As a CGI (computer generated imagery) artist, throughout my career, I worked in several design and visualization agencies with different design approaching strategies. Some of them used to stick to drawings or styling photos at the inception stage through to half way the project, while others used 3D right from the start. The reality vs CGI topic has been discussed by a lot of people and it might still be a specific preference for some people to pick photography over CGI. However, times have changed and clients have changed as well. The former ones, used to industries background, like photography, CAD or illustration. They used to stick to the old methods of drawings or photography until the project design was signed off by the client, and in that case, the final render turned out to look way different than what’s been signed off due to several inconsistencies of camera angles, camera lens, illumination(especially shadows — when drawing, you design the windows in parts where you don’t realize how light or shadows will be cast). In fact, drawings and photography are a waste of time and money. Of course, don’t get me wrong, a 15 minutes rough sketch of an instance in a meeting is always welcome but anything more than that it’s not really worth it. There’s no point implementing any sketches in your production pipeline.
New times require new techniques and different workflows
When it comes to reality vs CGI the Moxels team, with a background related mostly to CGI / 3D, tend to start the design process in 3D as it gives us complete customization capabilities. It’s a more flexible process for both you, as a designer, and the client as he can visualize his project right away and in a more realistic approach in terms of angles, lens and illumination, all at the same time. On the other hand, it’s easier for you to make changes on the fly as well, and you don’t force the client to commit to a certain design until later when he will truly be happy with it.
Of course, CGI is stealing the jobs of photographers, set builders or even interior stylists, so you would still find a lot of people in the industry reticent to this new technology, but CGI is the new wave after all, nobody can stand innovation, not even when they make claims such as: it’s been drawings since ever, we prefer drawings because it offers a better fidelity to clients, CGI is soulless, etc. — simply unfounded.
The pencil or even the photo camera are just tools and new times bring new tools such as computers.
Adaptation is key
It's a matter of time until people will realize the benefits of CGI. just as they did already in the movies and advertising industry. But this will come at a cost for those who refuse to adapt, and to give a better example, in 2008, when the economic crisis hit, many design companies/photographic studios simply went bankrupt because of their high production costs and long deadlines. Also, clients who refused CGI, had to reduce their advertising budget as the classic methods of visualizing their products were way more costly compared to CGI; because of this advertising cost reduction, many had profit margin losses and some even went bankrupt. Those who adapted to CGI, survived, but others learned it the hard way. Also, many CGI studios appeared after the economic crisis as a response on the market which learned from the mistakes of the past and started to adapt to the new demand: increased efficiency.
Higher competition on the market leads to increased work quality and reduced prices for the services provided to the end-user, the client. If you are confident with your work, you don't have to be afraid of competition. If you are not confident, probably CGI isn't for you.
To wrap it up ...
Now, everything is moving towards CGI so this is a growing market.
For now, there is another aspect which needs paying attention, specifically that some publications won’t accept CGI because CGI is fake, as they say. Well…, I wonder when movies industry publications won’t accept CGI in movies because it’s fake. The overwhelming majority of the movies are CGI, even those that you’d never thought of. CGI is all about design not about how real or not a product is. And after all, CGI can now reproduce reality 100%. The “fake” term only remains embedded in the old computer graphics perception. It will be maybe another year until all publications will have to accept the facts, otherwise emerging publications will pick it up, take the lead and designers or manufacturing companies will flock to those new ones. And those publications that don’t accept CGI projects might perhaps try to protect the monopoly held by bigger brands with huge advertising budgets which can still afford the classic ways of advertising(photography and video).
So it’s a definite YES for efficiency (quality/price ratio) from me. Don’t look back to old times. Educate your clients and make them understand the benefits of CGI. If you still can’t succeed with that, don’t make any(or too many) compromises. You want to go forward, not backward because of a client. Stick to your ideal, innovate and look for the best in your future endeavors.