Photo-realistic images are playing a very important part in architecture, interior design and real estate. These renders help professionals take their clients on a virtual journey before embarking on significant investments and can be a very cost effective way of exploring and examining design developments. Established in 2000, Reality 3D is one of the longest standing 3D companies in Australia, creating life-like illustrations of homes, high-rises, commercial real estate and integrated resorts for Australia’s leading developers and builders.

“As designers, having the opportunity to see our vision come to life before a project is built is not only gratifying, it really helps to solidify our design goals. It also enables us as a team to make key planning decisions before we face time pressure when the build kicks off on site. The work of Reality 3D really is incredible – the VR is amazing and has proved a game changer in terms of our design delivery. Having the ability to see sight lines and lay out furniture in spaces has taken our design insight to a new level. Our favourite project to date is Albatross Ave, Gold Coast where we were able to fine tune every detail prior to installation.” Kate Walker, Founder & Director, KWD

We spoke to James Vigden, Creative Director of Reality 3D about their story, and the significant part renders are playing in the Australian marketplace.

Can you tell me about how Reality 3D was formed and the premise behind the concept?

It was the start of 2000 and I was working as a mainframe programmer designing payment systems for the travel industry. A friend of mine who was studying multimedia and film came to me with an article he had been reading for university. It was the discussion on how movie technologies were being used in alternative fields. After looking into it, we realised that Australia was very behind in the way we were advertising in the building industry… and Reality 3D was born.

When we started Reality 3D, just two months later in March 2000, most of the illustrations were still hand-drawn and it was difficult to convince anyone that this was the way forward. So difficult that we couldn’t get any work and we actually had to supplement our product by taking 360 degree photos and producing VR tours of boats, but once the industry started to catch up we were lucky enough to be in a good position to be able to develop some great relationships with clients, some of which have carried through to today.

Then in 2018 the new chapter of Reality 3D was born, Revista. This side of the business is focusing on the exciting new gaming technology available and putting together holistic solutions to for our clients’ marketing needs.

Who makes up your team?

We have 13 staff members that make up Reality 3D and our new division – Revista. Our team is currently made up of 11 men, and two very talented women who balance out the crazy office and give us a sense of order.  Our team is from different backgrounds and journeys, team members that have studied architecture, business, interior architecture, marketing and digital design. Many of them have travelled the world and have gained so much experience that they bring to the office every day.  We are very family-orientated, there are three brothers who work for us, along with a brother and sister duo and their nephew!  We are so lucky to have a driven, talented and incredible bunch of people that make our team. 

How long has the concept of life-like illustrations been around?

The concept of life-like illustrations has been around for many years.  Alan Hayes Davidson was a British architect and he pioneered architectural visualisation in 1989. He had an interest in technology and computing, and after completed his degree in London he started ‘Hayes Davidson’s London studio’ – the UK’s first architectural visualisation practice. They really did set the foundation stones for the industry. Reality 3D was only 10 years behind them, and since then we have produced thousands of images for our clients. From static images, to animations, to now completely interactive virtual experiences, it is incredible to see how life-like illustrations have developed over the years. It is exciting to see where the future of 3D visualisations will lie and what industries will use this incredible marketing tool in the future.

What industries is this service applicable for?

Reality 3D loves to work with building companies, interior designers, project managers, property developers, real estate professionals, architects, marketing agencies and even theme park developers, but it is not limited to the construction market.  Over the years we have done a huge range of very interesting projects for all kinds of markets,  from jobs as small as soda-can label design presentations, through to V8 Supercar promotions. We have worked regularly in the marine industry on projects such as marketing material for Riviera, through to animations of product design to show new engine flushing systems on super yachts.  We have worked on solar farms, I-fly indoor parachuting and armoured vehicles. If you need to depict a vision before it is built, we are here to help. Revista is playing with all the new technologies that have become available and the most exciting part is finding out all the new markets that can benefit from these technologies the most.

What are the benefits for clients who choose to have renders created?

We love seeing the benefit of having 3D visualisations created for our clients. Our main clients are developers and builders who require life-like illustrations of homes, high-rises, integrated resorts and interiors. We have property developers that are building a new development and want to give a marketing proposal to their future buyers or require imagery to satisfy council requirements. We have interior designers that work with us and want to see exactly how their designs are going to look before the build has begun, or more commonly and often more importantly they are trying to convey their vision to their clients. This allows them to get their clients approvals or to make changes to a design easily and effectively . It also reveals how exciting the development is going to look – and with high end projects where the client is spending a lot of money, it can give them a sense of security that the money is being spent in the right way and they are making the right decisions.

With Revista, what began as a sales and marketing tool now shows benefits end to end in the design and building process. Research now shows the impact that Virtual Reality and other 3D walk through tools has on buildability and efficiency. Using our models all stakeholders can get on the same page so designs are better, builds are faster, there are less mistakes and customers are much more confident and likely to purchase. In the age of Covid-19 the ability to really showcase buildings and materials online from anywhere immersively and easily from a Revista kiosk is critical. In conjunction with our Reality 3D work it really does offer and end to end marketing solution that can be delivered to anyone, anywhere with a customer experience like no other.

How long does it take to create a render / what is the process?

Ah we get this question a bit..unfortunately, there is no answer to it. It is like asking how long it takes to build “something “. It depends if you are building a cubby house or high-rise. We have worked on jobs that take one hour through to a single image depicting the 50 year plan of the Robina/Varsity suburbs on the Gold Coast that had quite a “few” rounds of  changes from the planners we were working with. It took 10 weeks to complete and about 200 hours of work as we started from scratch more than a couple of times and incorporated a huge parcel of land that had to be fully detailed with all specific building and facilities.

However, in general most still imagery ranges from one to five days to complete. It is usually a fairly simple process. We start with as much detail as we can be provided in order to give an image that is a close as possible to the end result. After an initial massing of the model is complete, we then get camera angle approvals and move on the final draft stage. From here the client can make the more detailed mark-ups to colours, materials, décor and landscape.

Have you seen innovations in renders evolve in recent years?

The quality of materials and models has slowly improved year to year, but the core way the technology works hasn’t really changed to much since we started in 2000. However, in 2018 I began to see that the industry was again (nearly 20 years later) starting to go through another technology shift. New gaming and virtual reality software was starting to be leveraged in the architecture industry. It was the first really big jump in technology I’d seen since we began, and I could see the potential was huge. With the help of some new business partners, Revista was launched in January 2018 and we have spent the last 2.5 years staying on the forefront of the available technology. Revista complements Reality 3D perfectly, by providing game changing virtual experiences.

Initial challenges with headsets and software that was still in its beta format have been addressed and we now have a range of products in market, from complete virtual display homes that can be viewed online or via our Virtual Reality Kiosks to unbelievable quality material selection tools for items such as tiles, benchtops, fixtures and fittings. We have software development underway to deliver a seamless experience to our clients who can then provide an amazing experience for their customers. Revista Home, Revista Studio, Revista Land and Revista Marine make up our current services range and within these there are a broad range of delivery products for our 3D models. Our aim is to develop a seamless end to end virtual experience for customers building and buying homes, boats or really anything you can think of.


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