IKEA catalog is 75% CGI

As I have already mentioned on the blog a few times now, I’ve been getting more into 3D and CGI work as of late. It’s been interesting to see what the CGI social media feeds post from time to time and I found this one article particularly interesting. Apparently, IKEA has been working on computer generating more and more parts of their catalogs since the earlier 2000s. You can read the full article over HERE on CGSociety.

The short version of the story is that, before CGI work was done for IKEA, a product prototype would have to be made, shipped and photographed, and then shipped back for production. If any changes were made after the product was photographed it would have to be photographed again. Using CGI allows IKEA to make that end of their business a little tighter and more efficient although it is cutting out the costs and logistics of professional photography unfortunately. I did begin to wonder how in the world IKEA has gotten all their interior shots to look so beautiful and of course, now we have the answer.

While it should be disconcerting news for me to hear that photography is being ousted from the IKEA workflow, I’m also amazed and intrigued at just how realistic their CG images look. I would not have known for sure that they weren’t real unless I read the article. I’m the type of person that doesn’t mind reading really dry technical text in order to learn something I think will help me creatively. I can almost guarantee right now that I’ll be incorporating CGI into my creative process very soon. Just looking at IKEA’s interiors, the possibilities are endless. You really can make anything you can think of with CGI and I would love to have that skill set in my arsenal sooner than later.

Now a lot of photographers are opposed to digital photography because it’s not technically real. With film, light from the scene is physically changing the particles in the roll each time you take a photo. At the end of a cross-country travel you’d end up with a roll that’s been to each place that you’ve been and has experienced and been physically changed by the light there. A digital camera digitally interprets light as ones and zeros on the sensor which is then saved into an image file with all that data before it is wiped clean for the next photograph. There is no bi-product that is permanently changed by the photographs you take, there are only the files you end up with.

I don’t really buy into all that crap. I think there is some definite science behind what I’ve just briefly explained buy I think it’s stupid to discount a beautiful image because it’s digital. I just want to make images in whatever way is the best way for me to have the most impact and control over the end product. I don’t discount Photoshopped files or CGI because it’s the artist’s choice to use those approaches and they can do art however they see fit. If IKEA thinks that making their catalogs in CGI is good for them, and it certainly looks amazing, then great.

CGI gets a bad wrap sometimes especially with things like this and obviously also in major blockbuster movies. I think it is partly because a lot of movies currently focus on leveling entire cities to the ground instead of good script writing (Pacific Rim *cough cough*). When just because you can annihilate an entire town doesn’t always mean you should. At the same time though, I feel that a lot of the destruction we see in CGI today is really just to showcase how far we’ve come with it. CGI and movies especially are probably one of the fastest advancing industries, always with new “cutting-edge” technological innovations. That being said I guess I really wouldn’t mind having to get a job in CGI if and when the world mainly uses that instead of traditional photography. A lot of the same concepts still apply with lighting and composition but again will occur in the computer instead of the camera or photography studio. When I really get to thinking about it, it’s not totally shocking or unheard of for IKEA to go totally computerized and it’s probably something we’ll only see more of in the future.

I’m excited to delve into CGI, for me there is all to gain and nothing to lose.


1 comment
  1. Its like you read my mind! You appear to know a lot about this, like you wrote the book in it
    or something. I think that you could do with some pics to drive the message home a little bit, but instead of that, this is magnificent blog.
    A fantastic read. I will certainly be back.

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