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  • Blog: MediaLab 3D Perspectives

    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…]

    9 Cost-Effective Reasons Why 3D Animation Beats Video

    It’s true. 3D animation can actually cut costs. It may be surprising, but 3D animation gives you value and savings that traditional product video simply cannot.

    The benefits of 3D animation go way beyond just saving costs. Many people I talk to don’t realize everything 3D animation can do for their ROI. Check out these 9 FAQs – questions we hear all the time about the cost of 3D product animation vs. traditional video.

    No More Prototypes

    Q1: 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…]

    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.
      [Read more…]

    Product Imaging: Why 3D Images Trump Digital Photography

    3D Product Imaging

    3D set shot made using 3D product imaging

    If you’ve ever done product imaging old school (aka, digital photography), you know it can mean long days or weeks sourcing product, finding the right materials, building the sets, finding the right location and ambience for displaying the product, and creating the mood. And that’s all before the photographer starts shooting. And when that finally happens you can only hope you nailed the colors, lighting, angles, and décor so you won’t have to do this all over again.

    What if, instead, you could display that product in any location, with any décor, in any lifestyle or setting without pouring out significant amounts of time, money, and other resources?

    Many companies are doing exactly that with photorealistic 3D imaging — a concept catching on with manufacturers of all sizes and types of products. This technology provides cost savings, flexibility, and a new way to leave the competition standing still. Sure, digital photography still has its place in product imaging, but that niche is getting smaller with every advance in 3D imaging technology.

    Ditch the Expense

    The fact is that computer generated 3D product images cost less than digital photographsboth in dollars and logistical headaches.

    [Read more…]

    360° Product Spinners “Cover All Angles” of What Online Shoppers Want

    What consumers want in online product images isn’t new but the methods and challenges of delivery are ever-evolving, leaving some online retailers playing catch-up.

    What Online Shoppers Want

    Since 2003, consumers have been asking for alternate product views, zooms and video and have now come to expect those as standard features. Over the last few years, the e-tailing group has also noted an uptick in demand for product image features like 3D, color change and the ability to view the product in a simulated room environment.

    The stats:

    etailing_group_findings

    Attempts to Deliver

    NikeProdImage

    Interactive product image of the “Nike Free 5.0+” women’s running shoe from Nike.com

    Top brands and retailers have responded to consumer demands in varying degrees. For example, Nike lets shoppers view shoes from 4 angles and zoom in to see design details. Walmart and Zappos provide multiple zoom-enabled images to toggle between product color variants. They also show some products in action through recorded demonstration video.

    [Read more…]

    Take the Test: Will You Sink or Swim in “The Year of the Tablet”?

    Take the Test: Will You Sink or Swim in the "Year of the Tablet"?You’ve heard the hype: 2013 is being hailed “the year of the tablet”. There’s no question that tablet adoption and use is on the rise. The questions are: what will it mean for your industry and most importantly, are you ready?

    We’ve compiled a few links and stats around what we see coming, and what it means for the Consumer Products & Retail and Homebuilding industries in particular. See what the tablet surge holds for your industry and then take one of the tests below to see if you’re poised to sink or swim.

    What’s Coming

    Tablet Prices Will Drop

    Apple’s latest 16GB iPad2 and Mini are $399 and $329 respectively – an over $100 drop since the iPad’s 2010 release. Rising competition from Microsoft, Google, Samsung, Sony, Acer and others is helping to drive tablet and e-reader prices down. You can already pick up Lenovo’s IdeaTab for $299 or Amazon’s Kindle Fire for $199. And, if you’re willing to sacrifice a few GBs or features, you can snag others for under $200. But an even bigger indicator than today’s price is tomorrow’s tech – already developing in and for “emerging markets.” Acer plans to launch a $99 tablet in China called the Iconica B1. India’s $40 Ubislate tablet could drop to $25 by year’s end. While these aren’t due to touch US soil at these prices just yet, they put the reality of low-cost tablet production in clear view. [Read more…]

    Model Home Cost Comparison: Build or Go Virtual? [Infographic]

    3D Virtual HomeFor the traditional homebuilder, the model home is an essential selling tool that lets prospective buyers see, touch and experience a home before it’s built. But, as the cost of building and merchandising multiple models continues to rise and homebuyers go increasingly more mobile, builders must cut costs and create the online experience savvy buyers demand. 3D virtual technology accomplishes both – making it possible to demonstrate an entire home, including alternate floor plans and premium kitchen and bath upgrades, without breaking ground. Virtual models start selling before anything is built and can even be demonstrated on a mobile device.

    Already, top 10 homebuilders have begun supplementing a single physical model with 3D virtual tours to sell into additional floor plans and options from the sales center and online.
    [Read more…]