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Shutterstock becomes the world’s largest 3D marketplace with TurboSquid acquisition: Digital Photography Review

TurboSquid, a 3D asset marketplace, has been acquired by stock image company Shutterstock for $75 million. TurboSquid has the distinction of being the world’s largest 3D marketplace, offering designers access to free and premium 3D models across a variety of categories for use in larger projects. The acquisition comes amid a growing corporate focus on the use of photo-realistic 3D renders in the place of traditional still images and videos.

Once the acquisition is complete, Shutterstock will be the world’s largest 3D marketplace, offering assets for a variety of industries, including retail and graphic design. The acquisition includes PixelSquid, a platform that offers pre-rendered 3D objects that can be easily captured as 2D images from multiple angles.

PixelSquid highlights the growing change in the photo market, one that is slowly turning to 3D renders in the place of traditional photos for stock image needs. There are some advantages to using 3D renders over traditional photography for business needs: the models are immediately available, provide access to objects that may otherwise be difficult to photograph and can be easily rotated and modified to present the perfect scene.

Digital modeling and 3D rendering software have become increasingly accessible and capable, opening the market to a new generation of 3D artists who need little more than a high-performance PC, modeling software like Blender or Zbrush and texturing software like Substance Painter to produce high-quality content. The result is a huge online library of 3D assets that can be licensed through platforms like TurboSquid for use in projects.

TurboSquid is unique with its PixelSquid offering, making it possible for someone to license a 3D model that has already been rendered; there’s the option to download it as a PSD for Photoshop or as a PNG with shadows turned on or off. Examples of pre-rendered models for use in 2D images include vehicles, common items like Starbucks cups and furniture, as well as foods, medications, people, pets, sporting goods, historical artifacts and entire buildings.

An example of a pre-rendered PixelSquid object.

Shutterstock CEO Stan Pavlovsky said as part of the company’s announcement:

The growth of 3D, AR and VR content and the potential to engage consumers with this disruptive technology is at an all-time high, and TurboSquid’s industry-leading platform allows us to make the distribution of 3D accessible to Shutterstock’s community of creators and marketers across video, gaming, e-commerce, and beyond.

The use of computer-generated images isn’t new. As Fast Company points out, retailer Ikea has been using 3D renders in the place of stock photos for years — and many people can’t tell the difference between a real-life scene and one generated on a computer. Likewise, many vehicles presented in automotive ads are CGI, for example.

Whether 3D-rendered scenes will become the dominant type of images used by retailers and others who traditionally purchase stock images remains to be seen. Despite its advantages, there are some downsides to using 3D assets over traditional photos; a stock image, for example, is ready to use as soon as it is downloaded whereas 3D assets must be assembled into a final image.

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