3D Technical Illustration 3D Technical Animation 3D Computer Graphics 3D Animated Floor Plans 3D Specialist Web Services Consulting Services
Why Use 3D for your project Return on Investment (ROI) 3D File Translations/Conversions Revit to Softimage XSI® The 3D Process: Modeling The 3D Process: Texturing The 3D Process: Composition The 3D Process: Lighting The 3D Process: Rendering The 3D Process: Compositing
|A Q&A With John B. Crane, Founder, CraneDigital|
Engineering Marketing: show them what you want to show, protect what you don't.
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RainCycling brochure illustratio
Graphic Design & Visual Communications from CraneDigital:
A: The short answer is visual communications, or graphic design. The more accurate answer is graphic communications specializing in visually- focused design. Often times we use computer-generated (3D) images to help our clients get concepts & products off the drawing board and out of their heads so the rest of the world can experience them.
Q: 3D illustration and animation is emerging as the most effective means of visual communication for scientific, medical, pharmaceutical and architectural marketing and informational material. What makes what you do so specialized? Why 3D?
A: Communication - to tell a story or describe a process - has always been accelerated by the use of strong visual elements, and even more so today. Its our opinion that by creating the most interesting, compelling and realistic images possible we can achieve that goal in the most effective way. While other designers rely on simple vector graphics and clip art, CraneDigital has been successfully integrating unique and distinctive 3D imagery into design work web, print and multi-media for years now. By way of example, what was your initial response to this long page of copy? Probably ugh. No visual relief in sight. Visual communications work in concert with copy to convey your message more quickly and effectively than any other method.
Q: What does 3D offer that a more traditional approach to creating graphics doesn't?
A: The first thing you notice is the look. Images generated in 3D have greater depth, volume and realism creating a look and feel nothing else can.
Then theres value. Return on investment is a key component. With each assignment, models and scenes are created. This material may be re-used in subsequent projects, increasing ROI tremendously. This provides unrivaled value to customers who continue to use this process. Once created, models may be re-purposed and in many cases easily modified to accommodate new design features. Think of it as a library of objects you can reuse.
Flexibility is also a great benefit. Rather than laboring over a single image created in 2-dimensions, with 3D you can render any number of images from different "camera" angles, under different lighting conditions, showing or hiding different features, changing color schemes, etc. Once the scene is built the possibilities are endless. This facilitates greater flexibility across a wide array of media; for example in page layout, designing ads for print, etc. - a horizontal image that worked perfectly for a print ad can be easily re-rendered vertically for a completely different composition in a web page, or a CD sleeve. Expanded rendering options are also easily available. Want to create an on-line Flash demo for a product? No problem. Want to take that same model and render a photo-real, high-resolution back-lit poster for a trade show display? No problem.
Then of course there's animation, which brings an entirely different dimension to presentation. Nothing explains a product or process better than adding the element of motion, time, voice, music and then the ability to present on television, corporate videos or as stand-alone animations playing on the computer.
Last but not least, some things simply don't exist in a visible state, like molecular, chemical or sub-atomic processes that happen in the human body for example. Other situations are things that haven't been built yet such as architectural/engineering structures. These things are impossible to photograph. 3D can create compelling visuals regardless and be used to clearly communicate to your audience in as much or little detail as required.
Conclusion: Value, flexibility, animation, visual conceptualizations, and "the look" all add up to an unbeatable combination.
Q: Do you need special 3D glasses to view this stuff?
A: No, you don't need glasses. Anyone can easily view the results just as they would any other picture. 3D simply means you've created your subject in the computer rather than drawing or photographing it. This is not the same technology as in movie theaters that hand out the glasses.
Q: Is this CAD?
A: No. CAD is Computer Aided Design intended for linking up with machines that actually manufacture a product. CAD is a whole different discipline and requires a unique and specific set of tools. Its also an engineering-specific discipline that requires extensive education and experience. CAD also makes use of "solids" modeling, where most commercially available animation software uses "surface models." The difference doesn't matter here. They're just different. As necessary as CAD is in the design of the product, its equally as ineffective for marketing purposes. CAD applications might have rendering engines (the "virtual camera" that actually creates the renderings, or images), but they're typically not intended for or of high enough quality for top-level presentations. Most of the time it makes no sense to re-model an object if it has already been built in CAD. Once a company's engineers have designed and created their product, the task then becomes moving their masterpiece CAD files into our software. The first step is a clean translation. Once complete, the process of surfacing (adding colors and textures to the models), composing the scene, and then rendering can be completed. As well as being expert modelers, working with a clients' CAD files is an important part of CraneDigital's work flow and something we've become experts at.
Q: How did you begin working in 3D?
A: I've studied art all my life and graduated from college with a BFA concentrating in illustration and graphic design. After experiencing different fields of the graphics industry since 1984, in 1996 I picked up an entry-level 3D package as an experiment because I was frustrated with the airbrush. I learned the software on a project I called Ant Acid, a piece whos roots go back 12 years while still in college. She's a cross between an ant and a backhoe. This project got me up to speed quickly in the high-level concepts of 3D, then in tremendous detail as I struggled with getting the software to perform to the desired level. After this I was hooked. In 1996 Ant Acid won 1st place in Fractal Designs International Modern Masters of 3D competition, then made it into the prestigious New York Society of Illustrators "Digital Salon." As a result of this early success I was published in a wide variety of international graphics magazines, and asked by 3D Artist magazine to write about and review other 3D software packages. My responsibilities included learning the software and writing about each packages strengths and weaknesses, then also writing "how-to" articles using the software. During this period I learned just about every commercially available package at the time and developed a thorough understanding of what it could and couldn't do. I also had a very supportive wife who encouraged me every step of the way.
Q: What makes CraneDigital unique:
A: The single biggest thing is that I come from a long line of engineers so I have an artists aesthetic eye coupled with an engineer's brain. This allows me to think without boundaries, then execute the concept. This provides complete control over the process from beginning to end. With experience in the production environment, I know what to look out for, how to plan around trouble and what questions to ask. Planning is key to the whole process.
Q: So its really just a flat piece of art when you get done with it?
A: It can be, or it can be an animation, or a virtual reality piece.
Q: Who are your clients?
A: There are two answers to this: I work with larger marketing firms contracted as the specialist to their technology, manufacturing, pharmaceutical and engineering clients. This model works well. Most companies don't have enough work to keep a staff specialist busy, or give them enough experience that they become expert at the task. It requires a lot of non-billable time and learning, and a certain passion for the technical details required to do it right. So, outsourcing is the most practical way to get the best work. I also work directly with smaller companies developing communications and media strategies with their in-house marketing teams. This allows smaller companies direct communication with and access to high-quality work.
Q: Why Work With CraneDigital
A: CraneDigital has 18 years of experience in the graphics industry, and has been designing 3D graphics for print, web and multi-media for over 8 years now. With extensive experience in the production environment and a unique ability to communicate on a deep, technical level, we're able to quickly ascertain a clients needs, then visualize graphic solutions to create that picture that's worth more than a thousand words.
Add to this a genuine desire for excellence, passion for our craft and a service-oriented mind set and CraneDigital represents a new standard in visual communications.
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