The latest trends in computer art: 3D animation, virtual reality and augmented reality

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Some of the innovations that have slowly emerged in the digital art scene in recent years are 3D computer graphics, virtual reality and augmented reality.

Technological innovation in terms of hardware is what generally determines change in this field, and it’s no coincidence that three-dimensional graphics developed adequately only when computer processors and memory cards were advanced enough to make them possible. In reality, what truly makes a difference today is a series of hi-tech devices such as virtual reality (VR) headsets, augmented reality (AR) glasses, computer displays, full HD projectors, smart watches, gloves with sensors, smart cameras, etc.

3D computer graphics

3D computer graphics use sophisticated techniques to process geometric data and thus create realistic images with a three-dimensional appearance. Their believability is strictly correlated to the level of photorealism reached: the more life-like the images and their settings are, the greater their impact. Unfortunately, 3D production isn’t always affordable, meaning that this type of animation is mainly used by the videogaming industry, which has much deeper pockets than visual artists.

Virtual reality

Virtual reality is technology that makes it possible to be completely immersed in a simulated environment. Today, the rapid advancement of computer technology has made it possible to navigate and even interact with spaces that seem more realistic than reality itself. The difference between VR and 3D animation is that, in the former, the level of sensory engagement is much higher, thanks to the use of special headsets and glasses. However, it should be mentioned that to date the term “virtual reality” is and has been used indiscriminately for all computer-based simulations, from videogames played on normal screens to the 3D experiences of the World Wide Web.

Augmented reality

Often confused with virtual reality, augmented reality is a type of technology that, instead of creating a setting that’s an experiential alternative to reality (which is what VR does), rather enhances the real world through additional information produced digitally. The elements that “augment” reality can be delivered via a smartphone (e.g., by pointing the camera of a smartphone at a monument, AR software shows its history, the name of the architect that built it, etc.), via a computer with a webcam, or even via other devices (AR glasses, earphones, sensor gloves, etc.).

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