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    MediaLab 3D Solutions Wins 2014 Coolest Office Space Award

    Badge-v01Recently, the Tampa Bay Business Journal crowned us one of the coolest office spaces in the Bay Area. In the process, they discovered the secret behind our ability to garner top talent and keep it. It’s all about the Foosball.

    Seriously, though, we couldn’t be prouder of our brand-new office space, and our cutthroat Foosball action (awesome though it may be) is just one small part of it. We believe it’s not just about paychecks and paid holidays. You need an inviting work environment to keep people happy and productive, not a gray cubicle-dwellers wasteland.

    And, when you build your business on artistry and innovation, you need a great creative space to make the magic happen. So, we decided to invest in our team’s environment in order to reap the richest creative fruit. And the payoff was immediate. After just a month, revenue and productivity were already trending up.


     

    Collaboration, Comfort…and Cappuccino

    breakroom 05flat_croppedWhen we began planning our new space, we knew we wanted an open, collaborative environment that would promote creativity and ingenuity — precisely what we provide our clients. That meant adjustable sit/stand desks for ergonomic comfort, as well as fun break spaces, free snacks and gourmet coffee to help employees unplug and replenish their creative juices.

    3_workstations02flat_crop

    More than 2,000 of our total 20,000 square feet are devoted to employee spaces like our fully-stocked gym and game room. We brought in new furnishings like file cabinet cubes that double as benches so coworkers can huddle-up without hovering over each other. We also had a chance to work with a couple of clients like Exemplis and Whirlpool in completing the new space.

    Then, we invited employees to make their spaces their own. [Read more...]

    Are You Hoarding Your Best Content?

    Sharing ContentSo you’ve created visual product content that tells your story best. Content that literally gets inside your product to show customers how it works and why it’s better than the competition. Content that answers customers’ problems and helps them see the product in action. Content that helps them install, maintain or troubleshoot. You’re happy. The Marketing department is happy. Your boss is pleased. But what about the customer? Are they even seeing it?

    Don’t Be a Content Hoarder

    Great content needs to be shared. High-quality product images, set shots, instructional animations, 360° spinners, and interactive tools weren’t designed to languish on one lonely page of one website. So, don’t just post it on your website, check it off the list, and then forget about it.

    Why Hoarding Hurts Sales

    How much do you think your buyers research your product before deciding to buy?

    In 2010, shoppers needed 5.3 sources of information before making a purchase decision. By 2011, that number had climbed to 10.4, and it’s still going up.Jay Baer, Content Marketing World 2013

    And, we’re not talking about a salesperson chatting them up here. We’re talking actual research, down and dirty, checking out every detail of your product and backing their decision with solid information.

    Think you’ve got it covered by packing your company site with that fantastic product content? According to the stats above, you’re lucky if your site is even 1/10th of the equation.

    To meet the consumer during every step of their research, you must aggressively and exhaustively distribute your product content. [Read more...]

    3 iBeacon Best Practices for In-Store Product Marketing

    beacon

    An Estimote beacon; Attender.com

    Apple’s latest technological marvel, iBeacon, has the potential to change in-store product marketing forever. It enables push mobile marketing by using stationary sensors to pinpoint the location of a smartphone and proactively send information to it. The technology behind the beacons works with a store’s mobile apps, integrating location and other data to enhance the shopping experience. It’s already been deployed in Apple stores, and adopted by Estimote and the app Shopkick.

    How iBeacon Stacks Up to Current Tech

    1. Better indoor location awareness. Unlike GPS, which pings satellites and is notoriously unreliable indoors, iBeacon uses stationary indoor transmitters to detect mobile devices moving in and out of range. Even areas that were previously considered phantom zones with poor cell reception can be “geofenced” to detect mobile users anywhere from inches to yards away. [Read more...]

    What’s Hummingbird and Why Homebuilders Should Care

    Hummingbird BuilderAh, Google – always changing.

    Its most recent algorithm change (called Hummingbird) is the next step in Google’s move toward semantic search — a change that should help it better understand what users are searching for. Rather than just indexing pages and scanning sites for relevant keywords, Google’s latest tweaks will allow it to better infer context and intent.

    The result? Superior, highly-accurate search results.

    Google will now consider the following:

    • Who searchers are connected to (with a bias toward members of Google+, Google’s version of Facebook)
    • Searchers’ geographical location
    • The type of device being used to search

    What Does This Mean for Homebuilders?

    With Hummingbird, it just became even more important to have quality content on your site — content that’s easy for everyone to understand — including search engines.

    First, Fix the Foundation

    Hummingbird & Homebuilders: First, Focus on the Foundation of Your Website & Take Care of Your SEODespite the changes, one thing remains the same. Quality content is still king. But in order for that content to serve you well on the search engines, you’ll have to do some basic keyword optimization.

    Tidy Up Your SEO

    The best content won’t do you any good if no one sees it, and that means impressing the search engines first in order to get maximum homebuyer eyeballs on it.

    Don’t be tempted to neglect the SEO elements on your website. Making sure your SEO is in order is no different than putting the final touches on a model before you invite visitors to take the tour. You want to make the right impression.

    [Read more...]

    Product Marketing’s Virtual Age: 12 Practical Uses of Augmented Reality

    dreamstime_xs_106630_AR_MirrorOne of the most talked about technologies on the virtual horizon is Augmented Reality (AR). Augmented Reality overlays the viewer’s real time environment with digital information, thus augmenting his or her reality. In some applications it applies a virtual layer of data and images over the live scene like informational popups. In other cases it pulls 3D objects and animations into the viewer’s environment (or casts the viewer into a virtual environment) to create a more immersive experience. It’s not brand new but as its capabilities and quality have grown, so have its applications to marketers.

    Here are just a few of the ways it’s already being used:

    In-Home Product Previews

    AR_AugmentApp_TabletPreview

    Mashable at South by Southwest® Interactive (SXSWi) with the creator of Augment. Click to play.

    1. Consumer Product Previews

    Augmented Reality lets online and catalog shoppers view 3D products at home at actual size and in photorealistic detail. This video by Mashable at South by Southwest® Interactive (SXSWi) shows the Augment app creator previewing a tablet in the palm of his hand and placing and arranging furniture.

    [Read more...]

    3 Emerging Techs Show How 3D Will Outperform Photography in the Virtual Age

    dreamstime_xs_2731401_binaryroadIt’s fast becoming a digital world as yesterday’s sci-fi fantasies become a reality – or, at least a virtual reality. Surveying the emerging technologies, one can’t help but note how many are aimed at delivering augmented, simulated and digitally connected experiences – in most cases, right from user’s smartphone or tablet.

    With rich opportunities for product marketers and even real estate sales, it’s time to start thinking 3D. Simply put, 3D product images and objects position innovative marketers to leverage these new technologies where traditional photography can’t.

    Here are three such technological places, which we’ll explore in greater detail over our next few posts.

    1. Augmented Reality

    AR_AugmentApp_FurniturePreviewAugmented Reality (AR) overlays the viewer’s real time environment with digital information – or, in some cases, casts the viewer into a virtual environment.

    In our next post, we’ll dive into AR and some examples of how it’s already being used, including:

    [Read more...]

    Why 3D Animation is 70% More Cost-Effective than Video

    It’s true. 3D animation can actually save you up to 70% of the cost of traditional product video.

    We’ll challenge you to find out for yourself by crunching a few numbers in a moment. But first, check out these 9 FAQs – questions we hear all the time about the cost of 3D product animation vs. traditional video.

    No More Prototypes

    Q: I need “up close and personal” to show how my product works. Building prototypes for video may be expensive, but isn’t 3D animation even more complex and costly?

    A: 3D animation eliminates the “prototype money pit.” Explaining complex product features is all about highlighting details and inner workings. That’s why video demo shoots can be such a pain. They require extensive prep work – from set building and prop design to construction of prototypes and removable product housing to let the viewer “see through” to internal working parts.

    Let’s face it – building a set or model for a video shoot can drain resources fast – in terms of time, labor and materials.

    Just say no to prototypes. 3D animation lets you easily “drill down” to show a cutaway or cross-section of your product without building an expensive model or prototype. The front panel peels off by itself, nuts and bolts fly away – and voila! – your product’s inner workings are easily and clearly displayed!

    Check out the Whirlpool animation below for an example of clean animated cutaways:

     

    3D animation can help you cut a huge line-item expense out of your next product demonstration budget.
    [Read more...]

    3D Nip Tuck: When Enough is Enough with Virtual Art Direction

    After the tenth time under the knife, the celebrity says to the plastic surgeon, “ I dunno doc, it just doesn’t look real.” Excessive tweaking can go terribly wrong. The same is true with 3D image creation – over-directed art can suffer a loss of quality and realism.

    Too little input in the early stages can miss the vision and mean costly “retakes.” Too much direction in the latter stages can produce unrealistic lighting effects, surface textures, and other 3D image quality issues.

    Here’s an example of a 3D image gone wrong.

    3DArtDirection_Recommended 3DArtDirection_Overdirected
    Dramatic directional lighting for realistic shading and reflections Improper Lighting: The client has requested the room be evenly lit and that the refrigerator surface and all cabinets have the same color – really meaning, the same “lighting value” – to avoid shaded areas and reflections. As a result, natural lighting and textures have been compromised.
    “Ambient occlusion” or attempts to model the way light realistically radiates, especially where objects intersect or where light encounters non-reflective surfaces No Shadows: The client has requested that the shadows created by this affect be removed. As a result, the lighting effects that would happen naturally around objects are missing, creating a lifeless look.
    Optimal contrast of colors and textures Poor Contrast and Dull Textures:  Changes to colors and textures have reduced contrast and created a muddied appearance.
    Attractive set propping to create a realistic lifestyle shot Under-propped: Requests to have most props removed, replaced or scaled to less realistic sizes, have reduced the lived-in space feel.
    Realistic stainless steel textures including natural light reflection and subtle imperfections that show bowing in the metal Over-perfected: Requests to have reflections and bowing removed have resulted in dull and unrealistic stainless textures.
    Photo-realistic “blown out white” window effect, reflecting what happens when a dim interior is exposed for visibility Unrealistic External Environment: The client has requested a yard with grass and trees be made visible through the window which conflicts with the lighting applied to the interior.

     

    Quality is a delicate balance. The best results come from a healthy pairing of client art direction with 3D expertise and interior design savvy. Not only is greater photo-realism achieved, but 3D images stay on vision, on time and on budget.

    For more on perfecting the 3D shot, download Keeping It Real: Art Directing the 3D Set Shot.

    How In-store Mobile Users are Forcing POP to Go Digital

    dreamstime_xs_29456647_Mobile-In-StoreIt seems mobile users aren’t content to just spur on the digital revolution online. Their in-store behavior is also forcing brick-and-mortar retailers to rethink their in-store marketing methods.

    One area in particular is point-of-purchase displays. Shoppers want more than slick branding and eye-catching end caps. They want more product information and aren’t afraid to go online and get it for themselves, even while standing in the middle of your aisle — and they’re certainly not waiting around for a member of your sales team.

    As a matter of fact, 84% of smartphone shoppers use their phones while in a physical store – a trend that’s being seen across all categories from appliances and electronics to apparel and pet care. And, almost half use mobile for 15 or more minutes per store visit according to Google Shopper Marketing Agency Council.

    So what are they looking for as they gaze into their devices, apparently frozen in time?

    • 1 in 3 shoppers use their phone to find info rather than ask employees – “self help” is becoming the new norm. 1
    • Mobile search is their #1 in-store resource to help research products 1
    • 82% use mobile search to research products, 72% to make price comparisons, 63% to find promotional offers. 1
    • Price comparisons are the most common use across all categories. 1
    • They’re also looking up online reviews. 2

    “In-store shoppers are looking for product information and they’re turning to their mobile device to find it. The mobile device, always on and always with shoppers, is one of the biggest influencers in the store today; it presents tremendous opportunities for marketers across industries to connect with potential customers–wherever they are, whenever they’re searching for your products.” 1

    [Read more...]

    QR Codes Don’t Have to Be Ugly

    You notice that in-store customers are using their mobile phones more than ever to research products and compare prices – and that online search sometimes leads them right out the door. So you get busy creating all of this great content to help them to an on-the-spot decision: beefed-up online detail pages, demo animations, an interactive product selection tool, instant savings offers. You’re over the biggest hurdle with QR Codes (having good content behind them) but then you hit a new wall: The Creative Department. They don’t want to put a QR code on the point-of-purchase collateral because, “they’re ugly and they’ll mess up my design.”

    All too often, the fear of ugly codes can win-out over customer demands for more info. But QR codes don’t have to be boxy, black-and-white blobs. As a matter of fact, custom designers can transform a basic code into its own work of art.

    We’ve collected a few QR codes from around the web, along with some tips from Paperlink, CustomQRCodes.com and other best practices for making your QR codes more beautiful.

    1. Add color

    But, keep enough contrast for scannability. Choose dark colors against a lighter background and avoid “reverse” color (white or light colors against a dark background).

    QuickerCity.com QR code Brainy QRCode by CustomQRCodes.com IBM QR code by QRGenie
    (Source: Pinterest) (Credit: customqrcodes.com) (Credit: qrgenie.co.uk)

    [Read more...]