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    10 Things to Ask When Choosing a 3D Partner

    3DPartnerGoodFit_300At a recent trade show, we found ourselves busting myths about 3D digital asset creation. In all cases, perceptions about the process, turnaround time and quality had more to do with the 3D partner than with the realities of 3D image and animation creation. 

    Digital asset creation can actually be a time-, budget- and headache-saving endeavor if you choose the right partner and ask the right questions.

    When choosing a partner, be sure to ask:

    1. Is the project team comfortable working with numerous departments within an organization?
      Producing successful 3D product images and animations requires the ability to “speak the language” of personnel in various departments. Ask how company team members interact with their clients’ in-house engineers, product managers, marketing directors and graphic designers.
    2. Is the company familiar with/experienced in using source files?
      The ability to track down and use engineering files like Pro-E and Solidworks is critical to ensuring strict product-image accuracy and consistency. Typically, traditional marketing agencies aren’t even aware of the existence of these important files. Ask about the team’s “comfort level” with engineering files and other source files.
    3. Does the company’s production staff have solid graphic design skills?
      The ability to maintain accurate, high-quality images across variations in websites and other print/digital deliverables assures powerful and coherent branding. Ask for examples that illustrate the company’s attention to accuracy and consistency in quality, lighting and backgrounds across variations. Are the images accurate and realistic-looking?
    4. Will you work with expert, knowledgeable consultants – or a team of order-takers?
      Collaboration with an experienced team – one that will proactively identify potential opportunities and provide the expertise needed to resolve problems – is crucial when confronting a tight time-to-market window. Ask who your main contact will be throughout the production process. Does this individual have the expertise to advise you in a proactive and consultative manner? Does the company have the resources and talent needed to “pull off” a complicated project?
    5. What processes and technologies does the company employ to manage workflow?
      Facilitating the smooth exchange and flow of information during the production process is critical to ensuring that the project remains on track – and meets your time-to-market parameters. Ask your contact to describe the workflow and process-management technologies the company uses to assure timely and cost-efficient project completion.
    6. Does the company support delivery on multiple platforms?
      Today’s content must be available on the web, through mobile devices and tablets, QR Codes, MS tags, and near field communication (NFC) technology. Ask if the company’s animated and interactive technology is cross-browser and cross-platform compatible.
    7. Does the company have extensive previous experience with 3D animation for business?
      Experience in producing 3D animation projects for a wide range of industries, media formats and communication channels is key to adding value to the collaboration process and, ultimately, ensuring an inspiring outcome. Ask how long the company has been in the business of 3D animation. What types of clients and industries, formats and communication technologies have the project teams worked with?
    8. Does the company approach Instructional Animation projects from an instructional design perspective?
      Traditional agencies tend to favor high creativity over instructional design in an effort to impress product marketing decision makers. This “overly art-directed” approach, however, typically fails to produce a product demonstration that truly informs and instructs the consumer. When reviewing a prospective partner’s product-demonstration examples, ask your contact to explain how each project educated the end-user.
    9. Does the company use leading-edge animation technologies?
      Producing world-class 3D animation requires a significant investment in visualization and rendering tools as well as state-of-the-art rendering farm software and infrastructure. Ask what kinds of software and hardware your prospective partner is currently using for 3D animation production.
    10. Does the company have a finger on the pulse of what’s next?
      Delivery is not the end of the road. Given today’s fast-moving, ever-evolving content delivery channels, the smart provider is constantly on the lookout for powerful new tools that can help take the client’s online presence to the next level. Ask about the new technologies your prospective company is currently researching to assure continuous improvement in marketing and content delivery options.
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