Are you a 3D novice and don't know how these spatial visualizations are created? Then you've come to the right place. We describe the steps necessary to create 3D content. Are you afraid of high expenses for 3D images? You will see: CGI (Computer Generated Imagery) is not that expensive. The costs are comparable to a photo shoot without the technology and material abundance. In addition, the processes can be automated over time or even handled by machine learning without human intervention. However, for the time being, this applies mainly to large-scale productions, where the already immense effort can be reduced in this way. For individual projects, much human power is still the order of the day.
3D projects always involve different steps that lead to the result. For a general overview, see our article on how 3D content is created. The first steps are very similar to the real world: for a picture or a movie, the first step is always to get the extra - your product or whatever is to be starred - into shape. Then 3D content needs at least a studio - or even an extended photo/film set that wants to be assembled digitally first. Once everything is built (modeled) and made pretty (materialized), light/illumination is needed - because even in 3D, it's the light that makes the picture! And last but not least, we need a camera that needs to be set up by a trained eye. That's it for a still image.
If our project is an animation, our protagonist - and maybe even other parts of our scene - have to be rigged and animated correctly. The object must be taught how to move - or how it can move. Once everything is done, rendering and post-production follow. This turns the initially minimalistic CGI world into a visually appealing result. Depending on the size of the respective studio, different experts deal with the project. So while smaller studios and providers tend to have generalists working on the project, large providers are looking for experts with in-depth knowledge. This goes so far that there are even specialists for developing dust in films. Accordingly, in addition to the possibilities of small and large companies, the price structure looks quite different.
And: this example excludes the effort to produce interactive content. A screen deployment requires scenes to be optimized for different platforms (3D data is resource-hungry). Interactions with the content must be designed and implemented - and provided with a UI and a UX so that the interaction is both understandable and exciting for the person using it.
From the previous descriptions, it should have become clear that the effort comprises many individual actions. For a better overview, we have summarized - and categorized - the different approaches. After all, the creation of technical objects differs significantly from organic modeling - and if animated, the requirements are entirely different.
Here is a brief overview:
The most unpopular answer among customers: this question can not be answered in general. But in fact, each model represents a new starting point due to its complexity and the different materials used. Add to this the fact that the demands on the result can also mean different levels of effort: A schematic representation takes less time than a photorealistic illustration with countless details.
However, some clues indicate whether one's expectations and wishes are on the expensive or the good side. The following is a compilation of the relevant differences for the overall expense:
Without going into detail about numbers and costs, we want to give some hints about the effort involved in creating 3D models from design data:
These are, of course, only a few sketchy examples. Finally, the number of hours can be multiplied by the local rate. It has to be considered that a good 3D artist for freelance work sometimes has an approach comparable to an engineering job.
At first glance, this may seem contradictory: 3D costs a lot of money, especially at the beginning. In the long run, however, 3D pays off for content production. But how does it work?
Like in almost every field: Working out the basics is time-consuming. Free modeling or converting design data to visualization data means manual work in practically every case. And that costs time and effort.
In addition to the model, the initial step also involves designing and coordinating the various - usually company-specific - materials. The more complex the model, the more individual parts and materials. Depending on the initial situation, this can easily take anywhere from several hours to weeks before the first renderings can be output.
Once the visualization model has been completed, 3D is always worthwhile: from the same basis, any conceivable visual form can now be created with little effort. Today a packshot, tomorrow a product application, and then a training video. 3D requires no physical space, no physical installation, no elaborate lighting and camera setups, and no logistics. Material, organizational effort, and rework are saved.
Have you ever had to organize a set for an application display? Let's use the example of a simple home automation installation to show you the differences and a 3D set.
You need to procure an excellent product with your logistics for the physical set. Then you organize a room or a studio.
You have the product installed by a professional - and define beforehand the view in which the product should be displayed. Perhaps you want to highlight a specific detail. To put this in the best light, you must first create a structural condition for the shot. Then, your product must be installed, and a photo or film set built.
After the picture has been taken, the photographer dismantles the set. The result, however, may not be so sparkling after all. The product manager realizes that the most crucial element is not visible - a different camera angle would be better. Maybe the pipe used to install the product is not up to the standard your customers use. What now? Rebuild the whole set? Reshoot it?
What can become an eternal dance in the real photo and film world is practically just a relaxation exercise with 3D.between a physical
Probably the most significant advantage of 3D is that it allows you to show things that don't (yet) exist. You can start marketing before the first finished product leaves your company. And in a higher quality than with photography.
The same is true in everyday life: where a real picture involves a wide variety of people, CGI is a matter of a few actors. No one has to set up or install the product especially. No photographer has to -with assistance- build a set and create shots. Furthermore, 3D visuals also require much less rework: no fingerprints, annoying cables, sockets, and unwanted reflections that must be painstakingly retouched.
Do you have a product whose variants differ in details but are always identical overall? Do you want to program a product configurator? The last thing you want is to have to shoot and retouch each option individually. 3D has a huge advantage when you need to create variants. Nothing has to be physically swapped; there are no discrepancies between different images.
3D can do what otherwise can only be done with great effort: create your very own brand world. Your environment can always be adapted anew without you having to change the overall look. This creates a considerable recognition value that goes beyond a uniform photographic style. This allows you to stand out even more visually from your competitors.
First and foremost is the question of how important content is in the company's strategy. Is it about telling customers facts about the product - or is it about giving customers a distinct feeling about your brand? The former will lead you to do product presentations in-house - with your equipment. The second means you'll realize that content is thought about for the long term, pays into your brand, works in an uplifting way, and therefore requires effort.
And this is where 3D makes the real difference. Once you have your products as 3D objects and have created a look with your materials, spaces, and objects, in other words: your world, the data can be used over and over again, rebuilt for every conceivable situation through slight adaptations, and thus used as a vital element of your visual identity. Here are a few more little suggestions about the prerequisites that will always give you an advantage with CGI:
AWE Schaffhausen has been creating 3D content through product visualizations, animations, and interactive 3D tools for web, AR, and VR for more than ten years. As a communication agency, we use the advantages of different 3D tools with which content around products and services can be transported very close to the target group.