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The future of imagery


What is the future of commercial imagery?

The above image was made, start to finish, in under 45 minutes using a stock model, stock photographs, stock HDRI panoramas and the Maya and Mental Ray software packages. To have photographed this image "for real" would have cost tens of thousands of dollars (if not more), required weeks of prep, transportation of the actual vehicle up onto an icy glacier and everything would have been at the mercy of the weather.

There’s no doubt that CGI – Computer Generated Imagery – is changing the landscape of image creation as we know it. Today almost all types of commercial photography, from architectural images, to fashion "photography," to automotive advertising and product imagery, are increasingly relying on CGI. These days it’s hard to find an image that wasn't in some way touched by a computer as a way to enhance the end result. CGI offers up incredible new opportunities for creative freedom as well as a way to reduce costs and deliver images in a fraction of the time otherwise required.

But this doesn't mean that it's either photography or CGI. The reality is that good CGI simply isn't possible without actual photography working behind the scenes. And perhaps even more importantly, the most successful "computer generated" images are almost always a true hybrid of real photography and CGI.

Modern-day CGI grew out of photography. Many of the concepts are the same and there's a huge amount of opportunity on both sides of the "fence" to utilize and learn from what photographers and CGI artists can bring to the table.
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