It may sound obvious, but the types of industries that use 3D models are also those that are also the largest purchasers of 3D software. The two largest suppliers of 3D software, Autodesk and Dassault Systems, supply a range of products to suit a diverse number of industries. You can get a good idea of who they are typically targeting by visiting the Autodesk Industries page and Dassault Systems product page.
The demand for 3D content is certainly not evenly distributed amongst those industries. I have ranked them below according to their level of demand for stock 3D models.
The gaming industry is dubbed to hit $70 billion by 2015, unsurprising then that this segment continues to drive significant revenue into the 3D industry.
Over time computer games have become increasingly more complex and the majority of games today include 3D assets from small props to entire 3D worlds. The sheer scale and complexity of newer game titles result in larger teams often working on extremely tight deadlines. The level of quality and realism is also increasing every year, making the lines between reality and games ever closer.
Game companies are now turning towards high-polygon film quality 3D models and using the latest shader technologies for increased realism. Below is a video of the latest Crytek engine, demonstrating the latest possibilities of today’s games.
Film and Media
Like the gaming industry, the film and media industry utilizes 3D content heavily. The history of computer animation in film and television goes all the way back to the 1960s and has continued to grow from strength to strength. 2009 saw the release of Avatar, which was a pioneering step in the use of 3D. VFX is utilized in most feature films. Companies in the industry will often source a variety of 3D models from marketplace sites. Over on the TurboSquid blog you will find some excellent posts on some of the uses of 3D content in Film and Media sourced from available 3D models on the site.
Advertising and Marketing
Advertisers are increasingly turning towards digital media to help them communicate their message and make a product or service stand out from the crowd. 3D content is a powerful medium that allows advertisers to do anything from a simple product rotation to a full animation and product demonstrations. 3D is also highly customizable, which allows the user to change the geometry, material or texture properties of a given 3D model. Also remember, there are no real-world constraints in 3D, so you can really put your imagination to work. The video below showcases a plethora of advertisements created in 3D and rendered using Chaos Group’s V-Ray render engine.
You don’t have to be an architect to know that constructing any real-world structure is an expensive and highly iterative process. Architects have to communicate a wealth of information often not apparent in 2D architectural drafts. 3D is the perfect medium for showcasing a build and helping to communicate the look and feel of the work far in advance of laying bricks to mortar. At TurboSquid we have found that architects will purchase everything from street elements to interior objects, vehicles to plants and even entire cityscapes.
When I first attended school, which was not that long ago, there was a single lonely computer available to all students. It wasn’t very powerful, but that didn’t matter much as very few people even knew how to use it. Nowadays we have technology all around us. Students now take laptops to school with them and have access to a lot more information at their fingertips. In recent years education has taken a few more steps into the digital age and there has been a breakthrough in 3D content being used for a multitude of applications. The video below shows just how powerful 3D anatomical models can be for educating students about human anatomy.
Manufacturing and Product Design
Manufacturing the next radial aircraft engine, or any mechanical object for that matter, poses a massive challenge for the engineer. The hundreds of moving parts have to work seamlessly together and ensure that the product continues to function as expected. Add to that the cost of manufacturing each part, testing and then revising and you will understand very quickly that the process is incredibly costly. 3D not only allows the product designer or engineer to visualize the product, they can also animate and rigorously test the product before any physical object is created.
Government and Military
Government projects, including road and highway design through to building management and restoration, can be incredibly costly and, like architecture, it is incredibly important to communicate the vision and scale of a project. 3D has become an excellent tool doing just that. It is now possible to build and render photorealistic images and animations from civil data. Other tools can even provide real-time hydrology and hydraulic analysis to simulate drainage in instances of varying weather conditions. Military and government agencies are also increasingly using 3D in simulation to train police officers and troops for combat engagements and first response management. Due to the development in realism of gaming engines, military simulations can now be conducted through the same platform.