The Many Monikers of CGI

Working title – ‘My wife thinks I can make space ships crash’

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Anshul Kapoor | 13.08.2020

A countless line of young google adwords experts have been brought to their knees trying to second guess how people find us. In a way it’s pleasing but not really helpful.

I know my wife wouldn’t know that our business is an Architectural Visualisation studio or one of the many other descriptions you can attach to it. I’ve tried explaining to her, but the way her eyes glaze over you’d think I was talking about football again. My wife is happy believing we do something with computers in the same way Hollywood studios make space ships explode into the moon. Fairy dust magic CGI. She’s not wrong (she’s never wrong) but I’d hardly call her right either (that’s just between you and me).

In Hollywood, CGI (Computer Generated Image) is synonymous with Visual Effects and “CGI” is an accepted industry term. In the world of Architecture, Product visuals and animation however, it’s a whole different ball game. There isn’t an industry norm and the waters get further muddied when you start taking different regions into account.

This in turn can make it difficult for people doing a google search to find us. 3D Visuals / Visualisation, CGI, Computer Generated Images, Architectural illustrations, CG Visuals, Virtual photography, 3D Property Illustrations, and all misspellings of!

In the UK there are over 200 companies doing what we do, all ranging in size from small one-man-bands to larger 30 plus artists’ studios all producing still and animated content for architecture, interiors or product. If you do a google search for CGI, most of these companies will not appear in the search results.

Depending on your browser history (This is a judgement free area) you may even get a list of results on Common Gateway Interface. Something to do with programming I gather but don’t really care.

In its purest form, for the last 20 years plus what we do has been known as “Architectural Visualisation” or ‘Visualization’ for our friends across the pond. Really only people in the industry would think, say or type this. Your average muggle is unlikely to know it by these terms. To be honest whenever a lay person asks what we do, I tell them we are a Creative Agency that specialise in Computer Generated Images for property and product. I then go on to tell them, ‘you know those images you see on hoardings before the foundations have even been laid, well we produce those’. This people get.

Outside of the UK many people refer to what we do as ‘Renderings’. So obviously we advertise under this term which in turn leads to phone calls from people wanting a render finish on their pebbledash home. For the record, renderings are the final outputted images we as a studio produce be it still or moving and is the process through which the computers earn their keep after our artists have worked their magic.

When it comes to motion content we also have some of the similar identity issues. Clients often use any of the following terms – Animation, Virtual Tour, Flythrough, Walkthrough. In-house we refer to them as animations, however animation in 3D is more to do with animating or moving objects or characters as opposed to a camera moving through a generally static scene. Of course we do include quite a bit of ambient movement in those scenes to increase viewer engagement, however there is still a valid argument that it’s not quite animation.

With the rise of CGI and 3D content touching most areas in our life, I live in hope that our identity crisis will soon be over and people will get what we do straight off the bat. Until then, feel free to refer to us as those magicians who make spaceships explode into the moon.