Editorial Notebook

Rendering your imagination

Bad news online doesn’t even faze me anymore; it’s just another tally on a long list of the events of 2020 at this point. As Monty Python says: “Always look on the bright side of life.” For me, learning 3D modeling while cooped up in my apartment made my days a little brighter.

It is difficult to find anything nice about a virus that has caused widespread fear and grief, but I urge you to try it anyway. In my isolation time, I was able to explore a passion of mine in more depth than I think I would’ve been able to if I had social gatherings and normal life to live. With my passion for photography, I became interested in 3D modeling and computer-generated imagery, or CGI. I have enjoyed using 3D modeling in studio classes, so I decided to devote more time to learning it. After learning how to use Blender, a free 3D modeling software, I feel like I will be coming out of my apartment room with a new skill under my belt. Recently, I even entered and placed fifth out of 136 participants in a nationwide render competition hosted by YouTuber Clint Jones and PNY Technologies. My favorite part about 3D modeling is that as long as you have the skills or patience to really put some work into it, you can create anything you want.

As the previous Photography Editor of The Polytechnic, I clearly love photography, and 3D modeling is an extension of this passion. I can make any scene I want in a 3D software without any of the limitations of physical photography. Want to go to an alley lit by neon signs in Tokyo without moving from your chair? You got it. Sci-fi city on a desert planet? Sure. I can put a camera at any height or any angle I want or create the exact composition I want instead of trying to find one. All real-life constraints disappear with computer-generated images.

Because of the limitless landscapes that you can create using 3D modeling, CGI is becoming more and more widespread in entertainment media. I guarantee that you have seen CG characters in recent movies or shows. In fact, it is often cheaper and more practical to hire a 3D environment artist than to build any kind of set. This method is exactly what was done in the wildly popular series The Mandalorian on Disney+. Most of the environments in that show are actually entirely fake, created on a computer and projected on a screen behind the actors in real time with real-time camera tracking. Your imagination really is the limit inside a virtual world.

COVID-19 has been a ridiculously tough time for a lot of people, but I think it has also created experiences that may not have been possible. I urge you to try and look on the bright side of your own COVID-19 experience. Granted, I will definitely be coming out of this quarantine about fifteen pounds heavier, but a tiny bit of that weight will be from added knowledge of 3D modeling.