The Future of Making Things: Building South Africa’s bionic blueprint

How South African designers are using cutting-edge technologies to leave their mark in the world of design.

Simon Bromfield is the Territory Manager at Autodesk Africa.

The explosion of technological advances has resulted in a fundamental shift and transformation of the human experience through new-age design. Almost everything we experience, from jet engines to life-like movie monsters, was made by man or machine. And through the use of cutting-edge technologies, we can always find the exciting seeds of a future world waiting in the wings of digital disruption and innovation.

Within South Africa, innovation in design-thinking has evolved across numerous industries. From the film industry, right through to the art of architecture, South Africans are truly making their mark and leaving a lasting global impression for future generations to come.

Elevating personal entertainment

South Africa’s media and entertainment industry is entering a new phase as the country joins the fourth industrial revolution. According to PWC’s Entertainment and media outlook 2018-2022 report, entertainment and media in South Africa is expected to reach R177.2 billion by 2022, up from R129.2bn in 2017.  The report goes on to state that the success within industry may be attributed to a rapid change where borders that once separated the entertainment and media, technology and telecommunications industries are blurring.

A South African production company that has been experimenting with digital disruption is Triggerfish Animation Studios based in Cape Town. With acclaimed hits like Adventures in Zambesia and Khumba, the designers broke the barriers by leveraging Autodesk Maya. The software was used to model characters, props and even sets. The lighting team even made use of Maya to add a lifelike appearance to each frame. The end result for the Khumba project was winning an Emmy Award, taking Triggerfish to new global heights.

Modifying professional spaces

Design not only elevates the personal entertainment experience, but also alters your professional experience. Within South Africa, we are already seeing the rise of co-working zones occupied by rising startups and smaller work spaces to accommodate the rise of the flexible workforce and the gig economy.  At 100% Design Johannesburg, RAW studios were invited to feature a forward looking concept of the South African office of the future. Using the Autodesk Fusion 360 software package, the design team had the ability to render 2D and 3D animation models. The end result was dynamic workspaces that allow for a collaborative workspace approach, where staff could use furniture for brainstorming, break away sessions or even private calls or meetings.

Reaching a new dimension:  How VR unlocks designers’ innate cognitive abilities

Digitised design is not only changing the professional and personal human realm, but it also creating a new dimension altogether.

For anyone that has tried on a virtual reality headset, you will be familiar with how the feeling differs in comparison to the traditional 3D experience. VR has the potential to shift entire industries. Take the field of architecture as an example. VR can be used as a tool to help clients understand complex designs in a more intuitive way than blueprints or miniature models. Today, with one click, you can easily jump from a 3D model to an immersive environment thanks to the convergence of the industries and technologies. We’re bringing gaming technologies to the world of AEC.

The power of VR is also being used in other industries, such as car manufacturing. Within their virtual environment, interested buyers can see the inner mechanics of cars’ engines. The logical next step is that building tools can allow designers to use craft and modify designs within the virtual environment, instead of merely virtualising their creations. Collaboration is therefore a huge benefit, ultimately allowing cost and time saving benefits.

The future of making is already here. With today’s technologies, and powered by the creativity of manufacturers, builders and makers, we are now able to design and make just about anything.

This year’s annual Autodesk University Africa Conference took place in Johannesburg on the 24th and 25th of October at the Forum in The Campus.

 

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