Check out this jaw-dropping, computer generated animation by Alex Roman, called “The Third & The Seventh.”  If it weren’t for the ‘making-of’ videos that accompany this piece, I couldn’t possibly have believed this isn’t real video footage (even if it were, it would be equally compelling).  He made this using 3DsMax, Vray, AfterEffects and Premiere on a low budget machine.

Whenever I see things like this, I’m always tempted to cite Moore’s law, and exponential advances in computing hardware, in anticipation of the quality of augmented reality and virtual worlds in the years ahead.  There is no doubt that realtime photorealism is on its way, yet there is a limit to how much we can credit technology in this piece.  No matter how advanced and enabling the technology might be – this is equal parts creative genius and vision, not the result of some slick new break-through technology.

I especially like what Jeremy Elder had to say about it on his shape+color blog:

“It’s like an understandable improvement, an attainable evolution into a world of architectural, environmental, intellectual, elemental, and ecological fusion. A place where all of our potential has been realized.”

As the use of virtual worlds in architectural practice and education quietly tips into mainstream acceptance in the years ahead, we might start to envision what the next layer of immersive technology might look like, and how it will impact architecture and the built environment.  If realtime framerates double every 2 years, how ‘real’ will augmented reality be in 10 years?  20 years?  At what point will digital reality blend seamlessly with reality?  If it does become seamless, what role will the built environment have in supporting, reinforcing, or negotiating the augmented experience?

Finally, for the obligatory tie-in with James Cameron’s movie Avatar, consider how real our current state-of-the-art immersion must already be if people are reporting ‘post-Avatar depression’ after watching the 3D movie, as reported in a recent CNN story I saw on New World Notes:

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