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Creating Virtual Events Using 3D Renders

When we create an event, we start having visions. We get ideas, think about branding, picture the staging, dream up the design and explore the technology that will help us bring about the best possible live experience.

The only challenge we face is how to communicate all these ideas to our clients – quickly, effectively and efficiently. You can’t build the event and walk the client through the room… or can you?

3D Renders

We love to use 3D renders to bring our ideas to life. Using state-of-the-art software, we can rebuild the exact venue booked for the occasion, and then fill it with our staging, tech, sets, lights, colours, branding – everything. We can put in the tables and chairs, lay out the decorations, even include the people enjoying themselves if we want to! 3D renders are a great way to really immerse a client into a potential event project. And of course, if we want to delete or add a new element, it just takes a bit of design to change things up again.

We can use this process to show a client exactly what they are getting. There’s no guesswork for what the eventual feel of the event will be – they have seen a virtual preview. We can even use 3D glasses to properly immerse our clients in the render, so that they may turn their heads to look about the space. We can also use this process to measure our capabilities in the space. Everything is produced so accurately on the computer that we can assess in advance whether our staging, screens and equipment will fit into the space with perfect symmetry and neatness.

I am a graphic designer by trade, but I’ve been completely captivated with 3D design. I like animation and bringing graphics to life using depth and movement. Working with the HGA event team, I have built sets for Premier League football stadiums, hotels, conferences and even warehouses – all without leaving my desk!

How do I build 3D renders?

How do I do this? Well, I start with the room. We can source CADs (technical specs, almost like blueprints) from the venue which will give us all the information we need from the length of the room to the depth of hanging space from the truss. Some will even inform us of the distance between columns – all data that we input into the software. I like to use Maya 3D, which will build me a wireframe from this information. This will include cones for where lighting will fall, vaults in the ceilings, windows, everything. Only a year or so ago I used to build a render from photos of the real space, today I can throw in a CAD illustration and Maya will input it into 3D.

Next up I add polygon shapes and texture details. I fill in a wall with brickwork, add wooden effects to shutters and concrete in the columns. The floor could be shiny (with natural light or electric light) or an absorbing carpet. I can even make transparent glass that reflects some light and lets the rest through. The software has the intelligence to calculate how light will be affected by surfaces, where shadows will fall and how to repeat surface patterns seamlessly across the space. All of this will affect the look and feel of the event – as you can see in the orange fog effects in this example. These factors affect how long it takes to render into 3D – sometimes as much as a whole day.

Next, we fill the blank canvas! The events team will dictate what they need. In this case, we built a catwalk, staging and a large LED screen. I added long benches and props that suited the warehouse feel to this fashion event. We can also add in model figures. We purchased this one from a site called Turbo Squid – a bit like Shutterstock for 3D figures. It could take someone up to a week to produce one so it’s best to licence use! All done to scale.

You can go into as much detail as you like to make it real. I find it’s all about balance with time available. For example, I like to add blue sky, a brick wall or maybe trees outside the glass windows. I can even set these to soft focus exactly as the naked eye would see them, the kind of little touch that will help the overall presentation.

This technology has really opened doors for our industry. It takes time, effort and skill to produce – but it helps us to visualises our ideas for others. 3D renders are great for communication and planning. It’s a great example of us designers supporting the event planners by bringing their ideas to life.

Here’s a little preview of the process!

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