3D Product Demos
3D motion graphics are coming increasingly under demand from entrepreneurs and companies looking to show off what their product is and what exactly it does. An animated product demonstration can be advantageous over a simple product video in a number of situations. For example, your product might still only be at the prototype or development stage, but you want to show investors your vision for the product and demonstrate its future technical specifications. A 3D product demo can also be cheaper than making a live-action product video, making it particularly suited to early start-ups in search of funds.
Of course, it also has its uses when you have a finished product: Apple are famous for using sophisticated 3D demos to reveal new products, as we can see in the Apple Watch announcement. Apple’s new video is a very effective 3D product demo, and provides a number of important lessons for using motion graphics to sell a product.
Motion graphics as complementary
Right off the bat, the Apple Watch 3D product demos are clearly minimalist. The primary element is the product itself on a white background, with a voice narration over the animation. This seems like a pretty simple one, but the product is more important than the animation. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t spend time designing complex 3D effects to highlight a product’s strengths (such as lighting – more on that later), but that there shouldn’t be anything to distract from the primary focus of the demonstration.
The minimalist animation here actually serves to strengthen the product. Our eyes are instantly drawn to the bright, colourful screen of the Apple Watch and the nifty animations on the device itself. Apple are letting the product speak for itself, whilst using subtle psychology to suggest the product is very much unique (it is the only object in a seemingly endless white void). More importantly, they’re showing a simulation of what the end-user experience is actually going to resemble.
Show off all of a product’s features
In the first minute of the Apple Watch demo, we’re shown all of the product’s physical features: the interchangeable watchstraps, the watch’s screen, its dial and side button. Within the next minute and a half, all of the built-in software features of the watch are shown to us in quick succession. In this time, the narrator discusses the company’s vision for the product itself as a piece of individual wearable technology and lightweight interaction, and goes on to explain how to use and navigate through the watch’s interface. In 180 seconds we know what the product is, what it does, its place within Apple’s wider product line and more-or-less how to use it. The rest of the video expands on this first few minutes. It’s a perfect pitch.
So you need to accomplish the same thing in all 3D product demos. You need to establish the product’s significance, its functions and its features all within the first two or three minutes. Using motion graphics as Apple have done, you need to bring a product to life and show exactly how it will work when in use.
You can also highlight specific features of a product using lighting. When a director creates a live-action product video, they will spend a lot of time planning how to use lighting to show off the product. This video about live-action product demos gives some good examples of things to think about when making demos in 3D: placing a virtual ‘spotlight’ on the sides of an object to show texture, the use of opaque, reflective or translucent surfaces, and when to use light diffusion. As you are trying to show off what will become a real-life product, taking tips from live action filmmakers can be invaluable. It’s exactly what Apple have done as we see the light glint off of the watch’s chrome frame or sapphire screen.
Give a ‘comprehensive picture’ of the product
Ultimately, you need to accomplish two things with 3D product demos: you need to show off the product’s features comprehensively, and you need to sell it. The actual 3D animation you do is the most important means of accomplishing these two goals, and post-processing can be used to draw the eye and highlight aspects of the product you think will sell it to viewers.
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