How Does CGI Work?

3D rendering generates digital imagery using software which, along with the input of architects, designers, or both, has the capacity to generate accurate, intricately detailed digital representations. 3D rendering CGI technologies have been widely used in the film industry for a number of years, but recently the tech has found commercial and industrial applications across a range of other sectors. But how does CGI work?

Real time rendering is the form of 3D rendering used in film, and – of course – computer games. Images are loaded at high speed, to the point where they give the illusion of motion. This is part of the function which lends itself to the interactive nature of computer gaming.

Offline rendering, on the other hand, is more likely to be used within architectural visualisations and show homes virtual tours. It is used where quality is more important than speed or movement, and allows the designer to accurately instill environmental aspects, such as lighting and shading.

How Does CGI Work For Property Development and Real Estate Marketing?

Exterior 3D visualisations of buildings and development areas are now widely used tools for architects and property developers. CGI technologies allow these professionals to agree on the architecture required, and to give an accurate approximation of what construction materials will be required. As such, the technology can aid in speeding up a project’s process.

Once a project is complete, or ready to be marketed (even if this is at a pre-construction stage), then an interior CGI virtual reality 3D rendering can help real estate agents to present the marketed space to potential buyers. Allowing immersive show home virtual tours like this also speeds up the rate at which a property can be brought to market and sold.

Interior 3D renderings are also being used by interior designers, who can also work closer with property developers and marketers to build an appealing concept for how a property’s interior can be designed.

With the use of virtual 3D tours, there is also a major benefit for developers and property marketers in terms of broadening the potential reach of a property. Overseas investors or buyers can view the property from anywhere in the world, saving time and money on travel, and speeding up the process of choosing a property abroad.

Computational Techniques

There are several computational techniques that are used in the process of creating CGI 3D renderings. Each technique has its own unique qualities, each therefore playing a different part in the process of rendering. Rasterization, Z-Buffering, Ray Casting, and Radiosity, are the four main computational techniques used by designers to create photorealistic 3D renderings for property, architecture, and for commercial and entertainment purposes.

The Process

When we take on a client at VMI Studio, the first stage is technical assignment. It is most important, before any work begins, to understand our client’s vision for the project. Offering visual references, photographs, digital imagery, and so on, and as part of intricate discussions, we are then able to be very specific in adhering to the client’s wishes.

3D Modelling

Our specialists will then create a 3D model. Working with geometry, texture, lighting, and positioning of virtual cameras, a digital visualisation is put together using sophisticated computer software.

Computer Rendering

Once the initial CGI 3D model is created and approved by the client, the next step is to generate a fully immersive 3D rendering of the space. This is the point at which deeper detail and accuracy, as well as realistic movement, is optimised by the designer. This process varies in duration, depending on the complexity of the rendering and the level of photorealism required.

Further detail and effects are created within the post-production phase. Graphics and digital video editors are used for this process.

Finally, the client is presented with the final, pristine quality property 3D rendering.

Do I Need a High Quality 3D Property Rendering?

Whilst low quality renderings are possible, these will not be sufficient for a CGI property rendering. With lower quality, there is less of an impact on the viewer. This type of rendering may be more useful at the initial stages of a project, for the architect or designer behind the scenes, as they ascertain the requirements of the final renderings.

On the other hand, the impact of high quality 3D renderings of property is substantial. The exquisite detail that can be achieved with photorealistic 3D property renderings are what will help to seal the deal for property developers and marketers, both on exterior and interior spaces.


If you’d like to find out more about using CGI technologies for architecture, planning, property development, or real estate marketing, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us for a chat. At VMI Studio, we are proud to be at the forefront of CGI technologies for the Property industry, and will be happy to talk you through how it all works, or to set you up with a demonstration of our work.