Are 3D Artists the Photographers of the Future? Why the likes of IKEA have ditched photography in favour of Computer Generated Images

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You’ll be surprised to hear that the impossible perfection that you see when flicking through an Ikea catalogue isn’t just a coincidence – in an interview with IKEA’s IT manager, Martin Enthed, it was revealed that a whopping 75% of the “photography” in the catalogue is in fact completely computer generated!

He goes on to reveal that since 2006, IKEA has shifted to using 3D modelling to make products look absolutely perfect. Photography is hard to get right – lighting, composition and not to mention the difficulty in making edits after the fact. Need to add an extra Poäng chair or Stockholm rug? Normally the entire shoot would need to be redone, but with CGI, it can easily be slipped in and you’ll still be none the wiser. In addition, no products need to be shipped, no time is spent in the studio, and retouching is not an issue. Additionally, in a 3D creation suite, everything can be manipulated – from where the shadows fall to the focus of the “camera”; the laws of physics are no longer an issue.

In addition, we cannot understate the power that CGI has. In Hollywood, CGI has become the industry standard, and in most cases, you’ll be left scratching your head wondering whether what you saw was real or if it was fabricated on a computer. It’s hard enough telling with IKEA “photos”, but movies like Titanic & The Wolf of Wall Street also used CGI extensively. This video demonstrates how much CGI was actually used in The Wolf of Wall Street, a title most people don’t ever associate with CGI. A lot of what you see in cinema isn’t real anymore, but is it just a matter of time before it takes over commercial photography as well? Will 3D artists eventually replace photographers?

In short, no. We can’t deny the power of CGI, but it is still much faster and easier to take a simple photograph. Producing a photo with CGI may, in fact, cost more to begin with as modelling will take longer than just setting up a photography studio.

It will also depend on the industry; IKEA can really benefit from CGI because it is constantly having to reuse assets; they don’t have to remake models when inserting them in a new scene and will save money in the long run. On top of that, lighting is hard to get right in room photography, so CGI is a very attractive option.

Conversely, CGI for headshots, food photography, textiles and fashion are incredibly hard to get right – for example, making a convincing face in CGI is incredibly hard and expensive. It will be much easier to just take a simple photo in 2020. However, it is worth mentioning that technology using 3D photogrammetry and 3D Scanners may, in the future, change up the game dramatically.

Overall, CGI is making its mark on the digital marketing industry. Nonetheless, there are limitations to the tool and most likely the future will see a healthy mix of real photos and CGI. Photography will likely have a spot in the industry for a long while, and here at Splento, we help clients get the best, highest quality photography possible.

Visit our website to learn more about our commercial photography services and how we can boost your digital presence!