One of the recent and promising trends, we are observing taking media and marketing industries by a storm today is use of 3D modeling and 3D rendering techniques to lure customers towards the products. Let it be the launch of stunning automobile (luxury car for example) or breathtaking design of the latest range of jewelry collection, 3D modeling and 3D rendering are here to stay for long. We specifically brought example of automobile and jewelry as the automotive and lifestyle or fashion industry has long been the leaders when it comes to the product visualization for advertising and moving merchandise. The resent magnificent Jaguar interiors you notices in the last month’s Esquire are 3D rendered then being original. Today rendering artist are so well hands on in transforming any life-like images and animations; that marketers and advertisers rely very heavily on these digital imagery to promote their products.
In layman terms product rendering and visualization can be defined as the digitization of products and creation or development of creative images in number of different ways to attract the customers towards the product that company is selling. It could also be understood as the computer generated representation of the real life product which could be physically sold. Though defined in a simple language but the burrow of actual process of creating these creative images goes very deep.
It all starts with the Concept artist taking the first shot. Any project kicks off with a brainstorming sessions where team of artists, engineers and designers through ideas, in the entire life cycle of new product development process this is the most disordered time. During this stage all the involved individuals needs to maintain flexibility in their approach for example before initiating working on iPhone probably thousands of different iPhone concepts would had been tossed up &discussed in Apple headquarters i.e. right from the designer’s hand drawings to Concept artists who turn out realistic renderings that can be critiqued to ultimately refine the design. The entire process could be classified as the modern day product design process; in general computer based design elements are there from the beginning and undergoes iteration after iterations before becoming something realistic in appeal. As one of the vital element of the entire product design process, product rendering contributes to each and every step of this process.
Potential and applications of product rendering goes much deeper than just advertising and representing a product realistically impressive and attractive to lure customers. Let’s go back to our automobile example; as such we all know that an automobile is an assembly of numerous components like tyres, fan, tubes, valves, columns, wires, pistons and so on and so forth. As one of the prime application product rendering process also involves how all these different components are jointly going to be synchronized as an assembly to ensure mechanical and electrical harmony.
Engineers can work closely with artists and technicians to develop parts that must be visualised within the totality of the automobile. Teams can create detailed diagrams and exploded views of assemblies, showing lead designers how each part is interfacing and working together. These days, car manufacturers have a pretty good hold on what works and what doesn’t, but the ability to build things digitally before they ever have to be built physically lends the design process to exploring innovation and progression in ways not previously possible. Just ask Elon Musk, who’s taken car manufacturing to unparalleled heights, and used technology in digitisation and visualisation to dream big every step of the way.
Many companies operate in the same way: relying on computer models to not only teach them something about the specific part they are designing, but about what the end product will be as well. Many of these realisations are purely aesthetic, but once you begin introducing more technical, physics-based inputs such as air flow, fluid dynamics and ergonomics, the digital model can reveal a treasure trove of valuable information to designers and engineers. People can begin to understand a product before a physical prototype is ever constructed. The process is faster, more accurate, and gives companies a wider net to cast when getting to the root of what makes a design work.
Product design firm MINIMAL works on a wide variety of products, and values greatly the process of design. Industrial designer at MINIMAL, Daniel Brown, knows all too well the importance of digital prototyping.
“At MINIMAL, we begin rendering very early in the design process with quick 3D models that capture basic mechanical or aesthetic thoughts, which are presented to clients in the form of photo realistic renderings,” says Brown. “We continue to update renderings during development as new features are added or other changes are made to project requirements. At the conclusion of a project, we typically provide high-fidelity renderings for our clients’ internal use.”
Daniel is speaking to the iterative process of refinement and evolution, culminating in a final digital product that mirrors the physical product that clients will ultimately be purchasing and using.
Product Rendering as a Tool for Advertising
One can only imagine what Don Draper would’ve come up with if he had access to VRay. While I may well be the only one who’s ever imagined that, it can’t be denied that advancements in rendering technology and product visualisation have had a profound influence on the progression of advertising. Take a walk through Times Square and you’d be hard pressed to find a single outlandish billboard plastered with anything other than glorious digital imagery. Even real photographs are often bombarded with touch-ups filters and super impositions because – whether you like it or not – the real world just ain’t moving merchandise like it used to.
Much like product designer during the conceptual development phase, advertisers and copywriters work closely with rendering artist to produce imagery focused on showing consumers what a product can do for you. Just as with the prototyping phase, you might think these renderings serve a purely superficial purpose. Sorry to tell you this, but you’d be wrong again. And if you’ve ever seen Mad Men like I clearly have, you’d know how important the art is to conveying not just what the product looks like, but the lifestyle it embodies. Apple, for example, isn’t in the business of selling phones and computers. They are in the business of selling you the person you want to become. To do this, they need content that reinforces more than just how the thing functions. This isn’t easy to do, and something rendering artists work hard at to achieve.
Those final images can come in just about any flavour you could imagine. The state of technology today plants the limits firmly in the sky, giving artists the tools to make a product be anything they want it to be. It’s not as simple as creating a realistic representation of the thing, it’s more about taking the art to areas that reveal something important about the product. The copy is important, but with the attention spans of millennials everywhere whittling down to a nub, the imagery is becoming the most important. If you can’t make the sale at an initial glance, you’ve already lost.
What Does The Future Hold For Product Visualisation?
Professional looking images and animations have become the baseline for companies looking to develop and sell their products these days. The next step is a bit harder to predict, but I’d guess it starts in the realm of virtual and augmented reality. Companies like Valve and Samsung have recently released consumer ready VR headsets that mark the beginning of the virtual reality era. It’s only a matter of time before companies start producing VR specific content that to promote and advertise their products. Rendering technology will make this transition as smooth as can be, but there will be a transition period as more and more people adapt the technology. I’m no fortune teller, but with the economic force building rapidly behind the VR train, it’s hard to imagine a future without a VR headset wrapped around the head of a significant chunk of the population.
Augmented reality is a bit tougher to predict, due mainly because the technology is so new. Engineers on the bleeding edge of visual technology are just now starting to develop systems that digitally manipulate the world as we see it. If you don’t know exactly what augmented reality is, imagine an incredibly sophisticated holograph that reacts and changes based on your physical interaction with it. Sounds like science fiction right? Before you run and put in a pre-order for a light saber just yet, we’ve got a long way to go before this tech is consumer ready. But when it is, you can be assured that every product designer, advertiser, and marketer will be frothing at the mouth to get their hands on it.
Product design itself has come a long way in the last 20 years. Of course our style and preferences are always evolving, but in many ways the things we buy and the things we use are shaping that style just as much as anything. The exponential advancement in rendering technology and product visualisation has streamlined that development at rates not previously seen. It’s all a bit scary, to be honest. The effectiveness of advertisers to sell us something without uttering a word reveals a world where we seize control of our ability to make decisions for ourselves. Awareness is key, because ultimately the better the product is, the better we’ll feel about buying it. Everything I’ve talked about in this article is part of a massive, well-oiled machine that involves everyone from the man in the suit at the head of the table to the guy in the basement with a hand full of paper cuts. Computer technology touches it all.
Next time you think about buying something, think about the work that went into putting it on the shelf. It might make it easier to spend 300 dollars on a phone that does everything or 1000 dollars on a TV that puts your real eyes to shame. You might be buying the thing, but you’re also buying the thousands of hours that went into making it great.