Visualization is any technique of communication through pictures. It has been known since ancient time through cave drawings, Egyptian hieroglyphs, ancient Greek geometry as well as revolutionary methods of drawing used by Leonardo da Vinci. These are only a few examples of visual communication through the history of expressing abstract or factual ideas.

In modern age, however, we usually connect visualization with business, and with telepresence expanding, that's getting more true every day. We use it to clearly present our ideas to our partner or customer. Whether we use a photograph, graph or animation, we want to make sure that our partner or customer can understand terms we use. Hence the saying "a picture is worth a thousand words".

Let suppose that we are trying to explain functioning of an industrial plant in detail. Our explanation may sound abstract:

There is an industrial hall size 53 x 11.7 m on a lot of 110 x 70 m2. On the right side of the hall are three reservoirs with technical gases of 1000 m3. The equipment in the hall is connected with the reservoirs by metal tubes. They have a common safety valve outside. In case of the gas leaking in the hall, it’s possible to stop the gas flow by turning off the safety valve outside.

It’s actually hard to imagine the described complex. The insufficiency of the verbal communication is obvious, and in this case the real picture does not comply with the real situation. Clearly, the words are not enough.

We could use a ground plan in order to visually and technically define the mutual relations between the parts of the complex. If we mark the position of the valve on the ground plan, the previous verbal explanation becomes more complete. The plan can serve as a map, which will lead a person straight to the valve and allows him or her to close it.

However, the ground plan has a major limitation – it’s two-dimensional. The idea to make it complete by adding a side plan and a front plan would mean that we are expected to combine all three pictures and create a three-dimensional image. Would it not be simpler to use a photograph (or several of them)?

But if the photograph contains unnecessary details, which should be reduced for better understanding, it’s possible to apply a 3D visualization, using 3D design software, and reconstruct the object in 3D technique. The 3D visualization is also desirable if the object does not exist yet - in that case we speak about pre-visualization.

The 3D visualization can be made in several visual techniques:
from simple shadowing to photorealistic presentation.
In photorealistic presentation it’s often convenient to place the object into a wider context.
For example, to situate an industrial complex into the environment where it was built.

Although such visualizations give clear image about their contents, they suffer from a big disadvantage - they are static. Not that long ago, this problem was solved by connecting static pictures into today already forgotten virtual 360° panoramas. Recent trend is a 3D animation and their combination with live pictures. Although animation is impressive, don't you still feel like a passive observer?