If you are doing 3d programming or animation with Ogre 3d, or in OpenGL as a freelancer you certainly noticed that things have changed in the industry in recent time. Especially in the games industry projects grow bigger and bigger. Whole teams are specializing in 3d physics simulation, OpenGL shaders or 3d particle work. As a freelance programmer or consultant you’re supposed to specialize more and more. A few years ago 3d freelance programming or animating was very different. A small team of 15 to 30 people could produce a whole game and you could take over different tasks in different projects or even within the same project.
If you’re like me and your more of a generalist, this was much more entertaining than doing the same thing over and over again.
Sure, with an open source 3d engine like Ogre 3d you can still put together again with 10 to 15 people distributed around the world or even a known if you’re dedicated. This is absolutely great in my opinion – But you’d have to do the programming in your free time — and every one of us has just the same 24 hours a day and still needs to make some money and get some sleep.
Fortunately, other professional fields are opening up, so you have some more auctions as a 3d programmer or consultant than just working for the film or games industry!
The first one is augmented reality.
While is still in its infancy this field is evolving rapidly. Smartphones are gaining more and more processing power and every single one of them has at least one camera. What’s more, they are having better and better 3d graphic cards built in, and more and more apps combining 3d graphics with live camera footage to create video with augmented reality content added. As a freelance programmer or 3d specialist this opens up wide opportunities. With open source 3d packages like ogre available on mobile systems we could easily adapt and transfer our real-time programming skills to those platforms.
Augmented reality in its self is so new, that not too many specialists are available, so you can involve yourself into many different tasks. This makes things interesting again and there is also money to be made when augmented reality hits the market big-time.
Another very interesting thing is virtual reality.
While the programming is not too different from 3d realtime simulation games, the scale of virtual reality software is a very different one. This kind of thing is hitting the automobile and airplane industry right now. Car manufacturers have more and more demand for real-time 3d-configurators on websites and on POS.
They are also moving away from the old-fashioned clay models when designing automobiles, trying to do all that with 3d graphics more an more. Being a 3d programmer working in those areas is sometimes like a dream come true, because these softwares are run on only the finest and most expensive hardware available today. This means no more worrying if those low end users comply with your least OpenGL specs.
So if you manage to be at least a bit flexible, these are still great times for freelance 3d programmers, 3d animators, 3d consultants and other specialists. All we have to do is keep an open mind to new and interesting kinds of realtime 3d simulation and we’ll have plenty of fun and interesting work for many years to come.