Just created a little example in Unity 3D. Below is a screenshot from a realtime web demo:
And here is a link to a live working interactive version which you simply drag on with the mouse from left to right to rotate the model:
Link: helios.mine.nu --- Grey
Note: it requires unity plugin, but don't worry; it downloads fast, installs fast and you don't have to quit your browser, once the install is finished the site will just load the content without any interaction required.
Also worth noting is that it will scale to fit the browser window and if you right click, you can go Fullscreen.
The Lighting and shadows are all baked/frozen onto the models texture. This model is 50,000 polygon and has 5 1024x textures. I could probably reduce It's size and complexity by about 6x with various optimizations and use of normal maps. And that's exactly what I'll be trying out next.
And as a side note I've just updated my folder icon generator for Leopard icons, bit late, It's been generating icons in the old fashioned perspective format up till now, now it looks like:
It looked like this before:
It's an apple script app you drop Folders onto and it generates the icons from any images it finds inside and then puts the generating icon onto the folder all in one go. Powered by ImageMagick and the built in SIPS to a degree. I still like, almost prefer the perspective icons, but they do look dated now and they look awful in most places such as in Docks and in Coverflow because of the fake perspective.
Messing in 3D, just took a few quick photos of the room I'm in at multiple exposures, merged them together to make a 32 bit HDR, then had a play at lighting a scene and some glass objects I made using that image. The 6 ceilings lights cast the appropriate 6 varying shadows as they do in the real room, along with fancy soft penumbra? shadows youd expect, renders very fast too thanks to Vrays image based Area Light. Normal global illumination would take AGES, now lighting a scene using an image is easy!
In fact, the scene has no bounced light in it at all. No point with the nature of the scene really.
Before post work
I have a big shiny Chrome ball, photographing that:
Can then be used to light a room by turning it into a spherical panorama:
Clearer look at the multiple shadows it casts and the interesting natural variance they have, more interesting than boring predictable uniform spotlight any day.
Though of course lighting an object with 6 horrid halogen ceiling lights is going to look pretty awful in an artistic sense, It's interesting in a recreation of reality sense.
I've been helping a friend out with a render he needs to get done real quick. He's in the middle of purchasing a real computer so I offered to render it for him with my collection of networked friends/machines. Currently totaling around 70ghz on a good day.
Heres the original scene he handed me, It's pretty rough, most of it supplied by the client and with all sorts of inverted normals and light leaking issues which I fixed for him:
I played for a while with the lighting and render settings to get to render faster and more realistically:
Here the Movie below:
It's still very rough, especially in some places. And H264 Codec conversion seemed to screw up the color balance making it a but yuck and desaturated, oh well.
Some other shots from the animation:
Helped tweak a render for a friend, the model is not finished and it was just a quick play to make it look more photographic:
Heres the original render before tweaks: