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    Product Images for Complex Product Lines

    Multiple Configurations = A Need for 3D Product ImagesIn the last post, we talked about creating multiple images from one geometry, but what about when your business moves at the speed of thought? In today’s world there is also a need for product images that keep up with:

    • Rapid Prototyping and Product Development
    • Multiple Configurations
    • Just in Time Manufacturing
    • Product Updates

    Rapid Prototyping

    One of our furniture seating clients is constantly designing new products and components, and looking to get them launched in the marketplace as quickly as possible. This means producing images before products are even built. To keep up with development and get the product images needed, they use 3D product images.


    [Read more…]

    One Geometry – Multiple Outputs

    One Geometry, Multiple OutputsOne of the great advantages of using 3D product images over traditional photography is that a single piece of geometry can yield many different digital assets. For example:

    • A single model or SKU could have a shot list including:
      • Head on view
      • Isometric views
      • Additional views for packaging (top down, side view)
      • Hero Shots
      • Detail views of the controls
      • Propped and Unpropped
      • Interior Views
      • Cutaways/Exploded Views
      • 360° spinners
    • In addition, more product variations could result from:
      • Finishes and color options
      • Variations for different Brands
      • Special versions for Channel Partners

    Once we have the 3D assets, they can also be used in photo integrations, 3D set shots, and even product animations.

    Best Practice: Creating multiple outputs at the same time increases efficiency and can potentially lower your overall costs. Take the time to consider the different imagery you might need for you and your channel partners. Of course, if you find you need additional images later, those can easily be added to your project.

    A Simple Example: One Geometry – Three Outputs

    In this basic example we worked with Symmons on a new faucet where one file resulted in three outputs, showcasing the different finishes available.

    Benefit: With 3D images, you can ensure that all of your product shots have the same angle, lighting, and brand consistency you are looking for.

    Notice how the geometry stays the same for all three versions of this faucet. The only that changes is the finish.

    Notice how the geometry stays the same for all three versions of this faucet. The only thing that changes is the finish.

    [Read more…]

    10 More Uses for 3D Content

    Uses for 3D ContentWe’ve all done it. You come up with a great concept, create outstanding content, post it on your site, kick back and wait for the business to roll in. But are you doing enough?

    With so much content fighting for so many eyeballs, it’s not enough to just post it and forget about it. You need to make sure your best content gets in front of your customers, sales team and partners.

    Creating a plan to effectively distribute your content takes time, but also gives you the most bang for your buck.

    So stop hoarding your best content and get planning.

    10 places to distribute your 3D content:

    1) Your Website (on the Right Pages)

    Don’t limit publishing to product pages. Customers likely search for product information on your Help, Customer Service, and FAQ sections.

    Prominently feature new products and product lines on the home page for maximum visibility. 3D set shots like those used by RODA by Basco make a lasting first impression, especially when placed above the fold.

    RODA's home page

    Screenshot of RODA‘s home page which prominently features 3D set shots from MediaLab.

    [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…]

    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…]

    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.

    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…]