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Job Description: 3D Visualiser

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3D visualisation is a synonym for computer-generated imagery, 3D rendering, 3D graphics, etc. All of these terms refer to the digital process of creating some graphical content by using 3D technology – that is the task of a 3D visualiser.

This advanced technology has become a trend in the last few years, and businesses that use it to their advantage get a better chance to beat their competition. Modern 3D visualisation has evolved into real science, and it's now the most viable option for companies that are looking to promote their digital content.

Put simply, 3D visualisers will allow you to create top-class digital content that modern consumers prefer when deciding on their purchases. Therefore, they play an essential role in the realm of modern business and marketing.

Job Description and Benefits

3D visualisers bring ideas to life, taking plans, illustrations and other reference materials and using these to produce photo-realistic 3D images or animations of proposed models, plans, designs, buildings and developments. As a 3D visualiser, you’ll need to be both creative and technically-minded, in order to model prospective physical objects that will both function well and look good.

The main roles and responsibilities for a 3D visualiser include the ability to understand and handle CAD. They should also be able to use minimum sketches to model and supervise projects, and work with other third parties collaboratively.

Depending on the company, 3D visualisers are also required to work on walk-through and rendering on visuals projects, camera animation, lighting, texturing, unwrapping, and architectural 3D modelling.

Since there's a need for utterly photorealistic images, the top 3D visualisers must have the ability to create immensely photorealistic animation, landscape visuals, interiors, and exteriors. They have to be able to use various renderers too.

The responsibilities of a 3D visualiser could include:

  • Working closely with architectural and design teams to plan and visualise construction projects
  • Presenting and explaining visuals to colleagues and clients
  • Ensuring all ideas are represented as accurately and attractively as possible 
  • Assisting with planning decisions
  • Creating both static visualisations and animations/CGI (computer-generated imagery) 
  • Working with industry-standard design tools and programmes
  • Visualising building concepts in various graphic mediums
  • Keeping up-to-date with relevant software advances
  • Producing high-quality atmospheric visualisations for competition and client presentations
  • Modelling 3D forms to a brief using appropriate software applications
  • Rendering in 3D StudioMax and post-production in Photoshop
  • Supporting architectural teams to produce visualisations for presentation
  • Making simple but effective presentations in-house as required

A 3D visualiser should have:

  • Proficiency in 3D StudioMax, Photoshop and VRay/Corona
  • Knowledge of Revit / Enscape / 3D Microstation 
  • The ability to understand and interpret architectural drawings, models and concepts
  • The ability to achieve high-quality outputs in a variety of media
  • Strong technical knowledge on the production of images and Illustrations
  • A keen eye for detail, composition and visual narrative

What is the work like?

As a 3D visualiser, you will collaborate with design and architectural teams to ensure that proposed project designs are reproduced accurately and effectively. You will also be responsible for ensuring that the project brief is followed and work is completed on schedule.

Traditional photography was the main means of creating visual content for the sake of marketing and advertising. While photography still has a special place in the business industry, it has silently given way to its contemporary ascendant — 3D visualisation.

This modern concept of art requires both technical and artistic skills. 3D visualisers use digital tools such as Cinema 4D, Maya, and Autodesk 3DS Max to create fantastic and immersive visualisations that can be used across numerous industries.

The best 3D visualisers take almost the same approach to their work as photographers. They either use the CAD files from engineers, or they make a 3D model of a product, and then they set up virtual environments, lights, and cameras to get the wanted effect and fulfil the client's requirements.

3D visualisation is very similar to photography, with a couple of major differences. The most obvious one would be the level of flexibility that 3D visualisers have. One more difference would be the level of control. That aside, most marketing and advertising you see today is created with 3D visualisation.

Then, there is the rise of visual content on the internet. We pretty much live in a visual world. That's simply because 3D visualisation technology allows professional artists to create extremely photorealistic renderings very quickly.

Modern and advanced digital tools allow these artists to fully control every aspect of the 3D visualisation. Because of that, 3D visualisation is now present in pretty much every industry, ranging from fashion, pharmaceutical, medical, and architectural to automotive, consumer-product, and others.

Hours and Environment

While they get to make strong use of their creative talents, 3D visualisers often experience the stress of having to meet deadlines, which may require having to work long hours. Still, they will typically work a normal 40-hour work week from an office working together with other members of the creative team.

Salary and other benefits

The expected salary for a 3D visualiser varies as you become more experienced.

  • Newly trained 3D visualisers can earn £18,000 - £25,000
  • Trained 3D visualisers with some experience can earn £25,000 - £30,000
  • Senior, chartered, or master 3D visualisers can earn £30,000 - £35,000

Hours and salary depend on location, employer and any overtime you may do.

Skills and Personal Qualities

Personal skills which are ideal for anyone thinking of pursuing a career as a 3D visualiser include: 

  • Creative and technical skills
  • Willingness to complete complex tasks
  • Strong communication skills and the ability the describe their work clear and effectively both in-house and externally
  • Effective listening skills and the ability to understand what’s required, asking questions where relevant
  • Ability to manage own workload and meet deadlines
  • Being able to undertake a diverse range of tasks, involving different people and different activities, whilst prioritising their own work and achieving fixed deadlines
  • Having sufficient knowledge and understanding to be able to provide graphical services and support to the standard required by Stanton Williams
  • Demonstrating enthusiasm, accuracy confidence and pride in their work
  • Being reliable, able to follow through and complete tasks, prepared to go the extra mile
  • Being flexible to meet the needs of the practice and its work

Interests

It is important for 3D visualisers to have an interest in:

  • Art/architecture and an understanding of design principles
  • The latest design trends
  • A 3D visualiser should have at least basic knowledge about other industries
  • Digital tools and software

Getting in

There are several routes to becoming a 3D visualiser. You could complete a university course, an apprenticeship or apply directly to an employer for work. You should explore these routes to becoming a 3D visualiser, to find out which is the right one for you. Although some of these options have certain qualification requirements, many employers are more interested in people who are enthusiastic, willing to learn and can follow instructions.

Entry for young people

In order to become a top 3D visualiser, you could complete an undergraduate degree in 3D design, graphic design, architectural visualisation, or a related subject. Your course should provide training in relevant design software such as AutoCAD, 3D Studio Max and VRay, as well as programmes such as Adobe Photoshop, Premier and other graphic or rendering software.

For an undergraduate degree, you’ll need:-

  • Up to 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths
  • 2 - 3 A levels, or equivalent.

Entry for adults

An apprenticeship with a construction company is a good way into the industry. You can become a 3D visualiser by completing a design or architectural apprenticeship. To become an apprentice, you’ll need GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, in English and maths, plus an art and design subject. Apprenticeships are open to anyone over the age of 16. As an apprentice, you will be fully employed by your company and expected to work a minimum of 30 hours a week. Your time will be split between on-the-job experience and a college or training provider.

Training

Experience within an architectural practice is certainly an advantage when applying for 3D visualiser jobs but is not essential. Most leadership roles will require at least 5 years of experience in a similar role in a creative environment; preferably with a graduate-level qualification or equivalent.

Getting On

Art worker, designer or any role which develops creative skills are roles that could lead to the role of 3D visualiser. It’s a role that is also a potential stepping stone to other roles such as creative director, though it will depend very much on your individual career path and the kind of companies you choose to work with.

Further Reading

Architectural Visualisation: Its Relevance to the Unbuilt World by Michael T. Secrist & Sarah E. Jones - A valuable, easy-read that describes what occurs daily at our busy firm to meet every deadline with visualisation pieces that rival the sharpest of photographs. This may be the only architectural visualisation book that speaks to you, the client, teaching you how this art form evolved, which available products will best promote your work, an overview of F13’s process, and what you can do in order to get the most out of the work you are paying for.

Real-Time Rendering by Multiple Authors - Real-Time Rendering combines fundamental principles with guidance on the latest techniques to provide a complete reference on three-dimensional interactive computer graphics. It will help you increase speed and improve image quality and learn the features and limitations of acceleration algorithms and graphics APIs. This latest fourth edition has been updated to include a chapter on virtual reality and augmented reality and covers new topics such as visual appearance, global illumination, and curves and curved surfaces. It is for anyone serious about computer graphics who wants to learn about algorithms that create synthetic images fast enough that the viewer can interact with a virtual environment.

The SketchUp Workflow for Architecture by Michael Brightman - The revised and updated second edition of The SketchUp Workflow for Architecture offers guidelines for taking SketchUp to the next level in order to incorporate it into every phase of the architectural design process. The text walks through each step of the SketchUp process from the early stages of schematic design and model organisation for both renovation and new construction projects to final documentation and shows how to maximise the LayOut toolset for drafting and presentations. Written by a noted expert in the field, the text is filled with tips and techniques to access the power of SketchUp and its related suite of tools.

Light ― Science & Magic: An Introduction to Photographic Lighting by Multiple Authors - Light―Science & Magic provides you with a comprehensive theory of the nature and principles of light, with examples and instructions for practical application. Featuring photographs, diagrams, and step-by-step instructions, this book speaks to photographers of varying levels. It provides invaluable information on how to light the most difficult subjects, such as surfaces, metal, glass, liquids, extremes (black-on-black and white-on-white), and portraits.

AutoCAD 2020 Instructor by James A Leach, Shawna Lockhart & Eric Tilleson - The objective of this book is to provide you with extensive knowledge of AutoCAD, whether you are taking an instructor-led course or learning on your own. AutoCAD 2020 Instructor maintains the pedagogy and in-depth coverage that have always been the hallmark of the Leach texts. As the top-selling university textbook for almost a decade, the AutoCAD Instructor series continues to deliver broad coverage of AutoCAD in a structured, easy-to-comprehend manner.

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