3D TRENDS FOR 2024: FIVE INDUSTRY PREDICTIONS

February 7, 2024

As we roll into another year, it’s time to consider which 3D trends tell us the most about this industry and where it might be heading. Anyone even tangentially associated with CG and VFX knows that 2023 was a particularly eventful year. Hollywood ground to a halt in the wake of actor and writer strikes, dealing a blow to creatives who were still recovering from the pandemic.

 

Even now, it’s an uncertain time for many in our industry. But keeping track of trends and staying ahead of the curve could be key to navigating it. The good news is it’s not all doom and gloom. Advances in technology are set to make life easier for 3D artists everywhere and groundbreaking tools are getting increasingly accessible. There’s plenty to be excited about.

 

Keep scrolling for the 3D trends we think are worth watching in 2024.

 

MORE IMMERSION

When Hollywood hit the breaks last year, many studios were forced to explore alternatives to film and TV projects. One potential avenue for their creativity is immersive experiences. Renowned VFX houses like Cinesite have launched immersive divisions to develop multi-sensory experiences for audiences, opening up new roles for talented artists and technicians. Meanwhile, U2’s residency at Sphere in Las Vegas caught the eyes of the world and demonstrated a whole new way to blend 3D technology with live performance. We expect to see a lot more immersion in 2024’s entertainment.

 

SCALABLE VIRTUAL PRODUCTION

You can’t go far in the VFX industry without hearing the words virtual production. The technique—which uses an LED backdrop to display CG imagery on-set and in-camera—is now a proven alternative to traditional filmmaking methods. Box office juggernauts like Star Wars and The Batman have taken full advantage of this technology, but it’s been out of reach for many small and midsize productions.

 

We’ll likely see this begin to change in 2024, as forward-thinking developers work hard to democratize the technology further. This could mean scalable LED backdrops that can be operated by smaller teams, the use of 2.5D techniques, and the integration of ever-evolving technologies like AI.

AN INTERNATIONAL STANDARD

If you’ve spent time in the 3D or VFX industries, you’ve likely heard of OpenUSD. In case you haven’t, it’s an open-source framework for working across different 3D tools and software. It was created by Pixar Animation Studios to make it easy to work on 3D scenes composed of many different assets. Recently, there’s been a push to make OpenUSD a standard file format for 3D worldwide; Pixar even announced the launch of the Alliance for OpenUSD (AOSUD) in 2023.

 

The ultimate goal of OpenUSD is to standardize the 3D ecosystem, enabling creators and developers to work with large-scale 3D projects and build innovative products and services. Many of the industry’s biggest names are behind the movement, including Apple, NVIDIA, and Autodesk. We expect even more prominent companies will follow suit in 2024 and beyond.

 

SAY HELLO TO HOLOGRAMS

Volumetric video has been quietly revolutionizing the way we interact with content for years. The technique captures a person in three dimensions, which can be viewed traditionally on a 2D display or as a 3D object in extended reality. Volumetric video has already been used on forward-thinking broadcasts, mixed-reality training sessions, and holographic performances.

 

In the summer of 2023, Arcturus—a leader in volumetric technology—was selected by Microsoft to take over its advanced Mixed Reality Capture Studios (MRCS) solutions. With one of the world’s most advanced 3D capture and reconstruction systems in its arsenal, Arcturus can help expand the volumetric video ecosystem around the globe and push the technology forward from its state-of-the-art facility in San Francisco. With these developments and so much creative potential, we’re sure you’ll be hearing a lot more about volumetric video in the future.

SORRY, AI ISN’T GOING ANYWHERE

AI kicked up a storm last year when fears over job security, privacy, and the world ending reached a fever pitch. There are always valid concerns when a new technology enters our daily life but for the 3D and VFX industry, AI has already proved itself a useful tool—one that can make jobs easier, rather than stealing them.

 

Last year, industry stalwarts told The Hollywood Reporter that AI can speed up many of the laborious tasks involved in computer graphics, particularly for advanced projects like digital humans and virtual production. Visualization technology developer, Chaos, even uses AI to give real-time capabilities to its ray tracing toolset, accelerating the workflow for VFX artists. Elsewhere, Shutterstock has teamed up with NVIDIA on a commercial service that converts text prompts into high-fidelity 3D assets. AI is sure to keep making things more efficient in the future.

 

NeRF IS THE WORD

One of AI’s many benefits is neural radiance fields (NeRFs). It’s been a hot topic in some corners of the industry, but if you don’t know, NeRFs are a tool that uses machine learning to generate 3D objects from 2D images. A neural network uses the radiance (the intensity of light) at points in the image to create a 3D representation of it, even interpreting reflections. The use of NeRFs can speed up the creation of photorealistic 3D objects and with AI doing much of the work, smaller teams can achieve more than they would with traditional tools.

 

Disguise partnered with Volinga AI last year to create a seamless NeRF workflow for 3D and VFX artists. We have no doubt that other developers are exploring the ways that NeRFs can assist their users. It looks set to be the next big thing in 3D.

A BETTER PLACE TO WORK

Last year’s Hollywood strikes had a domino effect on everyone involved in film and television, with projects delayed and some canceled altogether. They did, however, spark positive change. Increased minimum wages, protections around the use of AI, and more were some of the terms eventually met by the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers.

 

The strikes and the resulting downtime highlighted many issues across the entertainment industry, including unmanageable workloads and ever-tightening deadlines for VFX artists. It resulted in around 50 artists at Marvel voting to unionize, a first for the industry. The goal is to create a safer and fairer environment. With the news that Avatar VFX artists have voted to unionize by an overwhelming 75%, this is undoubtedly a trend to watch.

 

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