Visualizing the Yachting Industry

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Kittery’s Tangram 3DS Creating Next Generation of Industrial Design

Seacoast Online | June 7, 2010 | By Michael McCord

Stefan Vittori recently found himself swimming in unfamiliar business waters. Vittori, founder and director of the Kittery-based digital design and visualization firm Tangram 3DS, made a stop at the American Superyacht Forum in Newport, R.I., to network and present his company’s latest evolutionary step. Vittori said the annual four-day conference drew industry professionals from all over the world, including designers, owners, captains, engineers and naval architects. Vittori was a sponsor and presenter at the event and shared his expertise in digital visualization with the next generation of yacht designers.

“To go into that industry was amazing. I didn’t know what to expect there,” said Vittori, a native of Austria who founded Tangram in 2003. “I wondered if this was the right move, but I was really excited overall, and it turned out to be a good step.”

Vittori said due to the economic downturn in 2008, the yacht industry in general and the super yacht segment in particular have hit bottom and its many practitioners — designer, builders, and contractors — are looking for new avenues to revitalize the industry. (Tangram itself was hit by the downturn and Vittori had to lay off six employees, though he has since opened an office in Vienna to serve a growing European market.)

“They are looking to change something in the industry and to find new ways to get back into shape,” he said. The company has been creating photo-realistic computer images for the architectural and construction markets but Vittori said the company has branched out into the luxurious world of superyachts with the launch of a new auxiliary Web site — — that represents the collaboration between Tangram 3DS and Boston-based architect Kevin Schopfer.

Consider Schopfer’s first published design, the uniquely styled $95 million, 250-foot long Oculus, a long distance cruising yacht. Vittori said that Tangram animated both interior and exterior views that allowed viewers a virtual and detailed walk through the 250-foot long, futuristically styled Oculus.

Groundbreaking projects like Oculus, Vittori explained, demand accurate 3D representation for designers to communicate their concepts to stakeholders or potential buyers — and to give investors confidence and strong visual evidence to envision their project before they are even built.

“When people are spending tens of millions of dollars, they want to know what they are getting,” Vittori said. In other words, the image must first be as real as possible, which is why Vittori believes the services offered by Tangram 3DS are a necessity to help revitalize the yacht industry. He has been invited to present at a number of national and international boating conferences in the coming months.

It’s not only the yachting industry that is taking notice. Three of Tangram’s renderings, including Schopfer’s Infinitas yacht, will appear in the 2010 edition of EXPOSÉ, one of the top digital arts publications. Vittori said that Tangram’s images were selected from thousands of international submissions by a jury of industry leaders and to be noticed at this level for a small, four-employee company in Maine is evidence that Tangram is on the right track.

Tangram — which takes its name from the Chinese puzzle in which seven paper shapes are arranged to form a larger image — has secured a wide range of local and national clients, including design renderings for the Portsmouth Public Library, Bank of America, Hilton Hotels and Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, as part of a multi-year renovation of the massive facility. Last year, Tangram garnered praise for its digital renderings for New Orleans Arcology Habitat, a floating city within a city, designed by Schopfer.

Vittori believes that such precise digital presentations will help the develop arcology, the merging of architecture and ecology, into a serious urban planning tool. In late June, Vittori said that Schopfer is expected to release a design for a floating city off of earthquake-ravaged Haiti with the renderings supplied by Tangram.

One of the understated keys to the dramatic growth in digital animation and rendering has been the video gaming industry which has taken the notion of virtual reality to unprecedented levels. Vittori said expectations for eye-opening visual renderings have never been higher and are spreading into every sector from the real estate touch screen displays to airplane walk-through design programs. Blueprints and artistic storyboards alone no longer work.

“It’s an amazing environment we have now,” Vittori said.