeling programs, 3ds Max and Maya,
generate the most competition between themselves, and are the top selling 3D modeling
programs in the world. The reason why Autodesk has become so popular and renowned as a
mainstream producer for 3D modeling software is mainly due to the fact of how old their
company truly is. Autodesk was started up in 1982 which in tech years is relatively old. They
started out with the release of the program AutoCAD, which is an architectural program
allowing users to make detailed and accurate blueprints. They quickly rose in the ranks of
industrial software designers. Each year Autodesk makes an expansion onto their already
existing products, fixing bugs and adding in new features that make new things possible and old
things easier and less time consuming. Having 20 years of experience in designing software and
gaining customers trust, Autodesk has become the ideal group with whom to work and buy
Another reason people prefer Autodesk over the many other companies and groups
who offer efficient and at times free software, is the fact of just how expensive Autodesk
products cost. I know this may sound odd or off to you but the items you purchase from them
are not toys or simple play things, even if they are fun to play with. They are tools in which one
can invest. The current price for 3ds Max with a lifetime license is $3,495. Due to the significant
price for this piece of software, Autodesk makes sure that it’s as bug-free as possible and
provides extensive additional content. They provide tutorials for all levels of experience and
ensure that these can be easily accessed. New versions are available each year or two. There
3D Modeling Academic Comprehensive Essay
are many other 3D modeling programs that each have their own abilities and specifications,
and most of these programs are made to work with each other. A quick list of other programs
that work along with 3ds Max and Maya includes:
Zbrush (sculpting and detail adding program),
MudBox (sculpting and detail adding program),
Blender (free 3D modeling program),
Softimage (free 3D modeling program).
Most of these programs are used commercially and have sorts of Terms and Conditions of what
can and cannot be done or used when a project becomes ready to sell on the open market.
A video interview with a cinematic company called Blur, which does many of the
cinematic scenes for video games, gave much insight of how far the program and community of
3D modeling and game production has come. A quote from the interview that really stood out
to me:
If you look at 20 years of evolution of the products, the amount of flexibility that
we have to create. Character, worlds, effects that no one has dreamed of. With 3ds Max
anything is possible… We always have had a partnership with Autodesk. They have been
very attentive to what we need and they really realize that it’s not about selling
software, as much as it is about creating a great product that artists can use. (AD2)
3D Modeling Academic Comprehensive Essay
It is through here that we gain some insight of the freedom that these products give to
the commercial world. The ability to be able to create a powerful message, story, or product
through visual art is something that helps build trust between companies and their customers.
Crysis, acclaimed to be one of the greatest 3D graphic games for the PC has always been on
the number one list to make people awe over the cinematic style scenery. The picture
above is a screenshot someone took while in the game to show just how breathtaking the
landscape was. Crysis was released in 2007 and to this day is still regarded as one of the
3D Modeling Academic Comprehensive Essay
highest quality graphical games out on the market. This is relevant to 3D modeling because
not only did it allow consumers to own and create completely beautiful virtual worlds but
also forced the commercial companies to compete with this immense leap in graphic design
that game offered. Within 6 months of Crysis being released, 4 or 5 other games with close
or similar quality of graphics were placed on the market. Some used the same game engine
– an extensive program that runs all the behind-the-scene information for the game - and
others used engines that were made from the ground up, since previous models could not
compete. Nearly 4 years have passed since the release of Crysis; a few games have been
released where the in-game cinematics may beat those of Crysis, but not many have gone
beyond what it has to offer with respect to in-game graphics. The closest that comes to
mind would be Final Fantasy 13 (FFXII). While Crysis stunned people with its geographical
marvels, FFXIII excelled in very detailed and realistic character design.
And while the growth of 3D modeling industry has exploded in the last 20 years, we still see
more and more improvements being implemented. I find myself asking how much further
can we go? If we can achieve this level of design already using these programs, how much
more realistic will it be in another 20 years? This is already become a norm in society and is
used greatly in the all commercials we take for granted. We see it in television, movies,
music videos, video games, and all other sorts of media. As to how far it eventually goes, I
3D Modeling Academic Comprehensive Essay
have no idea, but the pattern so far shows that it has come far and is not going to stop for
The study of medicine is always changing; advancements in procedures to help those
who are in need are being introduced regularly. Within the last 100 years, new procedures have
allowed us to see patients bones (x-ray discovered 1895), view lymphatic nodes, ultrasound,
and so much more. Thanks to these advances, medical practitioners can now get accurate scans
of patients and be able to generate 3D models, referred to as 3D imagining, of whatever was
scanned to help doctors examine issues with their patients. Unfortunately most of this
technology is reserved for extreme concerns such as intense bone fractures, problems with
internal organs, and other issues. A quote from the academic article, A Survey of Medical Image
Registration by J. B. Antoine Maintz and Max A. Viergever;
The imaging modalities employed can be divided into two global categories:
anatomical and functional. Anatomical modalities, i.e. depicting primarily morphology,
include X-ray, CT (computed tomography a), MRI (magnetic resonance imaging b), US
(ultrasound c), portal images and video sequences obtained by various catheter’
scopes’, e.g. by laparoscopy or laryngoscopy. (M&V)
3D Modeling Academic Comprehensive Essay
For the purpose of this paper, we will focus on the anatomical modalities. The procedures
listed in the quote have 3 different spatial dimensions onto which the data can be viewed and
transcribed by the computer; 2D-2D, 3D-3D, and 2D-3D.
In the simplest terms that spatial dimensions can be described as follows:
Spatial (infrequently spelled spacial) dimensions are those which we normally associate with the
characteristics of height, length, width. It would be correct to say that a cube has three equal spatial dimensions.
The term dimension is used to refer to the size of something, so spatial dimension is the aspect of the physical
extent, or spatial extend, of an object. One may also speak of other measurements of size … A person's age is a size
in the time dimension. The universe is known to have three spatial dimensions and one time dimension …
The concept of dimensions is not limited to space and time … The concept of size or extent, hence the concept of
dimension, goes beyond physics and mathematics and one can, for example, speak of the color dimensions
something may have.
In short, a spatial dimension refers to physical size in one direction in space and there are three spatial dimensions
and one temporal dimension that are intrinsic to the universe in which we live. (
I will try to ‘translate’ what I believe in much easier terms. In this world there are 3
spatial dimensions (2d-2d, 2d-3d,-3d-3d), from what I understand 2d-2d images are the
equivalent of a standard picture that you would find in a picture frame or what you would see
on TV or in a movie - a flat non popping out surface. 2d-3d is what I believe would be
considered what you would see in movies and TV, things that are really flat but with
technology, whether it be special glasses or whatever, it projects a 3d image to the human
brain. And as for 3d-3d this is where the image would actually have to be projected in a way
3D Modeling Academic Comprehensive Essay
where it can be viewed in a manner where the user could move around it and see it in multiple
angles and views.
At the current stage, 3D imaging is used more in a study-based case instead of what can
be called action-oriented case into where the technology is issued on the spot. One of the lead
areas of 3D imaging is Stanford’s department of radiology, sub department 3D Radiology.
“Using the 3D imaging lab has allowed us in pediatric urology to identify and assess renal
scarring and damage that has not been recognized by any other imaging means, and has
changed my management and thinking about children with vesicoureteral reflux.” (SF1)
Thanks to many universities, like Stanford, achievements in 3D imaging have allowed
practitioners to be able to apply 3D imaging to the following
Surgery (general, vascular, cardiothoracic, neuro, plastic, and orthopedics)
With (…)
The study of 3D modeling in academics is still relatively new but has been steadily
growing over the years. 3D modeling application in academia started off by the use of awful
looking (self opinion) instructional videos and it wasn’t till the commercial industry started to
3D Modeling Academic Comprehensive Essay
use 3D effects that students took more of an interest in the topic. Today you can apply to
schools dedicated strictly to the subject, such as Full Sail University. Full Sail is a pure
multimedia college located in Winter Park, Florida. The reason I chose to discuss this university
instead of others is because of the number of the distinguished achievements that their alumni
have made as a result of their education. One grad is has been nominated for an award for
doing the special effects for Lady Gaga’s music video Bad Romance.
“We offer prospective 3D artists a complete program of study through a combination of fine
art and high technology,” says Bandstra, director of the computer animation and game art
programs. “When students emerge from Full Sail University, they will be 3D content developers
capable of creating content for the film, television, games, architecture, medical, and all
manner of other industries.”
3D modeling in schools has allowed freedom and creativity to flow freely within the
students who attends them, giving them the tools and power to innovate, impacting their own
lives and the work and lives of many others.
Another academic center with a focus on 3D modeling (commercially at least) is an
online school called The Game Institute. While focusing mainly on gaming they do offer courses
on Robotics, Physics Emulation in programs, AI Path-finding and much more. Even though this
school does not really have any significant “achievements”, it helps its students by using
working professionals in their faculty who have practical experience working in industries that
use 3D modeling. I personally can vouch for the method and have been happy with their
lessons on programming and do wish to do their 3D modeling course one day. Due to the fact
3D Modeling Academic Comprehensive Essay
that it is online, students can take as long as they need to complete the work and once finished
they can go to a specific testing location to take a true paper final to get college credits. (…)
3D modeling in the field of science has greatly increased the ability with which scientists can
create accurate recreations of they are studying. A short article from NASA shows how they
used 3D modeling to recreate the landscape of Mars by using the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter
to gather data. NASA used this data to recreate the terrain. The image is a bit exaggerated due
to the lack of complete and accurate data.
Such digital terrain models are superior to standard stereo images viewed with
blue-red glasses, which show only relative changes in elevation instead of absolute
numerical data. Digital terrain models can be used for rendering perspective views from
any angle or even fly-by movies. More importantly, they can be used for detailed
quantitative analysis, such as profiles, slopes, morphometry, numeric modeling, etc.
Another person thought up of a very similar idea using both a combination of 3D
modeling, aerial photography, and GIS to be able to create accurate and detailed scenes of
cities and rural areas.
3D urban models provide a better visual representation of urban space and
urban features than 2D maps (Ranzinger and Gleixner 1995). The importance of 3D
urban models with multiple levels of detail has been evidenced by a wide range of
applications, such as urban planning, architecture, navigation, public safety studies,
3D Modeling Academic Comprehensive Essay
transmitter placement for telecommunication, and flight simulation.”(GIS-BASED 3D
WEI-MING, LIN, the author of the article, CONSTRUCTING A GIS-BASED 3D URBAN
MODEL USING LIDAR AND AERIAL PHOTOGRAPHS, and the quote above, believes that with
his hypothesis of using 2 different data gathering sources and importing it into a 3D generating
program we will be able to gain highly detailed models onto which people of all fields of work
will be able to use. Wei-Ming also goes into greater detail of the multiple tools which he wishes
to try to combine.
The panoramic imaging method allows the user to look around an urban scene
with a full 360° view… Virtual reality modeling language (VRML) is a computer language
that can be used as a framework to create a virtual 3D view for a small urban
scene… The computer-aided design (CAD) technique is a very sophisticated and
powerful tool. CAD technique has strong capabilities in storing and managing large
amounts of geometric information about urban objects, and it is an efficient tool for
designing and creating urban objects. (GIS-BASED 3D URBAN MODEL2)
3D Modeling Academic Comprehensive Essay
Works Cited
"Autodesk - Autodesk 3ds Max Products - Customer Showcase." Autodesk - 3D Design &
Engineering Software for Architecture, Manufacturing, and Entertainment. Blur Studios.
Web. 30 Nov. 2010.
"Autodesk - Film - AVATAR." Autodesk - 3D Design & Engineering Software for Architecture,
Manufacturing, and Entertainment. Summer 2010. Web. 30 Nov. 2010.
"The Dominion Volumetric Imaging Scanner." Imaging3, Inc.-True Real Time 3D Medical
Imaging, C-Arm Remanufacturing/Service. 2010. Web. 11 Nov. 2010.
"Full Sail Grad, Culley Bunker: Special Effects Nomination for MTV VMA Award." Full Sail
University: Campus and Online Degrees. 9 Sept. 2010. Web. 30 Nov. 2010.
"Game Institute." Game Programming, Video Game Design, Video Game Programming. Web.
30 Nov. 2010. <>.
"IGN: Final Fantasy XIII Pictures (PS3) Full Size 3086638." IGN FFXIII Picture Gallery. 17 Dec. 2009. Web.
01 Dec. 2010. <>.
3D Modeling Academic Comprehensive Essay
Maintz, Antoine J.B., and Max A. Viergever. A Survey of Medical Image Registration. Thesis.
Image Sciences Institute, Utrecht University Hospital, Utrecht, The Netherlands, 1997.
Oxford UP. Print.
Michaelalanlee. "What Is Spatial Dimension?" Autumn 2010. Web. 1 Dec. 2010.
"Testimonials." Standford Medicine. Web. 20 Nov. 2010.
"'Toy Story': The Inside Buzz | News |" Entertainment Weekly's |
Entertainment News | TV News | TV Shows | Movie, Music and DVD Reviews. 08 Dec.
1995. Web. 30 Nov. 2010. <,,299897_7,00.html>.
Webster, Guy. "NASA - Enhanced 3D Model of Mars Crater Edge Shows Ups and Downs." NASA
- Home. JPL, 17 Feb. 2010. Web. 30 Nov. 2010.
Webster, Guy. "NASA - Terrain Model of Mars' Mojave Crater." NASA - Home. JPL, 17 Feb. 2010.
Web. 30 Nov. 2010.
PHOTOGRAPHS. Thesis. Texas A&M University, 2004. Print.