While the best known of use of 3D modelling software is in movies, many other industries have taken advantage of this technology. Models of organs are used in medicine to show and study the effects of many diseases and potential cures. Designers create models every day in lieu of building costly experimental models. Chemists demonstrate complex chemical compounds.
These programs are becoming more popular among earth scientists in such disciplines as geology, geophysics, and geochemistry. Models of the earth can be created and studied, helping scientists understand nature better. Used in combination with computer programs designed for each of these fields, hypothetical scenarios may by run, using real world data. These scientist can then make better predictions of what is likely to happen.
Models can range from simple shapes, called primitives, to the super complex. Many models begin as a primitive – a cube, sphere, or cone. After the shape is created on the screen, the surface must be changed to a series of lines and points to be usable. These lines and points are known as mesh in the 3D world. Each point can be manipulated singly or in groups to change the shape of the primitive.
Some models are constructed using the so-called wire frame method. A series of lines with their connecting dots are arranged in the basic shape of the model. These lines look like the old wire frames used by sculptures to make figurines.
Perhaps the most difficult method of modelling involves the use of advanced mathematical models to create curved lines and surfaces. These models are called NURBS, which is a special class of spline (curved line.) Under the hands of a master modeller, NURBS modeling can yield outstanding results.
After a model has been created and shaped, it is time to dress the model up. As each model is created, it is devoid of color. Sections of the model can be selected by using a mouse. These sections can be assigned colors, making them appear more life-like. Textures from pictures can be applied as well. For instance, if someone was modeling a field filled with grass, the texture of the grass can be transferred to the model. This is accomplished by mapping points from the picture of the grass to points on the model.
If the model is to be animated, this is where in the process it happens. A key frame is created and then the model is transformed or changed in some way. A second key frame is then created, and so on and so forth. Once the animation is outlined using this process, the computer creates a series of images. All changes occur in increments from image to image.
While many individuals and groups have contributed to the advancement of computer graphics, one group has driven the industry. Engineers working in the film industry have brought about many of the innovations and tools that are standard today.
The computer graphics industry stretches back for more than half a century. 3D modelling efforts began soon thereafter. During the last thirty years, 3D modelling software has become a powerful force for helping solve complex issues.
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You’ll hear from students and faculty, telling you what exactly geophysics is, and why you might be interested in pursuing it as a course of study, and as a career.
Geophysics at Mines