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Product Animations on Caffeine

Breaking the convenience stores stereotype is difficult. These retail locations are the battlefront between household brands. Each brand is vying for a greater share of attention. The end result is that consumers have to wade through a barrage of wrappers, banners, hanging signs, endcap displays, etc. all screaming for attention with bright colors, evocative photos, and anything else that will capture one’s attention.

While this serves the purposes of one brand over another, it does not serve the consumer. When Dijt was retained to help the Good 2 Go brand stand out in the convenience store market, we were heartened that they agreed. What resulted was a brand that emphasizes cleanliness and pragmatism, over the default noise of other convenience store brands. Restraint reigns over an unending escalation of attention grabbing. The result is actually that those promotions are more noticeable, not less–and Good 2 Go is in the driver’s seat.

The Potential

This strategy was extended to the digital signage within stores. Whereas prior digital signage was filled with bouncing text, and spinning backgrounds, Dijt’s alternate approach would be to bring the product forward with substance, and de-emphasize style. The challenge, was that no pre-existing imagery was available that took this approach.

Studio photography of key items, particularly beverages, was our first plan of attack. However, the challenge is that actual beverages don’t photograph very well. Almost immediately we decided that this was a better fit for our 3D product rendering capabilities. As soon as we made that decision, the opportunities of the digital realm opened up a new world of possibilities.

The signage concept developed into one where the product would be captured magically in suspension mid-air. Water droplets would help the beverages feel more cold and refreshing. The whole scene would be set against a blank white background. The frozen-in-time scene would rotate to help the imagery stand out, but not so much to become an unwanted eyesore amidst other items in a store.

The Process

No existing models or artwork would suffice for creating the variety of cans and bottles necessary. This required some trial-and-error. Photogrammetry, which is the process of stitching photographs together into a textured 3D model, would not suffice for the level of precision and quality necessary. Ultimately our 3D artists decided to model the bottles from scratch–no small task, but within their abilities. By removing attached labels much of the graphical artwork was able to be derived from the physical beverage bottles. The cans, on the other hand, proved to be impossible to either photograph or scan. These required a designer to recreate the graphics from scratch. Amazingly, at the hands of these skilled artists, this was all done at a comparable budget to contracting a seasoned product photographer. The results were even better.

The finished video for one of the animated products. This video rotates between other video and animations in Good 2 Go convenience stores.

Additional Value

While this project required a degree of original modelling and texturing that could make it prohibitive for more complex products, it demonstrates an important advantage of 3D rendering over traditional photography. Whereas a photographer could have replaced the liquid in a bottle with something with better color and light refraction, they would not be able to rendering a floating image of the product mid-air with water droplets perfectly positioned. They may have struggled to overcome the natural hazy properties of the plastic. 3D allows us to bring objects into a virtual world where the laws of physics aren’t an impedance.

In cases where a product was designed within a computer, and thus a model already exists, 3D rendering is far more accessible. The results can often far exceed what can be accomplished by traditional photography at a comparable budget. A series of products, for example, can more easily be rendered in identical configurations or studio settings. They can be rendered in locations imagined or otherwise inaccessible. They can even be displayed, like these beverages, in ways that defy physics itself.

3D Rendering is the new frontier for product marketers looking to help their product stand out. Combined with the web development capabilities also at Dijt, marketers can take the potential of 3D product animations places previously unimagined.

Last modified: October 25, 2017

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